What’s it about? Majima Makoto is a seemingly average guy who helps his mom with her fruit shop during the day, but gradually it’s revealed he seems to have a reputation in the streets of Ikebukuro. Despite his mysteries connections with both the police and gang leaders, he utilizes his ties with them to help people and do things the police cannot do.
Ikebukuro seems to be the place where big things happen (or at least that’s what Durarara!! wanted me to believe). The show is based on a successful novel series by Ishida Ira which was adapted into a popular TV drama in the early 2000’s. Based on the premise and trailers, it seemed like the show would be a fun ride, but so far it’s really bland. It’s not a terrible premiere, but it felt like the series was more interested in throwing us into the chaotic world of Ikebukuro without establishing why we should care about any of these characters.
That’s not to say that throwing us into the story cannot be interesting, but depending on how it’s done, can set up intrigue about the rest of the series (Baccano! did it). Makoto is a decent protagonist and his eagerness to utilize all his resources to help a little girl find justice for her mom is admirable. He is clearly known for getting things done and seems to have a good working relationship with both the police and gang leaders.
I’m definitely curious why all these people are willing to help him without question; however, the show is missing that “spark” of intrigue, which makes it difficult to to be fully engaged with his story. It doesn’t help that the resolution to the first case was simplistic and underwhelming. I do hope they find a balance with the episodic stories and the overarching plot, otherwise it’s going to be a messy story with too many characters.
While it wasn’t fair for me to do this, I often found myself making so many comparisons to Durarara!!, since both shows are so similar except the latter had memorable characters from the start. I think Ikebukuro West Gate Park wants to be an edgy and cool series and perhaps it was at one point when it first came out. Unfortunately, whatever was great about the story has been overshadowed by the immense popularity of Durarara!! and I worry Ikebukuro West Gate Park is going to struggle trying to distinguish itself this season.
I don’t want to be so harsh on this series, especially since this is just the first episode and it can get better. The question is, will I stick around long enough to find out?
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