「艱難汝を玉にす」 (Kannannanji o Tama ni Su)
“Adversity Makes a Man Wise”
Really, what else needs to be said? Was there ever any doubt that Shizuo would be our closing act in our brawl? Yes, Anri and Va/orona were kinda cool, Chikage was kinda cool, but in the world of Durarara!!, no one packs as much star power as Shizuo. Two people get the girl this episode: Chikage, who’s a womaniser and it’s expected of him, and Shizuo. Hell yeah, Shizuo! You’ll be good in like 10 years, and then you can marry a princess! Mikado is nominally the main character, and he’s not gotten as far in three dozen episodes as Shizuo did in one scene (and, alas, Mikado has already been beaten to the goods). It’s not Mikado’s fault; it’s impossible to not be upstaged by a man who dribbles vans. Even Celty, a pagan Celtic analogue of the angel of death, is reduced to being his sidekick (though they do work together stylishly well).
Given what kind of reputation Shizuo must have by now, it still bemuses me why anyone in Ikebukuro would still voluntarily attacks him. Some people are just too dumb to live. How does he keep coming back? Well, as much as I enjoy watching Shizuo be eerily calm and direct himself as a focused energy instead of a as raging beast, it just wouldn’t be right if he doesn’t flip out and toss some fool every once in a while.
So Shizuo’s cleaned all that up, but a whole lot of loose ends explode into existence in the second half of the episode. Masaomi once again fails to do anything of import, like stopping his friend from making signing his deal with the Devil. I know how this one goes: Faust is trying to cheat Mephistopheles. That’s a dangerous game to play, but Mikado’s always had the crazy in him; his bigger issue is staying sane. Let’s see if this is the version of the story where he finds salvation or not. Meanwhile, Slo(a)n and Va/orana get taken out by the yakuza rather easily (this is how Durarara!! is a comedy and BLACK LAGOON is a tragedy), which was a bit disappointing, but I guess one can’t survive as a yakuza in Ikebukuro unless they were a total badass, and they had Russians of their own so that’s a wash. This opens up a second plot line, though: Slo(a)n and Va/orona need to reunite, probably through a rescue attempt. The third plot line we get is arguably the most important one: Yodogiri Jinnai (you know, the one who ruined Ruri’s life, commissioned the kidnapping of Akane, the reason why we can’t have nice things) rears his ugly head again to take out Izaya (there is no way he’s dead), except he looks nothing like what we’ve previously known him as (i.e. the anti-Santa). Well, whatever. Third plot thread.
We already know there’s going to be a Durarara!!x2 Ten in July, so all these sequel hooks are not unexpected, but still. Three cliffhangers, Durarara!!? That’s foul play.
There’s still two whole cours of Durarara!! waiting some time in the future, so I’ll only speak briefly about my final impressions for now. This last episode was certainly reminded me how fun Durarara!! can be. If only it could be like that all the time. Durarara!!x2 Shou has had its ups and downs, sometimes crisply paced, sometimes bogged in exposition, but in general there were more ups than downs. I really am not sure how well it can keep this up, though. Durarara!! can’t always rely on Shizuo showing up and being crazy awesome; eventually his antics are either going to get old or derail the plot. With the cast constantly expanding and entropy increasing, the danger is always that Durarara!! will either fizzle out or collapse under its own weight.
Things don’t look that bad, though, going into x2 Ten. Yodogiri Jinnai, who seems to be playing higher level games against Izaya (I’m assuming he’s also the one who sicced Shizuo onto him) than Aoba can hope to match, makes for a legitimate Big Bad in the near future, and some of our cast seem to be approaching the pinnacle of their character conflict. There’s already a lot of fuel prepared for the next season, so perhaps they won’t need to spend as much time on build up come July. It’s a bit too early to make plans yet, but perhaps I’ll pick up Durarara!! again then. If I do, we’ll see each other again in just a few months.