With a slick and stylish set of opening credits that throws more characters at us that you could probably find in half a dozen other anime series, Durarara!! certainly sets out its stall from the very first moment to prove that it means business. But there's more to anime than just putting together some drool-worthy opening titles, of course...
From here, we're introduced to the world of Durarara!! via the eyes of one Mikado Ryugamine, a fifteen year-old who has never left his home town before until now, where he finds himself thrust into the midst of a heaving Ikebukuro, a place set to become his new home as he looks to start school there. The reason for his decision to leave town and start life in a new place comes largely on account of Masaomi Kida, a childhood friend who moved to Ikebukuro several years earlier, but who insisted that he should give a particular high school there a shot.
So, this opening episode uses Masaomi giving Mikado a tour of his new surroundings as a perfect way to introduce us to at least some of the characters who will surely become bigger players in the the series as it progresses, be they a large black chef or a couple of Masaomi's friends who are wandering around with a cardboard cut-out of Spice and Wolf's Horo (a nice touch from Brains Base; it made me laugh anyway). As the episode progresses however we find our viewpoint shifting briefly from Mikado to witness the kidnapping of a teenage girl, only to see her rescued by a person who is the stuff of urban legend - A motorbike riding "monster" who wears a crash helmet but supposedly has no head.
Thus does Durarara!!'s first episode end, serving (as you would expect) as more of an introduction to the series than anything else so as to prime us for whatever is to come. As anime goes, it has to be said that it does a pretty good job of this - Mikado's fresh-faced awe and nervousness about everything is a perfect foil for the viewer thrust into this new series which makes for an exceedingly simple way to introduce a few characters, while this episode also hasn't forgotten to give us at least a little action and excitement courtesy of said headless biker, who certainly has some abilities worthy of serious tension. Above all else, this first episode simply oozes cool, class and style, making for a great-looking series that captures the feel of a bustling city for a new visitor quite exquisitely, and it's perhaps this above all else that leaves me yearning to see more of Durarara!! already. Who said this was going to be a poor season for anime?