Durarara!! has been in the thoughts of English-speaking lovers of anime lately, with the dub of the second season nearing its end round about now if I remember rightly (I couldn’t wait when I ran out of dub watching this second season recently, so I continued on to the end by means of the already-released subbed episodes). When thinking of writing this article, I wondered if DRRR!! qualifies for a speculative fiction site; in a sense a curious doubt to have, considering we’re discussing a show which features a headless Irish fairy astride a motorbike and a mind-controlling demon blade in love with humanity. But that’s DRRR!! for you – concepts which could in themselves form the premise of an anime are details merely, constituting single strands in an endlessly diverting cat’s-cradle of storylines, all as delightfully wacky. And that’s why an article on the latest offering from this franchise does in fact deserve to be on a website devoted to the innovative – it’s speculative fiction without restricting itself to being that alone, throwing this together with other genres crazy in their infinite variety (crime/caper, psycho-thriller, comedy, romance…).
DRRR!! has always called for a fair amount of concentration, in view of its continual changing between stories and perspectives; there’s that tendency for each episode to focus on a character while being narrated by another one completely, and also the frequent jumps back and forth in time, an episode often occurring before the events of the previous one – perhaps explaining/leading to these in some way. With regard to this occasionally confusing quality, I find the second season, DRRR!! x2, rather easier to follow; not actually because of any decrease in complexity, but because of knowing the people by this stage. Or some of them, for the cast in fact becomes bigger than before – new characters are introduced, with old characters sometimes removed from the action to draw attention to these. I did miss Dotachin, leader of that lot in the van, one of my favourites, who spends much of DRRR!! x2 incapacitated; and likewise Shizuo, the lovable hothead, one of pretty much everybody’s favourites, who’s confined to a prison cell for a not-insubstantial portion of the time. But the new characters are sufficiently compelling that it matters little (with particular mention to the Russian assassin/badass book-lover Varona, and the full-of-himself but also oddly likeable ladykiller Rocchi). And certain older cast-members do receive their share of screentime, schoolboy turned internet-gangleader Mikado especially. I’m loving Mikado’s arc in DRRR!! x2, an arc which takes him to ever-darker places. Also, rest assured that even those favourites who leave the screen for a while will soon be back in force.
The finale of season one, though not unsatisfying in its way, clearly wasn’t the end of the tale. Without revealing too much here, DRRR!! x2 has much more sense of conclusion, rounding off the stories and the ideas meaningfully. For example, Irish dullahan Celty’s search for that missing noggin of hers finally leads somewhere. So too, at least to a degree, does that never-ending, ever-entertaining, feud between Shizuo and Izaya. In terms of themes, DRRR!! introduces itself, in the prologue of that first light novel that began the franchise, as being ‘a tale of twisted love’. The obsessive loves in this series are many, from Shinra’s long infatuation with Celty, to the strange triangle that forms around Seiji, who despite feeling romantic interest only in Celty’s severed head finds himself constantly pursued by his stalker Mika and his sister Namie. (If it so happens you haven’t seen season one, then… yeah, you did indeed read that last sentence correctly.) DRRR!! x2 resolves the theme, with attention to the Shinra – Celty and Seiji – Mika relationships particularly. Other ideas which dominate DRRR!!, e.g. urban rumours/urban mythology, are tied up in a fulfilling manner also. My sole complaint is that things between Mikado and Masaomi and Anri, between Mikado and Anri especially, don’t advance much from the first season’s finale.
DRRR!! was a whole lot of fun, and DRRR!! x2 is essentially more of the same. In fact, perhaps I enjoyed DRRR!! x2 to a still greater degree. The second season benefits from our having had the chance to settle into the show over the course of the first one, introduces new characters while maintaining the old ones most (if not all) of the time, and concludes the story satisfactorily. So if you haven’t seen DRRR!!, then watch it, and watch x2; if you’ve seen DRRR!! already, and liked it, you’ll love x2 also.