Mania Grade: B+
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- Audio Rating: B+
- Video Rating: A
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Menus Rating: B+
- Extras Rating: B-
- Age Rating: 13 and Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Aniplex USA
- MSRP: 49.98
- Running time: 225
- Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Durarara!!
Durarara!! Part 2
Durarara!! Part 2 Anime DVD Review
By Chris Beveridge
March 22, 2011
Release Date: March 29, 2011
© Aniplex USA
Truths are revealed and the Slasher makes a definite impact on the residents of Ikebukuro.
What They Say
A pitch-black headless motorcyclist who roams the city?! High tension, suspense, and action are taking over Tokyo's Ikebukuro District! Warped romances and friendships - and plenty of hidden secrets - lie behind these big city walls.
The audio for this release is a bilingual presentation from Aniplex with both the Japanese and English tracks encoded in stereo at 192kbps. With the opening song being one of the strongest ones I've heard in the last couple of years, the mix comes across realy well here and there's a definitely sense of space and depth applied to it. The show has a lot of dialogue to it and a fair amount of quiet moments but the incidental music and sound effects all come across really well both in placement and level. It's a pretty rich mix in how it uses the soundstage and both tracks are solid. The English language track manages to work rather with the cast feeling like they blend into the world really well. The shift between internal monologue and spoken dialogue has a slight but noticeable level difference to it that I think is a bit harder to notice in the Japanese side and that helps to give it a little richer of a feeling.
Originally airing in 2010, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The first nine episodes are in this set spread across two volumes with five on the first and four on the second. The animation by Brain's Base has a distinct style about it here with lots of shark edges both in the characters designs, such as hair and faces, but also in their clothes. The world of Ikebukuro is very much a character in this show and the amount of detail given to it is shown really well here, especially as a lot of it takes place at night or in dark areas. It's a rich and lively city that's given a life here and the transfer captures it. Colors are rich when appropriate, especially with a lot of the backgrounds in the city, but also with the online aspect with the chat rooms that use bold colors. Cross coloration is nonexistent but there are a few moments of some line noise during a panning sequence or two which is rather negligible overall. It's obviously leaps and bounds above the simulcasts I watched but it has a very strong look on our setup at seventy inches.
The packaging for this release is a digipak with a clear slipcover over it that helps to tie it all together thematically. The front of the slipcover is clear except for a pair of keep out bands across it that looks good against the digipak artwork. The back does the same though it goes across it a bit more and there's a insert between the digipak and the slipcover itself. It's here that we get the standard back breakdown with several shots from the show against a straight black background. The left side has a breakdown of the episode titles and numbers with what's on which disc and a rundown of the production credits. There's no plot concept or summary provided here so it has to sell itself entirely on pre-existing knowledge or just the appeal of the artwork itself, which is definitely good.
Inside the slipcover we get the digipak itself which has some really good design and character elements to it. It's a dark cover overall with the cityscape filling up the background with the lights and the shadows of the buildings while the foreground of the front of it has the primary trio of characters together in their usual outfits of school uniforms. The back of it adds a little more color with Dotachin and his group in a brightly lit area of town. There's a bit more light to the buildings in the background here which gives it a very distinctive feeling. The reverse side of the digipak has clear hubs on it and behind it we see the same backgrounds as the front of it but without any of the character artwork which further cements how much of a character Ikebukuro is to the series. Also inside here is a set of postcards that shows off a five different pairings of characters against a variety of colors. They all look really good and are definitely frame worthy.
The menu design for this is really quite fun as it uses some of the basic but good character artwork images of the main trio of characters done to a bit of a blue filter while having the various keep out strips across it, one of which has the navigation itself. What makes it more than just a basic looking menu though is that they've layered the images so it has a good sense of depth and the whole thing is bouncing around lightly to some very good music that sets the tone just right for it. The navigation strip is straightforward and very easy to use with quick load times and the submenus are nicely laid out as well. The discs read our players' language presets which was a welcome change of pace to how many releases are.
The only extras included here are on the second volume with two music videos.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The middle installment of Durarara is a kind of awkward release in a way because the main arc from the first volume ends with the first couple of episodes here and then it moves into the next arc. A lot of the energy from the first storyline involving the Dollars, their origins and how Mikado is dealing with the Celty and her discovery of who her head may be on is lost. A lot of the power of the first storyline culminates really beautifully in these first couple of episodes is lost since it's taking some time to follow-up after the first release, again making me wish these was released in two sets rather than three. Thankfully, the next arc of the series is largely wrapped up in this set and we get the start of the third and final one which helps to bring a lot of things together.
The culmination of the first storyline is one that is very good as I remember the surprise I felt as Mikado's plan was unveiled as he brought in Izaya and Celty in order to stymie the woman who was after the head. The sense of power about it as the Dollars make an actual stand under Mikado's guidance is really well executed, especially as it causes Celty to truly reveal herself to everyone in a way that cements her as a supernatural force, though there's still that disbelief that many have over it. What we get out of this is a new way of viewing all that went on during the first set as we have to take in what Mikado has organized and built. Going through the exploration of how he was out in the country and managed to organize the Dollars as a force for good at a time of transition is really great to see unfold and it speaks a lot not only for him but for all those that are involved.
Once done with that though, Durarara moves into a very interesting direction as it shifts its focus to Anri. With her getting closer to both Mikado and Masaomi, she's still doing her best to keep them at a relative distance because of fears she has about getting too close to anyone based off of her past issues. There's a lot of charm in watching Mikado trying to get closer to her since he's so obvious about it and Masaomi actually does things right by making sure he gets opportunities and steps out of the way, but there's some serious interest on his part as well in her which is cute. Of course, Anri has a lot going for her with both looks and personality, so it's understandable why he'd be interested. Of course, she has her own issues that come about as this storyline progresses.
As we've caught hint of before, the story involving the Slasher takes center stage here as it's causing more problems in the area and Anri's connection to it becomes much clearer. The Slasher's attacks are getting more and more violent and Anri is getting caught up in them, which is where the exploration of it is going. There's a curious approach used with a reporter who ends up being taken over by the Slasher who is there to find out about Shizou, but before he gets taken over we get a good look at how more of Ikebukuro functions and some of the connections between the characters. That it turns violent for him isn't a surprise, but the layers involved with his past and how it connects to things is another piece of the Durarara puzzle as it reveals itself. That continues to be one of the biggest aspects of the series that's so tightly written.
Durarara does start in on the next main arc here towards the end where we see more of how Ikebukuro is continually changing. With the past having been explored some with the Dollars, we learned a bit about the Yellow Scarves and the Blue Squares with the rivalry that they had going which ended up causing both of them to disappear, though it seems like the Blue Squares made out the worst between the two. With the end of this set, Masaomi starts to realize that more and more people along the streets of his city are wearing yellow in various ways, showing the slow but sure return of the Yellow Scarves. There's an amusing twist to it as he sees it happening though and that makes you grin as it starts to reveal another layer that has you wanting to go back to rewatch both sets over again to see what you may have missed.
Watching Durarara in this form again is a very different experience than watching it weekly through simulcasts. The middle and third arcs of the series didn't capture my attention as much as the first one did when I watched it in that form, but here the second arc comes across as a much more cohesive piece of work when taken in one sitting. What does shine through no matter the way you watch it though is the characters themselves. With it shifting between different groupings of them depending on what's needed and each of them having such interesting connections to each other, there's a lot to like with it no matter who is on screen. Because invariably they'll come back together again in a way you may not expect. Durarara is the rare show with strong replay value over quite a few viewings as it will always add a new wrinkle you may have missed. Aniplex has again put together a strong release here that makes you want more of it as quickly as possible.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Music Videos
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.
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