If this post sounds a bit like it’s recycled from last week’s Durarara post, I apologize in advance. But the issue is that my feelings after this ep are pretty much indistinguishable from what they were after the last one. The truth is that right now I’m finding my reaction to the series and pondering its place in the current anime landscape more interesting than the plot and characters, and that doesn’t seem like a healthy situation as regards following the show long-term.
Right now, I’m just finding Durarara a bit flat. And a bit dated, which – while obviously not ideal – is at least interesting. I’m trying to find the right analogy to describe all this, but it isn’t easy. It can’t be denied that Durarara is a trail-blazer, a much-imitated franchise that was on the vanguard of the light-novel conquest of the otaku universe that puts most of the imitators to shame. But somehow, for me, what seemed so fresh and stylish a few years ago feels somewhat more ordinary and predictable now Durarara hasn’t changed, but I have and so has the otaku-verse. And neither of us can ever go back.
This is especially a problem because if I’m again to be honest, DRRR hasn’t really engaged me fully as a story since the first cour of the first season ended. The second was a stylish whirlwind but kind of a narrative mess – and now, if that sensory experience is less exhilarating, absent a resurgence of the plot and characters there might not be enough there there. On top of that we have the fact that this production, now in the hands of newly-minted studio Shuka rather than Brains Base, is already starting to show some rough edges – the animation is a little stiff, the background detail is dropping, and things overall simply don’t look as pretty and cool as they once did.
So what’s the net impact of all this? When I see this incarnation of Durarara it feels a bit like I’m watching someone in their 30’s try and act the same way they did when they were 19. Characters like Hijiribe Ruri and the Orihara twins play like calculated cliches trying to cash in on the flavor of the week – which isn’t really fair, since DRRR was one of the series that gave rise to the entire style of cuisine in question. It’s a real conundrum for me, and I’d be lying if I said I knew where this is all leading. I really, genuinely want to feel the same way about Durarara that I did five years ago – I enjoyed that feeling a lot. But you can’t force it – it’s either going to come or it isn’t, and all I can do is hope for the best.