Durarara x2 Shou - Episode 1 [REVIEW]
The gang(s) is back! Durarara returns after a five year long hiatus and it brings with it the same old ensemble cast of characters, frenetic pacing, and weird happenings in a seemingly recognisable modern world setting.
For me, the original had a feeling of anarchic excitement with a plot thread that bound a rather disparate bunch of groups and characters together. The focus would switch, sometimes dizzingly, between these characters and how the loose plot affected them. Sometimes they would be passive observers to the actions of others, and sometimes they were the main protagonists pushing the drama and comedy. It was an engaging balance and brought the setting of Ikebukaro to life. Season 2 certainly starts off where season 1 finished this.
So season 1 finished off with a number of loose ends seemingly being tidied up, or at least clarified, but with quite a few still unresolved. Mikado came to terms with his involvement in The Dollars and the feud with The Yellow Scarves was settled, albeit with some personal loss for Mikado and his relationship with Masaomi. Most intriguing here was the prediction by Izaya that Mikado would never return to accepting a normal life, a foreshadowing of Mikado's development as a character that seems rather ominous. There was Celty finding happiness with Shinra and resigning herself to her nature as a headless supernatural oddity (Dulahan). Izaya appears to have finished his current schemes in defeat, although his is obviously not quite the case since he secretly has Celty's head and always has something more up his sleeve.
Episode 1 of the second season kicks off with the typical Drrr fast pace, throwing viewers into the story midway through, a flourish that either works for you or not as a viewer. The OP is in keeping with Drrr and has a nice rock guitar flavour with a recap worked in. The main episode plot revolves around Celty and her more brash and confident acceptance of her nature. Unfortunately, this also leads to some trouble for her when the police and media catch up with her. Cue street chases and the cast watching on. Also, there's a seeding for some mysterious murders that will develop in future episodes. This episode works in appearances from pretty much every single character with a number of new ones too. The overall result being a mishmash of cameos to remind you who was there last time. It's typically a post-hiatus episode that feels a bit strange if you roll into this straight from the last series but is to be expected and is nice to reacquaint you with our old friends from the Drrr setting. The comedy mostly works and masks the weirder and more disturbing elements of story introduced. There are numerous amusing references to other recent animes and fan tropes that almost seem a bit satirical, and the writers certainly have their tongues firmly in their cheeks with this.
I have to mention the art style now because, as discussed by other viewers, I found it a little jarring in places. The animators have done a good job and the overall effect is similar to the original series but Mikado's face looks really odd to me. His scenes are intercut with some flashback from the original and to my eye this compares strangely, like it was rushed a bit. There is also a bit with Shinra and Celty that seemed really strangely proportioned. I'm hoping this was just a blip in the otherwise passable quality of art and style of Drrr.
Anyways, the episode finishes off with a little nod towards Masaomi's eventual return and gave me a nice little feeling inside like being reunited with my school mates after a summer break and just picking up as if no real time had passed. The ED was upbeat and displays the extending cast in typical Drrr style with a preview hinting at the introduction of new characters and advancing the seeded plot from this episode.
All in all I enjoyed this and cannot wait for next weeks when the real action and plot will be revved up. MY SCORE 8/10.