ANIME REVIEW: “DuRaRaRa!! x2 (Shou)” Volume 1

ANIME REVIEW: "DuRaRaRa!! x2 (Shou)" Volume 1
ANIME REVIEW: "DuRaRaRa!! x2 (Shou)" Volume 1

DuRaRaRa!! x2 (Shou)
(2015) careens wildly along, like a skateboarder trying to negotiate San
Francisco’s Lombard Street. A continuation of the TV series DuRaRaRa!! (2010), Shou is a choppy assemblage of linked stories intercut in no
discernible order.


It’s part high school social story, part urban gang conflict
adventure, part serial killer horror tale and part supernatural thriller, with
romantic comedy and yakuza elements tossed into the discordant stew. Keeping
the members of the large ensemble cast sorted out can be tricky, even with the help
of the accompanying booklet.


The story picks up several months after the original DuRaRaRa!! left off. Mikado Ryugamine (voice
by Darrel Guilbeau) seems to be the relatively sane figure at the center of the
tale—at times, he feels like the equivalent of the Tenchi character if DuRaRaRa!! were harem comedy. But he’s
also the head of a motorcycle gang known as the Dollars, who are talked about,
rather than seen, although their conflict with the rival Yellow Scarfs was one
of the main story elements of the first season.


Mikado usually hangs out with Anri Sonohara (Michelle Ruff),
a pretty classmate, and the freshman Aoba Kuronuma (Kyle McCarley). Mikado and
Anri aren’t really dating, but he gets flustered when Aoba seems too interested
in her. The trio eagerly follows the adventures of the Black Rider on TV and
online. The Rider is a mysterious figure who races through the Ikebukuro district
of Tokyo on a motorcycle that not only runs horizontally along walls, it turns
into a horse at times.

The Black Rider is actually Celty Sturluson (Karl Wahlgren),
who, like Washington Irving’s Horseman, has no head. She can manipulate the miasma
that emanates from her truncated neck, turning it into vehicles, weapons, etc.
Although she’s a badass who can kick the butts of the bounty hunters who pursue
her, Celty loves Shinra Kishitani (Yuri Lowenthal), an upbeat young doctor. He doesn’t
seem to mind that the love of his life has no head and can only communicate
through texts on her cell phone.


The minor characters range from a loud-mouthed American
talent agent who may remind viewers of Mr. Satan in Dragon Ball Z, a pair of identical twins who may also be lovers, a
messed-up teen idol turned serial killer and two Russian expatriates whose
conversations sound like bad impressions of Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle.


The cel phone has become as omnipresent in anime as it is in
real life, and the filmmakers include several scenes of message board
conversations, which consist of lines of type on the screen—a handy way to get
more footage out of a limited animation budget.


The DuRaRaRa!! continuity
is based on the work of manga artist Ryohgo Narita and directed by Takahiro
Omori. The two artists also collaborated on the equally fragmented Baccano! (2007), an outré action-comedy set
in the speakeasies and gang wars of Prohibition era New York City. Their helter-skelter
approach to filmmaking clearly has its followers, and Omori’s skittish pacing
and randomized storytelling have an undeniable energy. But viewers in search of
a coherent narrative should look elsewhere.


The DuRaRaRa!! x2
package comes with a 16-page booklet giving the biographies of some
of the characters and a set of postcards. But these six episodes could have
easily fit on a single disc.

DuRaRaRa!! x2 (Shou) Volume 1 Aniplex: $49.98, 2 discs DVD

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