Original Run: Jan 10, 2015 to Mar 26, 2016
Genres: Action, Drama, Supernatural
Six months after the events of Durarara, things have settled down in the city of Ikebukuro. Strange sights like the Headless Rider being pursued by traffic cops or vending machines thrown into the air have become common.
But peace is fragile and it’s not long before ruthless serial killers, foreign mafia, the yakuza and even old gangs come out of the woodwork. The lives of the inhabitants of Ikebukuro, both new and old, become intertwined once again through a series of fantastic events.
You can find my review of Durarara here.
I said in my review of the first season that the two most appealing aspects of the show were its distinctive form of storytelling and insane characters. Both remain true in this season as well. The craziness is actually taken up to eleven but my love for this anime has not climbed along with it, instead remaining on the same level. Durarara!!x2 has a lot of things going for it such as the expanded cast of eccentric, often psychotic, individuals and the multiple, intersecting storylines which once again follow a disjointed, non-chronological format. However, this also means that the story can get confusing at times, especially with the added effort of remembering the increased number of characters and their relationships with each other. I’m glad I didn’t try to watch this monster as it was airing because I would have ended up needing a refresher course each week, not to mention that it aired in three cours.
The story remains hard, if not impossible, to summarize. Suffice to say that Ikebukuro and its residents attract the attention of a lot of people, some human, some not, and not all of that attention is positive. We have gang wars, widespread mind control, Russian mafia and the resident yakuza tangling with each other, psychotic love triangles and psychotic love in general (that’s a pretty big theme in Durarara), all of which involves more people than you can shake a stick at.
A whole lot of new faces appear in Durararax2 and though not all of them are all that interesting, there are quite a few that fit right in with the unique charm of the show. The characters from season one all get their development, most of which ends up with them acting even more insane than usual. I’m not even kidding. The most normal of them once again ends up being Celty, the headless Irish fairy with amnesia who can manipulate shadows and probably kill them all if she wished to. And the most normal relationship is that between said headless fairy and her shady doctor of a lover whose devotion to her borders on blind obsession. But this cast full of crazies is one of the most appealing aspects of Durarara as the eccentric interactions between them never cease to be entertaining.
The only complaint I have aside from the aforementioned issue of confusion is that certain events tend to drag at times, an example being the numerous instances where we see Masaomi wallowing about Mikado and Anri without actively doing something about it.
Where do I even begin? The cast from season one, which was already gigantic, returns and is joined by a fair number of new faces, some of whom are more important than first impressions may imply. As covering them all is nigh impossible, I’ll mention the ones that felt most relevant to the plot and to my enjoyment of the show.
Ryugamine Mikado, the meek boy from Durarara is back as one of the central characters. Mikado may initially appear to be normal and boring, serving only as a foil to the more colorful individuals in Ikebukuro but his timid demeanor hides a desperate thirst for excitement that pushes him to evolve into someone who is capable of keeping up the wild city he inhabits. This evolution is not painless, not for Mikado and certainly not for the ones around him. He appealed a lot more to me in this season than the last because of the way he balanced the two aspects of his personality; he is a genuinely well-meaning guy and loyal friend but on the other hand, but he can also be cold and ruthless enough to make seasoned criminals nervous and impress Orihara Izaya, which is really saying something.
His friends Anri and Masaomi, both of whom were more interesting than him in the first season, don’t shine quite as brightly in x2. Masaomi spends most of his time as a helpless observer and Anri finds herself involved in troubles of her own as her past catches up with her. Celty and Shinra are as adorable a couple as ever and a steady presence in the show, especially Celty. Shizuo shows his less maniacal side more in this season, letting us see that there’s rather nice man buried under that giant heap of rage. Izaya takes his love of humanity to great extremes once again and somehow manages to be simultaneously insufferable and charming. That’s some skill right there.
Of the new additions, Izaya’s little sisters and Kuronuma Aoba are noteworthy. The sisters, fraternal twins Kururi and Mairu, may put some people off because of their incestuous tendencies but I found them to be appealing characters. Their ‘one person, two bodies’ mindset and the way they went about enforcing that is a fascinating case of what the hell happened to these kids. They are Izaya’s family though so there would have been something terribly wrong with the world if they were to be normal. Aoba is a freshman high school student like the twins and like any other character of import in this story, there’s more to him that meets the eye. He develops an interest in Mikado, apparently seeing through the latter’s timid exterior, but his attempts to manipulate Mikado end up biting him in the ass. Not that he ever seems to mind.
There are others and each of them is special but I’ll end this section here for the sake of length as well as to avoid even more spoilers.
Art and Music:
The art and animation is similar to the first season’s. Fluid movements, gorgeous backgrounds and grayscale pedestrians as well as the occasional off-model face return in the second season.
Once again, Durarara’s music is wonderful, with all three opening themes – Headhunt by OKAMOTO’S (Shou), Day you laugh by Toshiyuki Toyonaga (Ten), Steppin’ Out by FLOW (Ketsu) – being absolute delights to listen to. The ending themes are not too bad either. The OST didn’t really stand out much.
Durarara’s season 2 continues the tradition of the first season with crazy characters and their crazier antics. If you liked the first season, you’ll probably like this. Otherwise, give it a pass.