Durarara!!: How to Get Started With the Anime & Light Novels

Most series opt to tell stories focusing on a central protagonist with a moderately sized main cast in a linear storyline. Yet occasionally, something like Durarara!! comes along that ditches this traditional form of storytelling for a more complicated narrative. Durarara!! features a near-innumerable number of major characters, many of whom could easily qualify as the main lead in their own right.

Accordingly, the nature of its literary style focuses on each member of the cast in due turn, changing genre as it sees fit. While it maintains an urban grunge aesthetic throughout, it ties in supernatural, action, horror, romance and comedy elements at whim. To help interested parties get started on this breakneck undertaking, here's a guide to the plot of Durarara!! and what the options are to enjoy it.

The Plot of Durarara!!

The ensemble cast of Durarara looking suave

For the reasons mentioned earlier, it's difficult to say that Durarara!! has any singular plot. In general, the series can be summed up as the story of Ikebukuro, chronicling the lives of its legion of citizens and the many strange occurrences they find themselves caught up in. It opens with the account of Mikado Ryuugamine, who has moved from the countryside to find a more exciting city life. While it sometimes resembles a slice-of-life story with Mikado and his friends, Masaomi Kida and Anri Sonohara, the city reveals itself to be full of secrets.

From there, the narrative encompasses a myriad of different plotlines. Ikebukuro is in distress due to a power upset between its numerous color gangs, who must also now contend with a mysterious intelligence network called the Dollars. Meanwhile, a headless motorcyclist rides the streets with shadowy retribution, striking down all who wrong her. This is just a sampling of Durarara's many stories, which include tales of the Russian mafia, demonic swords, scientific conspiracies and even the everyday antics of a good Samaritan otaku group who hang out in a van. Each part weaves itself in seamlessly to form an overarching timeline that allows the audience to enjoy it on both microscopic and big-picture levels.

Where to Read the Durarara!! Light Novels and Manga

Cover of Durarara!! Light Novel volume 1

Durarara!! began as a light novel series by Ryohgo Narita, known for incorporating the same storytelling and ensemble cast approach into most of his works. The original books ran from 2004 to 2014, spanning 14 volumes including one side story novel. Yen Press has localized the 13 main entries of this lineup in English, which can be purchased physically from retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Right Stuf Anime. Digital versions can be purchased through Kindle and Bookwalker. An ongoing sequel titled Durarara!! SH began localization through Yen Press in 2021.

Additionally, the series received a serialized manga adaptation in Square Enix's Monthly GFantasy magazine, covering three of Durarara!!'s major arcs. These have been collected into 10 volumes, which were translated into English by Yen Press. The manga can also be purchased through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Right Stuf Anime. Manga adaptations of the franchise's two games have also been published, but have not yet received English versions.

Where to Watch the Durarara!! Anime

Cast of Durarara!!x2 in Ikebukuro

Following the success with the anime adaptation of Baccano, another light novels series by Ryohgo Narita, Brain's Base studio announced in 2010 that they would be turning Durarara!! into an anime as well. Thanks to the show's production lining up with the rise of anime streaming services, Durarara!! was one of the earliest series to enjoy a simulcast release on Crunchyroll with English subtitles during its 25-episode run. It would further receive a 36-episode sequel series titled Durarara!!x2, separated into three runs between 2015 and 2016.

Due to airing during the anime industry's transition to online distribution, Durarara!! enjoys solid preservation. Still, it can be difficult knowing what service has it at any given point in time. As of this writing, the series can be streamed in its entirety on Funimation, while the first season is available on Netflix and Hulu. Despite Crunchyroll airing the show during its release, they announced its departure from the service in May 2021. Alongside the Japanese version, an English dub produced by Bang Zoom! Entertainment and Aniplex is available on all its current streaming platforms.

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