A day in the life story that expands on a passing story from the first episode in a fascinating way.
What They Say:
The entrance ceremony for Raira Academy. The students' varied mix of emotions swell. As they prepare for the new journey that lays before them, some meekly introduce themselves. One says he's quitting school even though they've just begun. A seat where he should be sitting sits empty. Amidst all this, Kamichika Rio is there. A girl with a dark side to her. A crack suddenly opens atop this otherwise normal world. The girl who spots this should have died two days prior.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the second episode of Durarara, it’s quite apparent that we’re going to get something similar to what we saw in Baccano but in a more relaxed manner and in a very different setting and style. What fascinated me the most with this episode is that it took what seemed like just an incident happening in the first episode to highlight what the Black Rider does and instead ties it together to everything else in a very tight way. And even better is that the core of its message is spot on and something that people – and especially teenagers – won’t know until years later; we’ve all got our secrets and things that never make it beyond ourselves or maybe one other person.
Picking up from the first episode, school is starting and the class introductions are underway, though it’s the narration that’s important here as everyone rattles off their names. The story of who these people really are and their connections to each other is what the focus looks to turn into here and though we see some new people, such as Seiji who informs the teacher that he’s not coming back, or Anri, a cute girl who seems to know Seiji quite well, as well as seeing those who populated the first episode. Where the camera turns to though is one girl named Rio Mazenda. Mazenda’s story is really quite compelling as we see that she led an ordinary but good life until the day an envelope of pictures arrived in her mailbox showing her father having an affair.
After that, everything started to seem hollow and fake and she just wanted it to end. She ended up talking by phone to someone named Nakura who sent her the photos and the two commiserate over text about their lives until Nakura convinces her to come see him so they can end their lives together and really show their parents what mattered. As it turns out, the situation is not what was expected and we realize that she’s the girl that was abducted in the first episode and we’re seeing her story now, understanding how she ended up in that situation and what happened to her throughout it, including the visual of seeing the Black Rider streak by as seen by Mikado at the end of the previous episode. The connected nature of everything is expressed here really well as it comes together but also other important things as Mazenda is faced with her life really being in her hands and having to make the hard choices. There’s a lot of teasing going on here as the people who are guiding and manipulating her only reveal so much about themselves, but it’s done in a way that makes you sit on the edge of your seat eagerly anticipating the next episode.
In some ways, I’m still somewhat ambivalent about this show. The opening episode was highly detailed in showing us the city while this one focuses in on the more personal side. I like a lot of what’s done here and the first episode was quite intriguing. What they’ve done is snare me enough with the mystery side in the first episode, made even more engaging this time around as we see some of the power that the Black Rider has, while this episode shows the more personal and human side of the show. The interconnected nature of it is also going to be a big drawing point along with its fairly laid back but precise style of storytelling, complete with a narration that feels very welcome but unusual as it covers the whole episode. I’m liking it a lot, but I’m just not sure it’s all going to come together well just yet. This episode succeeds largely on how well it brings us into Mazenda's life and they made it very compelling.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.