Released by Aniplex of America
Part 1 avail now, part 2 due March 29,, part 3 due May 31.
Official US website: http://www.durararausa.com/
Episode 1 opens in Ikebukuro Ward in Tokyo, with landmarks shown in a nice series of images to set the location.
In ep 1 you have Ryugamine Mikado who just moved to Ikebukuro to go to high school. As his childhood friend Masaomi shows him the neighborhood, giving advice on places to check out, people to avoid; both individuals and gangs while chattering because he is jazzed to see his old friend again after 4 years. (Note: It was kinda fun to catch the reference to the Ikebukuro West Gate Park series in the dialogue as they chat.)
The animation sequences in episode one are interspersed with screens showing dialogue in a chat room, with voice over, that help set up the next sequence of actions. This is an interesting and plausible use of technology to carry out conversations.
A kidnapping takes place with a girl lured to a location expecting something very different. However a meeting with the kidnappers and their superiors never happens due to interference from an unexpected person in the form of a biker.
A mysterious biker who can really kick ass brutally, a biker on a black bike, dressed in black wearing a yellow helmet with air vents that look like ears, a biker rumored to actually be a bakemono. By the way the biker rides at night with no lights on and is considered an urban legend by many.
In Ep 2 the chat room is replaced with cell phone text messages between two characters. This episode goes over many of the incidents in the first, but from the perspectives of different characters. This is a rather nice filling in of the story that drew me in rather well.
I won't go much more into what happens in the second episode, or even go into the later ones at all. I want to avoid spoilers and frankly I'd have a hard time putting what I see into the words this show deserves, Durarara!! is that good.
The original story is by Narita Ryôgo who also wrote Baccano! and this adaptation, done by the same crew of animators, is as interesting as the adaptation of Baccano!. As was the case with Baccano! the opening animation sequence is a delight of transitions that show us the major characters of the show as it switches from scene to scene, this time to the music of Theatre Brook's song Uragiri no Yûyake (Betrayal of the Sunset).
Aniplex was kind enough to send me a press screener of the first five episodes even after I told them that I would not be able to do the review for a certain magazine as someone else had beat me to it. However the copy was dub only and I'm one of those guys who strongly prefers subs. Luckily Crunchyroll has the episodes subtitled. so I was able to watch them there.
I'm ordering this one, this is a show I definitely want to own.