Durarara revolves around the intertwining lives of the colourful residents of Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighbourhood. At first glance, the main characters might seem pretty typical: the ordinary transfer student (Ryuugamine), outgoing hilarious best friend (Kida) and the shy, quiet class president. And yet you couldn’t be more wrong.
In a slow-starting, but perfectly executed first chapter/episode, Kida introduces Ryuugamine to the city itself, and to all of the crazy, eclectic inhabitants who will populate the rest of the story. We meet an insanely strong and short-tempered guy in a bartender suit, a headless motorcyclist, an underground doctor, an informant, a Russian sushi shop employee, members of the yakuza, two otakus, and many, many more! Even with this massive cast filled with striking personalities, Durarara somehow manages to give each of them enough screentime without it ever feeling overcrowded. We get swept away in the methodically assembled plot, featuring supernatural intrigue, gang wars, Irish folktales, 21st century Japanese culture, all with the dazzlingly colourful panoramas of Ikebukuro in the background.
Having this diverse cast allows Durarara to frequently change viewpoints and to interweave different perspectives of a single event. This non-linear approach gives a certain dramatic effect, and we as the reader/viewer are always left with the feeling that certain characters stilll know more about what just happened and what will happen. This keeps us hooked on this ever evolving storyline. Luckily, there are enough humorous peripheral characters to lighten the load, making Durarara a truly entertaining read/watch.