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Durarara!!x2 Ten – Perfectly natural swelling of the plot


Need more excitement in your story? Set someone on fire.

Firstly, I apologise for all my infantile jokes. Secondly, I don’t actually have all that much to say about Durarara!!, actually, especially considering that it hasn’t really ended yet. Make no mistake; the x2 Ten edition of Durarara!! may have finished with this episode, but it’s simply a cliffhanger that is conjoined to x2 Ketsu (which will air in January). ‘Real’ endings tie up loose ends and resolve character conflicts, whereas this episode only introduces more. More importantly, Durarara isn’t really allowed to end anything without Shizuo around to play plot janitor. So, no, this is not really an end post, and more an interim evaluation post which, I suppose, has its own kind of value.

Durarara!! is a series that lives or dies by momentum. More than many other kinds of anime, it must keep moving forward, must keep the plot twisting, and can never let the viewer feel complacent. Sure, it can still manage this in cycles most of the time, easing tension in between story arcs, but it certainly cannot afford to let go of the peddle mid way. It is as the snowball rolling down the mountain; as long as it’s moving, it keeps getting bigger, but if it stops halfway down it just looks kind of awkward and lacking in clear purpose. Motion, or collision. Those are the two states of Durarara!!. I believe its binary existence is due to much of its entertainment value coming from drama as spectacle, and so to continually heighten the drama it must also continually heighten the spectacle. It’s like in a classic shounen series (like Naruto or Dragon Ball), where bosses must also get tougher and power levels must always get more ridiculous, but in the case of Durarara!! the entire plot must continuously escalate.

This reliance on momentum is why, I think, the cast of Durarara!! is always expanding. Simply adding more players is one of the easiest ways to make the game more interesting. It’s a double-edged sword, though, because while it’s true that new characters bring with them new angles to the stories and more convolutions that a writer can make use of, they also pull attention away from your existing characters. There’s only a finite amount of episode time, after all, and it may not be able to handle a bloated cast. And, if anything, it only exacerbates the need for momentum, because the moment you slow down viewers can easily get distracted, their minds wandering due to not being able to keep track who that guy was or why that gal’s important, or simply not having the patience to have to acclimate to new characters when there’s already a familiar batch that they care about. As long as the ball is rolling, as long as we’re provided spectacle, and characters enter and exit fairly quickly to keep interactions snappy, our focuses are maintained. If not, the narrative starts to feel bogged down.

So, how did this season of Durarara!! do? I think we can safely say that it managed its juggling act more adeptly than x2 Shou, relatively speaking. x2 Shou, I think, tried to introduce a few too many new characters and new plot lines, which ended up bogging things down (and we’ve just been through how well Durarara!! functions when slowed down). The alternative, though, was to skip a lot of development, so there’s no easy compromise here. The good news is that x2 Ten has been able to cash on a lot of that groundwork now. Sure, we still got new characters and stuff, but those were usually tied to what we already had and were used mainly to drive conflict (new antagonists are usually more active than protagonists, simply by virtue of their role). The various threads are starting to tie together tighter, and we’re finally plumbing them murky depths of Ryuugamine Mikado’s bildungsroman. I do have a bit of an issue with that one though; I think I’ve kind of lost track of their motivations, though. Mikado seems to want to purge the Dollars to get more agency in his life, and has kinda lost it (I think). Aoba seems to want to use Mikado to eventually control the Dollars for the sake of power (I think). Masaomi seems to think Mikado’s gone in too deep so he’s going to destroy the Dollars for Mikado’s own good (???). I don’t really know if I understand correctly, and I don’t know if it’s because Durarara!! hasn’t presented it very clearly or because I’m a moron. In any case, Celty seems to be the only voice of reason in the entire show, the only one who’s willing to solve problems by honestly talking with others—and she’s the one without a head and has to type everything. Mikado and Masaomi, after successfully avoiding meaningful dialogue with each other for an entire season in x2 Shou, have now somehow decided that they must fight. Once again, it’s a mess borne out of essentially poor communication. I suppose it’s not an entirely unrealistic conflict, just rather frustrating.

In contrast, the other plot, with Yodogiri Jinnai(s), has been relatively more straightforward, even though we’ve hardly pierced into the conspiracy. And it’s also fairly clear now how it’s going to tie with Mikado’s plot line, since Saika is now intimately involved, which will drag Anri in, which will drag Mikado in. And with Dotachin and Shizuo, two stabilising elements, temporarily out of the picture and Izaya captured (perhaps for real this time), things have been thoroughly shaken up. Hopefully Durarara!!x2 Ketsu is now free to make an unobstructed rush to the finish line. Taking a whole season off is already going to jilt our momentum, so when we come back I’m fully expecting Durarara!! to hold nothing back.

September 27, 2015 at 9:03 am
13 comments »
  • September 27, 2015 at 10:08 amsealouse

    Anytime something bad happens to Izaya I’m happy. If the show doesn’t end with his head on a pike (literally or figuratively) I will be disappointed.

    • September 27, 2015 at 12:11 pmSK

      He’s gonna somehow end up as a Dullahan and the last thing we’ll see is Shizuo (on a nice boat) with the head, finally getting his revenge.

  • September 27, 2015 at 11:03 amChristian

    The fujoshi ruined this franchise for me.

    • September 27, 2015 at 11:47 amJekoJeko

      Ways to disrespect the creator No. 69:

      “Cool show, but the fanbase ruined it for me.”

  • September 27, 2015 at 2:00 pmzrnzle500

    Think you mixed up Shou and Ten in the fourth paragraph

    • September 27, 2015 at 8:35 pmPasserby

      That I did. Fixed!

  • September 28, 2015 at 4:40 amShrubbery

    How I see it, Mikado is actually an adrenaline junky, though he does not look or feel like one. He’s addicted to danger and happening. Purging the Dollars is his excuse for what he’s doing

    • September 28, 2015 at 10:43 pmnyanlol

      I think Izaya called it way back in the original anime. Mikado, like Izaya, can’t stand boredom, so he creates chaos, whether on purpose or not, to satisfy that urge for change

      • October 2, 2015 at 7:28 amLyfe

        Mikado was basically a living contradiction to what he preached prior to his realization.

  • September 29, 2015 at 10:36 amLawson

    I love Durarara, but honestly, sometimes it creates plot out of nowhere. Like… just end already. It has so many interesting characters and I can’t say I’m satisfied with their development. As the person that has read all of DRRR novels and Baccano ones I think Baccano is A LOT more interesting even though I like DRRR style more.
    Thank you for your review. Left me with some things to think over.

  • October 1, 2015 at 10:32 pmTheVoid

    This was always Mikados true self. He lives for excitement and the joy of the bizarre and getting into danger, while at the same time still just being a normal kid. He did spend the first season early on acting like he wasn’t the leader of the dollars and worried/scared about them, all to get a kick from peoples reactions. He also got excited at not only meeting a headless person but learning about the dissections. It just wasn’t noticeable until Shizuo leaving the Dollars didn’t give him the same joy he used to feel.

  • October 26, 2015 at 6:55 pmTrap Masters

    I feel Drrr shouldn’t break it up into 3 section. Now as to the reason, I won’t discuss (possible licensing/legal issues? Or budget/time constraints?) but I feel Drrr really needs that sense of continuity for it to work. I’ve marathoned season 1 and it was amazing, but felt rather underwhelmed by season 2, for both portion. Obviously we haven’t reached the climax but it certainly feels slow at points and although each ep is interesting in of it self, I feel matharoning it would definitely work better than watching it week by week, especially with these 3 season break.

  • January 15, 2016 at 8:40 pmmetalder

    I don’t like that bit about how Mika apparently knows about everything. Seems too sudden for me.