Durarara!! ×2 The Third Arc
by Jacob Chapman,
How would you rate episode 33 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
How would you rate episode 34 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
The Orihara twins seem pretty miffed that the curtain is finally coming down on their greatest source of entertainment. One by one, all their favorite names start leaving The Dollars chat. The magic of this little black box is slowly disappearing; it's just not the same anymore, now that everyone's true identities are out in the open. This place was special because everybody was anonymous, right? At this moment, Rokujo Chikage bursts into the conversation and offers a counterpoint. The entire world is anonymous. You can know someone's name, face, and all sorts of other facts about who they are, but you may never know their heart underneath. Everyone is just a face in the crowd to someone else, but each one of those faces masks a wealth of unfathomable secrets.
Well thank you, Rocchi. You just summed up Durarara!! in a nutshell. In fact, that's most of what episodes 9 and 10 set out to do for the series. While very little happens overall, as forces converge slowly in the build to Durarara!!'s grand finale, most of the protracted conversations across these two episodes are meant to more concretely establish the vague themes that have echoed through this show since the beginning. There's no such thing as a negligible person, and nothing proves this better than Manami's surprise continued relevance to Durarara!!'s endgame.
It really is a shame that Manami Mamiya's pivotal first meeting with Izaya was only shown halfway through DRRR x2, because her arc would mean a lot more to the audience if she had been introduced at the same time as in the original novels: at the very beginning of the story! While the Durarara!! anime introduced Izaya in episode two through a very different story about a girl looking to make a suicide pact (Rio Kamichika), Izaya's first appearance in the original light novels was his con job on Manami, a scene that DRRR x2 only re-inserted when she came back for revenge. My guess is that this scene was swapped to soften the series' initial tone, since the demise Izaya threatens Manami with is way more gruesome than the version he gives to Rio. (His distressingly fatalistic speech to her was also toned down for Rio's version. In general, the Durarara!! novels have shown a proclivity for the macabre much closer to the Baccano! anime, and there was probably an active decision by Durarara!!'s production team to lighten the mood. Izaya is less frightening, and Mikado's dark side is toned down so heavily that his heel turn in the anime came as a complete shock, while it would've seemed totally inevitable if you had started with the first book.) To make a long story short, Manami began this story seeing Izaya as a heartless monster, but she's going to end it by seeing him as the last thing he wants to be: a complicated human being.
Like everyone else in the cast, Manami's plans have been derailed by the past couple episodes. Originally, she planned to get her revenge on Izaya by dumping Celty's head in the middle of town and selling all the other information she stole from him to his nemesis: Yodogiri Jinnai. However, when she arrive at Jinnai's (Kujiragi's) house with the intel, she finds Shinra there instead! He's delirious, badly injured, and his eyes are glowing a supernatural red, but he's just cognizant enough to make it clear to her that he's been kidnapped. Manami, unlike Izaya, is a decent person, so she drops her vendetta and helps Shinra escape from the mysterious information broker's house. They've got a long walk ahead of them to find and rescue Celty, so they pass the time by talking about the only thing they have in common: Izaya Orihara. Manami starts the discussion by probing for more vengeance material. "Is there anything Izaya's afraid of?" The answer, as it turns out, draws an even clearer line between the nihilistic fox and his recent disciple, Mikado. They're both simply afraid of being human.
Shinra explains that there's no insult or injury you could lob at Izaya to make him regret his actions. When people try to destroy his life, it only makes his head swell with pride. When people destroy their own lives in an effort to haunt him, he only cherishes it as a new fond memory. All attention is good attention to that miserable skunk, which means the worst thing you could do to him is nothing at all. While the Orihara twins haven't factored into the story as much as I would like, I noticed this dynamic between the devil-sisters and their brother very early on. Izaya hates those two not only because he thinks they're creepy, but because they honestly don't seem to care about him at all. Their entire world consists of just each other (and maybe Aoba), and no matter what he does or says, Izaya has no place in it. He's just a face in the crowd to them, and sometimes they seem to forget he exists completely. More than anything, Izaya is afraid of his own humanity. He's afraid there might be feelings inside him that he can't understand or control, flaws that could be exploited for someone else's gain. He's afraid of his own emotional vulnerability, not just that other people will see it, but that he even has emotions that can be manipulated by others in any way. He's afraid of dying and leaving no impact on the world, no evidence that he existed apart from those useless subjective emotions of others. To believe is to be deceived, and since Izaya's sure that there is no higher power than humanity, he can only rise above it by not believing in anything at all. Basically, Izaya isn't even "special" enough to be a psychopath, he just wants to be one, so he's spent his entire life trying to bury any part of him that attaches meaning to anything against his wishes. Things like the affection he feels for Shinra. Things like the jealousy he feels for Shizuo.
Shinra's reminiscing gives us a brief but incredibly revealing flashback to Izaya's middle-school days, after he's begrudgingly committed to being friends with Shinra. The future mad doctor is happily gloating about the woman he loves, so Izaya muses to himself that the desire for human approval is nonsense. When he starts talking up how silly it is that anyone cares about how they'll be remembered after death (the lady doth protest too much), Shinra brings up someone that will definitely be remembered no matter what: Shizuo Heiwajima. After hearing more about the guy, Izaya figures that he doesn't seem so great. In fact, he seems like some kinda freak of nature, especially after he sees Shizuo get hit by a truck and just shrug it off. Everyone knows and fears this guy, but he did absolutely nothing of his own will to earn his reputation. Shizuo's an impulse-driven, soft-brained, loudmouthed animal whose superpowers are just a result of random circumstance, but he's going to be remembered in Ikebukuro forever? That's the big problem with trying to deny that you have feelings or beliefs; you won't have any idea what to do with them when they do pop up. Unable to deal with the irrational existence of Shizuo and how jealous it makes him feel, Izaya has decided that he can't be happy until the blond bartender is dead. If you thought he wasn't really trying to kill him before, episode 9 puts those doubts to rest as these two finally duke it out to the death.
Now Izaya's had a lot of time to think about it, and he's decided that suffocation is the only way to take his rival down, using a gas leak to leave Shizuo gasping for breath before he blows him up in a fiery inferno. So yeah, he's not playing around. Of course, it's not brains or brawn, but human connection that wins Ikebukuro's biggest battles, and just when it looks like Shizuo might really bite the big one, an erratic cloud of dark Celty matter descends on the building to protect him from the explosion. Izaya barely has time to be shocked at Celty's lingering signs of affection, before Shizuo pops out from underneath his concrete hidey-hole and beans him with a giant steel girder. Izaya twirls through the air for a mile or so before crashing through the window of an office complex in a broken heap. Don't worry, he's not dead! But Shizuo isn't about to let him off that easy, as he parkours across the city toward the impact site to finish the job. Yikes. He'll be peeing blood for a month, Shizuo, maybe you could just call it a night?
Wacky violence aside, this all ties back into the theme that conflicting personalities in real life can cause just as many misunderstandings as online anonymity. In another flashback, Celty expresses concerns over the main kid trio's fates to Shinra, and he says that those three are the opposite of Izaya, Shizuo, and himself. Shinra, Shizuo, and Izaya lived life out loud as their shameless true selves, and while it did leave them at each other's throats in the end, at least they all really knew each other. Mikado, Masaomi, and Anri were so scared of losing one another's friendship that they hid their true selves from each other, and that ended up wrecking things between them anyway. But that's only half the truth, and Shinra is only half-right. He, Shizuo, and Izaya may have been living "as themselves," but it's not like they really understood each other as a result, and things did only get worse between them over the years. Those three know each other as they are, but they don't understand the feelings underneath that drive their friends' actions in ways that push them apart. Shizuo isn't a rabid monster or a curious science experiment, he's a kindhearted guy who was open-minded enough to see Celty as human and deserving of love...which makes him just like Shinra. Shinra isn't a weird pervert or a lovestruck idiot, he's a smart guy who's accepted that the world is screwed up and crazy, so we might as well not judge people...just like Izaya. Izaya isn't an all-knowing demon, he's a scared little kid with feelings he doesn't know how to handle that have warped him into someone he doesn't know how to be...just like Shizuo. Both trios past and present are made up of normal humans with extraordinary inner lives. The Shinra/Izaya/Shizuo trio flaunted their weirdness and were misunderstood for it, but that doesn't make them any better than the Mikado/Anri/Masaomi trio, who tried to hide their weirdness and failed so hard that they misunderstood each other even more. They're opposites in circumstance, but their deeper problems are the same.
Fortunately, Anri has beaten the boys in learning this lesson, as she gathers with Saburo, Walker, Namie, Mika, Seiji, and Saki at Shinra's apartment and piles into the van to try and rescue Erika from the rapidly spreading Saika chaos at 'Bukuro's heart. The poor van is filled to the brim as it creeps through the crowd of zombies, and Anri decides that it's finally time to spill the beans about her true nature. It should come as a surprise to no one in the audience that no one in the van is really surprised. Walker is thrilled at the opportunity to acquire superpowers (sorry chuuni boy, it's just a curse with no upsides), while Anri's first friend Mika forgets about her crazy boyfriend for once and gives her bestie a tender hug. Anri realizes that Saika is actually happy to have gained more love, even if it's aimed at Anri instead of itself, and she finds her symbiosis with the sword has calmed down more after getting that weight off her chest. The truth has set her free, and now all that's left is to rescue Erika, Mikado, and Masaomi before things can get any worse.
Erika's actually doing just fine by putting her own chuunibyou skills to work. The old "maybe the zombies won't notice me if I just moan and shuffle around too" gambit has been done many times before, but I'm always thrilled when it works despite all logic. It's also fun to see Erika get a little too into the act when she realizes the brain-slaves are totally buying it. Once she shambles over to the zombie-queen, Nasujima-sensei, she gets an earful of his evil plan. After he's gotten his petty revenge, the terrible teacher plans to kill Yodogiri and his secretary (the dumbass doesn't even know they're the same person), so he won't have to worry about being silenced and discarded for his drastic actions. (He's also planning to violate Kujiragi before he kills her. What a charmer. Thankfully, we get clarification that he hasn't laid a finger on Haruna yet. I hope whatever fate awaits him is as gruesome as possible.) When Anri tries to call Haruna and ask why she's doing this, Nasujima intercepts the phone call and promises that he's going to destroy her little boyfriends as part of his revenge. He's successfully lured the Blue Blood Cells down to the square by infecting one of their own, so all he has to do is call Mikado's number and see which one of those masked kids picks up their phone.
What Nasujima doesn't know is that the Blue Blood Cells are mostly here by coincidence, because Russia Sushi is serendipitously close to the rooftop meeting spot Rokujo arranged for exchanging Masaomi's ransom. When Rokujo sees the confusion below, he decides to investigate for himself...and that's when a phone starts ringing in the rooftop shadows. Mikado completely saw through Rokujo's plan, and now the Saitama gang leader is surrounded by Aoba's bloodthirsty pack and a horde of Saika zombies as a fight breaks out below them! So Mikado's here to save Masaomi, right? I'm not so sure. He does still have that gun...
Sadly, even though Anri just had her epiphany to face her friends honestly, Mikado seems to be more wrapped up in delusion than he's ever been before. He has Masaomi completely on the defensive and doesn't offer a shred of compassion or sympathy to his best friend as the sadness in Masaomi's voice escalates to heartbreaking levels. The animation in these recent episodes ranges from passable to pretty bad, but even though Masaomi's face isn't emoting much visually, the regret and desperation in Mamoru Miyano's voice absolutely makes the scene, as he tries and fails to connect with Mikado through his usual bad jokes. The show does a great job of contrasting how much he's grown (while Mikado has regressed) through their different reactions to learning the truth about Anri. Masaomi immediately wants to reach out to her and work things out together, while Mikado doesn't want to "burden" her any further with his ruthless actions. I know Durarara!! can't really end with Mikado becoming a villain, but we haven't seen any evidence of his future redemption yet, and time is running out. Right now, he looks like he's determined to end his friendship with Masaomi in some cruel way so he can become Ikebukuro's new shadow king, and I'm starting to wonder what if anything can change his mind.
There's just two episodes left until it all comes to an end. The future of Ikebukuro grows ever cloudier as Celty's turbulent soul fills the city sky, and I hope at least some of our favorite characters come out of all this okay.
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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