“Our planet Earth belongs to a vast universe – a universe existing in a 3-dimensional space on a single plane of existence. However, this plane is not the only one – there are a number of parallel dimensions of existence beyond the reach of us. In the singular place where all of these dimensions intersect is a dimensional nexus. The nexus appears in the form of a city – no, a sprawling metropolis. That metropolis is known as The End of the World.
There is no way to ‘find’ The End of the World. It’s place in every dimension is unknown to anyone, and those who find themselves inside the city by accident can never leave. It is truly a melting pot of the random beings of every known dimension as well as the generations of those born within the city whose legacies have long forgotten that there is any world outside.
In this nexus of dimensions, this most enormous of cities, The End of the World, anything can happen. It is here that our story takes place.”
-Tentative Intro to Dark Dreams at the End of the World
I love, love, LOVE dark urban settings. That’s a big part of why I love pulp stories and why The Dark Knight is my favorite movie of all time (among other reasons, but not the least of which is a gorgeously-filmed Chicago). It’s also the basis of my ‘magnum opus in the making,’ Dark Dreams at the End of the World, whose tentative introduction is above. Dark Dreams is a story that I came up with in early 2008 when I wanted to create something that featured everything I wanted out of a story and every kind of fucked-up plot element I could imagine. The biggest influences on the story were anime such as Black Lagoon, Texhnolyze, Gunslinger Girl, and Baccano! as well as movies like Dead or Alive and Gozu. But no doubt, Baccano! was the biggest.
I’m big on characters, as you may know. I’ll take a cool plot to go with those characters, but what matters to me is more what the characters do than what it means to the big picture. Baccano! could be called a show about ‘crazy characters doing crazy things’. Each one has tons of personality and many of them are so much larger than life that when they meet it’s like a clash of titans. I’ve long considered Baccano! the best show for characters all-around, and so I’ve similarly wanted to create a story full of crazy and memorable characters myself – and set such a story in a big, dark city, of course.
Well, wouldn’t you know that Ryougo Narita, creator of the Baccano! series of light novels, has also been writing a story about an eclectic and crazy mesh of characters set in a big, dark city! One of the characters in Durarara! episode 1 describes the district where the story takes place as one where ‘anything can happen’ and there are no words that I want to hear more. The city is beautifully brought to life by stunning art and animation coupled with excellent character designs and a real emphasis on the darkness of city night-life where the only lights are cast from the many store windows and signs. The episode literally guides the viewer through Ikebukuro, introducing them to some terms, the hows and whys, and teasing you about some of the characters.
And those teasers are the money. One man, we don’t even see – we just see a refrigerator fly through the air, supposedly propelled by his brute strength, and hear some of his legend. We learn about some creatively named gangs and meet a large black Russian man as well as some kids who apparently go around steeling Spice and Wolf promotional material (lol). But by far the most important introduction is Dullahan, the headless horseman… on motorbike. Dullahan is a hot-hot-HOT chick in a full-body leather suit and with a cat-eared yellow helmet and badass living motorcycle. Did I mention she was HEADLESS? She is powered by some kind of crazy black mist that can materialize into a fucking scythe. Who knows if she can talk. Who knows if she can feel. Who even knows where her head went. It doesn’t matter – she’s a crime-fighting mist from hell, and she is the best character of the year already.
Durarara! actually gets off to a fairly slow start, but it is a massive showing of things to come. I have no doubt that this will be an instant addition to my favorite anime. The dark city and crazy characters are a promise of the most fun and badass ride imaginable to come. And it should also give me some good ideas to finally get my god damn Dark Dreams story written!