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Durarara 2nd Season Letdown

After a relatively long lack of anime in my life, I’m finally wrapping up the second season of Durarara and it makes me a little sad inside.  It’s not bad by any stretch, or that the plot isn’t going somewhere.  No, it’s still colorful, somewhat wacky, and the three young protagonists have more of a train wreck of unintentionally fighting with each other than I would have thought possible with only three players.

It’s just slow. And dripping with adolescent and/or misguided leader angst. It has set up a perfectly good reason for the angst—the cheerfully malicious villain, who the series telegraphed right off the bat with the entire 2nd episode spends his free time encouraging people to destroy their own lives. But that episode felt out of place with the rest of the series, so even if it tipped its hand, that’s not much consolation.

Still, I could forgive, if it dumped on the angst, then slapped the characters around and twisted something classic into something fresh and spectacular. For the first couple of slower, more sullen episodes I just figured it was catching its breath before the big finale. But it’s now spent six solid episodes moping around in circles during which very little has actually happened. Not that it isn’t doing a very good job of, say, keeping people discussing things interesting to the viewer, but the same amount of plot and character development could have easily been covered in two episodes, and it would have been much better for it. Baccano (or, heck, this show’s first season) probably could have pulled it off in a single half-hour of madness if it really tried.

Also, not nearly enough Celty, which I can accept, except there’s also barely any of the, oh, dozen other potentially interesting characters—really, nearly everything has focused on the three youths, with occasional brief appearances by peripheral characters who feel very much like peripheral players, and no attention at all to a half dozen people who might have been interesting but have done nothing in the series but take up space in the intro.

What it really feels like is that the series had about 18 episodes worth of plot and 24 episodes to fill with it, and instead of even distribution it went all-out for the first 15 or 16, then is sitting around dragging its feet filling time with what’s left. Contrast this with Baccano, which apparently had enough material for two seasons but got trimmed down to one, plus the three bonus episodes. Yet, whether that’s the reason or not, those were 16 solid episodes of pure chaotic beauty.

And that’s what the real problem with this mopey, lethargic closing quarter is: The series conclusively demonstrated its ability to bring together a huge, seemingly-random, wacky cast in a crazy, multi-layered narrative knot of entertaining chaos, all while blithely tossing out an ever-increasing stream of incongruently hilarious quirks, deadpan gags, and wild hijinks the likes of which most series can only dream. Then, after making you laugh, cheer, and drop your jaw in disbelief at the madness, it pushes all that aside and leaves you with three messed-up but relatively straightforward kids moping around endlessly, driving you nuts at their inability to get to the friggin’ point already.

Basically, the series proved that it was on a first-name basis with Awesome and his friend That Did Not Just Happen, then decides to go hang out with Adolescent Angst for the entire endgame.

Again, it’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that after being so good, it’s an incredible letdown. Even moreso every time the credits roll and you realize that half the people in them have barely done anything at all, despite there being ample time available.

Oh well, at least there’s still some opportunity for the very end to do something to leave a good taste in the mouth.

8 Responses to “Durarara 2nd Season Letdown”

  1. Ghostwriter Says:

    Hi,Marc! Nice to see you again! I’ve got something to tell you and something I’ve been wanting to ask you. The first one is that it seems that “Durarara!” is going to be on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block this Saturday. I just wanted to tell you that.
    The thing I wanted to ask you but never really got to is I just reread your review of “Puni Puni Poemi.” The way you describe Nabeshin is that he might earn the moniker “The Mel Brooks of anime.” If you don’t know who he is then,I suggest you look him up. Wikipedia might be a good place to start. What do you think?

  2. Ghostwriter Says:

    Recently,I’d heard about a couple of manga on ANN’s weekly column “House of a 1000 Manga” by Jason Thompson. I thought you guys ought to know about these two manga. One of them is “Baron Gong Battle.” It’s an attempted cross between a shonen manga and a Hollywood action movie. I think it was too over-the-top for most readers so it didn’t do too well over here. You can learn a little more about this manga in the “Broken Anime” posting of this blog.
    Another manga that I found out about is called “Dame Dame Saito Nikki.” From what I saw of it was a pretty humorous view of American anime fans. Sadly,it was never translated into English,but to be honest I think it deserved an English translation. What do you think about both these manga?

    And Marc,I found out something very interesting. I’d heard that your wife is Japanese so I looked up for my own interest about Shinto Shrines in the United States. Turns out there are quite a few of them. A few of them are located in Hawaii,but one of the biggest surprises is I found out about one in Oregon. I don’t remember the name of it,but it looks like a Shinto shrine that can be found in Japan. From what little I saw,if you imagined it that a Shinto shrine was brought there from Japan to America by magic. If you want to find out more,just Google or search “Shinto Shrines in the United States.” You’d as surprised as I was.

  3. Ghostwriter Says:

    My mistake. The shrine I was talking about was in Washington,not Oregon.

  4. Matt Says:

    Those Baron Gong Battle and Dame Dame Saito Nikki manga titles you mentioned sound interesting. I’m a little surprised the latter hasn’t been translated considering titles about anime production and fandom like Animation Runner Kuromi, Doujin Works and Genshiken are available over here.

    I took a quick look and apparently there is Shinto Shrine in Victoria, British Columbia (some sources say Vancouver). If you’re gonna build a Shinto Shrine in Canada, that’s the only province it makes sense to build it in considering the large asian population.

  5. Ghostwriter Says:

    Actually,I was talking about a Shinto Shrine in the state of Washington,within the United States. Not in Canada.

  6. Matt Says:

    I know. I was just adding on to what you were saying about there being a Shinto Shrine in the U.S. I’m from Canada so I got curious and googled to see if there were any in my country as well and there is, so I just mentioned it.

  7. Ghostwriter Says:

    No hard feelings,ok? Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if a Japanese manga artist were asked to make something for the American market. I ask this because I just read another “House of a 1000 Manga” column by Jason Thompson. This one was about a guy by the name of Junji Ito and one of his manga called “Uzumaki” and no it’s not a horror version of the “Naruto” manga.
    But from what I seen,this guy could easily earn the title of the “Steven King of manga.” This guy draws scary. But,I’m not a fan of horror. My tastes tend to run more towards comedies. On the whole,I try to avoid it wherever possible. Sometimes,I’ve made fun of the horror genre in some of my skits and stories.

    After reading about this guy,I wonder what would he do if he were asked to do an American horror comic? There are plenty of them out there so I wonder,what would it be like if he did do something like that?

  8. montrail Says:

    if you want their to be a second season of durarara then sign the petition at this site http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/durarara-season-2/