Having just arrived in Ikebukuro by train, Ryuugamine Mikado has come to Tokyo to attend high school. He is met by his old friend Kida Masaomi who he hasn’t seen since elementary school, but they’ve kept in touch online. Mikado is amazed by the sights of Ikebukuro, and as Masaomi shows him around, Masaomi explains that recently there’s been a decrease of the famed color gangs, though it’s still not entirely safe. Along the way, they run into some of Masaomi’s acquaintances, mainly Yumasaki Walker and Karisawa Erika, who are on their way back from buying a bunch of light novels. Afterward, Masaomi and Mikado pass by a girl, not knowing that this same girl would get kidnapped a short while later. They also come across a large black man that Masaomi recognizes as Simon Brezhnev who is trying to attract customers to a sushi shop. Masaomi warns Mikado not to make an enemy of Simon, and he also warns Mikado against getting close to a man named Heiwajima Shizuo.
Meanwhile, the kidnappers of the girl from before are confronted in a parking garage by a person wearing all black on a black motorcycle. This person is able to defeat one kidnapper by slamming his head into a concrete pillar with the motorcycle and then withstands being tasered by another before beating him up. When the third kidnapper tries to flee by car, the black motorcycle rider gives chase, but because the motorcycle follows too closely, the kidnapper is able to slam on the brakes and cause a collision. The motorcyclist goes flying, but what shocks the last kidnapper when he goes to see the aftermath is the fact that the black motorcycle rider has no head. Despite this, the rider is still able to move and pulls out a scythe from the shadows to slice the kidnapper. Back where the crowds are, Masaomi continues to tell Mikado of people he should watch out for, including someone named Orihara Izaya and the Dollars guys. While they’re talking, Mikado accidentally bumps into a girl, and when he checks to see if she’s okay, Mikado notices an odd scar around her neck. When the girl regains her senses though, she runs away in fear. Masaomi thinks that Mikado is lucky with all the people he’s met and everything that’s happened since he got here, and to cap things off, the two of them hear and see the urban legend, the black motorcycle rider, pass by.
Well I knew the opening song was catchy from all the promos, but it’s even better in long form. It’s a highly energetic song and really got me pumped up to watch the show. The animation sequence that went with it was heavy on name cards for all the characters but showed enough stuff to pique my interest in what the plot has in store. The ED meanwhile is a pretty good hip-hop/R&B type song that I initially thought was sung by one of the CHEMISTRY singers, but it’s actually by Matsushita Yuuya. It gave the series a live TV drama sort of feel, probably because I’m more used to hearing such songs on dramas.
The first episode was good, but not quite as exciting as the OP had made me think it’d be. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of interesting stuff happened and plenty of people of interest appeared (the otaku, Simon, the girl with the neck scar, etc), but pace didn’t really quicken until the headless motorcycle rider started fighting those kidnappers. Admittedly though, the way she took them down was pretty cool, and it raised a lot of questions about who she is. But for the most part, the first episode just followed Mikado and Masaomi – voiced wonderfully by Miyano Mamoru (who seems to be doing a lot less shows lately) – with a few brief chat room segments in between. I get the feeling those chat room segments will become more important as the series goes on, but for now, they seemed to be there more for exposition purposes.
Anyway, a lot of this is obviously set-up, and with this large cast of named characters, it’ll probably take a few episodes for things to start to come together plot-wise. For example, Masaomi spent a lot of time this episode warning Mikado about certain people, and I’m sure we’ll get to meet them all eventually. In short, the series has shown tons of promise so far, and with production quality quite good as well (Brains Base did a nice job, and it helps that Yasuda Suzuhito did the original character designs), I’m definitely going to continue watching.