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Review: Durarara!! Episodes 3 & 4

Demonstrating that father/son time doesn't HAVE to involve the old pigskin.


The Good  

The third and fourth episodes of Durarara!! are mixed bag of positives and negatives, but let's get to the good first. Already a handful of questions from the previous episodes are being answered, most prominent among these is the issue of just what The Headless Rider and its human companion are. In fact, the fourth episode is essentially one big infodump on the matter. In the process of putting those issues to bed, however, a whole new raft of questions props up in their place, but hey, there is the mystery element of this show to consider. 
 
On other fronts, brief as it may be we get to see Simon throw down against Ikebukuro's resident "avatar of violence," Shizuo, catching a flying vending machine in the process and further establishing him as the most entertaining character to date as he then tries to placate the rampaging bartender with some wonderfully naive Japanese. Then, as the two flee from the ensuing carnage, the first inklings of a relationship between Mikado and Anri (like you didn't see that coming) presents itself, so get ready for several more episodes of the quaint little romantic missteps and misunderstood signs that act as the strong nuclear force binding together high school dramas. 
 
Far and away the highlight of these episodes is the uncomfortably macabre scene where 4-year-old Shinra Kishitani's father goes from being the world's coolest dad to nightmare papa in the swift change of a scene. Watch episode four and you'll know what I'm talking about.

The Bad  

Emphasizing the series' setting as Ikebukuro doesn't strike me as at all necessary. In fact, it's cheapening the entire show for me now. It seems like a flagrant location name drop to make the series seem "cooler" than it might otherwise be. Unless the setting is going to become a character in and of itself and affect the plot then it only need be mentioned once or twice and never emphasised again. So far Durarara!! has not demonstrated to me that it couldn't take place in, oh, say Umeda, Gion, Tenjin or the like. See, I can name drop popular districts of Japanese cities too. Doesn't make me cool, though. 
 
It's a small thing, but I hope they stop mentioning the whole "color gang" concept. It's a patently absurd stereotype of American (particularly Southern Californian) gangs and Japan has a much cooler underworld to tap if the writers are in need of ideas. Finally, adding a voice to Celty's typing confused me at first as I didn't know whether or not she could speak. That distracted me from what was being said.

The Verdict: Both 3/5 

All in all, the good outweighs the bad here. The issues I perceived are not so egregious to pull the carpet out from under this series. Now that I'm used to the cross-chatter of the chat room denizens it doesn't seem so disconcerting whenever the scene cuts away to them. Now that the main players are revealed and the mystery is beginning to unfold it's time to see what Durarara!! can really do.
DriverBobon May 27, 2010 at 4:58 p.m.
Assuming we want to keep this spoiler free for now, I'll just say you can ignore the color gang stuff for now.  On the other hand, I really feel they try to make Ikebukuro a character in story, hence the emphasis on the place.  You'll have to judge in coming episodes if they succeed.
agila61on May 28, 2010 at 10:21 a.m.
They do touch on the fact that there is a more colorful underworld there ... and if the color gangs seem like a fairly juvenile invention ... hmm, yeah, they kind of do sound like a fairly juvenile invention. Maybe that's part of the point.

Dig Deeper into Durarara!!

Anime adaptation of Ryohgo Narita's light novel series, Durarara!!

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