Though it’s the best show I’ve seen this year, Durarara!! had its down moments. The slashers story arc didn’t work particularly well, possibly because Anri is a fairly passive character. Then with the Yellow Scarves arc the series became more grim than fun. I’m generalizing; there were terrific moments in almost every episode, but my favorites, episodes 3, 6 and 11, were a long time ago. The question was, could it pull everything together in give us another genius episode for a finale? The answer: Damn close.
One thing I demanded from the finale is lots of action. The setup to this episode almost guaranteed that, and subsequent fighting did not disappoint. Neither did Horada’s attempted getaway. I also wanted to see every member contributing, and they do. Kuroda infiltrates the Yellow Scarves along with a bunch of Dollars members. Celty chases Horada’s car right towards an enraged Shizuo. Simon’s moment comes later. Even the cop Kuzuhara joins in. It’s as good as any of the previous action scenes … and then it’s over.
They had to stop and clear up gaps and reconcile characters. Unfortunately, rather than mixing it in, they devote the rest of the episode to it. Our three heroes talk and re-bond. Masaome and Saki make up. Everyone gets covered. Along the way we see how Izaya’s plans unraveled. Who told who what about whom. Apparently people that Izaya had depended upon to play certain roles got tired of being pawns and went against him. It seems everyone had a revelation of some sort, most of it, alas, just talk. The most interesting scene was the confrontation between Anri and Izaya. Izaya says he loves mankind and likes to mess with them, unlike Anri, who suppresses her love through her sword. He hates her for that, but whatever is going to happen will happen in another series, or in the novels (We must get those published over here). What’s mildly disappointing is that Izaya manages to laugh everything off, even the black eye Simon gives him. He’s more amused than angry that things didn’t turn out quite the way he wanted. For now I’ll have to be satisfied with Simon punching him into the “Love” sculpture. Thank you, Simon!
As for what it all means, I’m not sure there’s an overriding point to be made. After all, Durarara!! is based on a series of novels. I’m guessing that the creators simply wanted to lift a single mostly-coherent story out of them and tell it as an anime series. You could call it a love story, I suppose, or an examination of the different types of love, good and bad. Or you could call it a supernatural tale of every day Ikebukuro, or a coming-of-age story. It’s a little of all of that as well as things I’m forgetting. So, yeah, Durarara!! stumbled a bit after a red-hot start, but as I said, it’s still the best anime I’ve seen this year. I only hope it’s commercially successful and encourages others to tackle wild stories. We desperately need them.
While I don’t expect a sequel to Durarara!!, Working!! is certainly gearing up for one. They even introduce a new character, and this is the final episode. Kind of a dirty trick to play on Maya, who’s devotion to normality makes her come off as abnormal. That’s her schtick, and we won’t see it again unless there’s a new season.
So let’s move on to the main event: the big date. Yamada and Taneshima thwarts Souta’s attempt to risk his life dressed as a man by getting him wet, and, gee, what a coincidence, they just happen to have some woman’s clothing for him to wear. They also plan to tail the couple, but Satou manages to distract them. So what we get are Satou’s distractions and Maya’s weirdness adding punctuation to the date scenes, and we need them.
Because nothing much happens during the date. Each wonders if the other is doing all right. They visit places that have no men. They worry some more. Finally, Souta risks all by asking Inami to hold hands with him. We get THREE separate scenes of Inami trying, trying, reaching out, only to have to fight back the urge to slug him. The only thing that DOES happen is that Souta realizes he might actually have feelings for her, which unfortunately he speaks out loud using a dog metaphor that even I don’t understand. The next day it’s business as usual, except the couple are completely worn out.
Well, Working!! was hit-or-miss for its entire run, though I thought it had developed a good rhythm near the end. The problems were always the same. The random bits didn’t always work, which slowed episode momentum down, and Inami’s antics overshadowed everything else, even the final episode. If they do make a sequel I might give it a try. I don’t know if the characters’ two-dimensional quirks can sustain more episodes, but it was an amiable series and not like much else being broadcast.