Durarara15, Angel Beats 4, Working 3

Ah! I THOUGHT the slasher who appeared at the end of last week’s Durarara!! looked a little different. It looked like he was wearing a trenchcoat. In ep15 my suspicions are comfirmed. That, however, doesn’t mean I was confused as all getout.

We meet (again) Niekawa, the reporter trying to find the strongest man in the city, who, when last seen, was flying in the air thanks to Shizuo. The first half is straightforward. He interviews Simon, a gangster, Izaya, Celty (who kindly shows off her lack of head), and countless others, and begins to demonstrate a strange fascination for Shizuo. He also ruminates about his daughter, Haruna, the same girl who transferred out of Anri’s high school the year before, possibly (or not) because of the creepy teacher hitting on her. So the relationships become even more convoluted. But again, the manner here is straightforward, and Durarara can’t behave like that for too long.

We also have some Anri, her sad happy dreams about her dead parents, her current life, she feels, leeching off of other people (the others don’t see it that way). And the two stories come together. And that’s what confuses me. Niekawa is stabbed, presumably by the slasher, so it seems clear the slasher moves from one body to another (so maybe it’s the knife, but the one we see says “Made in Japan,” but in English … or maybe that’s the fansubbers’ doing). His eyes turn red. He stalks Anri, who inexplicably is off alone again, gets clobbered by Togusa’s van, recovers, goes after Anri again, gets floored by Celty’s bike, recovers again … this time goes after Shizuo?!? Meanwhile the chatboard is flooded by more of Saiko’s weirdo messages. Maybe the Saiko thing brings up whatever dangerous thoughts that are churning, suppressed, in our psyches and tries to act them out. Maybe I have no idea. And what manifestation stabbed Niekawa in the first place? I’m betting on the daughter. Once again Durarara leaves me happily confused.

Angel Beats 4 has the silly overbalancing the poignant, which is okay with me. The last episode, where it was evenly balanced, felt heavy on the latter.

Much of the silly comes from Yui, the hyper, pink-haired girl who we met last episode and plays a surprise part in this week’s ending. She gets involved in another unfathomable Yurippe scheme, winning the school baseball tournament. The losing team gets Yurippe’s punishment match. Now, why are they doing this? What is the point? Just to disrupt a baseball tournament? What does that do, exactly? They don’t even get any meal tickets out of it. Otonashi and Hinata try to form a team, but all the good players are taken, but they manage to put together one anyway, and we’re off for some baseball hijinks!

Overshadowing this is what is obviously a flashback to another game, with a character trying to read a fly ball hit to him. It’s obviously another death memory (looks like they’ll have one a week), and we eventually learn it’s Hinata’s. This is the poignant part, and they make an interesting twist out of it. As you can guess, the last play of the current game is a fly ball to Hinata. Hinata welcomes the chance to redeem himself, and move on to the next world like Iwasawa did last week. But Otonashi doesn’t want Hinata to disappear from this world, whatever it is, and runs to interfere. An interesting twist in itself, and you have to wonder just how Hinata will accept that, and the responsibility Otonashi would bear … but it doesn’t come to that. I won’t say here what DOES happen; I’ll just say it goes back to being silly.

Most of the episode follows the “misfits fight for the championship” format, but the quick jabs of humor and silly situations make it work. The fact that they’re all in some kind of purgatory adds depth. I’m quite enjoying this series.

With Working!!, we’re still at a stage where we’re meeting characters and learning their eccentricities, and I’m not sure there’s going to be much beyond eccentricities in this show, but I’m liking it anyway. Since it looks like every episode is going to be a series of sketches which don’t add up to anything much, we’re probably going to get good and bad ones each week. The ones this week balance out.

We start with the mystery of Yachiyo’s katana. We learn why she has one, but not why she carries it around with her at all times. We also meet the real boss of the restaurant, Otou, and learn his quirks (business trips to look for his missing wife, devotion to Kyouko, a tendency to wear masks, and a general sense of haplessness). From there we watch the quirks bounce off each other. Some of it is good, such as Yachiyo’s jealousy of Otou, a mood swing so great you’d not think it possible for her. I only hope they don’t wear it out. Getting Kyouko to do some actual work was another good one. Souma’s sad tendency to always speak his mind always improves a scene.

It seems not all the character interactions have been explored yet.

But about two-thirds of the way through it began to wear down. Maybe it’s too much of the same, or maybe the last third wasn’t as effective. However, it’s not a bad drop, and it’s becoming clear that the show has more up its sleeve. As for me, I’m liking it more than I thought I would. Nothing much will come of it, but if nothing else, it’s nice to see a comedy with people in a working environment.

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