“The concepts most familiar to us are often the most mysterious.” – Etienne Klein

All the Anime’s new limited edition Blu-ray release of the popular series Durarara!! is one that has got many people excited. The release should please many fans – although it must be said that it is not perfect.

Durarara!! is set in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo. New to the area is Mikado Ryugamine, a boy who is starting at a new school in the area. When he arrives he meets his old friend Masaomi Kida who guides him around. He meets some friendly people, such as otakus Walker and Erika, and black Russian sushi restaurateur Simon Brezhnev.

But Mikado is also warned about the people he should avoid. There is the online gang known as the Dollars; another street gang called the Yellow Scarves; sadistic information broker Izaya Orihara; and his bad-tempered enemy Shizuo Heiwajima, known for his super-strength and bartender’s outfit. 

However, the most unusual resident of Ikebukuro is the “Black Rider” Celty Sturluson. Something of an urban legend, she rides around town on a black motorcycle with no lights. Her helmet totally covers her head, or rather, where a head would normally be, for she does not have one. Celty is a dullahan – a headless horsewoman. Originally from Ireland, her head was stolen and she has since tracked it to Ikebukuro. Celty made her way there, getting her horse to possess an old motorbike and taking a job as a transporter.

Over the series several different characters narrate the events as they unfold. Mikado wonders about his relationships with Masaomi and schoolgirl Anri Sonohara; Celty keeps trying to unravel the mystery surrounding her missing head; a slasher attacks the streets and the start of a gang war might be occurring. But who or what is behind it all? 

There is a lot to like about the series. The animation is good, with no glitches occurring as there were in the first part of the Cowboy Bebop Blu-ray release from All the Anime. The soundtrack is pretty cool as well. But the best bit is the storytelling, especially with the idea of getting lots of different characters to act as the narrators. It helps to establish the characters more and make them less 2D (although one suspects that Walker and Erika would like to remain 2D). In terms of voice acting, this release is notable as it features the American dub in Region 2 for the first time.

Concerning extras, the main features are two OVA episodes, which are actually included as part of the normal episode run. So if you select “Play all” on Disc 2 it will automatically play the Episode 12.5 after Episode 12. There are also the textless opening and closing, and four art cards (not included in my review copy so I cannot comment on them). 

There are issues with the subtitles however. When watching it with English subtitles and the Japanese dub, at times the subtitles are garbled, usually when it comes to words with apostrophes in them, and at other points the subtitles do not appear at all. Considering that this is a somewhat dear limited edition Blu-ray release, the subtitling really should be better. Other than that issue however, this is a fairly decent release.

7 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. His debut book, CLAMPdown, about the manga collective CLAMP, is available now. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

More posts from Ian Wolf...