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Durarara!! X2 Vol. #06 Blu-ray Anime Review

8 min read

Durarara X2 Ketsu Japanese Volume 5 CoverA few interesting minutes amid a whole lot of nothing.

What They Say:
Although the childhood friends finally reunite, is it too late for Masaomi to change Mikado’s mind? As Mikado plans to end everything including the Dollars that he founded as well as his own life, Mikado’s true intentions are finally revealed… Don’t miss the grand finale of the Durarara!! x2 series!

The Review:
Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
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 Shizuo and Izaya facing off against each other in the same style we’ve seen with the previous releases. The logo along the middle keeps things clean and appealing without overpowering the artwork. The back cover goes for a decent character shot 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 the cover artwork piece 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.

Menu:
The menu design for the series is one that plays well with its color tones as we get the various blue shades 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.

Extras:
With this being the end 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 of the Durarara X2 franchise comes to a close, bringing the Ketsu arc to an end, and as much as I struggled with the past couple of volumes this one just felt even worse in a lot of ways. And that’s hard to really say because my love of that first cour is so strong and with what it did after that. But the X2 series as a whole, a whopping thirty-six episodes of material plus a few OVAs, simply didn’t have anything to capitalize on. There’s a sense that a lot of this works well in novel form with the characters, backgrounds, and connections that are established. But even here at the end of all of it I’m hard pressed to really find a larger story point to latch onto in order to dig into things.

There are fun things to be had throughout, there’s no denying that, as we see some neat moments as Shizuo and Izaya go at it, the fun of the Saika zombie crowd that exists but often does little more than mill around, and some of the odd turns with the supporting cast as they get into things. The material with Mikado and Masaomi has some stronger pieces to it considering the twists and turns of their paths since that opening episode in the very first series with Mikado coming to town and neither knowing what the other was really like, but there’s been so little real emotional weight to what they’ve gone through in the X2 run, having to deal with so many other subplots taking precedence, that it’s very hard to really get behind it and feel like it has any meaning. And with that it means that Anri is even less of a character here. Hell, Varona feels like she has more useful moments in this series and final run of episodes than Anri, which doesn’t say a lot for either character.

Honestly, out of the six episodes that make up this final set, it’s only the final episode that felt worthwhile and that was only because it focused on Celty. There is some minor wrapup with everyone else’s stories to some degree as they’re spun out to new places and positions, but with Celty having regained her head and now fully in control of her own body, said head is cleaning up the “mistakes” of her body before departing back to where she came to do her job as the mystical/supernatural thing that she is. There’s an eerie sense about it as it unfolds as you half expect her to just go all evil here and everyone band together in stereotypical form to defeat/save Celty, but it goes in a more unsettling direction of her trying to make some amends and simply get the hell out of there. The human moments of it are nicely done but it again just feels unearned after all that we’ve been through with so little meat and meaning to it that should have been explored more than just this last episode with.

This set also comes with an OVA but damn was it hard to get into it after the main arc itself was largely disappointing. Listed as episode 19.5, we get a bartender being roughed up that was mistaken for Shizuo and he decides to make himself look like him, albeit of a much larger size, and see if he can take advantage of it. It’s comical in how he looks of course since it’s like having John Goodman suddenly pretending to be Tom Cruise, and we see him interacting with a lot of people that know the real Shizuo as opposed to the pretender. But it’s the kind of farce that can go on only so long before it runs out of steam and that’s really just a few minutes into this full-length episode that has you checking the clock on it after about five minutes or so. There are some funny moments to be had to be sure but not enough to sustain it as a whole.

In Summary:
Having been a huge promoter of the original series during its simulcast run and adoring the home video releases by taking it in through marathon sessions, I was definitely very keen going into the X2 series with the home video releases only. But something about this series simply did not click throughout as it felt more languid and lazy, wandering all over the place without anywhere near enough to tie things together to make it compelling. There are no stand out arcs within the run and I honestly am having a hard time remembering anything of note within the past five volumes. The final episode here does have some very good payoff for a few different storylines and it opens up the direction that things can go across the board, but I’m hard pressed to imagine that I’ll want to revisit this world as the complexity of it and the lackadaisical approach of the X2 franchise has soured me on the work as a whole. Fans of it will love what Aniplex USA has done with it – especially in getting it out so quickly and with a dub – but it’s just not something that worked for me and I’m really disappointed by that.

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

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

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: December 13th, 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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