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.