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Set in the city of Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Durarara! is as much of a story of the unusual as it is coincidence. The first episode begins with a narration by Mikado Ryugamine as he arrives to Ikebukuro for the very first time. He explains that this is the first time in Tokyo and really the first time outside of his home town. He is met by his best friend Masaomi Kida at the subway and the two take off to see the town. Masaomi has lived in Ikebukuro for over four years and basically serves as a tour guide/ information source for Mikado.
As the story continues we meet another character, a young high school girl, waiting to meet with a man. As he shows up it becomes clear to the audience that he is there to abduct her and does so after leading her down a dark alleyway. We bounce back to Mikado and Masaomi as he continues to show him around town and introduce him to the numerous supporting characters. He lets him know of a few characters to stay clear of as they see the ramifications of their actions around town.
The kidnapper and his cohorts arrive to a parking garage to deliver the young girl. There they are met by a female motorcycle rider (the Black Rider) that has arrived to save the girl. The Black Rider makes quick work of the first kidnapper and set her eyes on the second. He Tasers the rider and begins to escape the scene, until the rider stands back up and splatters his blood on the wall of the parking garage. The driver of the kidnappers takes off trying to flee with his life. After being chased the man hits the breaks and the rider slams into the van.
After he gets out of his van he sees that the rider’s helmet is gone that she doesn’t have a head. The rider stands up and black smoke pours from out of her neck. She creates a sickle and strikes down the final kidnapper. After that the rider takes the girl and disappears into the night.
The big thing about this show is that everything happening is connected to each other. Regardless of the amount of characters they all tie into each other. Mikado and Masaomi walk past the girl that’s abducted and then see the Black Rider after she’s rescued the girl.
For a first episode, it wasn’t great. The story was disjointed to the point that it makes it confusing to figure out which characters are the main characters of the story. If this were traditional story-telling the audience would believe that they’re eight to ten main characters for the series which isn’t true. The characters introduce are well written and believable for the most part. Granted there’s an urban legend and super strength aspect of the series, but it’s realistic to the story and doesn’t feel out of place.
The production value on the animation is top-notch with a very strong art style. Since the show is based in a city, the animators make the choice to not animate the crowds with any details. They are instead gray figures with superficial amounts of details. This is a great choice since it makes the main characters stand out. Anime is big on hair style and I have to say that it’s refreshing to see an anime that doesn’t have “Final Fantasy” hair. Everyone’s haircuts are realistic and could be seen on the streets in any town.
For a dubbed series it's also quite good. The voice acting is very good and full of emotions. The translation seems appropriate and there's never any awkward scenes in which an element of the story is confusing. There are definitely familiar voices from other Manga series, but a wide enough variety that it doesn't sound like only a couple of people talking.
Overall the first episode of the Durarara! from the volume one DVD was a decent start to the series all be it confusing at times. There’s enough of an interest in the series and story developed to come back for the next episode of the five episodes DVD. Check back for the rest of the episodes to find out the overall score for the DVD.
Story – 7.5
Plot – 9.0
Characters – 8.5
Art Style – 9.0
Dubbing - 8.5
Overall – 8.5