Haven’t I already seen this episode before? I think it was early on in the first half of Durarara!’s run. Anri got picked on by the trendy chicks. Mikado and his buddy “fight” over Anri. Celty and Shinra continue their abusive relationship. Simon hawks sushi. Izaya says cryptic stuff. Non-Beheaded Girl and her murderous beau sex it up in front of everyone. A slasher attacks a few people.More chat room stuff. More otaku gang members buying crap. Etc. Etc. Etc.
This is supposed to be a new episode? If it wasn’t for the fact that more new characters were introduced in this episode, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish this episode from previous episodes. What’s up, Durarara!?
The first half of Durarara! was all introduction. We got to meet some cool characters. We got to have some fun. Then the “climax” came and it was utterly underwhelming. Everyone was a member of Dollars and Mikado created the “gang.” Yeah, OK, it took us half a season to get to that revelation, along with a few other relatively minor ones as well. But we also had Izaya says some stuff about an impending war that he wants to start and how he wants to make his mark and blah blah blah. I took that as a hint of things to come, and that said things to come would start building up with the second half of the series.
While I didn’t expect episode 13 to go totally all out with new stuff, I also expected there to be some shift in tone from the previous part of the series. We spent 12 episodes establishing what’s up in Ikebukuyo, and I expected to see something different now that we got all of the introductions out of the way. Instead we get more of the same. The opening animation is different, but it plays off the same “show every character and flash their name” bit from the first one. The episode itself has the characters doing the same old stuff they’ve always done, as if nothing happened in the first half of the series. The two new characters introduced aren’t really shaking anything up or doing anything special, they’re just reaffirming trends we’ve already seen in previous episodes. And the closing animation is just a bad copy of the first ending animation. Same gimmick, just don’t worse.
It’s like someone hit the reset button and sent us back to the first level of the game.
Yeah, I get that we’re not going to see a major shift in tone in the span of one episode, especially given Durarara!’s near-glacial pace up to this point, but nothing has happened so far in this series. Everything up to this point has been character establishment. Well-conceived character establishment, but character development alone doesn’t make for a good series. There’s been little in the way of conflict to this point. Izaya and Shizuo flirt with punch each other every now and then, and a couple of people nearly got kidnapped by evil pharmaceutical companies, but that’s it. That’s fine for a few episodes, but we’re 13 episodes in and we’re still at the “getting to know you” stage of things. It’s gone from charming and pleasant to awkward and uncomfortable.
I do like Shinra’s dad and the motorcycle cop they introduced in this episode. Shinra’s dad is just as slimy and scummy as his son, making a pro-nurture argument in the nurture vs nature development bit. I like that he isn’t some sort of badass like almost every other character in the series thus far. As for the motorcycle cop, it’s good to see someone that’s played up as a genuine antagonist. He’s outright after Celty. He’s a man with a mission. He isn’t some shady type that becomes antagonistic by means of coincidence, like the fucked up chick in charge of the drug company. He looks to be a foil for Celty, and I hope they actually do something with this set-up. Like, have them actually go at it or something. That’d be a nice change of pace compared to everything else that’s happened thus far in this series.
But despite liking these two characters, their introductions are nothing we haven’t already seen. We got 12 episodes of introductions prior to this point, so seeing them pop up and get their moments didn’t have the same “oooo!” factor it had earlier in the series. At this point I’m thinking “OK, now what?” You’ve established the playing field, Durarara! You’re shown us you’re using shogi and go and chess pieces in the same nonsensical game. Now get to actually playing that game rather than reciting the rules as you make them up.