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Durarara!! X2 Vol. #05 Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Durarara X2 Ketsu Japanese Volume 2 CoverSome sweet moments amid a lot of dialogue..

What They Say:
This is a twisted story… a story of twisted love. Shizuo is arrested by the police, Celty is in pursuit of Kasane who has kidnapped Shinra, Chikage’s gloves come off as he challenges Masaomi, and Varona is back to being her old self as a hitman… Everyone is getting involved in some dark scheme. However, no one knows Mikado’s real plan yet… The story is heading towards the epic finale.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is very good as we get the original Japanese language and the English language dub both in stereo using the lossless PCM codec. The series is one that uses its forward soundstage well in a number of ways which is brought to bear in a more noticeable form here compared to streaming or DVD. The music is the biggest winner here, particularly the opening sequence, as it has a real richness to it. But the show massages its dialogue very well with lots of placement and some good tricks along the way for certain characters that comes across much richer because of it. The sound effects have some great placement here and the use of the online aspect has even more resonance with the way the mix handles things. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and everything sounds great with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in the winter 2016 anime season, the transfer for this six episode set is in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The series is spread across two discs with three episodes per disc and with the OVA added onto the second disc. The show has a very strong visual design to it with the animation, detail and backgrounds used and the high quality authoring here with the bit rate being used effectively brings it to life in a way that it couldn’t have been before. Colors are rich and vibrant where needed and the blacks are handled beautifully with no visible artifacting or noise. There’s a lot of variety to what the show does with its setting and characters so we get a good range of things here for the transfer to work through and the end result is a work that lives up to what the animators put themselves through to bring to life.

The packaging for this release brings us a slipcase style approach with the soft packaging that holds the single clear Blu-ray case inside. The front cover uses the artwork from the Japanese release with Anri in Saika mode along with some welcome darker elements alongside her, including izaya, that gives it a good sense of power – especially with the kind of grid work it uses in the background. The logo along the middle keeps things clean and appealing without overpowering the artwork. The back cover goes for a decent shot with Masaomi and his new problem to deal with while using the same kind of smooth background. The wraparound does its usual business here where the front side breaks down the basics of what’s in the set while the back digs into the technical specs, both sides of which covers everything clearly and accurately.

Within the box we get the clear case that uses the artwork that has Andri and Masaomi but does it inverted through a blue filter that gives it a different kind of pop. The back cover just goes with the series logo in the center while the episodes by number and titles with which disc they’re on are along the top in a far too small font done in white on the purple. There’s no artwork on the reverse side as it goes for a gray background with some of the grey striping across it. Also included in the set is a great little booklet, done to the same blue tones, that digs into the main characters of the moment and provides their designs, a few details and a look at some of their settings. I really loved the postcard set included, which has several great pieces to it, as it uses the cover artwork for half of it and then does the special illustration piece on a white background that has a really fun flair about it.

The menu design for the series is one that plays well with its color tones as we get the various shading from the case artwork itself, but it has a lot more pop and vibrancy to it here. The main layout goes for using that in the background with the white stripes and other gray elements to provide some weight to it while the foreground is given over to the character artwork. The navigation strip along the bottom, which doubles as the pop-up menu, fits into the theme of it well with a white strip on top for some of the selections while the bottom has the main navigation on a black stripe. Everything loads quickly, smoothly and without problem.

With this being the start of the third cour for the series we get two extras with the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The third cour for the Durarara X2 series gets underway under the Ketsu banner and this set has the first half of it, bringing six episodes that aired in the winter 2016 season. It’s a very fast turnaround overall considering it just finished in March and we’re getting it in bilingual form here. Fans that want to own it quickly are definitely getting some good treatment here with a great looking release with some solid packaging nods while also getting it with the dub and Spanish subtitles as well. There’s a lot to like in that regard and while you pay a premium for it, it’s one that’s at least warranted instead of waiting two years for the release to hit home video as it usually does elsewhere.

The problem, at least for me, is that the whole X2 run so far has resulted in some severely depreciating value. I adored the first season series that we got across the two cour that it ran as it introduced us to everything and provided a great twist before plunging into the chaos that follows from it. With the X2 series, we’re in this weird state where there are a lot of little things going on but it truly feels like nothing is actually going anywhere. There may be some overall arcs that are more apparent if you marathon the whole run but I’ve continually found across the first two cour of it so far that even if there is a decent larger arc to it, it’s being lost amid all the smaller babble and inconsequential pieces. Now, these smaller pieces can be interesting and a lot of fun since they’re very much character focused, but they can’t carry the show as a whole. And at the (start and) end of this set, I’m hard pressed to say anything really happened here.

Yes, Masaomi seems to be coming into a new phase with the Yellow Scarves as they exist now. Mikado is becoming a greater power player with what he’s done and that’s really pleasing Izaya. Celty seems to be in some trouble but is largely off screen for most of this set. Izaya’s larger scale plan still seems to be percolating around the edges so we just get lots of little moments of him coming across as all-knowing and cool. Things at Shinra’s place are kind of crazy in a fun way as there are a lot of people crashing there at the moment early on, including his father in the mask, but even this doesn’t connect well simply because there’s too much going on mixed with Celty being really active and trying to get herself heard through the texting that she does. It’s cute but it gets lost along the way as everything else starts to turn again.

There are two decent areas to explore in this set but they’re also just setup for what’s to come. I like seeing Shizuo dealing with the police and believing they’ve all been taken over, giving him the reason he needs to burst forth. That it ends up being calmed down when the motorcycle cop comes in and tells him to tell Celty to use headlights on her bike it just has a surreal aspect that’s really fun to watch as Shizuo just settles in for what’s to come. Even his bit later with Celty’s “bike” that adapts to his needs is great. The other part that’s intriguing here is seeing how Anri is looking to possibly gift away the Saika aspect of her and has some potential candidates there yet has to struggle with what it would mean to be done with it and her place in everything. Anri has some really good material in past installments, and in the original season in particular, so this has been building for some time. But it’s just executed in a way that feels drawn out and missing the real meat of what the story should be. There are some really great visual moments and the tension is spot on, but it’s hard to really feel invested in it at this point.

In Summary:
And that’s the place that I’m in with Durarara X2 at this point in that I’m finding it very hard to connect with. The show is not one that plays easy because of all the subplots running around and how it’s all part of a larger thing. But there hasn’t been a great coming together moment to make it feel cohesive – or even like it’s truly moving forward. And that just keeps it from feeling like it has the energy it needs to really push toward the end. With just six more episodes to go, I can’t imagine it coming together well. There are so many fun little moments to like here and I’m still enjoying the characters a whole lot, but the X2 run hasn’t work for me and is really petering out at this point.

Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
MSRP: $99.98
Running Time: 175 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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