There’s been consistent theme throughout the entire season: choice. In every episode, the main character has been given a choice of some kind: to improve his situation and become a better person, or to give in to his own base instincts.
That’s where the drama comes from: after the protagonist has been broken down, his dreams crushed and all hope apparently lost, what will he decide to do? Or, since we know he’s going to make the wrong choice, how is going to fail this time?
This episode is interesting because, rather than two years of wasted effort boiling down to one shot at redemption, the choice becomes whether or not two years of effort will be blown all at once. Because of this, it strays farther far from the standard formula that Tatami Galaxy episodes have been increasingly diverging from than any episode so far.
I was hoping that the cliffhanger last episode would result in the show gaining a focus again (to the extent it can ever be said to have had one), but at this point it’s too early to say. This episode also finishes on a cliffhanger, so at least we can hope that the plot will keep advancing, but many parts within the show were recycled or otherwise retread. Unfortunately, the recycled parts included the bad more often than the good.
The second Tachibana (whom I’m going to call Angel to distinguish between them) wastes no time in challenging the group for being out late at night, and then proceeds to attack them for their rule breaking. As usual, they are helpless against Angel in a fair fight, so eventually Tachibana intervenes herself, resulting in both Angel and Tachibana getting stabbed through the heart. The rest of the group drag Tachibana to the nurse’s office so she can recuperate, and try to figure out what just happened.
Last time we had the set-up for the current conflict, with Misaki being given a tempting offer to transfer to a private-school-on-steriods combined with a possible romantic rival in the form of said school’s very (outwardly) charming school president. That means, of course, that this episode requires some form of resolution for that, as well as for Misaki to further come to terms with her changing relationship with Usui.
Although, like some previous episodes, this one stays a bit too close to formula to be very surprising, there are enough variations (and good enough execution as a whole) to keep in firmly in the “watch” column. I couldn’t help but think, however, that it could have been done better than this. Misaki, it seems, is allowed to be as competent and brave as is needed—except when it comes to Usui.
One of the problems with being incredibly complex is that plots in Durarara!! take a lot of time to build momentum. The last five episodes have been building up slowly, laying a foundation for some future episode, when everything will come crashing down in a frenzied mess of plot that will take us into the conclusion of the series.
That time is now.
After a bit of a break, there is a return to the main plot and to superpowers, both of which had been conspicuously absent, for better or worse, for the last two weeks. This shouldn’t be seen a change of tone or style, however, as the action again takes a backseat to what is an intriguing, if slow moving, plot. There’s also some more hints on how the show intends to take certain upcoming historical events, and those hints are actually promising.
The group is in high alert with the arrival of Miki (no given name supplied), an elderly Japanese statesman of unspecified authority who is clandestinely visiting Shanghai. Miki has been involved in supporting Pan-Asianism and encouraging independence and revolutionary movements in various colonial possessions, and it seems he’s come for a meeting with various movement leaders. While the Japanese government (and thus Mr. Sakurai and his subordinates) are very ambivalent about all this, what really catches their attention is Miki’s apparent connection with Isao Takachiho, Yukino’s brother and suspected terrorist.
After an episode of references to past episodes which seemed to reveal something important, we have another episode that doesn’t hew to the formula. I suppose now that the pattern has been established, every episode from here on out is going to be anomalous to some extent.
This episode keeps up the pan-chronological continuity, where references to previous (and, if I’m right, future) episodes abound. Akashi, for example, refers to herself as a disciple of Higuchi, which irritates me since it still seems out of character.
There’s something I probably should have mentioned earlier about Mayoi Neko Overrun, but didn’t because I wasn’t quite sure myself. The reason for the stylistic differences between every episode is that each has been headed up by a different director, who has also been responsible for writing and storyboarding the episode.
So episode 3’s excellence was because of Hiraike Yoshimasa, whom I hadn’t heard of before, but whose obvious talent made me want to check out his sci-fi bounty hunter show, Solty Rei (although I am not interested enough to check out his currently-running slice-of-life restaurant comedy, Working!!).
The table tennis scene in episode 4 was the work of Daichi Akitarou, who has been working in the industry (mostly on gag comedies) for as long as I have been alive. And the bewildering terribleness of last week’s episode is the fault of Ikehata Takashi, which shows that the brilliance of Otaku drama series Genshiken was due more to its writing and source material than its production.
Anyway, I was perversely excited for this week’s episode because its director, Kujou Rion, hasn’t directed anything besides a pervy harem series and some direct-to-video hardcore pornography in the 90s. What kind of horrible fan service bonanza was going to come out of such a warped mind?