In Tokyo's downtown district of Ikebukuro, amidst many strange rumors and warnings of anonymous gangs and dangerous occupants, one urban legend stands out above the rest—the existence of a headless "Black Rider" who is said to be seen driving a jet-black motorcycle through the city streets.
Mikado Ryuugamine has always longed for the excitement of the city life, and an invitation from a childhood friend convinces him to move to Tokyo. Witnessing the Black Rider on his first day in the city, his wishes already seem to have been granted. But as supernatural events begin to occur, ordinary citizens like himself, along with Ikebukuro's most colorful inhabitants, are mixed up in the commotion breaking out in their city.
Oh man how do I start of with this. Durarara (DRRR) is one of those anime that I can definitely decide where it lands on the 1-10/10 scale because of how unique this anime is compared to everything else.
So what is this unique thing that I'm talking about? We can start off by the most pivotal point this anime has to offer: the metaphor of colors. The metaphor of colors is strictly a means of defining one's belonging and their definition. Henceforth, there are three gangs mentioned throughout this anime: Blue Squares, Yellow Scarves, and The Dollars who are blue, yellow and colorless respectively. Everyone surrounding the main/side characters are gray, and that serves two functions: it tells us they are not affiliated with the main story directly and that they are colorless. The latter of which sounds like redundant information, but it holds the repertoire to this anime's behavior. It's impossible for me to explain without spoilers so I'll hold off, and just say that when you're watching, it'll be very clear just how cool it is. I regret not being able to say how unique this sort of style is- let alone being able to put it to words if I had tried.
The story is well forged but will be very confusing- even daunting- to new comers. The style of narration constantly breaks off between one person to another, and thusly can be a bit difficult to keep track of who is talking, or if it's just a narrator. There are also consistent time jumps from the past to present, and there are occasions where much of the episode is spent reiterating what happened in another episode, but in a different person's perspective. Regrettably the visuals don't change much and that can be a bit disappointing to a person who's more so looking for the development in the story rather than the characters (note: it doesn't happen that often).
Due to the way the narrative is formed, the episodes as they progress can seem like they're only getting more and more confusing. It's a lot to remember and take in, but if you can handle it, it's a really great story about pulling strings and finding your place in society.
Even though this anime is listed as an 'action' genred anime, there isn't a whole lot of action in comparison to other action anime. Action seems to be more of a product of the characters' interactions rather than it being the solidity to the story. In contrast, the mystery-supernatural vibe is very prevalent and holds to be the main theme for the first 12 or so episodes. But once everything unfolds, it becomes more of the typical "just fucking say something" kind of anime where we watch the main characters run around trying to solve their own problems, when really, all they had to do was speak up to each other about it. This characteristic is played nicely in online chats and is probably meant to prove a moral lesson to the viewer as it ironically shows people who know each other and are truthful to each other, and to those who don't- but do- and hide things, where the moral lesson is simply that: speak up, and don't hide things.
There is a lot of comedy in this anime and that's a resulting factor of how insane many of these characters are- and they are all lovable (in my opinion). Even though comedy isn't exactly part of the genre, it acts very similar to that of the 'action genre' which shouldn't exist. It is the product of the characters' interactions, and for that, I think it's simply the child result of the parent that is great character development, and writing.
Story: 9/10 -- Very detailed, but it can be hard to tell what's going on at some points.
Characters: 9/10 -- They are all very well fleshed out and interact with each other very well. However, sometimes they do things that don't necessarily make logical sense. Although then again, it is anime.
Art/Animation: 7/10 -- Did what it needed to do to accomplish the metaphor, but I feel like some parts were a bit underwhelming.
Music: 7/10 -- Did what needed to be done
SFX -- 7/10 -- Did what needed to be done
VA: 10/10 -- The characters all matched their intended roles well
Originality: 10/10 -- The way the story was told and why is very unique
TL;DR - Should You Watch?
Do you like good character interactions?
Are you able to keep up with a complex narrative that traverses in the past and present (sometimes) in the same sequence?
Do you like it when narratives exist (not just monologues, but a full fledged narration)?
Do you enjoy when the anime holds ironic plays on their characters (not the anime industry, but the characters)?
Are you looking for a lighthearted anime with a lot of serious tone?
If you were able to say "yes" to 4/5 of them, then I'd say go for it.