Durarara!! ×2 The Third Arc
by Jacob Chapman,
How would you rate episode 25 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
How would you rate episode 26 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
How would you rate episode 27 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
It's finally arrived! We have entered the final part of the Durarara!! sequel trilogy, along with a new rollercoaster of highs and lows right out of the gate! On the plus side, this cour's first episode is by far the most successful the show has ever been at blending recap material into scenes that still feel fresh and rewarding with a little new material and a lot of great character chemistry! Celty's exasperation at finding a heap of Ikebukuro refugees in her apartment isn't just funny (my favorite gag was the reveal that Celty still doesn't even know "that driver guy" Saburo after all this time), it's also extremely informative for anyone who's been having trouble keeping things straight as everyone's machinations spiral out of control. Hooray for clarity!
On the negative side, the show's new (and final) opening theme is overwhelmingly the weakest the series has ever had, an uninspired burner single from FLOW that already has me hoping the show's very first opening theme will come back for an encore before the curtain falls. I know it's not really a big deal, but I liked all of Durarara!!'s opening themes to some extent before this one. "Steppin' Out" really feels like a zero-effort poor match to the show's unforgettable opening style. Maybe I'm just whining because I'm going to miss this series in spite of all the execution hiccups it's had over the past year and change. Sniffle sniffle...
Setting Durarara!!'s trademark tangly storytelling aside, these three episodes have Final Battle Preparations written all over them. Last season ended with the information broker we love to hate (Izaya) and his passive-aggressive gal-pal (Namie) both landing in Kasane Kujiragi's klutches, but a pair of completely unrelated rescues gets them out of hot water at the top of this season. Shingen, Egor, and Eijirou Sharaku (the Orihara twins' sensei) save Namie from a watery grave and retreat to Celty's place, while Mikage and Kine of Izaya's Friends Club spring him from a possessed Sloan's grasp. On the surface, this might seem like a cop-out to return things to a temporary status quo, but nothing could be further from the truth. Now that they've glimpsed the brink of death at "Yodogiri Jinnai's" hands and escaped, Celty's Guild (numerous members listed here) and Izaya's Friends Club (numerous members listed here) have acquired valuable information for the endgame.
In Celty's case, she finally knows the full history behind who was in possession of her head at what time and why, which leads her to the conclusion that her true enemy is not Izaya, but Kasane Kujiragi. Her relationship with Shinra has developed to the point that she doesn't want her head and its memories back until he's died of old age, which is heartwarming, but she also doesn't want it to fall into villainous hands. Her new plan is to secure the head and leave it in Shingen's care until her relationship with Shinra comes to an end. It's immortal, so they can even dissect it if they want! Love solves everyone's problems! Well okay, not everyone's. Izaya could probably stand to let a little more love from Shinra into his life. Regardless, he now knows the location of at least one of Kujiragi's home bases, which means Izaya finally has information on "Jinnai" that she doesn't know about. That's all going to come in handy!
Especially now that Celty's head has been dropped into a bush in broad daylight by Izaya's vengeful-foe-turned-ally-turned-rogue once again, Manami Mamiya. Izaya's reaction suggests that he is neither surprised or bothered by this betrayal. I'm guessing her role in his plans and probably the story at large has ended. She was a simple human girl with crude and relatable emotions, the kind of person Izaya just can't keep himself away from. This explains both his obsession with Mikado (a person who wants to be a normal everyday human but just plain isn't) and his desire to give a girl like Manami the opportunity to try and take a slice out of him. I don't think she succeeded in getting back at Izaya, but I can appreciate that she got to make one of the biggest moves ever in a game far larger than herself. On Izaya's messed-up game board, it's sort of like one little black Go Stone capturing the White Queen.
Cameras swarm the area and the footage of the living-dead-noggin goes viral immediately, attracting the police and completely coating all news coverage. Celty passes out at the sight of her long-lost head. Seiji starts screaming, with Mika barely holding him back. Mikado looks on with dispassion before making a phone call to Izaya. At long last, it's the beginning of the end. So with all those details in place, let's re-assemble that board-game-gumbo battlefield in Izaya's brain to reflect how the War for 'Bukuro stands at the top of this final season:
- The members of Celty's Guild stand in opposition to basically everyone in some way, from Yodogiri Jinnai to Izaya to the now-compromised Dollars, thanks to the harm each of these groups has inflicted on Shizuo, Dotachin, and/or Celty's head. While some parties are retired (Namie) or neutral (Shingen), they've all agreed to share information and resources with each other to see that Ikebukuro is set right again. Their group forms the endgame's biggest wildcard, both because of their tenuous relationships to one another and all their disparate goals.
- Mikado's Blue Blood Cells are mostly in control of The Dollars at this point, and they're preparing to go to war with the Yellow Scarves if Masaomi can't leave well enough alone. (And of course he can't, because his best friend is at stake here.) Mikado's goal is simply to purify The Dollars, but he knows he can't do this without continued violence. However, the surprise addition of Shijima to his Blue Blood Cells spells trouble: after his complete humiliation by Izaya, Shijima started working for Yodogiri Jinnai! So any plan Mikado enacts is probably going to get back to Jinnai quickly, if Shijima doesn't betray her for yet another third party introduced right at the end of episode 3.
- The Yellow Scarves have mostly reformed out of gratitude to Masaomi, so for now they'll do anything he tells them to. Masaomi's real goal is to save Mikado from himself, but since Mikado is now hell-bent on controlling Ikebukuro at the cost of his soul, Masaomi has already resolved himself to go to war for the sake of the city if nothing else. At the end of episode 3, Rokujo Chikage appears before the Yellow Scarves with a proposal, but it's anybody's guess if he's offering the assistance of the Toramaru gang or just an opportunistic ultimatum.
- Yodogiri Jinnai, in reality nothing but a dead alias pasted onto different old men used for different meetings with different clients, is controlled by his monstrous former secretary Kasane Kujiragi, who seeks to use Saika to infect and control as many people as possible in pursuit of an unknown goal. (Perhaps to become the ultimate information broker? To sculpt the perfect life for herself in secret by enslaving others without their knowledge?) Whatever her mission, she seems to have an untraceable number of fingers in everyone else's pies, making her extremely dangerous and unpredictable.
- The Awakusu, spurned by Akabayashi's discovery, Izaya's schemes, and the ongoing consequences of The Dollars' first public fiasco in the assault on Saitama, stands poised to escalate this entire conflict with the kind of ruthless firepower only an adult-run criminal syndicate can supply, swooping in to swallow up what remains of The Dollars and any of their assets once the dust has settled.
- Izaya, with the shockingly potent power of his Friends Club behind him, is just dying to watch all these forces go at each other for his own personal gratification, with chaos itself as the final goal.
- Amidst all these forces, Anri stands alone and very nearly forgotten. She could have an army of Saika-slaves at her disposal, but she only cares about protecting the boy she loves (Mikado) and his best friend (Masaomi) from themselves. Unfortunately, her symbiotic relationship with Saika has long rested on her ability to repress her own emotions and desires. But things may come to a disastrous end unless she finally chooses to act for herself...
I guess I made it pretty obvious there that I think Anri is the key to giving this whole catastrophe a happy ending. In fact, most of episodes 2 and 3 are devoted to Anri's feelings and motivations, despite her position as the most unconnected piece of this giant puzzle. Izaya talks to a half dozen different rogues across these three episodes, but the only one he's truly honest with and really seems to affect in a meaningful way is Anri. The only character that our ultimate villain, Kasane Kujiragi, offers an olive branch and a private chitchat to is Anri. Why her?
I think it's because of all the forces lashing out at the end of Durarara!!, after over 50 episodes of anticlimax and resolution that have pushed everyone to the limits of what matters most to them, Anri is still 100% untapped potential. Time and time again, she's sat on the sidelines, unleashing Saika only as much as absolutely necessary to survive and ensure the survival of her friends. She's chosen to act very rarely, but when you really stop to think about it, nobody holds more power over the true currency of Ikebukuro: people.
No, really. Every single one of Durarara!!'s past conflicts have revolved around which person can control the motivations and knowledge of the maximum amount of other people. That's why The Dollars are such a powerful asset: whoever controls The Dollars wins the numbers game. Even the city's most powerful criminal syndicate (the Awakusu) wants that kind of sway over people's hearts and minds. As reflected by Ryohgo Narita's recurring themes about the power of (bizarre) love throughout the series, human connection is a powerful thing. Anri is the only person who can win allies by controlling their minds and hearts with nothing but a touch of her hand. Well, she's the only person except for Kasane Kujiragi, who has those exact same powers. And who is the ultimate villain again? These two are being treated as equal and opposite, which makes Anri way more important than I had ever considered before.
So finally, Izaya challenges her on this. Then Haruna Niekawa challenges her on this. Then Kasane Kujiragi challenges her on this. Why doesn't Anri just use Saika to control the boys' feelings (or control more people around them) and grind this whole war to a stop? Anri doesn't do this because deep down, she's not like her "evil twin," Kasane Kujiragi. She calls herself an empty parasite who feeds on the affection of others, but all that "love" and "acceptance" she's supposedly received from others might as well not exist. Just Because! no one is ever cruel to you doesn't mean that anyone actually loves you, and Anri was largely an invisible presence before she started receiving real love from Mika, Masaomi, and Mikado. She can't slash them with Saika because controlling them means giving up that voluntary love forever. I think she's starting to realize that for the very first time in these episodes, because she starts refusing to cut absolutely anyone, even people like Izaya or Haruna who totally deserve it, because she's afraid of the consequences for others and even herself. She knows what real love is now and with each new confrontation from the baddies, she's finding it harder and harder to ignore those feelings. Very soon, she won't be okay with being a parasite anymore. She doesn't know if she'll end up becoming human again or just a monster by choosing to act, but she has to act, and I'm dying to see what happens when she finally makes her decision. (It'll definitely make a relationship with Saika untenable! I hope she can find it a good home when it's time to let go...)
Anyway, at the end of all this upheaval, we have our first honest look at Kasane Kujiragi, aka nega-Anri, when she shows off her Saika powers by knocking an out-of-control Haruna Niekawa flat on her ass. (She's mastered control of her Saika, warping its sword-shape into any metal formation she likes and electrifying it with a touch from her taser-glove once it's found its target. The similarities of her fighting style to Celty's are pretty eerie, and now Haruna has the voices of three Saikas screaming in her head. I think that girl's brain has finally become a bowl of pudding.) This big baddie is still mostly a cipher, but maybe we'll get more insight to her plans for Ikebukuro during her teatime with Anri next week.
Hope has been an anime fan since childhood, and likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.
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