Home > Durarara!!, Episode Reviews > Durarara!! Episode 13 – I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)

Durarara!! Episode 13 – I Fought the Law (And the Law Won)

Most of the best anime of the last 5 years have been adaptations of what are known (in both Japanese and English) as “light novels”. These are very short, simplistically written novels (novellas, in many cases) aimed at high schoolers and young adults. Basically, they’re the novel equivalent of anime.

Light novels are written in a strange, dialogue-heavy writing style. It’s like reading a comic book with very little art, usually a few full page drawings per book.

The worst light novels are basically worthless garbage from wannabe manga writers who can’t draw. Mayoi Neko Overrun, for example, is based on a popular novel series of the same name, although with only a few pictures per book, it’s hard to see how its…appeal would translate in only text.

The best light novels do some pretty cool things with structure, plot or tone. With rapid turnaround times and the loose confines of reality that most manga and anime operate in, but freed of the commercial drive and artistic difficulties of more visual mediums, light novels are a playground for experimentation and novelty.

The third line is the name of the band that does the new intro song. That they don't get laughed off the stage at every gig is clear evidence of the sorry state of English education in Japan

Narita Ryohgo, writer of Durarara!!, likes to play around with structure in his books. Baccano!, his first series (also made into an anime by Brain’s Base), is a sprawling nonlinear narrative spanning decades of history focused on the lives of a few immortal beings. The plot threads tangle and converge frequently, building to a frenetic and chaotic conclusion.

The anime adaptation of Baccano! was one concentrated information dump masquerading as a frenetic action scene viewed from no less than six different perspectives. The adaptation of Durarara!! is much less overwhelming, since the gimmick is much easier to translate.

There’s still perspective shifts, but it’s limited to once per chapter, with chat room conversations commenting on what is going on between three of the main characters—Mikado, Celty and Izaya—interspersed throughout. It’s a neat idea, and pretty unique for a television show, since it gives a third party perspective on what’s going around the city, making it feel even more like a living, breathing place. The conversations are mostly voiced and fairly short, making them the least annoying interpretation of online chatting I’ve seen on TV.

Izaya plays some weird hybrid of Go, Chess and Shogi that only he seems to know the rules to

All this is to say that this is the start of what would be the second novel, like a second season beginning right after the end of the first and therefore not much is going on. Well, a lot is going on—the city is full of life, as usual—but much of it is introductory or expository. It’s like we’re being reintroduced to the characters for a second season after a few months off, except in this case, it’s only been a week since the last episode.

It’s been six months since Mikado gathered all of the Dollars together in one city block in a gambit to get Celty’s head back from Namie Yagiri. It didn’t work, but it did result in Celty revealing herself to the city and Mika and Seiji getting together in a lovey-dovey relationship founded upon self-acknowledged deceit.

This is as much as we see of the slasher

The Dollars have entered the public consciousness, but no one really has a good idea of what they are. They or Celty are suspected of being involved with a series of attacks that began shortly after they revealed themselves. An unknown assailant is slashing people, seemingly at random, with a samurai sword. The frequency with which this slasher shows up in the episode mean their identity is likely to be the focus of this half of the series, the way Celty’s quest for her head was for the first half.

Celty has given up her search for her head, at least for now, at the insistence of Shinra. The two are in a romantic relationship of some kind, as a result of Shinra’s manipulations six months ago, which seems likely to be upset by the appearance of Shinra’s father, who shows up suddenly for some as yet unknown purpose. Shinra’s father conducted a live autopsy on Celty 20 years ago, among other experiments, so Celty isn’t on good terms with him. Although, considering she was basically tortured by him, she relatively unperturbed by his appearance. I guess being immortal and invincible makes it easier to bury a grudge.

Shingen's gas mask makes him look like the Conclave from Fallout 2. Here, someone is pouring coke on his head

Of course, Shinra’s father is a silly comic relief character, wearing a gas mask to protect himself from Tokyo’s “polluted air” and generally being a goofy blowhard, so it’s hard to take him serious in this episode. That’s probably not wise, given that earlier episodes established just how utterly unscrupulous he is, but his appearance in this episode is mercifully brief, so we don’t get too much idea of why he has returned.

I can’t put my finger on why, but Shinra’s father is my least favorite character of the series so far. It might be because he’s just so unlikeable. Yes, he’s a goofy character, but given how successful his cruel plans seem to work, it seems likely to me that this is mostly an act. He’s not the bumbling villain of old cartoons, but a ruthless schemer. In a show full of messed-up people scheming against one another, he’s the most twisted and manipulative.

Kinnosuke is sticking up for the police's right to not be mooks.

Also new to Ikebukuro is Kinnosuke Kuzuhara, a renegade police officer who has been brought in to deal with Celty. See, Kinnosuke is tired of the bad rap cops get in movies and manga, being mowed down en masse to show how strong the villain is, so he’s out to bring the fight to the monsters, starting with Celty.

So he and his gang of cops chase her down, which terrifies her, since she’s so used to using her powers to frighten people into submission. Plus, she’s pretty tenderhearted for a spirit of death to being with. Depending on who you are, seeing her collapse into Shinra’s arms, sobbing (silently) in terror, after finally losing them is probably either the funniest or most touching scene of the episode.

Masaomi helps his friend out with the ladies the only way he knows how: by hitting on them, too

Mikado is back to his normal, everyday school life, although still trying unsuccessfully to woo Anri Sonohara. Anri is aware of his affection, but is still unsure how to respond. Other than her extremely dependent relationship with Mika, she’s never had any friends, which means she’s incapable of even seeing someone as anything but a way to give her life meaning.

She’s still terribly afraid of not having someone to follow around, and hates being utterly dependent on others for emotional support. When confronted by a gang of girls who mock her for her fragility and reliance on others, she breaks down, going into a daze, which the show captures with a shaky, out of focus first person shot. As this is happening, the slasher descends upon the girls.

Those aren't some weird bug creatures from Japanese mythology, just ganguro girls

Obviously, this raises a lot of questions. But it’s still just a lot of questions and little indication of where it will lead. It’s a setup for a second story that will hopefully match the intricately connected fun of the first.

You can stream this episode for free here.

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