If anyone reads the blog regularly you will know our general opinion on Durarara!! We both thought that the series was great overall but the first half was certainly stronger than the second half. That said it was a fun ride and I think it has a distinct appeal with a hip vibe and some wonderful characters. So when Aniplex sent us a screener for the first 5 episodes I figured it would be somewhat redundant to say what we have already said about the show on the blog. What we could comment on was the one major addition to the show that they have added since it was streaming on Crunchyroll, the dub. In an age where dubs are becoming increasingly rare it is a good time to examine one of the few shows popular enough to get a dub that is not coming from Funimation.
Despite how I felt about the second half of Durarara!!, I would still recommend it. And rewatching these first episodes really hits it home how much I liked the characters, the setting, and parts of the show that I did really enjoy (i.e. all the Celty stuff which encompasses the first half, anything involving Shizuo, and these two made up the best parts of the second half as well). And since Durarara!! is full of little hints of its mysteries and characters, it was fun catching little things that explain pieces of the puzzle when you know the answers.
The dub on Durarara!! has been solid in the first 5 episodes. I can only think of one of two stand out voices but thankfully no one is extremely annoying or miscast. The main trio seems to fit into their roles well. Darrel Guilbeau as Mikado is quiet and shy, Bryce Papenbrook as Masaomi is charming and annoying at the same time, and Michelle Ruff as Anri is reserved and a bit monotone as they all should be. Kari Wahlgren brings a good mixture of strong and weak to Celty which is vital to her where as Shinra is just appropriately nerdy enough without laying it on too thick thanks to Yuri Lowenthal. Izaya comes off a bit more appropriately creepy in Japanese when played by Hiroshi Kamiya but his American counterpart, Johnny Yong Bosch, gets the job done. The two biggest stand out charaters for me were Shizuo and Simon. Crispin Freeman gives Shizuo the appropriate tone of a man who is only emotions seem to be various levels of rage. Patrick Seitz can give Simon a nice Russian lilt to the charaters’ voice without going into Yakov Smirnoff country that you don’t get in the Japanese. Everyone else did not stand out in my mind but that also means I cannot single out anyone as being horrible as well. I will say that it was an interesting choice to give new voices to everyone in the chat room. This avoids letting you figure who is who on the message boards in the show before you are supposed to know who they are by voice alone.
I have to agree that overall the dub is quite competent. I never felt like it was throwing me out of the show, and in some instances, like Simon, it gave a little something extra to the viewing. But unfortunately I have to pick out Masomi as being quite grating. The character himself is somewhat annoying anyway, but his English voice crystallizes it much more so than his Japanese. Not too many others stood out for ill, they just fit right in. Though Izaya has that nice evil undertone to his voice like the Japanese. And Shizou’s voice is pretty good, but has less of a smooth, quiet quality which I missed. Considering I haven’t watched a dub in how long, this was a nice showing and seemed like the cast was a well thought-out endeavor.
Overall I like what I have seen of Aniplex’s work on the dub. They seem to have gone out of their way to put together a solid adaption. If they worked it correctly they might be able to sell Durarara!! to a viewership a bit outside of the normal otaku market. It will not be Bebop but it could go far. While they have been wise to avoid throwing dubs on most of their titles I hope they will continue to dub the titles that have enough broad appeal to warrant the cost.
While I didn’t actually get to see the packaging in person, the design looks very nice with its clear sleeve. There was also no chance to test out any extras that are planned. These sets will also come with postcards which does actually entice me a bit more than I already was but once again I didn’t actually see them. Although I do find it being broken into 3 sets, rather than 2, unnecessary with the given price point. If you prefer your anime dubbed, I think you’re in for a real treat with DRRR!! and even if you aren’t, like me, the release looks to be a very good one.