In Ikebukuro, the lives of its citizens continue intertwining with each other as if their fates are predestined. Mikado Ryuugamine is now one step closer to his goal of living an exciting life, and in turn, delves deeper into the darker side of Ikebukuro. After gaining absolute control over a former rival, he uses his newfound power as he pleases, purging the Dollars from the inside to mold it into the ideal organization. This proves to be as challenging as it sounds as Mikado must now deal with unwanted outside interference, most notably a re-emerging and dearly missed friend. Meanwhile, Izaya Orihara still has some schemes up his sleeve, although a rival information exchange center has proven to be quite the hindrance, lurking within everyone’s favorite downtown district. Undoubtedly, sooner or later, chaos will strike again.
To say that Durarara is no longer as popular as it once was is like saying Ariel Winter has had problems growing up. But it’s not like the show was providing much incentive to keep itself relevant in the public eye considering the creators seemed to give up on it long before the audience did. I mean at least most oversold inexplicably popular anime look nice regardless of their awful writing. Despite being made by the same team, Durarara’s production, pacing, style, and even the writing (which wasn’t exactly Pulitzer Prize material or Paranoia Agent - a much better psychological anime centered on multiple characters
- to begin with) have tanked since its emergence in 2010. In fact, I can’t even recall when I last saw it on a sales chart let alone witnessed any sort of hype or merchandise for the thing. Yeah, you’re living in a more fujoshi-filled world now, Durarara. Either get more pretty or accept your defeat with dignity.
But Durarara didn’t seem to get the memo and decided to take all the complaints we levied at the thing, arranged it on the wall, and then set it on fire. Because if you thought Shou was trying its damndest to imitate a politician last time, Ten is pretty much giving real-life presidents a run for their money with its empty promises and redundant dialogue. Do you remember how the first cour of this second season ended with Mikado becoming leader of the Blue Squares and that it signaled his first real step into the journey of darkness, getting the most naive of viewers excited for what was to come in three months? I mean even the fucking terrible opening was hinting that it’d focus on his continuing downward spiral as a merciless Dollars exterminator. Well you’ll be pleased to know that in this twelve-episode long cour, only one is dedicated to that plot point and the rest of it is spent on trying to forget it ever existed.
People say Durarara’s plot is hard to summarize, but I say they’re not thinking hard enough because it’s really quite easy to do, and in three words no less: “really badly written”. If you need more context, the gist of the matter is that the Dollars are starting to turn into the literal version of current-day 4chan and Mikado wants to purge the trolls so that the group will be back to the way it was before and, more importantly, Ikebukuro will be safe for Masaomi and Anri. Said friends decide to get their own factions together in order to stop Mikado whilst some asshole named Yadogiri Jinnai has certain plans regarding the monsters who live in Ikebukuro and Izaya has plans involving Celty’s head that are still vague at best, causing them to form their own factions in the process. Oh, and Mikado gets the yakuza involved when one of their best guys named Akabayashi join courtesy of Celty and...oh Christ, I can’t go on. This shit is fucking stupid. I’ve seen Jodorowsky films that were easier to keep straight.
It’s pretty safe to say that if you’re not up to speed on Durarara at this point, you’re not welcome, because Ten assumes you remember all the complications from prior seasons and then adds in a few more for good measure. Every single person who’s not part of the main cast gets focused on this go-around despite having virtually no storyline significance, and then the show decides to give Izaya some backstory for good measure despite the fact that he hasn’t been relevant to any of Ikebukuro’s going-ons since the Yellow Scarves arc. And Celty hasn’t been relevant ever, despite Narita’s assistance that she’s the main character. About the only way that’s true is that everything is connected to her and forgive me if we have different definitions dude, but I’m pretty sure main characters are supposed to do more than that. Like, y’know, driving the story with their character arc?
So does anything actually happen in Ten beyond establishing shit? Sorta. It’s just that it’s all incredibly inconsequential to the point that Mr. and Mrs. Filler are denying any allegation that they know the stalker arc or the “Dotachin getting run over and ending the show after what feels like the halfway point” one. You see, Durarara - and Baccano to a lesser extent - has always had a problem with tension because all the good guys are massively overpowered to the point that I’m surprised no one’s made an official fighting game out of the Naritaverse yet, and all the bad guys are fucking pathetic by comparison. You honestly can’t expect me to believe that Rui was in any trouble in regards to that kickboxing weirdo given that Masaomi and Mikado went through him shortly afterwards with only a few bruises, and she’s around Celty’s level in terms of fighting off thugs. So you’ll forgive me if I nodded off several times watching it apart from a slightly amusing minute when Shizuo thought his brother and the famous pop idol were getting married.
This somewhat changes when Izaya assembles his own Suicide Squad of capable fighters, but none of them ever directly confront the protagonists unless you count Aoba’s sunglasses-wearing brother, and Izaya seems to have no plans in regards to letting them. They’re pretty much only there for the sequel hook, and I seriously doubt much will come from it, because even when you take the one-sidedness into account, Durarara’s fight scenes are unbearably bad. This is the first time I remember noticing it, but the action seems to always end right when it’s about to get good and whenever the opposing parties are equally matched, it always ends with them walking away from each other with the promise to meet next time. Shizuo hasn’t had any interaction with Izaya since this show made its return last January, so it’s no wonder the fangirls have been going to other sources when it comes to slash-fic material this year (and incidentally, there’s quite a lot this season alone). I mean there is that episode that showcased how important Shinra is to Izaya and all, but it’s just not the same.
There’s not really much more that needs to be said about Durarara at this point other than that it needs to be put out of its misery and fast because it has long since passed the point where its conclusion could possibly be worth it and anyone who says otherwise is either incredibly shallow or incredibly delusional. That said, I am surprised at how much this sequel has eroded people’s goodwill towards the franchise as a whole, as with the exception of maybe Moyashimon, most people seem to agree that the first season still holds up well to this day and everything after is non-canon in the same way most people only acknowledge the first Matrix movie or the first Pirates of the Caribbean. And whilst that’s certainly true to an extent, I’ve seen way more people turn against Durarara as a whole than I did when Chuunibyou 2 caused people to explode in a fountain of moe tears. But I guess I shouldn’t talk. I mean I bought the Aniplex DVDs back in the day and now they’re just crying in a far corner of the room whilst I try to figure out how selling things on eBay works.
Not selling the key chain though. After all, it’s not Celty’s fault that she’s stuck in a poorly written, poorly directed, and poorly animated mess.
The build-up is done, the cards have been set, and all that remains is to see how everything pays off in the end.
Durarara is a series where the normal meets the abnormal, and not everything is what is seems at first. But what is normal? What lies beneath the mask that any particular character has? And where is this entire story going?
This season answers these questions and leaves more wide open to interpretation. What many people often complained about ever since the first half of the first season is that they miss the lack of a particular main character, and equal focus from character to
character. There's also the argument that the show focused on the most boring characters instead of the more interesting ones, which hurt people's enjoyment of the second half.
These arguments are irrelevant, and all that build-up has found an extremely interesting and satisfying answer in this season.
The story for this season follows a semi-episodic format similar to what we've gotten used to in Durarara so far. The only difference is that instead of leading to anti-climax to anti-climax, which was a major complaint in the second half of the first season as well as the first third of the second season, there is finally a feeling of real tension, that things will no longer remain the same and that the story finally has a purpose of sorts.
The characters no longer are walking aimlessly into one another without purpose, and instead are setting up factions to confront one another and find the answers that they seek in Ikebukoro. Everyone has developed and changed, and not everyone picked the faction that people assumed they'd pick at the beginning of the season. And yet the reasons why every character picked the faction they did makes sense and is logically consistent with their development up until this point, instead of the show having plot twists for no other reason than having plot twists.
The deciding factor behind the enjoyment of this season, however, is whether or not you enjoyed Mikado's development throughout the show. I personally felt his character made sense in the context of the show from the very beginning, and this season only made that more clear through the various actions he took (controversial as they may be). There was build-up to his character and it finally paid off here, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
The soundtrack is as consistent and fluid as it always was, and the voice acting was absolutely amazing and spot on. Particular mention needs to go to Mikado's voice actor, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, who did an utterly fantastic job at voicing Mikado from scene to scene, switching between calm and composed to absolutely chilling very naturally and consistently.
The artwork and animation is the same, though I must add that it was a definite step up from the various awkward scenes in Shou. The backgrounds look fantastic and the movement feels smooth and consistent, so no real problems here.
Overall, this season was a blast. It finally feels like the amazing climax we've been waiting for is arriving next season, and to say that I'm excited for the final season of Durarara is the understatement of the century.
There's a popular theory by playwright, Frigyes Karinthy, known as the "6 Degrees of Separation," which claims that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of "a friend of a friend" statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.
Basically the theory implies that everyone is connected to everyone else, in one way or another, within six acquaintances or less. So in some way, you, the reader, is connected to me, the writer. I find this theory to be not only appropriate
but also an essential insight when talking about Durarara!!. Not only does it adhere to this philosophy in the way it approaches its story but also in the way it brings it all together. Despite the ignorance that the characters of Ikebukuro have towards each others' personal affairs, when the layers are all peeled back, they're all a part of an intricate, interconnected web. And it's seeing this interconnected web all flow into a central stream of consciousness to form one overarching narrative that sets DRRR apart from its contemporaries. But despite being able to encapsulate this kind of story better than most titles, Durarara still suffers from the same issues that plagued its prior installments.
Without question, DRRR's unique approach to storytelling is its biggest highlight, and that isn't something that has changed as it continues to build upon its franchise's name. Picking up from where we left off in DRRR!!x2 Shou, we find ourselves following up on the events that happened in the Shou's climax after the dust has settled from the turf wars. Since Shou was mostly dedicated to gradual buildup, this season was able to benefit off of its coattails by zeroing in on a more focused narrative. The plot doesn't feel as scatterbrained as before, which automatically makes it more engaging than the season prior.
By far the most significant change comes with Mikado Ryuugamine's new methods of dealing with the Dollars. While he never believed in establishing any sort of law-and-order and let the gang operate without his interference, his new actions are almost night and day, as we see him become more abrasive and hands-on with his approach. No longer is he a bystander in the turmoil that occurs in Ikebukuro, now he's an active player, as we see him roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty. Whether Mikado is the proprietor or merely a pawn being used by someone else is up for debate, but his new outlook is undeniable. While the actual buildup to this extreme mindset change was, to be quite honest, half-assed, it still does wonders for keeping the audience engaged. Since the pacing of DRRR has always been notoriously slow, this plot development was one that was greatly welcomed. It brought much-needed change in what can be considered a monotonous dribble at times. While there are still episodes and moments where the meandering became overwhelmingly apparent, the payout at the end of each plot point at least delivered more than the season prior. But like the seasons before it, the sluggish pacing coupled with the "beating around the bush" approach of storytelling still prevented it from having any significant progression in the narrative throughout. This is an anime where most of the intrigue comes from piecing the puzzle together, than the actual finished product you'll get from it when it's all said and done.
As mentioned before, the most prominent character transformation comes from Mikado Ryuugamine, but another noteworthy standout this season was also Izaya Orihara. While what I'm about to say may seem like a minor detail, I still think it's worth mentioning. If you look at the show's cover art, it gives hints as to who the focus of the season will follow; this is also evident when compared to the cover art of every season so far. A quick glance through the catalog will show an abundance of characters in the prior season's cover pictures, but this time, the show only highlights the 2-star attractions (with exception to the show's mascot Celty separating their profiles). This can allude to the show shifting focus from the ever-expanding cast and take on a more compact narrative approach. Instead of branching off into several plot lines, most will now revolve around Izaya and Mikado. Both characters are now using their influence to stir things up in the city and have ultimately become the puppeteers for a lot of occurrences that happen throughout the show's run-time. Even the supposedly "stand-alone" story-lines find themselves being distorted and warped by the actions of these two important figures. The turmoil that comes, as a result, gets the other side characters caught up in the cross-hairs. In typical DRRR fashion, the "point of view" method of storytelling is the process used to show the influences Mikado and Izaya has on others. This also includes several of the characters that will provide a new piece to the puzzle, regardless of their awareness of the situation at large or not. This perfectly ties back to "6 Degrees of Separation" theory, showing that Ikebukuro is connected on the most rudimentary of levels.
Izaya was always something like Ikebukuro's version of the Joker, and now with the extra screen-time finally given to him, he's able to get the proper characterization and fleshing out that he greatly lacked before. This was an issue that the seasons prior suffered from since the show spread itself too thin by trying to cover every character under the sun. While the same can't be said for a majority of the cast, it should be noted that there were some improvements to be found, as more life was breathed into a few characters that came off as wooden before. This isn't to say that most of them aren't still heavily reliant on one personality quirk to stand out, it's just that the ones that do get the extra minutes of screen-time are slightly more tolerable than they were before.
But despite the much-needed improvement to some characters, it's still almost nauseating at times trying to keep tabs on all of their involvement in the plot. Not to say that it's hard to follow, but there are still far too many irrelevant characters that serve close to no purpose to the show's overarching narrative to warrant their presence being anything worth keeping track of. And for those that do have a connection to the bigger picture, a lot of them remain underdeveloped. Some did get a chance to be fleshed out, but even then, it was only covering the fundamentals that should have already been done by the seasons prior. If a show takes 40+ episodes to meet the basic standards of characterization expected of it, then that show isn't being handled well. As I said, there are improvements found but far too little to support the increasing demand placed on it by the content provided.
All in all, the downsizing of the character focus helped to make this season a little more tolerable than the scatterbrained approach of Shou. While this could be a direct result of Shou serving to set the stage and x2Ten piggy-backing off of that, regardless of the reason, it was less taxing as a result and therefore easier to invest into the scenarios that were playing out.
The art and animation, for the most part, remained relatively the same as the quality found in Shou. This made the transition into the new season to feel like one cohesive piece, which will help to maintain immersion for those watching them back to back. This also applies to the character designs as well, which didn't show any noticeable changes in the way they were drawn. The contrast between the opaque textures found in the background and the figures in the foreground also helped in giving everything depth of field. The soundtrack from the prior season is also carried over as well, but with the darker tone shift that this season seems to be taking on, the track choices are more on the drearier side of the OST, than the usual upbeat songs like "The Sought-after Extraordinary."
Enjoyment | Overall: 5/10
While I've found more to enjoy out of this season than what the prior had to offer, it still isn't all that much to enhance my opinion of the franchise as a whole. There are still many dead time moments and focus placed on tag-along characters for me to get fully invested. For the most part, the show just ends up being a snore fest. It's just not my cup of tea.
For every decent payout that Durarara offers, it is followed up by a stagnant and often tedious buildup that makes the endless journey not worth it. Every time I consider suggesting DRRR to someone, I'm constantly reminded that the pacing is still abysmal, the characterization is still lax, and no matter how "cool" the idea of an interweaving narrative sounds, it doesn't amount to much if very little is being done with it. Durarara isn't a bad show; it's just one that is poorly realized at this point, being stretched out entirely too long for its own good.
Easily the weakest Durarara season so far, sporting problems with its animation and seemingly random characterization created by the omission of information from the light novels. Characters will usually talk about events or characters that do not appear on the anime which can cause confusion and eventualy, the lost of interest in the series.
This season adds a lot of new questions but answers very few of the already existing ones while adding several new characters that are not very well developed ( if at all ). Overall this season feels like it exists to bridge the previous season with the next one.
If you've watched
all of Durarara so far and enjoy it you will probably watch this season as well although be prepared to feel underwhelmed and somewhat dissapointed by it.