Episodes 1-2

by Jacob Chapman,

Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters. If you thought Izaya was a king-sized bucket of nuts and bolts, just wait until you get a load of his younger siblings. Twins Mairu and Kururi Orihara are entering high school this year, and they've got all their bases covered, having drawn straws to determine perfectly complementary personalities to one another a few years prior. Yes, it seems like a bizarre trick to play even for identical twins, but it's far from the weirdest thing about this Orihara pair. What in the world did Izaya and the twins' parents do to them to create such weird little monsters? I hope we find out.

I already discussed the first episode of this long-awaited return to Ryōgo Narita's strange vision of Ikebukuro in this Winter's Preview Guide, but the second episode is (unfortunately) not much different in that it tries to cover too many bases of setup at once through some oddly graceless execution (at least compared to the silky-smooth interlacing of stories in the show's 2010 run.) It's hard to get back into the groove of things after being away for five years, I guess. Regardless, there's a ton of moving pieces in this new Hollywood murders arc, and it looks like the star players this time will be House Shizuo and House Izaya, dragged into a murder mystery thanks to the dubious antics of their younger siblings. I haven't read the light novels, so this is all guesswork based on my familiarity with Durarara!!'s storytelling style and which little players in the big city it seems to be pushing together. I have no doubt Celty, the Main Triad, and other minor players will get dragged in as well, but it's probably best to keep the closest eye on Kasuka, Mairu, and Kururi for now. It's a task made all the more difficult by the show's uncomfortable divorce of recap and cameo flavoring mixed with important information. I think I know what matters and what doesn't, but there's a lot of stumbling around.

We learned a lot about Kasuka Heiwajima last season, mostly in contrast to his more important big brother Shizuo. Those two brothers love each other very much, but Izaya has such a distant and disinterested relationship with his sisters that we've barely even seen them before, and episode 2's strides to develop the twins form the strongest part of Durarara!!'s new beginning. These two are psychos, a siamese apple that fell shockingly close to Izaya's tree. Narita has always been fascinated by deeply uncomfortable romantic relationships, and the fact that "14-year old identical twins forming a polyamorous relationship with one another in an effort to become the perfect being and command complete control of the world and people around them" is not the creepiest coupling he's written even in Durarara!! (not to mention Baccano!) is a real slow-clap accomplishment. The only person MaiRuri seem more obsessed with than themselves is rising movie star Kasuka, and in the middle of it all, there's another new character: Aoba Kuronuma. He's stolen Mairu's heart, which means Kururi needs a taste of him too, even if he's not her type. Aoba seems to have more on his mind than some menage-a-twins though.

Like his fresh-faced classmates, Aoba shouldn't have any connection to the Hollywood murders, but that's just what Durarara!! wants you to think, and we've seen this trick too many times to be fooled. He's going to be important, all right. Aoba's a mild-mannered, friendly freshman who seems way too interested in The Dollars, and oddly perceptive about the true identity of its leader, as he gets chummier and chummier with Mikado every day. His resemblance to Mikado's now-absent best friend Masaomi is probably 100% intentional, as Mikado's attempts to further a romance with Anri are also interrupted by Saika's potential relevance to the Hollywood killings, splintering the Triad only to reform it in some way that might work better for Izaya's aborted world conquest plans. Unless maybe that isn't the real twist at all and--agh, I can't keep track! It's a good thing Durarara!!'s tangled plot-web is driven by such wildly entertaining characters, and that's always what keeps us coming back. Anyway, I don't trust Aoba and I definitely don't trust the Orihara twins in all of this. They're good unknown quantities to introduce in a story where we understand everyone else's motivations pretty well by now.

It's all wheels within wheels within even more wheels, and none of them seem to actually have any connection with the murders, but there's no doubt every single one of them will somehow, in Narita's Bizarro-Ikebukuro where everything is connected. Nothing has really happened yet, and the result can be clumsy and hard to follow. (Shinra's 4th-wall-breaking-as-connective-device is more embarrassing than engaging.) Still, I can bear with a little more awkward setup if it's building to a Shizuo and Izaya focused arc, even if it has to start with the more minor members of their family.

Rating: B-

Durarara!!×2 is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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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