I wrote about the first three episodes and the gist of the show over here.

The first 12 episodes are really great, totally living up to the promise of those opening episodes. Had it stopped there, I’d probably love it as much as I did the same team’s Bacanno!. The problem is they then went straight into another 12 episode story arc.

That second arc unfortunately pales next to the first. It’s more to do with the strengths of the first arc than any specific flaws the second has. Particularly how those strengths aren’t able to be duplicated in the second arc due to the nature of the adaptation.

The big problem is that the first arc does a really great job of introducing characters, and there’s a lot of characters it has to introduce. The second arc has a lot less characters to fill us in on, and some of the new characters don’t get their backgrounds fleshed out.

Where the first arc felt like a series of interlocking origin stories, the second arc has to deal with a fairly linear gang war story. We do get a couple of new origin stories and a couple of fun character introductions in there, but it doesn’t compare with the weirdness of the first arc. Related to this is the second arc’s use of different narrators to relay different points of view of the narrative and characters isn’t as strong as the first arc’s episodes.

The second problem is that the lead of the first arc, Celty, is pushed into a supporting character role in the second arc, with Mikado, Masaomi and particularly Anri taking the lead roles.

Frankly, they aren’t as interesting as the adult characters, plus the plans of Izaya which set them up as the main characters, are revealed as delusions of grandeur by the end. Which is kind of the point, and you can appreciate that when the point is forcibly made by Simon in the final episode, but while you’re getting there you’re expecting a little more than what you get.

That plan of Izaya’s is probably the one weakness that is the arc’s own. The plan relies on that screen-writing cliche of not having characters talk to one another in order to keep the running time up and the story going. If the three had just talked honestly to one another the whole story would have lasted on episode. They give enough reasons to keep the characters emotionally isolated from each other, and that isolation is somewhat the theme of the arc, but I felt there was about one too many episodes of drawing that out. It passed from tension to frustration.

Had they put a gap between arcs, I think I’d have been a bit more accepting of the changes, but in contrast with the opening arc it was a little dissatisfying.

That being said, there’s still plenty to like in the second arc, particularly the various fight scenes with Shizuo and the inventive lengthy chase sequence where Anri is pursued by the Yellow Scarves. And there’s a pay-off between Izaya and Anri (and then Izaya & Simon) at the end that puts Izaya’s self-proclaimed “love” of humanity in a clearer light. Makes me wonder if there’s some subtle word play around that in the original Japanese dialogue that the Crunchyroll subtitles miss?

Certainly there’s nothing in the second half that would put me off wanting more Durarara!!, there’s still mysteries to be explored and it’s full of engaging characters. I just hope that further story arcs don’t rely on three teenagers not talking too one another to power twelve episodes worth of plot.

2 thoughts on “Durarara!!”

  1. I’m told that the series is based on the first three books in the Durarara series with each of the three being about Mikado, Anri or Kida respectively. Also that the third book, Kida’s, is the weakest in the line so far and is the one the end of Durarara was adapted from. So if they do make more which seems likely it should pick up.

    1. Yeah I took a look at some blurb on the later novels and certainly it looks like things will get more interesting. Given the success the show has had in Japan, I’d think another season is highly likely.

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