Monday 12 January 2015

First Impressions: Durarara!!x2 Shou

Durarara!!x2 Shou

Can you believe its been FIVE years since the first season of Durarara!! first aired? There's nothing quite like linking back to an older review and realising how much your writing style has changed to make something feel old. But enough about my writing habits - Durarara!! (or DRRR!! as it's often abbreviated to) has indeed returned, in what's arguably been one of the longest-awaited and hotly-anticipated anime sequels in recent years. With Brain's Base relinquishing animation duties, the task of bringing Durarara!!x2 Shou to life has been passed on to Studio Shuka - a brand new studio made up of several staff members behind the original series. When an anime sequel gets an entirely new studio behind it to make it happen, that's certainly a pretty big deal.

Set six months after the events of the original series, it's surprising how little life has changed in the city of Ikebukuro. Mikado and Anri are still enjoying their youth, Izaya is still thirsty for information, Shizuo still has anger issues and Shinra is still hopelessly in love with Celty - an Irish Dullahan in search of her missing head. This episode Celty gets into a bit of bother when her idea to get a news crew off her back goes amiss, prompting a police chase and media frenzy across the streets as everyone tries to capture the "Black Biker".

With Durarara!! having been gone for a while, it's no surprise that this first episode is mostly used to familiarise the audience with the show's wide cast of characters. Pretty much all of the original series leads' make some sort of appearance, however most of them are simply relegated to cameos for now as the episode itself focuses on a mostly self-contained story starring everyone's favourite headless biker. Celty was the main draw of Durarara!! to begin with for many people (myself included), so it's no surprise to have this second season kick off with her. Though it only offers hints at what's to come in the rest of the series (a mysterious string of murders? A reason why Celty shouldn't visit Izaya's office?), it's a great little episode that combines Durarara!!'s unique blend of supernaturalism and city-life - along with some wonderful comedy moments.

The new opening teases a few new faces among the familiar ones, but the only one we really get introduced to here is Emilia - a scientist who is revealed to have married Shingen (Shinra's gas mask-wearing father). Emilia feels right at home with the existing cast of the show, especially on Celty's "side" of things where her surrounding characters are prone to over the top proclamations and outbursts.

Really, it doesn't feel like Durarara!! has been gone that long at all. This first episode of x2 Shou does an utterly fantastic job of reintroducing the characters, not just for the existing audience but also in a way that newcomers should be able to follow (although they DEFINITELY should check out the first season before diving into this). The wit is just as sharp as ever, and the animation looking so good that you would never think that it was being done by a brand new studio (a studio of experienced staff maybe, but budget was a concern). Durarara!! x2 isn't just likely to be the hottest anime this Winter season, it's also likely to be one of the most talked about of 2015. The year couldn't have gotten off to a better start.

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