I think I have been a romantic for quite some time. In fact, my top five anime revolves around love stories that have impressed upon me, whether they focus on the romance itself, or are only tangential to the main plot. When I saw the fourth episode of Durarara (I’m grateful gg returned to their normal selves), I liked the episode a lot because I saw the patience of Shinra in waiting for Celty. He cares for her, even if she is a Dullahan, and has done so for the past twenty years. The only character more patient in waiting for their love is probably Florentino Ariza of Love in the Time of Cholera, one of Marquez’s seminal works. Nevertheless, I admire the patience that he has for Celty, especially because one of the features that attract and define a woman to a man, the face, is not with her. He does not even mind even if the head does not come back to her so long as she remains with him. I found it to be one of the better illustrations of unconditional love in anime, and the episode itself continued the ambivalent nature of the show: perhaps humans may be bad, but they are only bad sometimes; other times, they are good people, and most of them, overall, are decent, despite everything.
I wasn’t expecting anything from Durarara. I still don’t, because it’s still in its formative stages. But what I have seen simply oozes with both style and quality. The series is heavy with dialogue and characterization, something I am not averse to. The first episode did not blow me away, however: it just made me feel that the anime series knew what it was and what it was going to be, and it paced itself carefully. Mikado’s epiphany in the first episode simply felt that it was actually just the beginning, but the central focus, or at least what really drives the story is Certy Sturlson, the headless motorbike driver.
The opening credits and the ending credits, however, are other stories altogether. Compared with the sanity and realistic tone of the first episode (everyone seems so real and so seated in Tokyo [except of course for the motorbike driver and Heiwajima, but even it’s arguable that people like him can exist in real life]), both the opening and the ending just exudes a coolness and confidence in it that does not rely on catchy tunes sang by cutesy voices. How they introduce the focal characters in the story was very impressive. I liked how they were able to portray Orihara Izaya and Heiwajima Shizuo’s character in just the opening. I suspected Izaya was just like Itsuki Kamiyama of the GOTH manga, and he pretty much was: he was unscrupulous, mordant, and sharp, as we have seen in the second episode. On the other hand, the ending credits were not as visually impressive, but the aural effect of the music was still pleasant. To some extent, I was reminded of the excellent audio from Samurai Champloo, especially because of the jazzy music.
The third episode merely continued the excellence of the first two episodes. Having said that, I wrote of Durarara as a quincunx primarily because the secondary characters center on Mikado’s triad, with all revolving around the presence (or absence) of Certy Sturlson, the headless (horse)woman. The beauty of Durarara is the ambivalent humanity of its characters. In the second episode, Izaya was peggged to be simply quite an asshole; however, in the third episode it can be noted that he appreciates kindness and courage just like any other man but with his own methods. While the show really is transcended by the presence of her, the characters and their relationships are multivariant and colorful as each other.
From this point on I still do not know where the series is going towards. But I find it really entertaining and smart, something I find in only a few anime series. I’m hoping that it keeps its pace up. It’s also very refreshing to see certain references to anime that have aired recently such as Cencoroll, Jigoku Shoujo, and Kuroshitsuji. (Baccano aired some time ago, but it was done by the same studio and the same writer that does Durarara! I thought it was a subtle and well-done easter egg in the show.)