Durarara!! ×2 The Third Arc
by Jacob Chapman,
How would you rate episode 31 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
How would you rate episode 32 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
Sorry, Tom Tanaka. Ikebukuro isn't just a normal, unchanging little district of oddities anymore. Over the course of these two episodes, everything changes in ways that nobody can just smooth over with another anticlimax. The city is on the verge of an apocalypse, Tom! Wake up and smell the zombies! (No seriously, there's zombies outside your door.)
Man, what doesn't happen in episodes 7 and 8? At least it's safe to say that the biggest thing happens first, and it actually has nothing to do with waking dullahans or red-eyed ghouls. As always, the biggest shakeup on the Ikebukuro scene comes from a quake in the balance of power over information and people, rather than a display of brute strength. Put simply, Namie has had enough. Despite Mikado's protests, she goes berserk and starts leaking every bit of sensitive information she knows about the Dollars' leader and all his friends to the chatroom. (You can bet she's saving the logs too.) I was genuinely surprised by this twist, mostly because I thought that Namie would be fully written out of the story by now. I'm glad she still has a role to play, and it only makes sense that she would start self-destructing the second her beloved little brother can't keep it together anymore either. Over the course of Durarara!!, we've watched Namie flipflop from crafty villain to tragic victim, just as Mikado changed from a humble hero to an egoistic mob boss. She's finally doing to Mikado what he did to her way back in Durarara!!'s first story: exposing his wickedness to the world as he futilely begs for mercy. But it's too late for that.
Now that this genie's out of the bottle, there's no putting him back in, and Mikado knows it. He is the leader of The Dollars to anyone who knows how to do a little snooping. This was already true for enterprising snoops in the real-world like Aoba and Akabayashi, but being exposed face-to-face puts both parties on a slightly even playing field. Mikado was okay with some people knowing he was the power behind the Dollars, so long as he could keep track of who knew and how to handle them. This leak changes everything. Mikado will never be "normal" again, and he can never be 100% sure if that stranger walking down the street will look at him and see "the leader of the Dollars." Unless these chat logs can be destroyed and covered up in miraculous fashion, Mikado's dream is over.
But after Mikado stops blubbering at Namie to stop, an entirely new change seems to come over him. What could he be thinking now, as he eyes the handgun that Izumii gave him with an odd sense of peace? I'll come back to this at the end of the review, but before then, a million other tiny climaxes are going off all over the city. This newly exposed Mikado is going to have a lot on his plate in the episodes to come, which is where those dullahans and ghouls come in. Saburo and Walker are watching all this madness go down from Namie's end of the computer in Shinra's freshly ransacked apartment. Walker is on cloud nine from finally getting to live a real-life anime plot, while poor Saburo barely has time to wonder if he's the last sane man on earth before he gets an urgent message from Erika: Dotachin has snuck out of the hospital! She starts scouring the city for him, but he shows up at Shinra's door mere minutes later, making Erika the real missing person of the Dollar Van Gang. While Ms. Emilia pumps him full of painkillers, Dotachin explains that he fled the hospital because it isn't safe, and neither is Erika if she's outside looking for him. Ikebukuro is crawling with zombies!
This brings us back to Tom Tanaka, who's found himself holed up in Russia Sushi with his mafia friends while Saika-slaves claw at the storefront. Poor Erika is just outside the building, doing her best to sneak past the greyed-out monsters and find her own safe haven. She'll probably be okay though, because these Saika slaves are actually targeting poor Tom specifically! The ghouls are neither Kujiragi's nor Anri's nor even Haruna's this time. They belong to Haruna's slimy old teacher Takashi, who used his newly borrowed Saika powers to trap Haruna last time and has decided the next step is sweet revenge against Shizuo Heiwajima. He doesn't have the balls to attack Shizuo head-on though, which is why he's targeting the bartender's employer and friend Tom Tanaka, to use him as spirit-crushing bait of some kind. It's a bad plan that requires making a big mess for no reason, but Takashi-sensei is a very bad and stupid man, which is why he was excised from Ikebukuro for so long until this new power void started opening up. I wonder whose fault that could be? (Mikado, Masaomi, Izaya, shame on you.)
Once again, Durarara!! is taking us back to the beginning: Shizuo's utter humiliation of Takashi happened way back in the second story arc, prompting his swift exit from the plot until Izumii employed him to help take out Dotachin. I'm not sure if it's fitting or completely inappropriate that the most clueless and petty character in the entire series is causing everyone so much trouble, but I can't imagine his power will last. He got his information on how Saika works from Kujiragi, so these ghouls will probably turn on him when he least expects it, especially if Anri steps in to save the day. But as I mentioned earlier, Saika isn't the only paranormal phenomenon taking over the city.
After a long and tiring chase with Kujiragi, poor Celty has been trapped in a web of blades and strung up for old Yagiri to come and claim. While he is deeply infatuated with the head, his real plan is to "have it all" by reuniting the head and body to erase the latter's memories, then severing them again with Saika to control the whole of the dullahan. Poor Celty! She really found a gem in Shinra; someone who loved her as her own person, even without the head that hypnotizes so many mortals. Only in Durarara!! can you say that loving someone just for their body is a sign of a healthy relationship! So what does Kujiragi get out of this, apart from a lucrative business connection with Yagiri? She says that getting rid of Celty means getting rid of a "rival in love," so does she have feelings for Shinra after all? That doesn't make much sense given what we've seen so far, so I have to assume that Kujiragi's real feelings lie with what Shinra can give her as a valuable Saika slave. I get the feeling Kujiragi would prefer to be the only paranormal game in town. Choosing to worship a dullahan over worshipping her is a crime that cannot go unpunished. But that's just my assumption. Maybe Kujiragi has some history with Shinra that we don't know about?
Whatever the case, with the ding of Shooter's bike bell, Shizuo has arrived to save the day! If this tempermental bartender wasn't one of your favorites already, his heart of gold is absolutely on fire in episode 7. His conversations with Kujiragi and Varona are easily the most emotionally satisfying scenes of this whole almost-climax, as he defends his lady-friends through his own deeply personal revelations. Celty and Shizuo are "monsters" to the rest of the world who never saw each other that way. Celty helped Shizuo become a stronger person by making him feel human in her company, so he refuses to let anyone else treat her like a monster, even when she's been reduced to a writhing globular shadow. For those same reasons, he shows compassion on Varona even after she's done so many monstrous things. It's not like Celty was nice to him because he was a nice person back then. Shizuo's never killed anybody, but he easily could have, so he can't talk down to a killer like Varona who desperately wants to start again but doesn't know how. Even as she points a gun at his head on Kujiragi's orders, Shizuo knows that Varona deserves to be treated like a human. None of them are "monsters," and they all need to be able to forgive each other because that's what humans do. All this mushy talk enrages Kujiragi, who never had someone like Celty or Shizuo around to reassure her that she wasn't a monster. She's already become one with Saika so completely that she thinks there's no way out, and she doesn't appreciate all her lonely years being thrown back in her face like this.
Fortunately, Izaya has had enough of this impromptu therapy session, so he decides to make good on his word to take Shizuo out of the game once and for all. All he has to do is fiddle with a little construction equipment atop the skyscraper above them, and steel girders will rain down to crush all the little flies buzzing around Celty's web. The superpowered Kujiragi and Shizuo are fine, but old Yagiri ends up writhing around with both legs broken, and Varona has at the very least a nasty contusion or fracture. When Shizuo realizes that Varona got those injuries trying to push him out of harm's way, something changes in him deep down. He's not angry at Izaya for ruining his reputation anymore. Those feelings have been replaced with a deeper, more righteous anger at seeing the woman he loves get hurt. So after he literally shrugs off a plummeting excavator and cracks his knuckles a little, Shizuo heads up to the roof to confront Izaya not with hotheaded shouting, but a cold sense of purpose. Izaya has finally gone too far, and if Shizuo was the murdering sort, I'd be genuinely worried that this information broker won't survive the series. (Since Shizuo's a merciful dude, I think Izaya will just get bent into a pretzel.)
Of course, just because Varona's injured doesn't mean she's going to wait around while Shizuo fights for her. She races over to back him up, but Mikage appears to stall her and ensure that her own crush (Izaya) gets the fight to the death he wants so badly. Mikage is still mostly a cipher, but her behavior (and a helpful middle-school flashback) does help explain Izaya's obsession with Shizuo a little more. Izaya is a staunch nihilist, atheist, and all around pessimistic grump who's obsessed with the idea of glory and immortality, and that paradox has been driving him crazy for his entire life. He wants to be above feelings like jealousy over Shizuo, desire for the kind of admiration that delinquent gets without trying, and the feeling that Shizuo will be remembered after death but Izaya will not. He wants to be "above humanity" in that way, but he just isn't, so he has to eternally pester (and finally destroy) that reminder of his pettiest human feelings. In that way, Izaya is a lot like Mikado, so it's not really a surprise that their character designs are so similar. (He probably wouldn't like being compared to that "most ordinary of humans," though.)
Back down in the alley, Yagiri starts crawling toward Celty's head, but the ruckus has already rallied other parties to the scene. Shingen is the first to snag the head, and I'm sorry to report that in his last opportunity to prove himself not such a shitty dad, he completely blows it. Instead of keeping his promise to keep Celty's head in custody until Shinra passes away, Shingen's mad scientist instincts get the better of him. Eager to see what will happen, he tosses Celty's head back up into her writhing body. (Okay, he tries and fails to throw it up there, because he's a nerd with spaghetti arms, so Egor throws it up there for him.) With her head and body finally reunited, Celty returns to her original form as it existed before the two were separated. The Celty we knew is gone, and no one knows what this new dullahan will do when she sees the city laid out before her. Izaya just seems satisfied that she's finally awakened to wreak chaos, but he's also disappointed that neither the head nor the body remembers him at all. "This is why I prefer humans," he grumbles. Even if he refuses to admit it, poor Izaya is human too, and all this chaos might not be what he really wanted.
This finally brings us back to Mikado. Now that he and Masaomi both know the truth about Anri (gee thanks, Namie), they're a little floored by how selfish and myopic they've been. This gives Rokujo just enough time to come up with a brilliant plan. Even if Mikado is screening his calls, he's definitely paying attention to The Dollars chatroom, so instead of trying to get the two boys to communicate like adults, Rokujo thinks better of it and sends Mikado a ransom alert for Masaomi's life. Seeing the boys' reactions to the pain and danger that Anri has been through without their knowledge allowed Rokujo to understand what they really care about. They might be too prideful to work out their differences in conversation, but Mikado might change his tune if he feels like Masaomi is literally in mortal danger because of his dumbass decisions.
It's a perfect scheme because all the circumstances are just right for everyone to believe that Rokujo would do this. Everyone assumes that Rokujo is just "taking revenge" on the Yellow Scarves and Blue Square by kidnapping Masaomi, but the audience knows that his real goal is try and save everyone from themselves. I'm only now beginning to realize how awesome Rokujo is as a character. He was introduced to this show at its crappiest point, and he's largely been kept out of the plot because he's too grown-up for the kind of grudge-driven miscommunications that have consumed it recently. But now that he's back, he's a huge breath of fresh air, because he knows how to resolve crappy communication issues, and unlike our younger protagonists, he doesn't hesitate and waffle all day about doing the right thing when it's crunch time. This must be why Saitama isn't a big tangled mess like Ikebukuro. (Well okay, not that we know of. Spinoff maybe?)
So as Mikado walks calmly into his confrontation with Rokujo with a renewed sense of calm, what the heck is going through his mind? I can't be sure yet, but I think Mikado has realized that the magic and mystery he originally idolized in Ikebukuro has become normal to him now. He's seeing more amazing paranormal madness in the city than ever before, and he's more in tune with the details of everything that's happening, but it isn't making him happy like he thought it would, because it came at the cost of all his best relationships: Celty, Masaomi, Anri, Shizuo, and so many others seem so far away from him now. I think Ikebukuro just feels human to him now, and he's beginning to think of The Dollars as a collection of people that he's been mistreating, not some magical force he was destined to lead invisibly.
To some extent, this is true of me too. I wanted to be more excited by these episodes than I actually was. The setup to the finale just keeps building and building, but these episodes, while definitely exciting, were mostly lacking the impactful character depth we'd been getting in weeks past. Now that the pieces are all in place for more heart-to-heart confrontations in the future, I'm eager to see more of the cast's strongest motivations come spilling out next week. Especially Celty! What does the monster that's taken her place want with this new city?
Jake 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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