Durarara!! ×2 The Third Arc
by Jacob Chapman,
How would you rate episode 35 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
How would you rate episode 36 of
Durarara!!×2 Ketsu ?
*While I normally try to merge both episodes together in these two-episode reviews, because of the intensely climactic nature of Durarara's penultimate episode, I decided a review of episode 11 would work better if I wrote it before knowing how the entire series ends. So this final Durarara!! review will be split into two parts: before I knew how it ended in episode 11, and after in episode 12. This anime has easily been the most difficult and time-consuming that I've ever had to write about episode-to-episode, but I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have.
"The Dollars are history." -- posted August 2nd, at 12:02 AM by The Dollars admin.
It doesn't matter how high his hopes were when he first started the group, Mikado knows now that those dreams he invented on his first PC in the countryside stood no chance against the reality of Ikebukuro. No matter how much he wanted to believe that things would always be the same, his dream for The Dollars changed a little more with every incident the city threw at him. The Dollars changed after the incident with Yagiri Pharmaceuticals, then Saika The Slasher, then the Yellow Scarves, the Saitama Bikers, the Awakusu, and on and on until Mikado himself had changed completely without even noticing. Sometimes those changes were good! Mikado has probably saved more lives and made more extraordinary friends than any high school boy could ever imagine. But here at the end, Mikado has chosen to turn his grand dream into a horrible nightmare, destroying both himself and The Dollars in one fell swoop. He's too far away from those connections he made and too consumed by his own ego to see the good in his creation anymore. He brought it into this world, and now he's taking it out.
Masaomi looks down from the roof to see a terrifying host of delinquents answer the Dollars' mass call for assistance against Rokujo and the Saika zombies. He looks on in horror as Aoba gleefully sics a local biker gang on the Saitama bike king, and he can't believe his ears when Mikado tells him these new Dollars have come from prefectures as far as Chiba to try and destroy the group from the inside. He realized long ago that his plan to "clean up" The Dollars was a lost cause, so instead of trying to stamp out these bad Dollars, he decided to unite them in war against him. All he had to do was threaten every violent Dollar with the exposure of their families, and they went from bad apples spread across different barrels to a raging flood of angry applesauce calling for his head. (If that's really the case, then Aoba has no idea that those bikers will turn on him as soon as they're done with Rokujo! They're here for blood and they don't care whose, so long as it smells like it might have come from a Dollar.)
Masaomi rages that this plan makes no sense, but for Mikado, it feels like the only option he has left. He couldn't turn The Dollars into a force for good, so he has to destroy them. But he can't just formally disband the group, because enforcing his control as "the leader" of The Dollars is what got him into this mess, and he's already learned that people don't really care about the head of a group that they want to believe is headless. No matter how many chat logs or other shreds of evidence Mikado uses to back up his identity as The Dollars' creator, the group itself has become an urban legend way bigger than one kid can handle. He would just end up shanked in an alley somewhere, as the Awakusu step in and take over his creation for their own criminal purposes. So he has to set the worst Dollars free in front of all the world and force a complete takeover by law enforcement. Any good person who was a Dollar will try to forget about it as fast as possible, and every bad person who was a Dollar will be locked away and forced back into their old identities and gangs very quickly. Now that just leaves Mikado himself...
Even as Mikado levels a gun at his friend's head, Masaomi pleads with him to turn back from all this. He's still holding out hope that Mikado won't become just like Izaya. (Masaomi doesn't know it, but Izaya's just a normal guy playing at being an evil mastermind too!) He tries to convince Mikado that he can't fire that gun, because he's a "puny, ordinary, generous, decent person." Mikado sadly replies that it's too late for that. He's fired this gun twice already today. So this third bullet is destined for Masaomi.
We'll come back to that later. It might seem like there's no hope for Mikado now, but if there's one thing Durarara!! believes in above all else, it's the unexpected power of human connections, oftentimes the crazier the better! Shinra's love for Celty is so powerful that it manages to subdue Saika's possession over him entirely, curing him completely by the time he limps his way past the sword's master. With no power left to wield over him, Kujiragi lets Shinra go, explaining to him with surprising vulnerability that she wasn't really in love with the mad doctor, because she's never been loved before and so does not understand the concept. Instead, she stole Shinra away because she knew he was in love with a monster, and she figured that if he could love Celty, it wouldn't be such a stretch for him to love another monster (herself) instead. Shinra explains that love is more irrational and arbitrary than that, but as long as Kujiragi never stops looking for another irrational and arbitrary person to love, she'll never be a monster. Kujiragi definitely doesn't seem like a monster to me anymore, and I too hope she finds that special someone soon (after she cuts back on the evil-doing a smidge). In the meantime, Shinra's gotta get to that dullahan storm in the sky and try to recover the Celty we know and love!
I guess this means that the only antidotes to Saika possession are either true love or immunity to fear. (The latter was confirmed back in the second story arc of Durarara!!, when Shizuo pulled out a "That's my secret, Saika. I'm always afraid!" response to her attempts to possess him.) It makes sense, of course. One begets the other. When you're truly in love with someone who loves you back equally, it feels like there's nothing in the world left to fear. (Shinra and Celty) And when you've conquered enough adversity to open your heart without fear, your love can overcome even the deadliest barbs from a Russian assassin. (Shizuo and Varona) This also offers Anri a ray of hope for her future relationship with Mikado! Instead of holding herself back from love, she has to give herself up to it so completely that her love for Mikado overpowers Saika's love for humanity. Now that she knows just how much she is loved by all her freaky friends, maybe that'll be an easier hurdle to overcome. This freakish power of (freakish) love even comes up in tiny scenes like Erika's chance phone call to Kujiragi in episode 11. She has no idea that her new cosplay friend is actually the second half of Saika, but her warning means everything to stopping Nasujima-sensei's petty reign of terror. Erika just wants to make sure Kujiragi is safe, but now Kujiragi has a new mission to tie off some pesky loose ends taking their Saika powers too far. I shudder to think what's going to happen to Nasujima next time.
The terrible teacher has other problems to worry about in the moment, though. In search of human shield cover, the broken and bloodied Izaya has come barging into his zombie party with Shizuo hot on his tail. Nasujima immediately freaks the duck out and commands his red-eyed army to assimilate Tom Tanaka immediately! I guess one solid punch from Shizuo counts as a traumatic experience, but I don't think turning the bartender's best friend into a hostage is going to make you any less punchable, scummy sensei.
Erika manages to rendezvous with the Dollar van, but not before a hilariously awkward misunderstanding. I somehow missed that she used red colored contacts to blend in with the zombies last time, along with all that shambling and moaning. It turns out these contacts are convincing enough to get a panicked Walker to lock Erika in a full nelson! In retrospect, it makes her zombie act so much better because it played off her talents as a cosplayer, but it'll take more than cosplay to get our good Dollars out of the pickle headed their way. Izumii suddenly appears and starts smashing Saburo's car with the help of his goons, making sure to let the gang know that this is what Mikado wanted. (Reminder: Izumii is working for Aozaki of the Awakusu who is trying to destroy Mikado's reputation to snatch the Dollars away from him. I know this stuff goes by so quickly that it's easy to forget.) Anri is horrified, but before she can lose hope in her boyfriend, Walker jumps on top of the van and turns his pyromaniac flair on full blast with a travel-size flamethrower. Izumii understandably reacts with a heaping helping of PTSD, giving most of the passengers time to escape. Dotachin, Saburo, and Walker stay behind to take revenge for the van (for what must be the millionth time), and now it's a race against time to stop Mikado.
So if this is going to be the third time Mikado's fired that gun, what were the first two times about? Well, he fired one round at the nameplate of the Awakusu Boss's mansion and the other at the Ikebukuro police station. He also spray-painted "The Dollars were here" in both places, which forces the Awakusu away from The Dollars. On the one hand, if Dougen Awakusu probably wasn't going to condone adopting The Dollars as a new arm of his syndicate, he definitely won't do it now. And on the other hand, even if he was willing to overlook the public insult, or if Aozaki was able to assimilate the group behind his back somehow, The Dollars are now enemies of the police themselves, making their adoption a massive liability for a criminal syndicate. So it's over. There's no way The Awakusu can take The Dollars from Mikado now, and by the time they've waited long enough to take them later, The Dollars will no longer exist. This last bullet exists for the sole purpose of destroying Mikado's friendship with Masaomi and ensuring his arrest and conviction for assault with a deadly weapon. It'll just be another injury for Masaomi, but it'll be the end of the line for Mikado. Even if Masaomi doesn't testify against him, there'll be no way to cover up all this evidence and all these witnesses. He'll just be one more Dollar arrested in the complete collapse of the group, and even Anri will never speak to him again after what he's done.
It's safe to say that this is a hellaciously selfish decision on Mikado's part. I guess it's a little comforting that Mikado is so thoroughly acknowledging just how wrong he was through this harebrained scheme, but his desire to punish himself to this extent is still based in one insanely inflated ego. It's just like Masaomi says: not all of this is his fault, because he's not some kind of godly mastermind, he's just a normal person who made mistakes doing what he thought was right. Yeah, he screwed up a lot, but that doesn't mean he should screw up even more by dragging the entire city into his own giant act of self-destruction. Since words aren't working, Masaomi tries to beat Mikado's normalcy back into his head, blowing past the gunfire and ramming his best friend to the floor. Unfortunately for Masaomi, Mikado had another weapon up his sleeve: a very literal hand-gun. It's small caliber, just enough to punch a painful hole through Masaomi's leg, but the reality of hurting his best friend stops Mikado dead in his tracks. It doesn't matter how much he "tries" to make things right by destroying the Dollars or destroying his own life. No matter the punishment, he can't possibly live with himself after something like this. As he breaks down in tears, Mikado raises the glove to his own head and wonders if anything in the afterlife will stoke that sense of wonder in his heart that he worries he's lost forever...
Oh man, I didn't even have time to discuss Akabayashi and Aozaki's important scene in this episode! (In fact, I haven't had time to touch on their relationship hardly at all throughout the series' run!) The red ogre meets with the blue ogre to confront him about the deal he made with Mikado, and that's when we learn another clever detail in Mikado's convoluted plan. The gun he fired on Dougen's mansion and the police station was in fact the little glove-pistol that Aozaki didn't know he'd acquired, which means that as furious as Aozaki is at losing The Dollars, the evidence doesn't actually point to Mikado's betrayal. It could be the work of completely separate Dollars, and there are so many hyperviolent Dollar members defacing the city right now that he can't tell head from tail on how his deal with Mikado went wrong. This effectively protects Mikado from the wrath of the Awakusu and places him firmly under punishment by martial law instead, which is what he wants. Akabayashi promises to step in and clean everything up for his grumpier counterpart, so I guess we might see him and Anri cross paths on the way to Mikado in the grand finale.
Anyway. Mikado puts the barrel against his head and fires.
Alright, Shizaya fans! It's finally time for the no-holds-barred Izaya vs. Shizuo fight of the century you've all been waiting for! In this battle of brains vs. brawn, who will reign victorio-- Oh right, of course it's Shizuo. Definitely Shizuo. Completely Shizuo. Absolutely Shizuo. Even with other fleshy bodies to dance around like hay bales on a paintball field, Izaya never stood a chance against his nemesis once the odds were even. But Izaya knows that, and just like Mikado pressing that gun barrel to his head on the roof, he's decided that death is his last shot at redemption. While for Mikado, redemption means penance for the bad things he's done, for Izaya redemption means the immortality he always wanted, just at the hands of his enemy.
From the very beginning, Izaya was trying to destroy Shizuo out of envy. When Shinra said that Shizuo would be a true immortal in the history of Ikebukuro, Izaya set out to prove that Shizuo wasn't anything special, just a normal forgettable schmuck like everyone else. When miraculous incident after incident only made Shizuo's legend grow (to his dismay and Izaya's delight), Izaya realized he had created a pickle for himself. Shizuo was a legend now more than ever, and he could never do anything to change that. (Izaya comforts himself by calling him a "monster" instead.) So he told Shizuo that he'd have to kill him if he wanted the constant attacks and cruel rumors to stop, and thus began his long game to either finish what he started and become immortal as "the man who destroyed Shizuo Heiwajima" or fail and become "the first guy Shizuo ever killed." Either way, he wins immortality by tying his fate to Shizuo's. If the games he was playing with Celty's head, the color gangs, and countless suicidal teens couldn't etch his name into the collective consciousness (and they didn't), this definitely will. So as Shizuo charges in for the deadly blow, Izaya smiles and leans in to embrace oblivion.
But he's interrupted by an unexpected knife to the kidneys! Varona steps in at the last second to protect Shizuo from becoming a murderer like her. This makes the second or third time these two have protected each other in this last leg of Durarara!!, so they might as well be married at this point. Before Varona can take Shizuo's place and do something even she may regret later, Simon and friends burst out of Russia Sushi guns blazing, using smoke grenades as cover and furniture as riot shields. Under the cloudy confusion, Izaya slinks away. If there's one thing he wasn't going to accept, it was being killed by a normal human like Varona. If only he could accept that, remembered by time or not, Shizuo was just a normal human too. And so was Izaya. But before he can lose himself in the crowd of zombies, Dollars, and Russians, a sticky black calm drifts down from the sky and puts everyone that's been injured or possessed to sleep. The Russians, Rokujo, Tom, and Shizuo are still awake, so Shizuo heads to the roof above to see why Celty has cast her shadow over everybody. (Aoba and friends got absorbed into the chaos at some point, leaving them some combination of shredded or possessed that's best left up to the imagination. They'd either be dead or insane by the end of the night if not for Celty.)
With the panic below subsiding, we return to the matter of that bullet Mikado was putting in his brain. There's lots of sticky black goop all over him and Masaomi too, as Celty's essence heals their recent wounds and extrudes the offending bullets. Mikado was milliseconds from death, but as Seiji, Mika, Anri, Saki, and Shizuo rush to the two boys' sides, the dullahan descends to explain why she saved everyone. She explains that all of this began because of her involvement in the human world, so pulling everyone back from the brink of death is the least she can do as a divine reaper. She also takes Mikado's guns away from him, destroying the evidence that would have seen him incarcerated. With her business completed, she will return to the heavens, encouraging all the humans who knew her as Celty to forget and move on.
Of course, this is right when Shinra bursts onto the roof and calls her out. Just like Mikado, Celty is putting herself in a grandiose position out of guilt that doesn't reflect the reality of the situation. Of course all of this isn't her fault. Heck, she actively declined to get involved in Mikado's Blue Blood Cell gambit and directly warned him against the path he was choosing! Shinra theorizes that reuniting Celty's head and her body didn't eradicate her old memories, it combined them both, so both halves of her must want things to end this way for different reasons. It's true that her head wants to return to her homeland out of a sense of divine duty, which is why she pretended like that was the only part of her that remained. However, her body is still very much alive, and it's choosing this path so Shinra and others will never get hurt like that again. Shinra exposes all of this, demanding that she give up the benevolent god act and admit she's still human on the inside.
Celty refuses to listen, but Shooter has second thoughts. He digs his hooves in and refuses to budge until Shinra's fully made his case, but even though it makes for the most heartbreakingly adorable part of the episode, it's still not enough. Just like Mikado, no amount of words can stop Celty from destroying her old self for the supposed benefit of others who love her too much to let her go. So as she trots away into the sky, Shizuo pulls a Mr. Incredible and hurls Shinra into the sky after her. When Celty betrays her true feelings and reaches out to catch him so he won't fall to his death, Shinra reveals a little selfishness of his own, severing her head from her body with Kujiragi's Saika blade, which she gave up to give Shinra a second chance at love. It's heartwarming and shocking all at once!
Seriously, the moment where Celty's head separates from her body and she's forced to choose between galloping to the sky as a god or falling to earth with Shinra as a human is one of the most powerful scenes in the series to date, blending a perfect hectic sequence of flashing images with a terrific soundtrack to bring Celty's re-awakening home as hard as possible. Of course her earthly emotions overwhelm her body more quickly with the head twirling off miles away through the air, so she does the right thing and just gives in to love. But even more than this inspired moment, I loved the speech from Shinra that came afterward. When Celty berates him for risking his life over such a stupid stunt, Shinra says that was the price he had to pay for insulting Celty's freedom to make her own choices. Unlike so many other characters in the series, Shinra both embraces his selfishness and completely understands it, without tying it to some inflated sense of ego that either glamorizes or demonizes himself. He knew that he was enforcing his wishes on Celty, even if he thought it was the right thing to do, so it was only fair to risk his life on such a selfish act, hoping that Celty would be selfish in return. Now that's true love! Mikado could stand to learn a thing or two from the mad doctor.
At long last, the city is at peace. Bridges are repaired, hatchets are buried, and our heroes limp home satisfied that no matter what happens from here on out, at least they'll be together.
And then Nasujima-sensei jumps out of nowhere and stabs Mikado in the corpus with a big-ass knife approximately thirty seven times.
Anri starts screaming and tries to attack him with Saika, but then Haruna steps in (dammit, let Anri do something in this finale!) and reveals that Nasujima never had any power over her at all. It was just an elaborate trap courtesy of Haruna and Kujiragi, so she could have the teacher as a present or something (which would explain why the weird Saika Grandfather Clause Math thing Nasujima was quoting seemed so bogus). This terrifies Nasujima long enough for Dotachin to recognize him as one of the guys in the van that ran him over, prompting Saburo to floor it right over the guy, and finally cementing Nasujima as Durarara!!'s Dallas Genoard. When he comes to, Nasujima finds himself in Haruna's sex dungeon where he will spend the rest of his days being sexually violated for her pleasure and slowly tortured with sharp objects for Saika's pleasure.
It was not this finale's finest moment.
Anyway! On to the epilogue! It's basically a series of quick glimpses into the lives of everyone in a post-Dollars world.
- Celty now carries all her dullahan memories with her, but she and Shinra continue to live happy lives together and will until the end of his days. Motorcycle Cop still chases her, but at least now Shinra's riding tandem.
- Izaya flees the city, with Celty's black gloop in his wound as the only thing keeping him alive. Apparently, Manami was the one who got him back to Kine safely so they could escape, so she's clearly beginning to see him as worthy of redemption. Izaya doesn't care where they go for now, he just wants to be far away from Ikebukuro when he dies, so that "monster" won't attend his funeral. Hmm. Is that really the reason?
- Shinra's dad reclaims the head and ships it off to Chicago (making me think Baccano! characters will be involved in that cranium's future). He offers Namie a job overseas to study it, but after all those years of bitterness, Namie considers just letting it go.
- The decision's probably going to be made for her though, because Seiji is definitely following that head to America, and he would never have known about it without his crazy girlfriend's network of spy-bugs. Giving Seiji that information was a huge act of trust on Mika's part, and Seiji realizes that he's come to love Mika, even if it's not in a sexual way. She's become true family to him, so no matter what happens, whether he finds the head or not, he won't hurt or abandon her again. How...sweet? This is a tale of twisted love, after all!
- Kujiragi vows to set Ruri free from the path of vengeance she once sent her down, starting with the capture of her slobbering stalker. She's a little too prideful to say she's turned over a new leaf, so she tells Ruri it's a "punishment" that she's taking her revenge away from her. If she keeps this up, I'm sure there'll be a lot of love in Kujiragi's future!
- The Dollar Van Gang resumes lollygagging as usual. The repairs probably cost a fortune this time though.
- Shizuo sends Varona off at the airport back to Russia (along with a recovering Sloan), and they basically exchange passive-aggressive engagement vows to reunite and annoy each other in the near future. There's still time to adopt Akane! And the cat!
- Aoba tries to visit Mikado in the hospital for some nefarious purpose, but Akabayashi is there to scare him off. As long as Mikado is important to Anri, he'll be safe from both the Blue Square and the Awakusu, under the watchful eye of the Red Oni. Yup, that's the extent of Anri's involvement in this whole finale! She learned to accept the love of others but then never had to express that love in any meaningful way to the plot! Instead, a buncha guys just swept in at random points to cover her bases for her. I was totally wrong about her being the final key to unlocking a happy ending in Durarara!! I will now eat this gigantic bowl of crow.
- Mikado wakes up in his hospital bed to see Masaomi and Anri waiting for him and they all join hands as equals. No more secrets. No more fear. Just love. (And surgeries, lots of surgeries.)
Phew! Tying up every loose end in this series would be impossible, but most of the ends we did tie off were very satisfying. I would have loved to see other characters (like Akane Awakusu!) one more time, but I don't think they could have crammed more into this whole year-long second season, much less its final episode! Given the truncated adaptation, people are bound to be disappointed by one thing or another in this grand finale, so I'll boil down my relatively few disappointments to three.
- Anri needed to do more by the end of the story. It's not just because I was wrong about my prediction, but because this ending feels wrong by virtue of giving her even less agency as a character than my minimum expectations. She didn't risk her life like Masaomi, Mikado, or the three members of the older trio (Shinra, Izaya, and Shizuo) to test everything they stood for, and it makes her feel like a lesser part of Ikebukuro than she's supposed to be. I think Narita writes very good female characters, so it pains me to accept that Anri drew the short straw on proactivity because she was a girl, but...yeah, that's probably the reason. Her arc ended with an understanding of her own feelings, and that's all there was to it. This inequality sours the ending more than anything else to me. Akabayashi shouldn't be defending Anri's right to love Mikado: she should. Oh well.
- I wanted a much better idea of Izaya's state of mind by the end of the series. It's okay if he really did learn nothing from the whole experience, but the finale doesn't give us enough information to guess one way or the other. We know that Manami believes he can be saved, which is a nice little ray of hope, but Izaya is the most significant antagonist in the story. His resolution as a character should be made clear to crystallize the themes of the story, so giving him just a tiny handful of lines as he flees the city betrays our need for closure on this "fallen" version of who Mikado could have been. Then again...
- Mikado isn't really forced to confront his mistakes either! Celty's choice is only taken away from her in circumstance, but not in spirit. She still climbs down out of her big head (pardon the pun) and decides to selfishly love others as a normal human of her own free will by the end. But after Mikado's guns get taken away, everyone just forgives him without so much as an apology or any renewed sense of self from our hero. We get some narration about how it doesn't matter if what he wakes up to is ordinary or extraordinary, just so long as it's real, but that's kind of a breezy cop-out for all the massive issues he was dealing with and the legwork he owes his friends to rebuild their trust.
Points 2 and 3 definitely seem like something the novels went into more detail about and was cut for time, especially in light of the anime's tendency to skip over characterization for Izaya and Mikado in general. (That first novel is really revealing!) Point 1 is probably the same in the books and just something I would change if I had my druthers. (Maybe Nasujima's stabbing transfers Saika into Mikado and Anri is forced to override it with her own Saika, before conquering its control completely through the power of love as shown by Shinra earlier and setting them both free?) This is a mostly satisfying finale, but it was never going to be able to live up to the promise of 62+ bloated episodes, so covering the major bases as well as it did is worth its own special flavor of applause.
Either way, this six year journey through Durarara!! has been an amazing and exhausting experience! I laughed, I cried, I growled "IIIIIIIIIZAAAAAAAAAYAAAAAAAAA" to myself a lot like an insane person, good times were had by all! However, at the end of the day, most of my reviews were taken up with "explaining what happened and what I think it means" episode after episode, which speaks volumes about the overall quality of this adaptation. There wasn't much time to make a quality judgment on what was or wasn't working, because all my mental energy was spent trying to follow what the heck was even happening at any given time. It's no mystery to me that most people gave up on this show before the final curtain, and for those hardcore Durarara!! fans who stuck through it with me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And so, in the spirit of Durarara!!, I will end these appallingly long episode reviews with an unexpected anticlimax. After all the thousands and thousands of words I've written, my last word on Durarara!! will be: You Should Probably Read the Books Instead.
Durarara!! ×2 The Third Arc is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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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