When I was a teenager I loved anime, I’d watch Berserk, Eva, Trigun, Bebop, outlaw Star, Slayers, Escaflowne, among others. Around the time Chobits came out I began to feel that Anime had moved away from “telling good stories” and more into “let’s just show underwear for 22 minutes” which, if that’s your thing, that’s fine by me! I wasn’t too interested and so I stopped watching. I have caught a few shows here and there over the years - Ergo Proxy, Noien, Speed Grapher, Claymore, and Psycho Pass were all nice ways to pass the time. I plan to watch Nana and Gurren Laggen? (leggen?leggan? anime y u do dis.) sometime in the future.
Out of all the anime I’ve seen I was poised to like Durarara!! the most.
The first half of Durarara is unique, and the characters established as the most interesting cast I’ve seen in an anime hands down with a few notable exceptions.
You have Celty, the Irish Dullahan that has had her head stolen so her memories are gone. You have Shizuo, the guy who dresses like a butler and can punch several times harder than a normal person. You have Simon, the Russian sushi owner. You have Izaya, the “information broker,” who likes to mess with people and seems maybe not so human. Shinra, a doctor that treats people on the DL, and his father who wears a demon styled gas mask for some reason. “Dotachin” and his friends driving around in their van. A strange girl with scars around her neck and her erstwhile lover that searches for her. Amidst these characters, gang names are thrown around - Blue squares, yellow scarves, the dollars. Any of these characters are interesting enough on their own to carry the entire show. Which is a shame since the show eventually focuses on....the notable exceptions.
The notable exceptions are the main characters. Masaomi Kida, Mikado Ryugami and Anri Sonohara, are some of the most boring characters not just in the show but in any medium. ever. Mikado is like the average of every average anime school boy. He has next to no personality, and not a whole lot of growth throughout the series. Masaomi is the “wild, pervy, best friend” and Anri is “Quiet, shy girl “WITH BIG BREASTS. DID WE MENTION BIG BREASTS?” They’re stupid. Both in realization, and in action throughout the series.
In the beginning of the series it is not such a big deal as they’re shuffled to the background while the meat of the episodes is devoted to “who is the slasher” or “why shizuo is so handsome and amazing and why am i not married to shizuo?” or “Celty gets chased by the scary cops!” or “Why is the med center kidnapping people!? (wait, did we ever find this out?)“ If the entire anime had been structured like this it would definitely be Top 3 material for me. However the later episodes devolve into an “Arrow” - level breakdown in communication and misunderstandings abound as the story shifts to focus mainly on the three teenagers and how woefully inept they are at sharing information with one another under the guise of ‘protecting’ each other (with equally as fantastic results as when it happens on Arrow).
It’s facepalming. Meanwhile the interesting storylines such as wtf Izaya is actually DOING beyond mustache twirling (something to do with celty’s head making him immortal via dying in glorious battle), or spending more time on Saika, or who is Simon and why is he able to go toe to toe with Shizuo? ANY of these side stories that never get very much time would have been more interesting that “Masaomi effs everything up terribly: The Series” that the show becomes.
There’s enough good there that I wouldn’t NOT recommend anyone watching it but just be prepared that the latter half of the series is really quite a drag in comparison to the first half.