It occurs to me in watching Durarara unspool again, five years on, that this is a pretty dangerous formula in the wrong hands. It would be wrong to say Narita-sensei invented it – and the accompanying tropes which populate his works, especially DRRR – but he’s certainly a pioneer, and comes as close as anyone to perfecting the execution. There are times when I find myself getting annoyed with some of what plays out on-screen, before I catch myself and remember that this isn’t a LN ripping off Durarara – this is Durarara.
That still leads to a curious conundrum, though – it’s not like I can unsee the five years worth of generic LN adaptations that have forever tainted the medium since the first DRRR aired. The series hasn’t changed much but anime has, and so have I. None of that is the fault of the series, which has been continuing uninterrupted in LN form, and remains just as well-crafted as ever. And Omori Takahro and Takagi Noboru certainly haven’t lost their touch. But is it really possible to be a viewer with the personal history (and biases) that have built up since 2010-11 and enjoy this show as much as I did then? It’s an interesting experiment – time will tell.
In the actual event, it’s hard not to admire Narita, Omori, and Takagi’s ability to keep as many plates spinning as they do. As if the dizzying array of character stories the first series had isn’t enough, there’s the constant jumping back and forth in time, and now we’re seeing even more characters added to the mix. Among those are Izaya’s younger twin sisters Kururi and Mairi (present in the first season but just barely relevant) and a new boy played by Hiro Shimono (I told you, if they’re a big name they all appear in DRRR sooner or later) named Kuronuma Aoba. He’s a Dollar and an oddball who thinks nothing of breaking the ultimate school taboo by ratting out bullies to the teacher, but this is DRRR – you can bet his quirks run deeper than that. The always outrageous twins give him a first day of school to remember, though Kuronoma takes it in stride to a fairly impressive degree.
One interesting element from this episode was Shinra’s fourth wall breaking – he (from the inside of Celty’s shadow ball) explains to the audience what was going on at the school, and why we were taking a trip back in time to further expound on it. If this happened in the first series I don’t remember it – though that’s certainly far from impossible. In terms of events themselves we’re seeing a very familiar DRRR formula – the red string of fate linking seemingly unrelated events in a long daisy chain, and a key MacGuffin this time is the ¥1000000 Celty lost during her latest flight from Kuzuhara, which has now been found by the Orihara twins. Hijinks to follow.
Another hotspot to keep an eye on is Shingen’s interaction with this fellow, a face I don’t remember from the first season (and it’s a memorable one, too). Shingen (it’s always a joy to hear Ohtsuka Akio in any role, large or small) is pretty much a lock to be involved in something dangerous and unsavory, and the tall dude is clearly trouble with a capital “T”. Of the irrepressible Shizuo again we get only a brief glimpse, along with our first mention of Russia Sushi this season (with more to come next week). Rather than try too hard to make sense of everything this early in the plot, I think it makes more sense to just sit back and let the DRRR wash over you, so that’s what I’ll do for the moment.