Durarara!! Brings Irish Myth and Ample Violence to Ikebukuro

Durarara!! Brings Irish Myth and Ample Violence to Ikebukuro

The Durarara!! anime series turned 10 this year, and even if it’s been a decade since you last embarked on a trip down these Tokyo streets, the series likely left an imprint. Even if you’ve never given Durarara!! a watch, you’ve heard of it. Maybe you’re like me, and it took you a few tries to vibe with the show’s unique groove. No, it didn’t snag me right away, and I can feel your judgment from here. 

Durarara!! takes an ensemble cast to a new extreme, and that’s what finally hooked me. One thing I can’t stand in an otherwise great series is when certain characters never get the screen time they deserve, and Durarara!! made sure that such an infraction never happened. Its collection of main characters share the spotlight somewhat evenly, sharing their own opinions, their own stories, and that makes for an incredibly novel storytelling experience. 

Starting out as a light novel series, which was adapted into a manga series (well, six separate series as of 2020), Durarara!! Has also spawned video games, drama CDs, and live stage shows. 

It’s one reason that even after 10 years, the fandom is still going strong, and Durarara!! has been named by multiple sources as one of the best series of the 2010s. If you’ve been sitting on the fence all this time, no more excuses. Let’s see if I can convince you to take a trip to this urban fantasy land. Did I mention there’s a headless woman running errands on a motorcycle? 

The Headless Horseman Meets Gang Violence in the Big City

Durarara begins with a boy named Mikado Ryuugamine who, like plenty of people stuck living out in the boonies, wants an adventurous life in the big city. He’s invited by a close friend, Masaomi Kida, to attend the prestigious Raira Academy with him. Given that it’s located in Ikebukuro, one of the main centers of entertainment and business in Tokyo, Mikado jumps at the chance. 

Mikado expects a brief tour around the city, but he doesn’t expect the plethora of warnings he receives. Masaomi tells him to avoid a certain blonde-haired tough guy strong enough to throw vending machines, a cunning and sadistic information broker with a switchblade, and a mysterious gang roaming the streets called ‘The Dollars.’ 

Oh, and the local urban legend dubbed the ‘Black Rider,’ a woman on a black motorcycle that sometimes neighs like a horse and might not have a head under her helmet. You know, the usual. 

While an Irish mythological creature, a drug ring, the yakuza, movie stars, and high school students may seem unlikely to share one story, Durarara!! slowly shows us how these characters’ lives intersect, and how a number of tiny actions fit into a much larger and more nefarious plot. 

Believe me, it’s much more rewarding when you see it for yourself. This is all I’ll say without spoiling any of the strangeness for you. 

While Celty and Izaya are Fan Favorites, which Character do you Prefer?

  • Mikado Ryuugamine – After moving to Ikebukuro, Mikado starts to get involved with a number of bizarre events going on around the city. While he appears polite and nervous in his new surroundings, he actually has another side to his personality, one more ruthless when it comes to achieving his goals. Despite getting involved in plenty of dangerous activities, Mikado doesn’t mind–in fact, he hates anyone or anything that’s boring. 
  • Masaomi Kida – A close childhood friend of Mikado. He’s a fan of pretty girls and is often the hub of comedy in the series for his romantic failures and bad jokes. Friendly and charismatic, Masaomi often takes on a big brother role to his friends. Underneath his laid-back demeanor is a much more insecure person, afraid of failing those close to him.
  • Celty Sturluson – Known by Ikebukuro locals as the ‘Black Rider,’ Celty is a Dullahan, a being from Irish myth. She came to Japan in search of her missing head, and her motorcycle, named Shooter, is actually her familiar in disguise. She can control a number of shadows, which also allow her to perceive the world. Despite being a centuries-old creature, Celty has a very normal personality type and makes friends with a number of other characters as the series progresses. (She does, however, tend to avoid most people–having no head can be a hindrance when it comes to forming relationships.)
  • Anri Sonohara – Quiet and reclusive, Anri is close friends with Mikado and Masaomi, also attending Raira Academy. As you’d expect from a character with glasses, she is intelligent and good at getting people out of trouble. Anri is, however, poor at sticking up for herself, and often feels that she isn’t truly a part of society. 
  • Shizuo Heiwajima – Called the strongest man in Ikebukuro, Shizuo can often be found tossing vending machines and trash cans at people. Though he’s originally depicted as your typical braindead tough-guy, Shizuo is actually quiet and under the radar–unless he loses his temper. He has otherworldly strength, which he sees as a curse. Keeping to himself to avoid harming others, he has few friends, though Celty is one of them.
  • Izaya Orihara – Izaya is a bad guy, but he’s one that fans love to hate. An underground information broker, he is one of the main antagonists of the series and enjoys getting into fights and watching people suffer. He hates Shizuo more than anything and enjoys picking fights with him, easily avoiding his blows with his speed. Izaya is unpredictable, though his personality is typically all smiles with a hint of sarcasm. 
  • Shinra Kishitani – A doctor working in the underbelly of Ikebukuro, Shinra lives with Celty and has a fascination with her body, along with Shizuo’s bizarre strength. He’s the only one who can tell how Celty is thinking, which is impressive, given that she doesn’t have a face. A true eccentric, Shinra is completely obsessed with Celty and was actually a close friend of Izaya during their school years. 

The Anime Series was Simulcast in the US, Even Back in 2010

It’s easy to think of simulcasting as being relatively new, but that goes to show that time is simply speeding by too quickly. Taking these things for granted is easy these days. 

The first season of the Durarara!! anime series was broadcast in Japan starting in January 2010 and was simulcast to English speaking audiences with a Crunchyroll membership within 24 hours of its premiere. 

Durarara!! was also aired on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block in 2011.

In 2014, a new anime series was announced, and Durarara!!x2 premiered in 2015. Uniquely, it aired in three different parts, with the first coming in January 2015, the second in July 2015, and the final part in January 2016. Each part was also simulcast on Crunchyroll, as with the original. 

Where to Watch the Durarara!! Anime Series and Read the Manga

Durarara!! is as accessible now as it was back when it was first released, thankfully. Fan demand has likely kept it available on so many different platforms, so if you’re looking to either reminisce or become a new fan, you’re in luck. 

The first season of the Durarara!! anime series is available to stream on Netflix and Hulu. If you’re looking for season 2, you can find it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

The Durarara!! manga series is available for purchase on Amazon and from your bookseller of choice. I’ll also add that the light novel series can also be purchased either in paperback or in digital format, and is one of my personal favorites.

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