Home > Durarara!!, Episode Reviews > Durarara!! Episode 24 – Some Things Never Change

Durarara!! Episode 24 – Some Things Never Change

Most anime series are scheduled for a finite number of episodes. As long as they’re not something like Bleach or Dragonball Z that’s going to run for more than six straight years, they have 13 or, if they’re lucky, 26 episodes to tell their story.

They might get another season, if they turn out to be popular enough. For the most part, however, that’s it. And yet most properties popular enough to get their own anime are going to be long-running manga or light novel series. Like any American comic or novel series, these can be massive productions that span years of an author’s life. There’s no way you can cram all of it into even 26 episodes. So how can you adapt such a property into a series that, eventually, has to end?

In most cases, you don’t. You try to finish your run at the end of a story arc, then bow out without necessarily tying up the loose ends you’ve been laying pipe for over the last 24 episodes. You’re praying the show is popular enough for a sequel, because a sequel to a popular series is basically money in the bank. And if a sequel never comes, oh well. Die hard fans always have the manga or the novels.

Finally, what this show has long needed: a huge brawl

I call these “anime endings”, because I first noticed the trend in anime, and because it’s still something that regularly ruins the endings of shows for me. It’s like watching a movie, and then learning at the end of the movie that, instead of wrapping up the story in one film, they’re going to make a sequel with the actual ending. Except the sequel never gets made.

I mention all this because Durarara!!’s final episode, while otherwise excellent, is exactly this kind of ending. And, while it’s not enough to ruin the show for me, it is a bit of a letdown.

The showdown between Celty, Mikado, Anri and Masaomi and Horada’s reconstituted Blue Squares that was last week’s cliffhanger ends at the beginning of the episode when Kadota reveals that he has snuck some Dollars members into Horada’s gang and orders them to beat the snot out of the Blue Squares.

I have to admit, I did not see this coming

This does set up one of the best scenes of the episode, and one of its few moments of closure. Horada tries to drive away, only to be stopped by Shizuo, who cuts off the top half of his car with a massive street sign, then throws it like a Javelin, causing an explosion that spooks Horada so much, he drives straight into the traffic cop who was introduced earlier and then ignored for the rest of the series.

It’s kind of a weird plot hole, because the last time we saw Shizuo, he was swearing revenge on Masaomi, whom he thought ordered the hit on him, but whatever. It’s not like he needs an excuse for violence and destruction.

This was my best attempt to capture in a still image how awesome this looks animated

The other resolved plot thread is with Masaomi, who comes clean with Saki about his failure to rescue her. It’s a touching scene, and probably the emotional highlight of this arc. Finally able to put his past behind her, he drops out of school with her and leaves the city for parts unknown. Except he isn’t gone for good: he’s joined the chat room everyone else frequents, cementing his status as a main character and leaving him an in if he ever wants to come back. Like, in a sequel or something.

I was initially even more frustrated with the ending, because it seemed like Izaya was going to get off scot-free after orchestrating his plot to incite a massive gang war. Izaya is the closest this show has to pure evil, and it always frustrates me when characters sowing destruction in their wake over the course of a story and don’t suffer any kind of retribution.

Anri figures out he was behind the whole thing and confronts him, but he uses his inexplicably mad fightin’ skills to get out of the way, after taunting her with the intimate details of her personal life he knows so well, because he’s just that amazing and perfect at everything.

Masaomi and Saki's reunion is the best part of this episode

He doesn’t get off completely clean, though. Izaya might be able to run away from Anri, but, as both Simon and Namie point out later, pretty much everybody in the underground society Durarara!! concerns itself with knows what he did, and exactly what kind of person he is. It’s a lot harder to manipulate someone when everyone knows you’re full of it.

Also, Simon punches him into a wall and then calls him a coward with a Shizuo fixation.

Simon shows that Shizuo isn't the only one who can punch people into the stratosphere

It’s a subtle way to damn a character who considers himself a master of subtle treachery, but it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t render Izaya powerless, or even seem like a defeat. It’s just a slap on the wrist for a character Ryougo Narita seems too in love with not to be at the center of everything.

Lost in the middle of all this is the resolution to this story arc: the unravelling of the friendship between Mikado, Anri and Masaomi. That gets wrapped up in the first ten minutes, with a teary-eyed group apologizing for not being more open and honest with each other and agreeing not to do it again. It’s cheesy to begin with, and made even worse by the fact that it happens before they rush Masaomi, currently suffering from a gaping head wound caused by a bat to the face, to the hospital.

Group hug, everyone. Once we wash the blood off...

Plots based on misunderstands are always hard to pull off. I haven’t reviewed any situation comedies here yet, or else I would have already explained this in great detail. It’s hard to create meaningful drama from misunderstandings, because most are situations that could be resolved if each party knew one piece of information. But, in order to demonstrate the misunderstanding, which is usually what creates the drama (or humor) in the situation, the audience has to know the whole situation.

The plot becomes a game of trying to keep the main characters away from the knowledge that would resolve this situation for long enough to build up to a dramatic climax. Meanwhile, the audience is screaming at the characters for being too stupid to just go talk to each other. Because, in a situation like this, the normal thing for friends to do would be to ask each other what’s wrong.

Erika and Walker, being too conspicuous to pass as Yellow Scarves, get left in the van

Maybe Japanese people are different (although the way it resolves would seem to prove otherwise), but if one of your friends seems strange or distant, you’re going to ask him what’s going on. The show’s answer to this is that all three characters have their own problems they’re concerned about, which is true, but really just a way of hand-waving the fact that this plot is pretty contrived.

If your plot could be prevented by the characters behaving in a manner consistent with normal people, then that’s a problem with your plot, no matter how much hand-waving you do. And yes, people don’t always behave in a perfectly rational manner, but that’s a pretty lame justification for your entire plot to hinge on. Especially from a writer as expert at weaving complex plots as Ryougo Narita.

I know this is the third shot of this scene, but it really is worth it

There is a way to make a plot based on misunderstanding that isn’t frustrating, but it requires characters who have their own complex system of beliefs and a point at which those systems of beliefs are unable to coincide.

That’s a plot that will bring out the kind of drama Durarara!! goes for here. Disagreements between people who just can’t find common ground can be heartbreaking to watch. But that requires delving far deeper into characters than a show with Durarara!!’s enormous cast can afford, and would mean that the resolution can’t be so pat and simple. It can’t happen in one scene, with no hard feelings afterwards.

It's not enough to not resolve the issue of Celty's head: they have to taunt us with it, too

And that’s my real problem with this episode: it doesn’t change the relationship between the three main characters, ostensibly the point of the plot. Normally, an event of this magnitude would bring people closer, or somehow radically alter their relationship. Even if they wanted to get along, it’s hard to heal the mistrust and suspicion they’ve viewed each other with.

That fallout can’t even occur between Masaomi and the others, because he vanishes immediately afterward. Maybe it’s related to his inability to come to terms with Mikado as the head of Dollars and Anri as the Slasher, but we’re not given any indication.

I don't know if if you can read the cardboard cutout, but it should be pointed out that Erika and Walker, for the most part, have terrible taste in anime

If there’s any change between Mikado and Anri, we never see it. They’re still not dating, obviously, even though by this point practically every character in the show has told them they should be. Their relationship doesn’t seem changed at all, from the fragments we get at the end of the show. Except for Masaomi leaving, this whole thing could have not have happened at all, from the way everyone treats it.

I was expecting a resolution that would change things, that would further develop the characters, or somehow further the story. From the ten minutes of epilogue we get here, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Maybe we’ll learn the true ramifications of this event later. Like, in the second season.

Oh well, at least Shinra finally gets to do it with Celty. Good for him

I should stress that, even though I’ve been very critical of Durarara!! in its past two episodes, I still enjoyed the heck out of the series. It’s an immensely entertaining show, held up by great characters, sharp dialogue and lovely animation.

It’s the kind of show whose quality in everything—animation, writing (for the most part), characters—is immediately apparent. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed watching serial TV shows and could stand the fact that it was animated. If it ever airs on American television, it will easily be one of the ten best shows airing at that time.

Masaomi joins the chat room, as Bacula. Scarier than Dracula, Bacula

I guess here I’ve held it to too high a standard. I wanted it to have the kind of cohesion and depth that one would find in something with more artistic intentions. I wanted it to be the kind of show that could create realistic characters, despite their supernatural appearances, and survive on the interactions and tensions between those characters.

In the end, though, that’s not the kind of show Durarara!! is. It’s not a serious show and, to be honest, most of its attempts to take itself seriously fall flat. It works best when it gives up on emotional drama and sticks to the conventions of conspiracy action shows, mixing in the bizarre and supernatural for good measure.

Because Durarara!! is entertainment, pure and simple. To call it the most entertaining anime of the last six months would be underselling it. It’s good enough to put most of what passes for long-form storytelling on American TV to shame. While it may be “just” an action show, it’s a really freaking good one.

  1. oliva
    May 8, 2011 at 12:31 am

    bwahahahahahaha! i love ur blog on durarara, just started watching it myself, but reading ur blog has upped my wanting to see it all the more. love ur little sidenote comments and pics, so hilarious.

  2. jai
    June 15, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Masaomi and Saki’s reunion is the cutest part. When he hugged her, I was all like awwww i wish i have a bf like that.

  3. g
    January 2, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Love the blog 😀
    &AH I know this was 2+ years ago.. but just wondering if you guys’ve seen ep 25 + 12.5 ? I ended up finding them a week after I’d finished the series.. didn’t even know they existed heh. Until someone told me :P.

    [Just wanna say love the blog again] ;D

    • January 2, 2013 at 11:56 am

      I did see them, but not until well after the original 24, so I didn’t think to write about them.

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