Durarara!!x2 Ten – 01 or 13 or Whatever

Izaya’s alive! But his hospitalization means one thing for the rest of the cast – time to have a ‘peaceful day’. Recovering from the events of Shou and with no megalomaniac trying to stir things up, our characters can start the new cour by appretiating some reflective time to themselves.

This, however, goes for Izaya too, and it’s refreshing to get an episode centred on him that allows us to see him reignited with the sociopathic traits fans have come to love, enhanced by Shinra being so unkind – but fair – to him over the phone. His ‘love’ of humans was the first thing that got me hooked on Durarara!!, and that was back when I was reading it in manga form. The flashback to those early days of the social carnage he could wreak on Ikebukero reminded me just how much I genuinely cared about his character, as he was – and remains to be – the man responsible for much of the chaos that brings out all the abnormalities of the characters we love.

Speaking of the abnormal, it’s fitting that an episode about Izaya is also an episode about the people he appears to have come to love the most – those who lead the most abnormal lives or are abnormal in themselves. He remains to wish to deny them piece, hilariously intruding on Celty and Shinra’s date together, while around him are signs regardless of how recovered people are from the show’s previous events, the more distant past is going to come into the fore. As many are bound together by the news report of his attack – seemingly all bound together by his fate, and bound to be affected by his attacker as he reveals more of his purpose in Ikebukero – we see Rio reminisce on her suicidal past, Namie get a chance to return to another old flame of Durarara!!’s plot, and a new character – another of the ‘victims’ of Izaya’s old games with suicide – who comes, and fails, to slit the narcissist’s throat. His dramatic entrance also serves as a great way to see Izaya once again shrug off what would otherwise shake a man to his core. I look forward to see him continue to literally dance with death as he did on that hospital bed.

One thing I’m unsure of it whether our failed assassin is supposed to bear a name yet. The fact I can’t remember it if he was given one in the first season put me right in the mind of Izaya, seeing this person of ‘insignificance’ come back into his life, as though all his actions are connected by the same strings, with nothing ever failing to move because of his influence even if it is long forgotten by himself and the viewer. I love clever storytelling ploys like these – so many shows only deal with what we remember, and don’t take advantage of the viewer’s natural ability to forget. In this case, it meant that I was reliving Izaya’s past just as Izaya himself was. Without that, I would have only found is ecstatic response comical. With it, I was there dancing in the falling feathers beside him.

There were lots of other minutes details that the show was, as usual, always careful to draw attention to. Mikado still bears the bruises from getting beaten up in the last cour, but they’re healing, making me think how that experience is going to stay with him but also make him stronger. Izaya’s plot to rock Shizou’s boat also seems too typical, so I expect his rumours will have more complicated consequences than those he intends. Also, for an episode that follows directly after a climactic introduction of a new dangerous stranger  – Yodogiri Jinnai – the action is worryingly in the background. We only get rumours surrounding this character’s name and brief flashes of violence; if Durarara!! is holding back its chaos, I look forward to seeing what’ll fly and how far when it lets go of the slingshot.

The concept of Yodogiri being ‘poison’ also ties in with our impression of Izaya. If Izaya loves seeing people live their lives, will Yodogiri be his opposite, loving to see people be destroyed from the inside? Then again, we could say that’s what Izaya’s been doing with the gangs of Ikebukero – or has he been making them thrive? My favourite question about the show is what the city would do without its puppet-master, and the first episode of this new cour has made that encompass all my expectations for where these twelve episodes will go.

I see where he’s focusing…

As usual, Durarara!!’s sense of pace never ceases to amaze me. It can be a little jarring if you’re not used to it, but the jumps between each character are so rhythmically and thematically designed that you can’t fault whoever had to squeeze everything into twenty-or-so minutes. The use of specific imagery – the clock, the TV report – to link certain scenes together also gives a sense of completeness to a style that could otherwise feel broken apart. The OST also remains to be brilliantly obscure.I would never want Durarara!! to stop its unorthadox production style, being about unorthadox people with unorthadox relationships in a city that, cliche as it sounds, never seems to sleep, even if characters are resting for the next outbreak of chaos.

That being said, while the ED still worked for me, the new OP doesn’t get me in the mood the previous cour’s did. Perhaps it signifies a change towards a more reflective and self-aware pace and tone, but the new song just didn’t impact me with those thoughts when I first experienced it. Durarara!!’s always been hit-and-miss with its OPs, but I was hoping Ten’s would be even more riveting than the one before it. It’s something I’ll get used to and may like over time, but the new OP lacks the sense of *style* that I experienced whenever I tuned in to Durarara!!x2’s first cour.

Still, the episode itself got me right back into the mood I’d been waiting for.

Will Aoba’s face ever be one we can trust?

Final Thoughts

It’s back, and it’s still unashamedly the most complicated plot I’ve ever seen unfold on a weekly basis. The lack of Izaya’s sisters in the OP and the episode makes it feel like they’re fading out of the show for now, which may disappoint some viewers. I’m okay with it though, considering how many new elements are creeping in.

Aoba’s meddling also never ceases to continue – what a fantastically understated cliffhanger. I’m excited to see the origins of his decision to become ‘friends’ with Shinra and Celty; is it under Mikado’s direction, or is he already going underneath the contract they signed in blood? Whatever happens, I’m on board for a ride of sociopathic thrills as the new cour of Durarara!! continues.

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