The story of the headless rider is told rather plainly here as more back story is passed along.
What They Say
The people of Ikebukuro speak of an urban legend: the "Headless Rider". A surprising number have personally witnessed it, riding the streets on a jet-black bike with no license plate. A mysterious being, that appeared to be the most natural thing in the world, in the darkness and back alleys of the city. However, does anyone really know what it truly is? One man, Shinra, considers the mystery. Meanwhile, the headless rider herself wanders...
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the first three episodes of Durarara!!, we got a series that really did an excellent job of moving around the perspective in telling different stories that are all related as it builds up Ikebukuro and the people inhabiting it. There was a sense of excitement, danger, mystery, high school material and darker secrets laid about. With the fourth episode, the connections are obviously there as it focuses on the Headless Rider herself, but it keeps the connected nature within the show to a bare minimum really, with only a pair of brief scenes tying to other characters.
The narration and perspective of this episode is taken from Shinra, a young doctor who does very good work for some very bad people. It's the kind of work that's dangerous but pays exceptionally well and it's helped him to earn a good reputation in that particular world. He's got a fairly normal life all told, except for the fact that he lives with Celty, the infamous headless rider of Ikebukuro. Shinra slowly tells the tale of Celty, though he does it in the manner of talking about what a Dullahan is while the understanding is that he's talking about Celty. With a Dullahan being a headless fairie story from Ireland, we see a time when such a creature awoke with no past memories but knew what they were, and began a search for their head. The Dullahan mythos is explored a bit as it's told, but mostly we see the creature trying to adapt to the modern world and eventually taking a ship to Japan where the trail for her head has led.
Shinra's story is told partially from what he understands of the legend but also from firsthand experience as he met Celty as a four year old boy. With his father being a famous surgeon, he learned medical things at an early age and even helped out with his father when he struck a deal with Celty to try and understand her by dissecting her. Celty's body doesn't work normally as it's, as they say, a textbook placement of everything inside but none of it actually functions. The lack of a head gives rise to the idea that her head offers thoughts from afar or that her body is the sum total of her mind now and helps her move and think. Celty's basically spending her time in the world trying to find her body and because of her early acquaintance with Shinra, she lives with him now as she takes on various courier jobs that are sometimes distasteful.
This is a very laid back episode of Durarara!! and one that favors more exposition than seems warranted. Celty's story is certainly an important one, and revealing it early isn't a bad thing, but it feels like we're taking a time out for it to be explained rather than it being a progressive piece of the story itself. The show feels as if it's slowing down too much here to tell what is a fairly simple concept to get across. There are some really nice visuals along the way and I love how they adapted the sound of the horse into how her motorcycle starts up, but the whole things feels somewhat light in the end. The previous episodes covered a fair amount of ground and did so by involving numerous people. This story is told really with only two people, Shinra and Celty. It's a helpful story but the structure of it left me checking the countdown timer on the episode more than being as engaged in the show as I was in the previous episodes.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.