How can this be possible? How can the same exact crew (from original creator, director, story composition people, and character designer) who made one of the worst anime series of all time (the drawn-out and shittily-told Baccano!) turn around and just a little while later make one of this year's best productions (the anime this review is covering, numb-nuts: Durarara!! [once again, the exclamation points are retardedly theirs])? I mean, they even use the same shitty style of opening credits (throwing an ass-ton of named characters at you in machine gun style in the first minute and a half, making you believe that there was going to be a test later), and they even have that blonde, retarded couple show up during the course of the tale...
I'll tell you right off the bat what the writers learned to do to make Durarara so much better than Baccano!!!!!!!1111!!1!321!, as it shouldn't be that big of a secret: The characters are LIKEABLE. Well, most of them are. Compare that to Baka-no where EVERY GODDAMN pro- and antagonist is just a giant tool and a half, or as stupid as half-digested and regurgitated clam chowder. If I can't root for anybody in the world you create, then you've failed as a writer.
So what's Durarara about, you question, wondering if I really am going to shit all over it seeing as I declared a fatwa upon those who created Baccano not so long ago? It's about a headless Irish motorcycle rider who tools around the night streets of Tokyo while gang wars erupt throughout the town and a giant, black Russian man sells sushi. I'm not fucking with you, that's really what it's about. Oh, there's a lot more to it than that (there are more than a dozen main characters in this thing after all), but that is the gist of it. If you still need a bit more to go by in order to help you decide if you should give this series a try then you're shallow and pissy, but I'll still throw you a bone because I guess that's what review sites are supposed to do.
Okay, things begin when a wussy high school boy (Mikado) decides to move away from his podunk, out-in-the-boondocks hometown and into the big city in order to join his childhood friend (Masaomi) who moved there years before, and to experience a bit more in his life other than rice paddies and trees... Sexy, sexy trees. As soon as he gets to the city, Mikado seems to become infatuated with the gangs of the town (namely an almost invisible and mythic group called "The Dollars" whom everybody has heard of, but nobody knows anything concrete about), and he and Masaomi team up with a quiet (but stacked) classmate called Anri, who is looking for her stalker friend who disappeared one day after breaking into the apple of her infatuation's eye's place.
Oh, and lest we forget about Celty Sturluson, who despite having no head from which to talk or emote from, is one of the most personable and engaging characters I've seen in a long time. Her line to the suicidal girl in the very first episode is one of the simplest, yet most truthful and hopeful things I've ever read... And yeah, she "talks" by way of texting on a cell phone, though she can somehow still hear things even without any ears. Hey, it's anime. Just go with it. You can believe a boy with a tail can "power up" to 10,000 and fight a green alien with antennae on his head who can fly and throw energy balls from his hands, but not this? Anyway, Celty's an Irish specter known as a dullahan (think Celtic Grim Reaper, or the demon from Sleepy Hollow if you will) who usually races around on her black steed (which takes the form of a motorcycle now), collecting the dead with her severed noggin held in her arms, and she's in Tokyo town looking for the bastards who were somehow able to snatch her head from her, along with all her memories, over 20 years before. She's living with an off-the-books mob doctor who's madly in love with her, and she's friends with a bunch of other well-meaning hooligans in the city whom she helps whenever she's not out on deliveries, outrunning the cops, or just scaring young punks for shits and giggles.
Soon Celty and Mikado meet up, and both of them learn some pretty interesting secrets about the other, and we also see that somebody is running around with a body that has Celty's missing head attached to it.
Also involved in all the gang warfare and missing heads is one information dealer who claims to be running everything, Izaya Orihara. Izaya has his fingers (and other appendages) in every game in town, and he is probably the biggest douchebag in this show — and really, he's not all that bad. But as I said before, Durararara is mostly filled with likeable (if not a bit fupped in the head) guys and gals.
Other than those I've already told you about, there's that group of otaku who're always debating the qualities of their favorite geeky shows in between beating the shit out of slashers and Yellow Bandana gang-bangers; the hyperly violent and extremely easy-to-piss-off enforcer who always wears a bartender's uniform; and the dude who's seen around the town with the person/thing that has Celty's head upon her/its shoulders who seems to be in love with the Frankenstein-like being. While they all may not play the main roles in this story, they are all very important, and they all (kind of) tie together in the end. That was my second biggest problem with Baccano!!1blargh!!1! (well, okay, maybe my 4th or 5th biggest problem): NOTHING tied together very tightly in the end. Baccanos was just a bunch of shitty asshole characters running around in several time frames, doing nothing fun or important. There's a constant sense of urgency in Durararara though, and I cared if something happened to any of the cast.
I've heard from some readers that the ending (when all the gang related stuff comes to a head) wasn't very satisfying. I can see that, IF you expected a Braveheart-like battle to occur. I personally never got the impression that things would ever go in that kind of direction though, and all the loose ends of that part of the story were resolved well enough for my taste. True, there were still quite a few things left open for the intended sequel (I'm guessing, since there's a lot more novels this anime is based on out there), but the ending of the anime was a good place to stop. There's enough closure for the main tale that it will tide me over till the time a follow-up comes along.
Heh... This show reminded me of that time I cut off that one sorority girl's head, jammed a few electrodes down her neck-stump, and then reanimated her body and made it walk all around her sorority house, scaring the bejeebus out of her annoying sorority sisters one Halloween. I almost got them all to move out of town (and stop puking on my lawn after parties), but then some annoying frat boys showed up at the house all drunk and raped the hell out of my headless creation! The good news is that the cops arrested the boys for the murder and mutilation, and I got to keep the head. It's still on my mantle piece and blinks at you if you tap on the jar.
Hello! Kuni here! I totally fell in love with the no-headed woman on the big, black motorbike! She is so sexy that it drives me out of my mind! She is also the one afraid of cops, and so am I. I hide in the back seat when a police man shows up to try and give me tickets, and Kuni never has a license or money for an honorable bribe. So sad :(