Durarara!! 24 – Simon the Puncher (END)
I always knew Simon would come through by the end of the series: The one time he decides to finally do something, it is for a perfectly worthy cause. Izaya isn’t really humiliated (save for a mocking laugh thrown his way by Namie), but a nice shiner — along with what has to be several bumps and bruises after flying through the sky courtesy of Air Simon — is some decent comeuppance for 24 episodes of dickery on Izaya’s part.
And yet it also shows a lot of what goes wrong in the second half of Durarara!! Characters with craploads of potential come and go without doing very much at all. Simon sells sushi without affecting the plot much at all, even though he can clearly make things happen. Shingen makes a cameo as if he is appearing in some low-rent sitcom. The cop’s appearance is great, but he probably could have been a more substantial character than he actually is. And on and on and on.
The first half of the series juggles characters nearly as effectively as Baccano! and sets up all sorts of interesting things that could unfold down the road, whereas the second half focuses mainly on Mikado, Anri, Kida, Izaya and Celty, with Kadota’s crew and Shizuo as the B-side characters. Still plenty of personalities to work with, but as the series progresses into a more grounded gang war scenario, it loses quite a bit of what made it interesting in the beginning. Like mefloraine, Durarara!! had my attention most when it had that mystical tone going, that focus on the weird core beneath the ordinary surface. The last time Durarara!! has that feeling is when Anri battles Haruna Niekawa.
Don’t want to bash this episode too much for the mistakes of the show’s final arc, however; it is at least a solid conclusion for the final story, if not a particularly satisfying end to the series as a whole. Scamp’s not much of a fan of Kadota’s plan, but I think it fits his character pretty well. He’s not one to screw around; if something needs to be done, he is not going to waste a lot of time with some bullshit. Going in disguise gets Kadota and his pals into the Yellow Scarves’ headquarters, and when he needs to jump out and kick some ass, it’s done. Not super flashy, but effective. Then again, just about anything probably would have been effective against Horada. What a loser.
(That’s a strike against this final arc, too. Horada never feels threatening at all; he’s a fluff villain. That might be easier to swallow if Izaya ever got out of the chatroom for more than a few minutes. That guy has a severe Internet addiction now. I’m shocked we never see him arrogantly ripping apart random people’s arguments on message boards in the ass crack of the ‘net. He seems like the type.)
But even though Horada is a shit villain, seeing him get his comeuppance is fun, too. Shizuo could be an Olympic-level athlete with those javelin skills of his. There would also be story after story about him wondering how the hell he could be so damn strong without ‘roiding up constantly. No matter how many clean drug test results Shizuo would receive, that black cloud of performance enhancing drugs would always hang over his head. But he would know; he would know that he could toss a javelin strongly enough to destroy a car, and do it without sticking a needle in his ass.
And this is where the music from those Irish Spring commercials would start playing . . .
Overall, I enjoyed Durarara!! even though its final arc and its arc-capping episodes are largely disappointing. The first arc is pretty damn gripping, for the most part, and the Slasher arc is good as well. The series sputtering to a close isn’t quite enough to make me forget how thoroughly I enjoyed the series during its best moments. Unfortunately, it just could not quite get over the hump and cash in on its potential like Baccano! does. Too bad. If there’s a second season, I’ll watch, and hopefully that will correct the mistakes of this first season.