Studio/Creator: Brains Base/Ryohgo Narita (writer) Suzuhito Yasuda (illustrator)
Distributor: Aniplex USA, streams on Crunchy Roll and Crackle
No of Episodes: 24 +2 specials
Suggested Age: 13+
My Rating: 8/10
Summary: When Mikado moves to the Ikeburo District, he is reunited with his childhood friend, Kido Masaomi. He also learnes that the district is home to headless motorcyclists, street gangs, superstrong bartenders, and Russian sushi chefs.
Review: This was actually better than expected. I liked how realistic the setting looked. Even for a gritty urban setting, the city was well-drawn. I thought it was great that Celty, the headless motorcyclist, wasn’t even as evil as you’d expect–in fact, most of the time it seems like she’s the true hero of the story.
The closest thing the show has to a villain is Izaya Orihara, a “knowledge broker” who lives to manipulate others. He not only plays chess, but he also plays shoji, go, and Othello along with it–all at once. And sometimes, he even lights the board on fire! Yeah, he’s a little nuts.
My main problem with the show stems from its pacing. The show’s plot goes by way too fast and the big surprises come out of nowhere. I won’t spoil them for you, but I will say there’s practically little, if any, buildup to them. I watched it twice, and saw no clues. I believe surprises work better if there’s buildup, so I was slightly annoyed by that. Other than that, this was an enjoyable series.
Sub/Dub: I watched the dub on Adult Swim and thought it was pretty good. Crispin Freeman played Shizuo very well. The biggest surprise for me was learning that Johnny Yong Bosch, who plays Izaya, actually knows Russian. And since Izaya also knows Russian, this adds some authenticity to his portrayal–more than his Japanese VA, who doesn’t even sound convincing.
Music/Score: I didn’t much care fro the show’s background music, but I did like the first opening and the two closing songs.
Violence (5/10): Because the show involves street gangs, there is inevitable gang violence. We also learn that one character is a victim of child abuse. And there’s a serial killer.
Language: (6/10) Considering Cartoon Network had to bleep out some of the language in the dub, I’d say watch out for this.
Sexuality: (3/10) There’s a character named Anri who has somewhat big breasts. Kida often makes sexist jokes about them, often with her right there to hear them. Izaya has twin teen sisters who french kiss each other in one of the special episodes.
Religion: (1/10) Celty is a modern-day version of the headless rider from the infamous Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Her motorcycle even whinnies like a horse when it does wheelies. Also, the serial killer in this story has a possessed sword and SPOILER: can control her victims.
Related Media: This is based on a series of graphic novels. The writer and illustrator also wrote the novels that inspired Baccano!, which is also connected to this series. However, you don’t really need to have watched Baccano! first.