When I first started Durarara!!, I didn’t believe that it could keep up the high quality. I honestly didn’t believe it was sustainable. But this time, I’m glad that I’ve been proved wrong.
Durarara!! X2 Ten is the second cour of season 2, closely following its predecessor, x2 Shou. Released in July 2015, its 12 episode run finished this week, to be continued with x2 Ketsu in January 2016. While I’m reluctant to wait that long and may end up rewatching the series in the English dub whilst it’s released, I have feeling it’s going to be worth the wait.
X2 Shou concluded with one Izaya Orihara lying in a pool of his own blood, having been taken out by someone who was supposedly working for a man named Yodogiri Jinnai. I doubted that Ryohgo Narita would ever kill off such a crucial character to the story, but that hasn’t stopped writers before (I’m looking at you Ohba and Obata) so the three month wait was spent guessing Izaya’s fate. Thankfully, despite the fact that his character is someone I wouldn’t hesitate to slap in real life, the second third of the season starts with him lying in a hospital bed, very much alive. He recovers quickly, ready to make trouble. Unrest begins to stir between the Dollars and the Yellow Scarves, prompting Masaomi to return to Ikebukuro, only to find that his best friend has become almost unrecognisable. Mikado manages the Dollars and the Blue Squares, forming a coalition with Aoba to try and achieve his perfect world, but his efforts have not gone unnoticed by the criminal underworld. Anri sees a familiar face, and Vorona starts working with Shizuo. Kasuka asks his big brother for help after Ruri gets a stalker and soon after, Shinra and Celty become involved.
The continuity with rest of the series is excellent, picking up exactly where the last part left us. In a series which has such an extensive roster of characters, each with their own storyline, it would be easy for it to contradict itself. But it manages to keep track of every single one, despite being the majority through the second season with a grand total of 49 episodes. There are some parts of the plot which don’t make complete sense at the moment, but I don’t doubt that they will be explained in time.
The artwork has improved slightly since x2 Shou, particularly in the case of Izaya. One complaint that I had about season 2, is that there’s been a slight shift in the art style, which made him look more bishounen than badass. It’s kind of hard to take him seriously with bigger eyes and a cuter face, but it’s nice to see that they’ve made attempts to correct that this time around. He still looks different to the Izaya in season 1, but there’s less of a contrast. That’s not to say that the aesthetic of the series is ruined, because it is definitely an easy art style to watch, but it slightly undermines his character and could even make him seem even more likeable. However, the fact that there was a change in studios between seasons explains it. It’s often difficult to replicate the art of a different studio perfectly, and given that Izaya is the only person to change drastically, it can be overlooked.
A definite positive thing about this season is that we see so much more of the characters’ backstories. There are flashbacks to Shinra and Izaya’s high school days, developing their relationship and ultimately making it more complex. This is very much welcomed as we have already seen a lot of Shinra and Shizuo working together and the tempestuous relationship between Shizuo and Izaya. To see the missing link and how it fits in with the story makes the characters more understandable.
Akabayashi shows his sensitive side as he takes care of Akane, while simultaneously reminiscing about the Sonohara family. This prompts him to keep an eye on Anri, and exploring this paternal nature makes him much more human than he would just acting as a puppet for the Awakusu Group. We revisit Namie Yagiri’s rivalry for her brother’s affection, with both Mika Harima and Celty’s head, mentioning the role Shinra had in replicating his lover’s true face. We are introduced to the Orihara twins’ martial arts instructors, who seem to have past involvement with their older brother. Because of the pure depth of the plot, the relationships intertwine and naturally form the story as it progresses. It adds complexity and dimensions to both the characters and events themselves.
The characters are Durarara!!’s strength, and because of how many there are, there is someone for everyone. And it’s not always the ones you expect. While he’s not my favourite, Akabayashi surprised me this season and I definitely changed my initial opinion of him. While I had thought characters like Walker and Mikado were perfectly lovable, their dark sides showed themselves more clearly over the last few episodes. Just like real people, their choices and the situations they’re in shape them into somebody else, and even if their personality largely stays the same, nothing is permanent. As a result, the opinions of the audience are constantly changing as well. This makes it seem unpredictable and chaotic, which is just what Ikebukuro needs.
Overall, Durarara!! x2 Ten is well worthy of being part of the Durarara!! timeline. A thoroughly enjoyable addition, it did leave me wanting to watch more. Even though the last episode of x2 Ten felt a tiny bit underwhelming after the last two finales, it did introduce a shock factor right at the very end. Also, it isn’t the finale for the whole season so it probably ended the way it did to accommodate the beginning of x2 Ketsu. Despite some superficial flaws, Durarara!! is still firmly on my list of favourites.