Durarara 13, Senkou no Night Raid 1, B Gata H Kei 2

Durarara‘s OP features a new song and adds a couple of new characters, not to mention actually naming Mika! We meet some of these folks as the show assembles bits and pieces for the next story arc.

The first is Kuzuhara, a motor cop brought into the city to put pressure on Celty. He and his goons chase her down and threaten her, but they don’t show the final outcome of the confrontation. Nevertheless, Celty is badly shaken by the appearance of people who aren’t afraid of what she is or what she can do—and seem to be after her. And you have to wonder … None of the cops there really looked human.

Then there’s Shinra’s father, Shingen, who wears a gas mask and immediately requires rescue by Celty. We don’t get much more of him than that, but his very presence is going to shake some things up. Then there’s a couple more whom we don’t meet. Just great. The cast is even bigger now!

And there’s the slasher, reintroduced to us (apart from lurking behind a sign peering at Shizuo) as it brutally slices down the three girls who like to bully Anri. This episode has followed Anri for a while, though the only comments the narrator makes is that none of this has anything to do with her. Indeed, Anri’s a bit of a mystery. All we really know about her is she feels she needs to latch on to others, perhaps unsure of standing up for herself. On the other hand, when she’s being bullied, the slasher appears behind them and does its work. Connection? What’s more, there’s a creepy guy on the bulletin boards who freaks out when the slasher appears. But we get no more than that. It’s the way Durarara works, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Senkou no Night Raid 1 takes place in 1931 Shanghai, and tosses out a bunch of organizations, governments and groups all competing for power. But let’s begin at the beginning. The organization we’re following, whatever they’re called, works for the Japanese government, I think. And they have super powers. Some can teleport, some can see through walls. They’re trying to track down a kidnapped Kaburagi, being held for ransom by some Chinese rebels. While the men they follow in the first section turn out to be decoys, we still get some exciting action scenes.

They’re well-edited and fluid. Even if I didn’t know what’s going on, I was sucked in by this first part. Even though I knew I’d have to endure a long talky scene afterward, which is what happens. I’m not so good with series with a dozen factions and complicated intrigue. I don’t mind them, I just can’t get my head around the story. Darker than Black suffered because of this. But this talky scene resolved this by having the “good guys” (who probably aren’t) immediately plan their next operation: the rescue of Kaburagi. Yes, there’s some exposition, but it’s worked into the practical business at hand.

The raid on Liu Tsung-wu’s headquarters give the show an opportunity to expand upon the special powers. The teleporters can only telport for a limited period of time. Aoi perhaps depends on his ability too much, while Kazura would rather not use his at all. Meanwhile Yukina and the big guy whose name I didn’t get guide them using their seeing and telepathic abilities. It’s another good action scene, livened up by another faction’s sudden, highly-armed appearance.

I don’t know if this is going to be my kind of show, but if the rest of it is executed as well as ep1 I’ll have to watch it anyway. Impressive.

After those two smart shows I turned to a dumb one: B Gata H Kei … and felt a little refreshed. I guess it’s good to turn off your mind once in a while. And, they even eased up on the fanservice, that is, the fanservice they did use wasn’t so in-your-face as last time.

They waste no time getting to the pool scene and the obligatory bikinis. Add to this Yamada’s remarkable mood-swings and I suppose it could be worse. Takeshita, Yamada’s sane, sensible sidekick, brings along her boyfriend Daikuse. Since he and Yosuda are calm, sensible people who like to read, they hit it off.

At this point I’ve realized that I like Yamada the most when she’s upset. She’s much more fun, especially since she hasn’t shown us much of a good side, and no maturity at all. The latter comes out when she forces Kosuda to take the water slide again and again, when he’s scared of heights. Her reaction, upon learning that the only reason he was clinging to her was that he was terrified, is to call him a wuss. Nope. Not seeing any good side to her.

The second part was better, if you ignore the entire condom section, which I wish I could unwatch. Yamada spots Mayu, a potential rival for Kosuda’s affections. Through some ridiculous stalking they discover that Mayu and Kosuda’s families are good friends, and that she has an unrequited crush on Kosuda. It’s all very sweet. Naturally, Yamada’s decision is to act the bully and show her who the better girl is, but in a clever turn of events she winds up becoming Mayu’s love coach. In other words, Yamada only does good things in spite of her intentions.

In spite of this, I’m still not quite ready to toss this show. Yamada annoys me except when she herself is annoyed, but the other characters are decent enough, if bland. I’m predicting I’ll watch a few more before I ask myself what the hell I’m doing.

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