Usually when a show ends with a happy episode after an intense one the episode before it signifies the end to the story. That is all there is to the plot and that happy episode shows you that everyone is happy, healthy, and the world they live in has returned to normalcy. Well as normal as a world can get when there is a Dullahan driving around, an information broker just WAITING to mess stuff up once everyone gets comfortable again, and a sword lady going around cutting people so she can control them. This was the case for the end of one of my favorite anime Durarara!! and while I was sad it ended I thought it wrapped up nicely. Then I found out there was more story, a lot more events to be discussed, and that pleasantry I experienced at its ending was gone. I needed more! Which we got. When I reviewed the first season of the show (which you can check out here: Durarara!! Review) the second season had already started airing and I promised to review it once it concluded. Two years later and here we are yet again.
So here is the follow up to my 16th Anime Review and the 2nd Sequel Saturday post. We are returning to Ikebukuro in Durarara!!x2.
*SPOILER WARNING: Since this is a review of the second season there may be some spoilers for the end of the first season*
Durarara!!x2 was released in three different parts: Shou, Ten, and Ketsu. The first part (Shou) started airing during the Winter 2015 Anime Season, and released 12 episodes from January to March of 2015. It also released on OVA episode called Durarara!!x2 Shou: Watashi no Kokoro wa Nabe Moyou. The show took a break during Spring 2015 and started back up again in July 2015 as a part of the Summer 2015 Season. It too comprised of 12 episodes and ended in September and also released an OVA episode, Durarara!!x2 Ten: Onoroke Chakapoko. After another season off, the third part (Ketsu) began airing in January 2016 and aired 12 more episodes and an OVA (Durarara!!x2 Ketsu: Dufufufu!!). It was a part of the Winter 2016 Anime Season and the second season finally concluded in March 2016. That brings the second season to a total of 39 episodes, and brings the series as a whole to a total of 65 episodes. The second season was animated by the studio Shuka, directed by Takahiro Omori, and also has been dubbed in English. The series is based of a light novel of the same name that was written by Ryohgo Narita and illustrated by Suzuhito Yasuda.
Our story picks up as Mikado and Anri begin their second year of high school. Ikebukuro is once again at peace, except that many of the weird occurrences have become almost everyday things around town. The police are constantly going after the Headless Rider, Celty Sturluson, who also has a bounty put on her which leads to gang members from all over the country to come to Ikebukuro to chase after her. One of Mikado’s new underclassman, Aoba Kuronuma, approaches him saying he knows about who Mikado really is and that he has a “plan” for Mikado. To top it all off, a murder named “Hollywood” is running through the city, but is unable to be identified due to changing their disguise after ever murder. Ikebukuro is once again throw into chaos as various events end up leading to a larger conflict that threatens cause the entire city to fall into chaos.
Our cast of characters from the first season are still floating around, with the only notable absence that of Masaomi Kida himself who has run off with his girlfriend. If the cast was not big enough before, we see the addition of even more characters to throw their name in the conflict. The best thing this show does for its characters is introduce them as something minor, like say an assistant for a possible antagonist, but then reveal that they actually play an even bigger part in the overarching story. The story gets confusing, but most of the characters give us an explanation to what they are doing or why they are doing it. We learn why the cops are going after Celty, why Aoba is so obsessed with Mikado, and just what Izaya is planning for them all in the end. When a story has so many intertwining plot threads, it is good to always have a base of what motivates each character. Which then leads to the understanding of why their actions contribute to the “big ending” we see at the end of the third part. The characters are still lovable as they were in season 1, and watching their lives get thrown into chaos after everything was back to normal is almost heart wrenching. Except that watching them all change and adapt to what is happening around them even better. Some change in smaller ways, like Shizuo for example, while others like Mikado go through a series of events that changes how we perceive them as a character. One decision made by even a small character can change the outcomes of the story in some way. Which I loved! All the characters were important in some way and everything they did built on the big picture of the show. Were they perfect? No. Some characters hardly did anything and while they seemed like they were a big deal ended up playing a very small part in the end. Then some characters made absolutely aggravating decisions that had me screaming at the screen in anger. My favorites remained my favorites, and the ones I hated I still hated. Despite the large cast, I always knew who was who and could identify who they sided with during certain points of time.
I do want to take a minute thought to talk about our “main character” Mikado. I use that term loosely because while a lot of the story centers on Mikado, we do not spend every waking minute of the show with him and barely saw him in some episodes. The first season set him up as a kind of innocent, country kid who just wants to live an interesting life. Then we found out he was actually the leader of “The Dollars” and all of a sudden Mikado was not so innocent anymore. He was in on the action the entire time, and we did not know until it was revealed to us. It revealed a lot more about Mikado’s character and made me love him in his role as a “main character”. The second season shifts Mikado’s motivation from wanting to live an interesting life to wanting to make a place where he, Anri, and Masaomi can be together again. It is a sweet notion that Mikado has but the way he goes about it changes how we see him. He is no longer this sweet boy willing to do anything for his friends, but is now a ruthless guy that will do ANYTHING to reach is goal. There is such a change in Mikado that he almost seems like a different person, but it remained true to who he was in a way (wanting to do anything for Masaomi and Anri) and led to the huge conflict at the end of the show. This lead to Mikado becoming one of my favorite main characters of all time.
The show was animated by a studio called Shuka that was founded in 2013. It was formed by former employees at the studio Brain’s Base, the studio that worked on the first season of the show. It was noticeable at first that the character designs were different than they were during the first season, and took some getting used to. For some characters, it was barely noticeable while for others you could definitely tell. It was not bad, it was just something that took some getting used to. The show was, overall, very well done and was pleasant to watch. The animation was fluid and pretty and I really enjoyed watching it. Each part of the second season had its own opening and ending. I was worried at first because the first season’s openings were unique in that it featured every character in the opening and the ending, acting as a way to introduce them to us, and I thought they might not continue that into the second season. BUT THEY DID!! Shou had the opening “HEADHUNT” by OKAMOTO’s and the ending “NEVER SAY NEVER” by THREE LIGHTS DOWN KINGS. Ten’s opening was “Day You Laugh” by Toshiyuki Toyonaga with the ending “EXIT” by REVALCY. Finally, Ketsu’s opening was “Steppin’ Out” by FLOW with the ending “Joker ni Yoroshiku” by PENGUIN RESEARCH. All of the second season’s opening and endings made their way onto my iPod and I still listen to them often.
It is important to talk about the way that the story of this show if formatted. Oftentimes, we see one event told from the point of view of many different characters over the course of several episodes. The story of one day’s events could be told over three episodes because we need to see what roles certain characters played in these events. This can be kind of frustrating because it seems like we are being told the same story over and over, which we are, but you have to keep in mind that you are being told the story in this way because it is important. You may look at one event as unimportant or skip worthy but it could end up being a huge plot point later in the show. There were a lot of points where I after an event happened that I realized the actions of one character three episodes prior were detrimental in reaching this point in the story. But the story is complicated, and repetitive, and that is not for everybody. I personally like stories like this because I think it allows us to flesh out these characters by showing how specific events shaped who they are. It also helped to emphasize the important moments because you are going over them several times from different points of view. It is a fun and interesting story, but it does get slow at times and some people may not like the way the episodes are formatted.
In the end, I award Durarara!!x2 with an A. While the episode formatting may not be for everyone, and it does get confusion, I personally enjoyed it. I worried constantly about what was going to happen to the characters next, and I was absolutely hooked. The plot twists had me absolutely floored every time, and I never knew what was going to happen next. The cast is large, but I think it allows you to find a character you like or relate to because there are so many to choose from. The show was all around a very solid show in my opinion, and I recommend you go give it a try. The second season really carries over the feel and emotions of the first season, and despite the animation change they flow together nicely. What do you guys think? What was your opinion on the show? Who was your favorite character? Let me know down in the comments below!!
See you next time!!
As of this post, all of Durarara!!’s episodes are available at:
- Crunchyroll (sub only) with ads
- Funimation’s website (sub & dub) if you have a subscription
- Available for purchase on Amazon Video
- Can buy on Blu-Ray on Rightstuf