By Andrew Osmond.
For the benefit of newbies to this franchise, Durarara!!x2: Ten is not where you want to start. This release is effectively volume three of a madcap crime-comedy-fantasy series set in modern Tokyo, with a headless faerie biker and an army of Anonymous keyboard warriors. All the earlier episodes are available from Anime Limited. We introduced the whole franchise here, focusing on the original Durarara!! anime, then looked at the first sequel series, Durarara!!x2: Sho, here.
Ten follows on directly from Sho, and leads equally directly into the last volume, Ketsu, which will be released by Anime Limited next year. Sho means “understanding,” Ten means “motion” and Ketsu means “conclusion.”
Durarara!! has always been an involved show in terms of characters and storylines. We’ve suggested it’s a cross between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and one of those Robert Altman movies where the story ricochets round a huge cast of players, who are all connected but spend lots of their time following their own strands. The cast was big enough in the original series, while Sho added several more characters, including a troubled Russian hitgirl, a magic-powered assassin and Izaya’s two cute’n’bonkers kid sisters, Mairu and Kuri.
Viewers will be relieved to hear that Ten doesn’t involve another surge in characters. Perhaps franchise creator Ryohgo Narita, whose books the anime follows, decided that he’d hit peak Durarara!! Instead the series plays with its massive existing cast, gleefully sending them surprise directions. For example, the story hasn’t finished with Vorona, the Russian hitgirl (voiced in Japanese by the idol singer M.A.O.) After Vorona was cornered at the end of Sho by the men who moulded her, she spends Ten working beside the volcanic barman Shizuo, a.k.a. the angriest man in the world. The fact that that Vorona is stalkerishly obsessed with him – after all, he’s the only man who ever defeated her – doesn’t put her on an even keel.
Durarara!! also has a habit of picking up characters who were previously discarded for long periods; great fun if you remember who they were, though somewhat confusing if you can’t place them. One Ten episode foregrounds the teen couple Seiji and Mika, who were the centre of a mystery in the first half of the original Durarara!! volume. Mika, you may recall, was the girl who seemed to be a victim of a gruesome head transplant, although the truth was even crazier. In Ten, she finally comes (altered) face-to-face with her boyfriend’s psychotically obsessed sister, Namie; the character twist that follows is delicious.
Another character who’s brought back to the fore is Ruri, the idol singer who moonlighted as a killer vigilante in Sho’s early episodes. Now she herself is terrorised by a stalker, in a twist worthy of Satoshi Kon. Given that her name sounds like a pivotal character’s name in Kon’s Perfect Blue, maybe that’s not coincidence.
And the uber-plotlines continue to advance. Someone has dared to knife Ikebukuro’s seemingly untouchable ‘information broker’ Izaya: oh the horror! He won’t be down for long, but even he’ll have trouble working out the who and why. Meanwhile, the oh-so-deceptively baby-faced schoolboy Mikado made a fateful decision at the end of Sho, and returned to the heart of the anarchist Dollars group – although any “anarchist” group founded by a person called Mikado must surely betray its vision.
And then there’s Mikado’s old school friend Masaomi, who was on a rebel’s sabbatical for the whole of Sho. Now he’s finally preparing to return to Tokyo, but it’s unlikely to be a joyful reunion…
Durarara!!x2: Ten is released in the UK by Anime Limited.