Durarara!! – Ep 19 – Anarchy

Posted on Jun 05 2010

Remember last time when I commented that the preview for Episode 19 – which featured Izaya smiling and everyone else looking miserable – boded ill for our heroes? Well that’s +10 points for me, thanks for playing!

I’ve waited 18 episodes for Izaya to really stretch his villain muscle. We’ve seen glimpses of it before, little snippets of what that evil brain is capable of, but nothing too terribly stunning in terms of masterminding. Thank goodness (or, rather, un-goodness), in Episode 19 he rolls up his naughty sleeves and starts living up to his potential. He is absolutely everywhere in this episode, even when he doesn’t physically appear or isn’t mentioned by name.

First things first: Sonohara finds out about Kida and the Yellow Scarves. Then she hides in a maze of old pallets while the Scarves make grumpy noises and vaguely imply that they’ll give her a thumping when they find her. Totally gangster.

Then we flash back – because Durarara!! is obsessed with nonlinear storytelling I GET IT ALREADY – to Sonohara being released from the hospital, where she’s met by Mikado and Kida. This is where she first begins to think Kida’s acting weird. She says it out loud to Mikado later, after she’s returned to school, but he doesn’t agree. We also find out that Kida visited her in the hospital and it was pretty upsetting for him, seeing her all banaged up. Lots of emotions flying around, hope you brought your umbrella.

At this point in the episode we get a HUGE long chat session between Selty/Izaya/Mikado (and Sonohara for a bit). The chat sessions make me absolutely crazy. OK, I get it: they’re yet another false reality, they’re a way for characters to interact without having to meet up all the time, it’s how hip tech-savvy people communicate, blah blah blah. Whatever. It’s also painfully boring. When the chatting starts, I want to get up and have a snack, but of course I’d miss important information so I have to suffer through them.

Enough whining (for now). Here’s a list of all the things we talk about, because I can’t bear a play-by-play: the Yellow Scarves are getting more violent; Saika is really sorry; Izaya is burning to talk about the Scarves/Dollars impending war; Saika apologizes too much; cops are scary; Sonohara doesn’t know how to PM; Mikado trusts Izaya to give him info on the Slasher (tsk, tsk).

OK, so nothing ground-breaking, but it is important to note that both Mikado and Izaya are fully aware of the tensions between the Scarves and the Dollars and the dangerous implications of those tensions. Of course, Mikado hopes the avoid all-out war and Izaya is giddy at the thought of hurtling headlong into it, so…we’re not exactly on the same page here.

We see the scene again where Kida splits off from Sonohara and Mikado to attend to gang business (the part when he runs off yelling is my favorite). Soon after Sonohara leaves, too, to dig up some information, using her Saika-powers. She finds out from gang members previously “inhabited” that Kida is indeed the boss, but needs to see it for herself so she has them lead her to the top secret gangster lair.

NOW we’re finally back to the beginning of the episode. Sonohara is close to being discovered by Kida, but she puts out a call into the universe for help and Selty shows up to rescue her. This turns out to be a seriously terrible idea – probably worse than being caught. Because Selty is widely believed to be in with the Dollars, and because Sonohara whips out her crazy sword, Kida arrives at the logical, though mistaken, conclusion that both Selty and the Slasher are agents of the Dollars.

Unfortunately, his gang members reach the same conclusion and Kida realizes that this is bad news given the increased tendency toward violence lately. He’s not confident in his abilities to control them and neither am I. He at least seems aware of how rough things are about to get and spends a tiny moment (long enough to underscore its importance, not so long that I feel beaten about by it) musing on some graffiti: “the sky is falling.” Hold onto your butts, kids.

If you are smelling the sweet fragrance of Izaya’s manipulations in all this, congratulations. We soon learn (through another chat – ugh) that the reason the Yellow Scarves are more violent now is because after Kida quit the Blue Squares merged with them. That’s weird, right? Two enemy gangs suddenly joining together? It’s not stated outright, but I’m absolutely positive that Izaya arranged that merger. And Kida has no idea. Yikes.

Yellow Scarves are everywhere, it seems, perhaps even in the Dollars. Mikado thinks that’s good news – if he makes it clear the Dollars are not involved with the Slasher, maybe they’ll take the message home, like ants with those poison traps – but Izaya “warns” (quotation marks because nothing he says can be taken seriously) him that the Dollars are not 100% in his control. The Slasher could even be a member, or a small subset of members. How would he know? How would he stop it?

As Mikado gets more and more freaked out, Izaya’s grin gets bigger and bigger. DANGER DANGER DANGER!

As the episode closes, Kida goes to see Saki in the hospital again. She urges him to fight and win, since he can’t escape “his past.” He has the realization that his intense involvement with the gang started because of Saki (and presumably because of her relationship with Izaya), ended because of her attack and has now begun again because of Sonohara. So he’s feeling trapped more than ever.

He goes to talk to Kadota and…I guess we’ll get that conversation in the next episode.

Writers talk a lot about “showing” vs. “telling” and I think this episode is a decent example of that. We get a lot of information, but it feels subtle. As a viewer, I feel like I’m being trusted to put the pieces together instead of being spoon-fed what the writers want to get across because they assume I’m too dumb to pick up on it. I appreciate this approach – even better, if Durarara!! doesn’t force things down your throat, you’re free to make assumptions and then suffer the consequences when/if you turn out to be wrong. Also: no long-winded, no-sense-making speeches. Holy peanuts do I hate long-winded, no-sense-making anime speeches.

Durarara!!, my darling, I think our relationship has really matured. Now if only you’d stop trying to be so edgy and cool and just tell a freakin’ story…

Next Time: A New King Will Arise
How new? Which king? Arise where?

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