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This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Geeky Rec' of the Day -- Durarara!!

Happy New Year! I've been sitting on this review for a a couple of weeks waiting to see if Adult Swim  would repeat the entire run of the series. Happily it begins again this Saturday night or actually 1 am Sunday.

Durarara!! (DRRR!!) is a an anime set in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, an area of commercial and entertainment that surrounds a major train station – sort of like the neighborhood surrounding the New York Port Authority. It's the first place that noobs to the big city end up. The story follows Mikado, a teen from the country who just moved to the city to attend a private academy with his long time friend Masaomi who moved there a few years earlier. Their lives are much like any modern teens. They are faced with bullying, stalking, gang violence and the threat of molestation all while trying to desperately to fit in somewhere. This sounds very dark, and sometimes it is. But I don't get drawn in to things that are merely dark. It has to up end the usual teen drama for me to give it even five minutes of time. Did I mention that the title is a mispronunciation of the word Dullahan shouted in a panic. A Dullahan is a headless fairy that is similar to the grim reaper. She is from Irish folklore. In DRRR!!, her name is Celty, and she rides a motorcycle. She has a job as an underworld courier, an apartment and a roommate who is a very strange and somewhat creepy doctor. That only begins to explain how very twisted and surprising this series is.

There is nothing in the helmet.
I've long had a fascination with cobbled together families. I often do that with characters in my work. My bizarre family units are not as stabby or homicidal as the group in DRRR!! But they are a lot of fun to hang out with though a viewer is often fearing for their survival. I won't say anything about the various plot threads. The spoilers are very dangerous. No character is what they seem – not even the young, country boy, Mikado. I will say that dark themes shadow every character, and these threads are not easily tied up. One of the elements of the series that I admire the most is that even with all that mayhem, there is time found to credibly have small, quiet moments with the characters as individuals or groups. It is clear why they are drawn to each other and why their little, strange and faintly psychotic family is worth rooting for. The best example of this is Celty herself. She arrives in Ikebukuro searching for her stolen head. (there is nothing in that motorcycle helmet but black smoke). Somehow, she makes friends and has some very significant relationships. She has some highly amusing fears for a death fairy. She even has crushes. She is incredibly dangerous but somehow manages to be sweet and endearing. Likewise, Celty's best bud, the insanely homicidal former bartender, Shizuo. This is a man with frightening anger issues on the one hand. On the other hand, there is a side to him that creates deep attachment and loyalty amongst his many friends. Even the reason for his choice of bartending attire is incredibly touching. Strangely, he reminds me strongly of Craig (the endearing side, not the rage monster).

I had heard about DRRR!! a long while before it came to the US. Shizuo and his nemesis Izaya are the subjects of a great deal of yaoi fanfiction despite the fact that they literally try to kill each other every time they meet. That speculation even made it into the show as some hilarious fan service both pro and con about the relationship. This image sums the reality up. That is a traffic barrier. Usually Shizuo prefers traffic sign javelins. So take this ride. It is a rip-snoting good time that is never dull. Also, DRRR!! has some of the best opening and closing music I've ever heard in television. I usually don't like rock in a foreign language, but Theatre Brook's Treacherous Sunset (here's the link for their official video) is what rock should always be – hard driving and heart felt. Here is the link to the opening (the Adult Swim version has no subtitles). Likewise, I'm not a huge fan of hippity hop, but I adore Yuya Matsushita's Trust Me. Here's the link to his official video, because he's simply adorable. And here is the link to the series' closing. Anyway, that's my geeky two cents for the day.

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