Blu-ray Review: Durarara – The Complete Series

Durarara_screenshot (1)

It’s been quite a while since Durarara, or DRR for short, has been available in the UK and now that it’s back we have been treated not only to an English Dub but a High Definition Blu-ray version as well, so what can we expect from this Anime Limited release of Durarara Blu-ray? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Durarara – The Complete Series.

Synopsis:

Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Mikado Ryugamine is a young man who yearns for the city like no other. At the invitation of his childhood friend, Masaomi Kida, he leaves his hometown and enters Raira Academy in Ikebukuro. Masaomi warns Mikado about the mysterious organization of unknown origin known as the “Dollars” and some dangerous people in Ikebukuro to watch out for. In particular: the brawling champion Shizuo Heiwajima and hobbyist information broker Izaya Orihara.

On his first day out in the city, Mikado, remembering another of Masaomi’s stories, sees a jet-black motorcycle being driven by the fabled “Headless Rider.” From then on, a series of random attacks and events begins to occur on the streets of Ikebukuro, and a group known as the Yellow Scarves arises as Ikebukuro begins to crumble!

Our View:

Some consider Durarara to be “exceptionally entertaining” or “one of anime’s greatest” however in my eyes the series is a complete mess that will ultimately leave viewers confused, especially at the start. However give it some time and you’ll be rewarded with interesting conspiracy theories, plot twists, harsh revelations and several demonic characters. This is Durarara and despite what you might be expecting, it’s something completely different, that is unless you’ve already seen it.

Durarara_screenshot (2)

My initial impression of Durarara was that it was going to be tale of how Mikado Ryugamine, along with his friend Masaomi Kida, became accustomed to the life of Ikebukuro, and while this statement is true there is so much more to explore.  First of all the first episode sets the tolerance level pretty high but ‘overloading’ you with characters, at first you think “it’s an introduction to Ikebukuro for Mikado” but you soon realise that each of these characters play a vital role in the series, especially the headless rider Celty.

While the first few episodes tend to focus on Mikado Ryugamine he isn’t really the series main focus of the show, though he does get a fair amount of screen time, instead the whole cast of characters introduced in the first episode can be seen as the main protagonists, with some taking center stage more than others. Each episode is a new tale within the city of Ikebukuro, or more accurately these episodes can be seen as backstories for characters introduced within the first episode. Not all characters get an ‘in-depth’ backstory, such as Simon the Russian Sushi guy, but key-characters such as Shinra Kishitani (an underground doctor), Izaya Orihara (an informat broker), Shizuo Heiwajima (aggressively strong person) and Celty Sturluson (the headless rider) all get their backstories told.

Durarara_screenshot (5)

While initial impressions left me confused there is a story to be told, you just have to put the pieces together yourself. The first half of the series focuses on introducing the main cast of characters and the infamous “Dollars” gang, but more importantly it’s about Celty discovering who she really is. The second-half on the other hand continues the trend of “Gang-warfare” but also introduces a new antagonist known as Saika.  There isn’t really a distinction between the storylines either, as they each overlap and interwine with one another – so a topic once thought closed (such as Celty’s missing head) is constantly being brought up. It’s a clever, and entertaining, way to present a series but those looking for a more direct approach may find it hard to adjust.

Storyline aside the main attraction with this Blu-ray (and future DVD) release of Durarara is the inclusion of a fully complete English Dub, as the previous DVD release (by the now defunct Beez Entertainment) only contained English Subtitle version. The English Dub version was produced by Bang Zoom! Entertainment, and as such talent was used to bring out the best in the English Dub, including a few fan-favourite voice actors. Whichever audio version you choose to watch you’ll be awarded with a unique viewing experience, and that’s all you can really ask for from Durarara.

Extras:

Like I mentioned before the main attraction with this release of Durarara is the inclusion of an English Dub, and as such the extra content offered is disappointing, especially when compared to Anime Limited’s other titles.

Durarara_Extras

As you can see the only extras included in this Blu-ray release of Durarara is the clean (textless) opening and closing animation songs for the entire series. The series contains two opening and two closing animations, all of which have some interesting sequences as they showcase all of the characters in the show.

Amusingly the extras menu has its own flaw, as when choosing the second opening it actually plays the first ending, where as choosing the first textless ending plays the second opening song.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x4
Region: B
Running Time: 2:51:44 (Disc 1 & 2), 2:27:12 (Disc 3 & 4)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio:  LPCM 2.0 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

In the world of Durarara, Knowledge is power and deceit is everywhere, and as such expect the unexpected and you’ll most likely find yourself being entertained by this confusing, but enticing, storyline that involves the whole of Ikebukuro. Durarara delivers an experience, but it’s not exactly easy to put into words as it’s in a genre of its own.

Durarara_screenshot (4)

This Blu-ray release of Durarara provides many positives, but at the same time it also has a few issues, most of which can be tied to the original disc author, Siren Visual. The real issue is the lack of subtitles for on-screen text or foreign dialogue in the English Dub. For instance Celty uses text messaging to talk to people and majority of the time celty’s voice actor will speak whats being shown, but sometimes there will be no voice so you are left pondering what she is saying. The same can be said for Simon, sometimes he speaks Russian but yet no translation (in subtitle form) appears on screen. This issue only effects the English Audio track and as such the Japanese (with English Subtitles turned on) is unaffected.

The reason for this is because there is only one subtitle track included and while it can be turned on this subtitle track only relates to the Japanese Audio track. Basically if you turn the subtitles on you’ll not only see the translated text or subtitles for characters speaking in Russian but you’ll also see the subtitles for characters speaking in English. Most anime releases contain two subtitling options, the first subtitle is usually for translated text, foreign dialogue and songs, which cover the issues I mentioned, while the second subtitle track is used for the Japanese Audio track. In this Durarara release there is only one Subtitle option and that’s intended for the Japanese Audio track, Like I said if you watch anime in subtitle form (Japanese with English Subtitles) then you’ll be unaffected, this issue is only for those who watch their anime dubbed.

Durarara_screenshot (7)

Interestingly these subtitling issues are not the only flaws found in this release, as the extras menu had its own issues. By selecting the second opening song the first textless ending would be played, whereas by choosing the first ending the second opening would be played instead. Yet again this is down to a disc authoring error, another example is found on the disc menus. The first two discs are labelled “Disc 1 and Disc 2” but the third and fourth discs are labelled “Part 2, Disc 1” and “Part 2, Disc 2” – this is because Siren Visual released the series in Australia as two half-season sets as opposed to a complete series set.

As you can probably work out this Blu-ray release of Durarara is a mixed bag, it has the native High Definition resolution combined with a top-quality English Dub, but it does have a few flaws in addition to being a rather bare release. Either way fans of Durarara will be keen to pick-up this release, as it has been a long time coming, though newcomers to franchise may want to take caution, that is unless that want to experience something completely new and unique, as that’s what Durarara offers.

Score: review-stars-3

Durarara – The Complete Series will be available on Blu-ray from the 24th March 2014 with a DVD release to follow shortly after.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

3 Responses to Blu-ray Review: Durarara – The Complete Series

  1. Pingback: Anime Limited Unboxes the Limited Edition Durarara Blu-ray Set | AnimeBlurayUK

  2. Pingback: Anime Limited To Re-Author & Re-Release Durarara Blu-ray Set, DVD Release Delayed Until Further Notice | AnimeBlurayUK

  3. Pingback: Durarara!! – The Complete Series (Limited Edition Blu-ray) | AnimeBlurayUK

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