Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Durarara!! I am absolutely enamored by this series. It just resonates with me on so many levels.

At face value Durarara!! is about a 15-year-old boy Ryugamine Mikado who at the insistence of his long-time best friend Kida Masaomi moves from a small town to the big city in order to attend high school in Ikebukuro,Tokyo. The story naturally revolves around people that he meets and the things that happen in the big city.
But of course it’s so much more than that.

In essence it is a character-oriented series where the city itself is as much of a character as any. And, of course, I'm a sucker for character-driven dramas. From what I can tell so far the characters are diverse and fairly multi-faceted. They do hold rather polarized traits that make them stereotypes to a certain extent, but it's that extremeness that makes them interesting as characters in an anime where the boundaries of reality can be push, pulled, bent and stretched at will. At the same time each character is seeded at the core with his or her own struggles associated with the human condition that makes them believable.
Of all the characters I am particularly drawn to one Orihara Izaya, a sociopath. It is a fact that I am captivated by his psychopathic persona that works purely for his own gain. But I've always loved such fictional sociopaths characterized by superior intellect, easy charm, sharp wit, and physical prowess. I often imagine that operating outside the influence of emotions and social conventions such as morals would be so liberating.

The show touches on a lot of issues and prompts a lot of questions, and none of them have easy answers. It explores the nature of reality and questions perception and alludes to the subjectivity of experience. It presents this idea of opposites (light/dark, good/bad, life/death, etc) time and time again and exposes the dualistic nature of existence. It illustrates a person's struggle with identity and self-realization and purpose and meaning. It asks the role of technology in society and the deterioration of quality of human interaction. I could go on... but maybe I'm over thinking it. I'm making meaning out of nothing, but it resonates with me regardless of whether or not they meant it to. They probably did.

In any case...

The storytelling and the pacing of the series is engaging. It's not quite linear, there are a lot of parallel plots and action sequences. There is always more to the story than you first realize. Through each iterative retelling there is a new layer of detail and it makes the whole experience richer and complex.

At it's heart Durarara!! is a shonen series. The predominately male cast and conflict oriented plots are indicative of that fact. The fight sequences are well executed and the women tastefully sexualized. But what I've loved most about the shonen genre is the boy's club camaraderie aspect of it all. It's a highly romanticized concept of male-bonding that as a girl seems mysterious and alluring.

As a final note, the show is humorous. Case in point, check out the circle lenses on the girl in the middle. That is social commentary at its best.

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