Durarara!!X2 Shou – 03

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If I’m honest, I have to admit I’m starting to get a bit worried.

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.

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17 comments

  1. s

    well to be honest both seasons of durarara werent the best display of smooth animation as they are both pretty average efforts with some sakuga moments here and there but it's actually quite the opposite from what ive seen: the art and animation this season is actually better than the previous. There's less use of shadowed out background characters (even if they are not moving most of the time) the colors are sharper, better use of wide-angle shots that actually frame the back drops better, and the jump to true 720p actually helps the picture look better rather than a psuedo 720p. But yea, stiff animation has always been par the course in Durarara as much as i can vividly remember.

    As of the ep itself, i actually kinda liked it. I mean like this season of durarara is beginning to stretch its legs, but i find the show at its strongest when it can blend take its eccentric, out-of-this world cast of characters, flesh them out through story progression, all the while presenting it's pulp-fiction like narrative (more in this season anyway) all at the same time. Overall, it's been a decent first 3 eps that shows potential that it can tell this stylistic, cool, and engaging story if it trusts in its viewers and hit all the right notes. Things seem like they could be going down a dark path, and i want to see where it goes. Some of the anime tropes that were heralded by the original durarara can be a bit to handle now (i was a bit irritated by them back then as well) but as you said previously, durarara sort of makes it still work

  2. K

    I don't really think the first series was all that great so far me not much has changed.

    In fact so far this is better than the 2nd half of the first series because we have avoided all that awful melodrama so far.

  3. s

    I agree; I feel like the first 3 eps have been a decent package so far. I thought ep 1 had the best execution in its story-telling even though it was all just set up and nothing much seemed to be happening (execution is key to a story structure like this). It didnt feel the need to hold the viewer's hand like ep 2 did, and while ep 3 relied on a narrator for some exposition, i liked the results better than in ep 2 because it sort of gave it a noir feel (at least it wasnt narrating every single thought in the character's heads so that was good). The pace of this season is more my liking for a story of this nature and as long as it is executed like it was in ep 1, ill be enjoying the ride

  4. H

    I'm in agreement that Durarara was merely good to begin with so this season is living up to that. The less it focuses on the main school kids the better the episode I find. Some of the older characters do seem a bit worn out. I hope we won't have to see Shinra in the black ball again…

    The exchange between Hijiribe Ruri and Kasuka had a surprising amount of depth to it.

  5. w

    I don't think there's been any tangible difference in animation quality between this and the first season so far. The only visual difference really is that the character designs have been further stylised. I'd be more inclined to agree with sonic and say that if anything, the animation is better.

    I'll also admit that this Durarara feels much the same to me as it did back then. I wonder if the appeal of the style itself has worn off on you? Like, the twins and Ruri feel like they fit right into the series, and I honestly don't get in what way they could be seen as calculated (unless you mean the kiss, and otaku don't seem to care much for yuri anyway). I'm sorry you're not quite feeling it anymore, but I do think the change has come from you rather than the show itself. I'd love it if you could enjoy it again too, it's always nice when you're blogging a show you're really happy with

  6. j

    Is it just me or are the characters… longer this season? Shinra especially, but everybody just seems very spindly.

    The twins are totally calculated. The energetic one and the quiet one, the pettanko and the chesty one, the gym bloomers and tight shirt, the kissing (of each other and of others)… Everything seems designed to appeal. But the casts can change from arc to arc and we're short a lot of characters from the OP, so it's worth sticking with till the focus shifts at least, imo.

    Are you sure yuri's not popular? YuruYuri did well enough.

  7. s

    it's not just you, they are a smidge bit longer

  8. I agree – they do seem to have taken on a bit of a CLAMP body shape this season.

    Yuri is extremely popular – it's a staple of many best-selling titles, and I'm not sure why someone would think otherwise. I certainly acknowledge that DRRR was doing this before it became a flat-out marketing strategy, though.

    I've certainly made no secret of the fact that it's probably me that's changed here, and not the series. But whatever the reason, it just feels a bit tired and less sharp-edged than it used to.

  9. w

    Nah, most yuri series sell pretty poorly. It's popular in relation to shows like K-on, Love Live and KanneColle, which aren't yuri series anyway. The characters are very shippable, which fuels doujins, but in the shows themselves the closest you'll get to yuri is the characters occasionally blushing at each other. Things like Strawberry Panic, Aoi Hana or Sakura Trick either sell mediocre or outright tank. YuruYuri was a minor hit, but it seems to be more of an outlier than the rule.

  10. That strikes me as a Herculean effort at denial. And one that requires an extremely narrow definition of yuri. The term "yuri goggles" didn't spring up by accident.

  11. w

    I'm probably making too many rash statements. Apologies. What I mean is that yuri mostly tends to be popular as subtext rather than text?

  12. H

    Never back down on love, whemleh!

  13. You certainly have nothing to apologize for – I'm merely in disagreement with your argument. I think the evidence shows that yuri is extremely popular among otaku, who are the main paying audience for anime, and that one has to stack the deck with questionable assertions (like a ridiculously strict definition of yuri) to argue otherwise.

  14. Z

    No, the series Whemleh is talking about are the series written in the true niche yuri style which enjoy a very modest niche appeal. So I believe a reverse apology is in order.

  15. b

    Hmm, if I'm honest, the only character I liked in the first season was Celty, and even she seems to have had her moe factor upped a little since last season. I watched the first season when the second was announced, so it's probably fresher in my mind then with people who watched it when it aired, so there isn't really much of a disconnect for me. Why did I finish the first season? Probably because I wanted it to be the next Baccano, but it just wasn't. As long as Celty keeps showing up, I'll probably keep watching though… *sigh*

  16. T

    I did find this episode slightly boring mainly because the main focus for this episode were characters whom have a hard time feeling human emotions. Its too bad your not enjoying this series as much. Are you considering of dropping it?

  17. Not yet. Not seriously, anyway.

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