What They Say:
Half a year after the turmoil that rocked the entire city of Ikebukuro – peace has once again returned to the city and people are living each day normally. The high school students enjoy their days of youth as the strongest and most dangerous man of Ikebukuro works diligently. The informant plots a new scheme and the headless rider is pursued by the cops as she rides through the night. But soon this ordinary life will be cut short by extraordinariness. Slowly but surely, the unknown will seize the city and face an all new storm…
For a Blu-Ray release, surprisingly we only have a 2.0 Stereo release of English and Japanese – nothing wrong with either track (actually was fine on the default settings, watched the first disc in English and the second in Japanese – no problems with the synching or with the subtitles), just a bit surprising there was no 5.1 track. Very straightforward release quality wise, no glitches I noticed with music, foley, background noise, etc – just with the very nature of the series a 5.1 release would have been great.
Set with the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio, we have HD quality with the gritty environment of Ikebukuro, combining the shadows of Celty with the grayness of Izaya – the animation feels loved because the work doesn’t suggest majorly computer influences outside of the Headless Rider sequences and some of the chase scenes – this flows well because there is so much action intermixed with the monologues and backstories being told that it is clear what is going on and transfers well onto the small screen. A quality release.
There was no packing for this test release; however the special release does come in collector’s packaging.
Very basic menu on both discs – almost on a giant upside-down grey triangle with the Durarara x2 logo on front and the selects of Play All, Episodes, Set Up, and on the 2nd disc Extras on the bottom – all are easy to navigate, quick to select both from the main menu and pop-up menus in show, but nothing eye-catching (no clips, music, or even pictures of any of the characters) – very basic and simplistic.
The only extras on the actual Blu-ray are a clean opening and ending on disc 2, however if you order the special edition, you get the four sleeves special packaging, a set of stickers, art book and 6 art cards with it.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Durarara is one of those series I knew about when it came out, slowly got into it, stopped, then others told me to give it another shot, I did, and it turned out to be a very good series – intelligent with lots of interesting characters, combining a bit of supernatural with street life, a lot of love it or you hate it moments, and just how everyone’s’ paths come together. X2, or Sho (part 1 of 3 of the 2nd ‘season’ if you will) continues what happened from the original series, adds some new characters and bringing all the cogs of Ikebukuro together…
It starts off pretty much reminding us of some characters – though considering the first you see is Celty who you couldn’t possibly forget from Season 1 – as well as introducing some new characters who was only in the OVA episode of Season 1, namely Izaya’s sisters Mairu and Kururi. They don’t seem to be as much of a jerk compared to their brother, but there is definitely something about them…pretty much everyone who was of importance is either mentioned or shown in some form, from Izaya working together with Namie, Shizuo seeing his little brother Kasuka on TV, Celty getting a check-up whilst Shinra worried about her, with Mikado and Anri watching her get chased by the cop Kinnosuke whilst wondering out loud are things the same…
…well, not exactly. Kida is out of the loop for most of this season, and we get various new characters enter the streets of Ikebukuro which will get throughout this review – from gangsters in town to Russian mobsters. One of the entertainment industry types named Max actually offers a reward of 10 million yet who can reveal the headless riders identity, pretty worrying for Celty when he accidentally drops her money from her latest job and people are searching for her – not to mention the mysterious serial killer named ‘Hollywood’ roaming around, killing various people almost stripping them to the bone. On top of that, Mikado and Anri seem to be helping out a new transfer student named Aoba, who definitely seems to know more about the Dollars than Mikado might be comfortable in admitting – yet even he is flummoxed by Izaya’s sisters who are a bit strange – but when they are bullied, Aoba saves one of them, but then it is obvious the girls can handle themselves…still they leave an impression on him, to say the least but it just adds to just how much is happening in an episode of this show – so many characters and so many plots that it can be hard to keep track – fortunately, it does a decent job of linking everything together.
For example, the Hollywood Killer mini-arc links in with the bounty on Celty via Max, who also represents Shizuo’s little brother Kasuka. The reveal of Hollywood is actually a person who was mentioned and seen in Season 1 as an idol who some of the characters were fans of, namely Ruri Hijibe. Learning of her past, of what she actually is, and why she becomes Hollywood, it is really hard not to feel for her especially considering that Celty is around, her lineage isn’t really that surprising in this world – her talk with Kasuka which basically makes the two of them ‘pretend’ they are a couple (considering both are quite emotionally withdrawn, Kasuka seems to have a good connection with her and didn’t fear her even though she even mentions she could have killed him at any time) – this also links with Celty as she helps her out which links with near the end of the series so everything is well connected.
Other new characters are also introduced and figure more throughout the plot with the interaction of the other characters. It is hard to go through everything considering trying to keep spoilers to a minimum but considering the show already had loads of characters, am surprised how well it brings them in and keeps them known. We have the Russians for example – but the one you will be most familiar with this season is a beautiful Russian assassin named Vorona (and just off the heels of the Serbian assassin Irina I reviewed in Assassination Classroom ^^) who gets a back-story of when she was a child killed a burglar, and was then trained for death (including from Russia Sushi’s own Simon) – all we know is she fled to Ikebukuro taking along a ton of weapons with her, and she seems almost turned on by targets who are strong. These include Anri, Celty, and more specifically Shizuo. Her intelligence, beauty, and sheer badassery make her a very welcome character despite what happens to her in the end, she is still shrouded in mystery of what will happen to her but it definitely suggests she will be back. We also have quite an important one in Chikage, a leader of a biker gang who make it’s prevalence against the Dollars this season but ironically he himself is quite the nice guy, albeit a great fighter (he actually gains Shizuo’s respect when Shizuo takes out a couple of his bikers who were being a bit dickish, he apologises but still has to defend them – he actually takes 4 of Shizuo’s punches where 1 is usually the end breaker and is still just about conscious to the point Shizuo takes him over to Shinra to help him out – this also happens later on with a fight with Kadota, the two gaining respect for each other) – a suave ladies man who will hand you your ass if you hurt a woman, he was one of the most enjoyable characters for this season.
Other new characters also link in throughout the show, whether it is with the guys of Russia Sushi, or one of Izaya’s latest schemes. These range from yakuza bosses with one eye (Akabayashi – who is actually quite likeable with his help towards Anri) to little girls trying to kill Shizuo because Izaya is a manipulative so-and-so (Akane, who is the granddaughter to the head of the Yakuza – Shizuo, however, takes a shine to her, and when he realises Izaya is the reason for her manipulation he goes to have a polite word with him…which ends him in even more tricky stuff). Now, as mentioned with all these new characters it is quite impressive that the show manages to sync them in with the other characters throughout quite well, whether it is Aoba tying in with the Blue Squares and manipulating Mikado knowing he is the head of the Dollars, or Vorona getting jobs against monsters like Saika (Anri) and Celty, to Akabayashi trying to find Akane, chatting with Shinra and Anri for help, and Akane getting along with Shizuo and Anri despite her still having that mentality and Shizuo having to control his anger over the little girl.
That said, though, it is still a lot to take in with all the new characters and everything that happens throughout the series. Kida, for example, does return to the series with an online chat with Mikado warning him to stay away from the Dollars – how this turns out is a rather big spoiler for the end of the series, so it sets up nicely but at the same time it feels like his return was left behind with a lot of the other things going on – a bit grating considering he was a major character last time and feels he is being short changed for say Vorona, and whilst I like Vorona, her stories aren’t as plot noticeable. And whilst the Hollywood story is very good, after the 2 episodes it really is in, it isn’t mentioned again, so felt like it wasn’t as necessary.
It really stems with what it should be, the focus of the original leads – and there is a real shift in focus with the Dollars when some members are starting to attack rival gangs and do some not so nice things. Mikado is devastated as this wasn’t what he had in mind when he created the Dollars, to which Aoba mentions one of the rules of the Dollars was there are no rules, hence he brought it on himself – he is kind of bullied into trying to become the Blue Squares leader whilst Chikage is looking for revenge against the Dollars who have attacked his gang…in the meantime Shizuo after being hit by a stun gun from Akane, (whose back-story is actually rather upsetting considering she is a lovely girl yet because of her Yakuza heritage, it caused more than a number of problems, made worse by Izaya) figures that Izaya was behind it so goes to kick his rear, but is then seen at his place where there are several dead bodies, and gets framed for the murder of them – worse as they are Yakuza members. Whilst some of the Yakuza such as Akabayashi are definitely suspicious that Shizuo didn’t commit the murders (i.e. the bodies are way too clean for the destruction Shizuo can do). It leads to a big blow out between the Dollars and the Toramaru (Chikage’s group) with the Yakuza dealings in between – combined with Shizuo getting involved with Celty and Vorona, Anri also forced into it, and the finale when two big cliff hangers occur, one involving Mikado, and one involving Izaya as it seems a change of the wind is happening….
It is a strange one where the inclusion of so many new characters in a short cour both works and doesn’t. It works as it blends with the original cast well and it all syncs in together, but doesn’t because it actually detriments from the original cast. Hell, Izaya is barely in it in comparison this season (I think his sisters have more screen time whilst Izaya is a lot more puppet behind the strings scenario) – Shizuo does have a decent amount of screen time with his resignation from the Dollars (at Mikado, who he doesn’t know is the leader) and his subsequent battle with Vorona being highlights and the way he obviously can show control as despite Akane’s attempt to kill him, he sees children as innocent and aside from that small detail the two get along well (with Shizuo being near unkillable fortunately ^^) and of course his hiding of rage when he finds out Izaya is involved just sets up the next part. Celty surprisingly seems to be held back a bit as well – her own clash with Vorona being her only major influence on the story, and Anri falls into the same boat – strange that Vorona is the character that is in most connection with the original cast yet she herself has no obvious plot outside of being an assassin…
The ending sets itself up nicely for the next season – it seems we are getting two sides of Mikado and this may make him a far more interesting character – Mikado up until then has been the generic nice guy protagonist (though you can argue Celty is the true protagonist) but his actions at the end of the series suggest things are about to change with quite a statement – and what happens to Izaya at the end is going to raise some eyebrows as such an important character to the series might now be changed too…however, it sets up nicely so it should be interesting…
And with the next series with these new characters slowly being established, I hope it doesn’t go overboard for the next season – because Durarara is still a great series, a mind-screw, a lot of interesting tales told, fun characters and somehow all the myths and plots do weave together by the end.
Durarara x2 Sho is only the beginning of the next saga of the Durarara franchise. A lot of new characters come in and whilst they are woven in well it does feel a lot of old favorites do get slighted a bit in their favor. Not the worst thing and some of the characters do seem to be about to be hit with a huge dose of character change (Mikado the big example), and it doesn’t make the experience less enjoyable. Still a good series, and now the set up is done, the future is looking very bright…
Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening And Ending
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B-
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: May 30th, 2016
MSRP: £49.99 (mega special edition price, DVD is £29.99)
Running Time: 276 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.