This show is bittersweet–depicting the lives of middle school students enjoying their youth and experiencing hardships. Noitamina picked a wonderfully written manga to adapt and the music sells this show a ton!
A-1 Pictures adapted Naoshi Arakawa’s manga faithfully. It’s beautifully drawn with very detailed character designs by Yukio Aikei! This is a wonderful series that ties the bonds between friends together through music and love. Arima Kousei’s growth is one of the big highlights of Shigatsu as we see him placing fear onto himself due to his mother’s death. The contrast that gets him out of his shell is Kaori Miyazono. She’s free-spirited and much like his childhood friend, Tsubaki Sawabe, she’s got this drive to fix Kousei out of his slump. The connection is that they are both musicians and this is how the romance develops between the two of them. They’re both learning their own sounds by practicing together and discovering they’ve got strong chemistry!
Masaru Yokoyama’s soundtrack fits extremely well into this– picking from a range of popular classical insert songs to a collection of original pieces that are just as emotionally moving as the animation and its engaging characters! When it comes to a series about music it’s pivotal that you need sound to get this story moving and it doesn’t let go of this idea ever. This is one series I would highly recommend to anyone that’s a fan of music or romance. It touches on parental loss and the huge respects are paid to this theme throughout as Kousei goes on his journey discovery that in order to get over his mother’s death and realize his feelings for Kaori he must find his own way of voicing it out even if its through playing piano.
If you like Nodame Cantabile‘s focus into music than I’d say you would enjoy this series. A lot of criticism from Shigatsu stems from its overdramatic scenes and moments where the show at times leans more on a characters’ emotions rather than the musical performances themselves. In my opinion I find this to be a pretty big success to the series’ way of reminding us that these are middle school students and they need all the room to grow up in their own ways.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: [91/100]
After a five year gap between this season and the original a lot of the charm that made Durarara!! such a success remains the same. It follows Ryogo Narita’s light novels pretty closely– there’s the kidnappings, the exaggerated Shizuo’s strength putting fear in Ikebukuro’s criminals and centers on the intertwining lives of its citizens. It’s a series that neatly rolls so many genres seamlessly together from action to comedy to horror and even the subdued romance between Celty and Shinra plus Anri and Ryuugamine.
I believe where X2Shou outshines the first season is how closely connected the new cast is with the old. The Russians are back and have the addition of Egor, Varona and Sloan providing a much needed backstory to their part in Ikebukuro; something that the first season needed a lot more of. The singer Ruri was a brief mention in the beginning of the first season that it was great to see that even she has her strange secrets: the identity of Hollywood.
My one large complaint is Studio Shuka’s animation. Rather than sticking with Brains Base the creators went with a company that may have done a decent job in background designs the character’s facial expressions are a bit distorted at times. There were a few times where the animation hadn’t been as fluid as the original. For the show it doesn’t help in keeping up with the same dark artistic integrity it once had but from an anime industry perspective its brilliant. They’ve established a new studio using a former producer of the classic Durarara!! [which is why we see tons of familiar staff working on these new seasons] to helm the overall animation production for x2Shou, x2Ten and x2Ketsu. Smart move. I’d really like to see this done on shonen series like BLEACH or Kyoukai no Rinne. Rumiko Takahashi is known for doing long series so it’d be a good move to do what Studio Shuka did and follow their influence.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: [88/100]
Noboru Takagi is the series writer for this season and here is where an hour-long special would have worked extremely well by adding on to the conclusion of this. I was pretty unimpressed by this episode. However the highlight is that this entire episode was animated extremely well. Studio Shuka’s budget was used quite a bit on this finale– those fights were drawn with a strong attention to detail and had some nice fluid animation to back it up. Especially when Shizuo is dodging Varona’s bullets!
Shizuo’s fight against Varona is the real highlight that closes out this season nicely just in time for xTen. The motorcycle that is hurled into the air towards the crowd of Dollars and Saitama gangs fighting each other was a great way to introduced Shizuo the final episode. For the most part he cleans up house between the gangs but one part that doesn’t make much sense is how Varona can hold her own against Shizuo but can’t win against the Awakusa group. Sloan and her get taken out leaving quite the cliffhanger. It was a good way to show off how powerful the Awakusa group but don’t use the incredibly powerful Varona to achieve this! Doesn’t make much sense after she was able to survive the encounter against Shizuo!
On top of that we get another narrative thread– Yodogiri Jinnai shows back up and decides to kill Izaya for meddling into his business. Which given that the teaser is already out we see he’s very much alive. As for Ryuugamine he’s showing how weak he is by accepting Aoba’s agreement on being the leader of the Blue Squares. Another reason why this episode should have been an hour-long special. Felt really rushed.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 5/10
I don’t believe I’ve seen another series that had people getting kidnapped as much as Durarara!!. This has to be one of the most important episodes of x2 Shou to date because a faction of the Dollars group decides on kidnapping Chikage’s main girl. The Dollars are more of an organization than some gang. They jump on chat rooms and preach their believes and on-goings. This is one big reason why I like this series– it’s use of social media trends.
Many of Durarara!!‘s original villains show up in this as a sort of group that goes against Ryuugamine’s intentions. Great to see tackling a redemption style for its bad dudes– Ryuugamine getting beaten up is one way to tie in a bunch of narrative from the first season as well as mixing in some of the new cast from this season! Kadota’s fight with Chikage took up most of the runtime here that sets up Varona’s fight with Anri, Kadota’s crew with the other Dollars members and Shizuo’s arrival at the climax! I enjoyed this episode a lot the blurry effect at the end was a fairly solid way of illustrating how beaten up Ryuugamine was and that Shizuo was the shining hope at finishing the mess he’s gotten himself into.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
I’m slowly catching up on reviews of the past couple of seasons. The summer season has begun and I will definitely be following quite a few series on the season. This episode does something really smart– focuses on Akane’s backround. She learns her Awakusa family name is feared throughout the entire city. This is another episode that points out the school-life aspect that the first season didn’t dive into as much. Here is where we’ve got this plain girl trying to make friends and sees that one girl is bullied. Akane feels she is standing up for what’s right and I really like the foreshadow, the overlay behind being part of her family– everyone gets along with each other out of fear. The other girls wanted to pick on her and its great to see that how everything is oddly normal before her friend tells her why those girls had been so kind to her.
It’s like it was building up to her running away from home, tasering Shizuo and making new friends through Izaya. She’s in quite the complicated situation with her crime syndicate family and it’s about time we’ve got an episode that takes a backseat to all the fast-paced antics. It doesn’t leave it behind though as Shiki quickly recalls Hollywood from the first arc of this season!
The narration by Akane was a nice touch and at least from what I can tell especially with this episode is that Anri is less depressed than she was in the first season. She can control he Saika power even more so when she is finally able to protect Akane and Ryuugamine. Rater than closing out this season the creators have wonderfully placed Ruri back into the story– her Hollywood identity mentioned by Shinra and the television segment is proof that there is so much story left to tell! Not to mention how much I can’t wait to se Shizuo’s encounter with Varona. Love at first sight?
The Samurai Flamenco video was really cool to see here!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
Taking off from last episode this one uses the build-up to distinguish one large fact about Durarara!! as a whole: it’s a show that uses teen to young adult melodrama and juvenile pranks to keep the story moving forward.
The Blue Squares and the Yellow Scarves stunts back in season 1 got the attention of the police quite often: with the Saitama group involving themselves in this second season with a heated argument with Celty’s group protecting Mikiya Awakusu’s daughter Akane this episode took a more serious leap in terms of involving a dangerous yakuza-like group Awakusu. Shifting the attention away from kids to adults. I believe what emphasizes this immensely is Shizuo’s strength.
One of Awakusu’s members trying to explain to their boss– he’s not a man to be taken lightly. Especially where Shizuo is confronted by Mikiya’s men in order to find the location of his daughter. He doesn’t beat them up he avoids any unnecessary conflict but when he has to he’ll pick up a street light or a car and uses them as weapons. Sound ridiculous right? Well that’s the charm about this show it doesn’t shy away from the silly supernatural traits these characters inherently have and what we as viewers come to associate them with. In other words, Durarara!! doesn’t try to be too realistic in its moments of situational development it layers on different elements in order to stay fresh in context being as wild with the narrative as can be. Really. It’s a shame Rie Matsumoto couldn’t direct this.
As for Ryuugamine, he’s put in a pickle with the Saitama gang showing up giving more leverage Aoba can use and what does he do? Quickly yells out Big Boss towards Ryuugamine and even goes to threatening Anri– I like this point in the episode because Celty saves him from a constant reoccurring problem that’s been nagging at him. How should he handle being the leader of the Dollars? Now this is where I can see how the multiple seasons can work extremely well: and split-cour for that matter.
Sloan and Varona’s confusion about their targets coincidentally meeting up (Celty and Anri) will add a lot more action for future episodes! I didn’t notice this the first time watching but it was in fact Izaya that sent the warning message to Ryuugamine disguised as Masaomi. Izaya and Aoba are a lot alike and Celty sees that which puts a lot more emphasis on Izaya’s desire to cause chaos in the city out of boredom whereas Aoba wants to see the destruction because he isn’t too fond of humanity.
I really like all the easter eggs in this show! From Mahouka to Aldnoah.Zero! Will we ever get to see Baccano!‘s Isaac and Miria again?
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
Here is where things get interesting. Let’s recap real quickly what we already know: Akane has run away from her family, Celty is on a job looking for her, Ryuugamine questions his friendship with Masaomi and his leadership in the Dollars, Anri is coming to grips with the fact that she can’t be loose of her Saika form and then there’s the awesome Varona.
This episode just like a lot of the others this season has been jumping around with numerous time-skips to achieve exactly what it’s been wanting to do since the premiere– a war throughout Ikebukuro. Something Izaya wants to see happen because he’s bored and Aoba is at the cusp of setting a lot of it up! It’s episodes like these I really enjoy because while there is a lot of disjointed situational material happening all at once it does converge at some point.
Aoba and his Blue Squares/Dollars’ group are finally giving x2Shou some weight this series hasn’t had very much of. Whoever wrote this episode did a wonderful job of setting up the notion that Rokujo Chikage would be going to meet up at the warehouse where Ryuugamine and the Blue Squares are along with Celty, Sloan and Varona but in actuality he’s put the idea in his head that Kadota’s group are the ones causing this mess! It’s because of this that his enounter with Kadota comes off so strongly. This gives a solid balance between the other muscle-strong character of this series– Shizuo. He’s getting caught up in the situation because he’s different and while he is a Dollars member doesn’t exactly follow them which is why his “acting-alone” scenarios gets him caught up in being wanted for kidnapping and murder!
I’m curious though if its intentional on the part of Izaya’s plan to distort Ryuugamine’s ideals as the founder of the Dollars and shift his character as an antagonist!
Did anyone else notice Shizuo’s smile– overjoyed that Izaya is the one that set him up with Akane wanting to kill him. Ryuugamine also had a smile representing his possibilities in obtaining more power while staying behind the scenes. Speaks a lot about the characters in this show and their ulterior motives.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10
Authenticity. It’s a shame Commander Lingeren and her father Dracon couldn’t speak Russian throughout because the part that Simon spoke in the beginning was fantastic. This truly was a wonderful episode– it’s dark, and leaves nothing behind in giving a detailed backstory on Varona.
She’s a shut-in because of her father and all she does is read books but when a killer comes in to claim her life she takes matters into her own hands. That house sequence was probably the best scene this season has to offer so far! I like how we escape Ikebukuro for a while and get a view of Russia. Having seen what her daughter had done he realizes Varona is special. It’s also nice to see a little behind Simon too. He and Ivan trained her and those still panel shots provide more than enough power behind her motives of killing. Reading books, magazines and comics she finally has found something fun with killing people. Rather creepy but this is Durarara!! I’m talking about here and without a character like this it wouldn’t make a challenge for Anri’s unfortunate Saika form or Shizuo’s well-known strength. This series is about weird things happening around the city and that’s what this episode emphasized plain-and-simple.
Izaya is finally making his moves: The Dollars represent the freedom this city needs in order to evolve. He’s making a stir but playing the Devil’s advocate. The idea that Ryuugamine could be left behind from the very gang he established with a color and ideals. Izaya is trying to make a mess; creating ordered chaos and has put Ryuugamine around his finger. Aoba’s entrance at the end just proves how much this season is trying to outfit Izaya as a sort of double-sided coin.
Anri’s fight with Varona gently touches on this idea about ordered chaos and provides what the last few episodes have been leading up to. Celty’s encounter with her. Varona doesn’t know much of the outside world and her insistent remarks about danger were so child-like she’s depicted as this broken soldier child. Fantastic episode!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
Studio Shuka has done a decent job in animating this series: we’ve had some fluid action sequences in the past few episodes, but it definitely isn’t as good as what Brain’s Base did on the first season. That season was so much darker, the character designs by Noein‘s artist Takahiro Kishida are less re-fined this time around. It doesn’t affect my viewing too much but I sure miss scenes like this one. Beautifully detailed on the background designs and Anri’s running was spot on. I will say though it was smart move on a Brain’s Base producer of the first season of Durarara!! to establish a brand new studio (Shuka) in handling the rest of this. This is probably why a lot of the animation staff remain the same here. Brain’s Base doesn’t typically do another season for a show so that’s probably one of the biggest reasons why they didn’t do x2Shou. If I recall the only time this had been the case was for their first animated work ever in 2002: Daigunder. I believe that had a total of 39 episodes.
Picking up right where we left off– Celty soon discovers in a grim sense that she’s in love with Shinra just after having faced death by the mysterious rider. Nice way to tie in Shinra’s side of the story where Shizuo escorts the young girl to his place and give his side of how he feels about Celty. It’s this style of storytelling I like a lot– backpedaling with the different characters stuck in various situations all leading up to the girl Awakusu Akane. The yakuza-inspired group Awakusu is led by Mikiya and really wants his daughter to come back home. I feel this guy is quite scary but to make matters worse is the group Sloan and Varona.
While Sloan offers a more comedic side to their work Varona is the more silent-type: I really like her character. Now that they’ve been asked to kidnap Akane I can clearly see how they are being woven into the story of x2Shou. This episode delivers on establishing a face off between Varona and Celty similar to Ruri’s obsession over Celty. I get the feeling Varona is somewhat curious about the black rider’s (Celty) abilities and it’s nice how they use straight up cellphone video footage to get this point across.
For most of the first season Ryugamine acted as the lead character and finding out towards the middle of the series that he’s the Dollars’ leader just makes the interactions between him and Aoba very intruiging– especially when Masaomi warns him through chat that something doesn’t feel right. Just shows that their friendship is still pretty strong even after the Yellow Scarves incident in the first season.
It might be a bit confusing how the timeline is setup here in that the ending to last episode we see Varona encounter and lopping off Celty’s helmet and by the second half of this episode as more of a recap in order to build more strength to the follow-up scenes. I really like how Celty trails Varona with her black string and leaving the viewer wanting even more to the next episode not to mention that cliffhanger with someone breaking into Anri’s room. So much is going on around the city and this season focuses on a time jump narrative. Interesting.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
Ono Yuuki has one of those voices that are very distinct. I can tell him apart just like I can with Takahiro Sakurai and Izaya’s CV Kamiya Hiroshi. Yuuki portrays x2Shou’s newest cast member Rokujou Chikage. A womanizer and a man with a grudge against the Dollars. Chikage has an aura about him that is similar to Shizuo. He protects others mostly women and is quite strong. He will be a good addition to Durarara!!‘s set of antagonists. I wonder how he would react when he sees that a high-schooler is in charge of the Dollars.
The Izaya sisters weren’t shown very much here but still provide a good piece of comedy in the rather long chat room scene. With all the action last episode this was a solid build-up intertwining new and older characters with different stories crossing over each other.
This episode focuses mainly on Shizuo and Chikage and their confrontation is fantastic! Chikage certainly got what was coming to him and it’s great to see how this provides the momentum into the next arc with the Yakuza searching for the little girl that stuns Shizuo and Masaomi’s presence foreshadowing that something or someone is up to no good again. Chikage may have lost a battle one on one but his speech with the Saitama gang is just what this next arc for x2Shou needed in giving it more of an edge! I think his rally by the end of this episode wouldn’t have been as strong if it were not for his encounter with Shizuo.
However, my favorite part in this is the young woman on the bike that lops off Celty’s helmet. Such fluid animation!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10