Even though the new season is very much underway, Durarara!! still stands out as one of the best shows currently airing. Whenever I think of my favourite series, I can always point out the single element that had me completely hooked. There was just something that series did so well that made it stand out to me, be it excellent direction, dialogue or character development. Though I love Durarara!!, the show hasn’t shown itself to have that one quality that instantly makes it a must watch. Even so, it’s still an excellent show and easily one of my favourite series. And I think it’s due to the fact it doesn’t have a single element that stands out because everything is so high quality – all of it is done so well.
It’s quite obvious that the team behind Baccano! want to replicate the style of that series, and though it isn’t as amazing as Baccano! (I really love that show), it’s still great in its own right. The show manages to have a heavy and unique atmosphere while still being pretty light-hearted when it needs to be. The mixture of these elements is done in a way that one is always used to counteract the others so that the viewer is always interested in what’s going on and the pacing is kept up. The flow from comedy to drama feels natural as well – the shift in tones and scenes is almost seamless.
A large cast of characters is always a hard thing to handle, but when done well they can all be great fun to watch. With such a huge cast you get a great variety of different dynamics and interactions, always keeping things fresh. They all have distinctive and likeable personalities which help carry the show and make all of the dialogue interesting. This means that the drama doesn’t seem forced and doesn’t bog the other parts of the show down.
I’ve always gotten the sense from Durarara!! that Ikebukuro’s a huge thriving metropolis with a secret to be discovered around every corner. The setting is urban, yet mixed with the hint of the criminal and supernatural that makes it feel like there’s always a mystery surrounding the town. The contrast between the deserted back-alleys and the bustling street means the setting is always shifting and changing. One of my favourite things is the different times of day portrayed in the city – the shift from daytime, through to sunset and finally nighttime gives each location a unique feel.
I quite like the story technique the shows adopted as well. Rather than the character’s themselves telling us about their thoughts and feelings, the narrator does. It kind of distances the audience from the character slightly, but at the same time it reaffirms the notion that we’re watching a story unfold, being shown all the different viewpoints so we can understand it more easily.
What I most love about Durarara!!, though, is that it’s not trying to have a deep and complex story, although the style, visuals and direction might make it seem like that. In this way, it’s similar to Trapeze and (of course) Baccano! – the show doesn’t aspire to more than simply recounting the events of in Ikebukuro in an interesting, exciting way.
All of the parts of Durarara!! combine to create a whole that works incredibly well, making it a show that’s easy to watch, and something you can just sit back and enjoy. Even if the character’s are all demented.