There are some directorial decisions that annoyed me about Durarara!!. The first was the lack of detail on background characters. I’ve seen this in other anime, notably XXXholic, but the aesthetic bugs me. In XXXholic the gray images were at least animated but at times in Durarara!! they are motionless pieces of background art. This is especially puzzling considering how beautiful the backgrounds are rendered. The city comes alive with the specific details the artists put into the setting from the flower beds to the neon signs there is some of the best background art I’ve seen in a TV anime in a long time.
The second directorial annoyance is a focus on a Chat room for 3+ minutes of the episode. The audience is expected to watch the conversation unfold in a chat room without knowing anything about the characters who are speaking. I assume this will work into the story later on and it does build into the mystery aspect of the show. But considering there was no link to the characters in the chat room to the characters we were being introduced to it just serves as a distraction.
The dialog between the view point character and his reacquainted friend help to build the setting naturally. Unfortunately the view point character is led around by his friend who ends up explaining what might come to be every important piece of information the audience is going to need going forward. This hinders the viewpoint character, even if it aids to establish the world, and the story lacks a discovery aspect that is common in this sort of “fish out of water” tale.
Even with those defects the characters are still interesting. I couldn’t help but laugh at Masaomi’s friends who showed up, introduced themselves, and then walked away with a life sized cut out of Holo without explanation. The idea of a county boy moving and adapting to the big city is a common hook but one that is enhanced by the added challenge of the “color gangs” and some supernatural beings. The mystery elements of the show were well introduced and that alone makes me want to see what happens in the next episode.
Despite a few amateurish mistakes the concept introduced in this episode will make me continue watching. Hopefully the story will be good enough to overlook some of the animation blunders.