Reviewby Mark Sombillo, May 29th 2011
Durarara!! Part 2
Things in Ikebukuro are heating up. Mysterious factions, the stuff of urban legends, seem to be coming to life all around the residents of this increasingly tumultuous city and something has to give. Anri, Kida and Mikado begin to take interest in what's going on, searching for answers all in the hopes that they can protect one another albeit without actually telling each other. The gang known as the Dollars has begun to make its move and no one as yet knows what their intentions are or who the leader is. The various other gangs of the city also prepare and a once dormant gang, the Yellow Scarves may not stay quiet for long. And in the midst of all of this, the Slasher is wreaking havoc, hacking away at the citizens no matter what group they belonged to. Soon our merry trio will become engulfed in this urban war more than they ever thought possible.
Part 2 of Siren Visual's release of Durarara!! starts off where Part 1 should have ended. The last episode of the first volume climaxes with an altercation between Shizuo (the bar tender with super human strength) and Celty (the headless Dullahan) on one side and Seiji and Namie (the siblings aligned with the shady pharmaceutical company) on the other. The story cuts with Mikado having rescued the red haired girl that seemed to be the centre of all the commotion and essentially we're left to ponder after that how all of this will pan out. I can tell you however that this was not as big of a cliff-hanger as one might hope to convince viewers to continue on and buy the next volume.
But that's ok because it just means part 2 starts with a bang! Just to pre-empt the rest of this review, I must profess that this volume represents the best that Durarara!! has to offer. It's literally filled with moments that engage, and revelations that make you gasp at the implications they have. Basically this is the “Holy Crap!” volume that must not be missed, which unfortunately makes this a particularly hard thing to review without spoiling the key events.
As from the start, one of the strong points of this show is its characters and the well written way they develop. Outwardly, the three main characters begin as seemingly innocent high school students whose intrigues go no further than for looking after their friends. In retrospect, perhaps you can even say that they were intentionally made to look very naïve just to juxtapose immensely against what their true natures were. This might actually be a bit much to swallow and you'd be left thinking “WTF” again and again. What's wonderful however about their transformations is that they make sense. Part 1 invested enough time to properly flesh out their traits and also followed them up after the big bombshells that though you may initially be taken aback, it will not be long before you say “of course!” This believability is also largely helped by the fact that even when circumstances changed they never back flipped on their motivations; all their actions were always to help their friends.
The large cast of the show was also given a thorough polishing. Indeed the main focus of the story was actually about Celty more than the main characters themselves by the end of episode 12. New characters continue to be introduced however and this does become a flaw at times. Mixed with continual flash backs, stories being shown in patches and focuses moving from character to character means a continual need to refresh your memory regarding who's who and which side they belonged to.
One character however that required more fleshing out was Izaya. As is, he appears to be a character with mainly malevolent intentions but has no qualms regarding who he aligned himself with in order to achieve his goals. Frequently his self-serving ways do end up betraying those he promised to help once his goal was realised. Devil incarnate is probably a term that would best describe him and with his slanted eyes and wicked smile - it's also not hard to see it. Despite all this and his very pivotal role in the whole show, very little is explained about where his motivations and even final goals lay. For a show that seems to revel in explaining everything (including the myth surrounding the headless rider), this seems like a slight bit of oversight.
There's definitely more action here and the choreography cooked up a steaming pot of awesome. A frequent complaint about the art style is the insistence of drawing up the background crowd in a monotone, almost cut-out-like visage, particularly when they are numerous; but I think there's actually a point to this. It's a very useful device to differentiate a background crowd that's meant to be just a filler to the surroundings versus a crowd that actually participates in the scene. When this happens, it's plainly more obvious that something has afflicted the denizens as if their uniformed colours were like the marker of their disease.
From episode 13 onwards we are treated to brand new opening and closing songs. “Konpurikeishon” by ROOKiEZ is PUNK'D is my favourite of all the songs played in the series because it aims for a more dramatic representation of the show. Basically as you step in to the second half of the series, this song tells us it's time now to be serious, contrasting the more punk/street style songs by Theatre Brook and Yūya Matsushita in the first half.
As we reach the ending, we are faced with a cliff hanger worthy of Star Wars Episode V - just as Luke Skywalker found out who his father was. This volume has done a very wonderful job of setting up all the pieces in this crazy chess board that the expectations will indeed be high for a dynamite conclusion. In a way you can say that the general conclusion after this will probably be predictable despite how complex all the storylines have become intertwined, however it's in the details that we are all left hanging for more and where you'll be sure to hope you bought Part 3 too already.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : A-
Art : A-
Music : A
+ Good new opening and ending songs for start of the second half of the series.
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