Post Reply Durarara!! X2
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Posted 2/18/15
by cardboard_shark

Durarara is one of my favorite anime titles to say out loud. In a medium full of shows with sentence-length names, it’s a delightful little four-syllable burst of nonsense. Much like its title, the series itself is a breath of fresh air; there’s very little out there like it. The first season aired way back in 2010 and presented compelling characters and twisting plots with an extra helping of style. Durarara!! X2 picks up where its predecessor left off, but does it recapture that bombastic energy?



Well, yes and no. X2 is a good show, but its mood and atmosphere are a bit different. The original series was steeped in mysteries and urban legends, with even seemingly mundane characters hiding big secrets. The audience rarely got to see the big picture until the end of a story arc, and the constant twists and turns helped the show’s world feel alive. This presents the new season with an unusual challenge: it has to remain compelling with nearly everyone’s secrets already out in the open. The story accomplishes this by introducing a fresh set of characters to act as unpredictable wild cards, and the result is an interesting shift in tone.

In the first season, the audience was made to feel like newcomers in the big city: excitement and danger lurked around every corner as we gradually found our bearings. Now, we’re more like long-time residents of the show’s depiction of Ikebukuro. The new characters are the outsiders, and the intrigue now comes from wondering how they will disrupt the delicate balance of the world. The change isn’t obvious until a few episodes have gone by, but it subtly affects the viewer’s perception of events. Characters like Shizuo and Celty are no longer unexplained forces of nature; they’re well-rounded people with perfectly normal troubles. Well, maybe “normal” is too strong a word for a headless horsewoman and a guy who can throw a park bench with one hand, but you get the idea.



The good news is that the new approach still creates a show that’s fun to watch. X2 retains its predecessor’s talent for taking seemingly unrelated stories and ramming them together at high velocity. The new characters are gradually integrated into the existing cast, creating fresh dynamics and injecting a bit of unpredictability into old ones. If it takes X2 a while to get off the ground, it’s only because it’s playing the long game. Much like the first season, each passing episode adds a bit to the show’s overall momentum, all while keeping the audience entertained with its sharp sense of humor.

The audience’s familiarity with the established cast also adds a new element of fun to the series. In many scenes, the viewer will know something that one of the new characters doesn’t, like just how much of a human tank Shizuo is. We get a chance to sit back and laugh as those key bits of information slowly dawn on the new folks. Having so many established personalities also makes it easier for the show to give us an idea of what a new character is like. If a cool-headed mastermind like Izaya gets nervous just talking about his sisters, it’s obvious that they’re a force to be reckoned with. It’s a shortcut to character development that helps keep the plot moving in the face of a truly massive ensemble cast.



Durarara!! X2 feels more like an evolution of the original series than a carbon copy, and that’s probably a good thing in the long run. Rather than trying to bottle lightning a second time, it uses its old strengths in a new way. If you have fond memories of the show’s version of Ikebukuro, it’s time for a return visit.
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Posted 2/21/15 , edited 2/21/15
I'm glad the show is back, but I will wait until the season is done so I can marathon it.
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