Durarara!! – 3
Part of what makes Durarara!! — and this episode in particular — so exciting is the sense not just that anything can happen in this city, but also the fact that these events can flash by in one intense, violent instant, and in the next, there can be nothing save the dust of violence left in the wake of these forces of nature.
Digitalboy is spot on in his assessment of many of these characters as “larger than life . . . [with] a real enormity about them”. In fact, the brief skirmish between Izaya and Shizuo — and later between Shizuo and Simon — is exactly the type of instance he describes when he recalls the battles in Baccano! that come off as “clash[es] of the titans”. In an instant, they are there, battling in front of Mikado’s eyes, and he is simultaneously enthralled and frightened of three manic men doing things he could never dream of. And even when he does something a normal guy can do — get Anri the hell out of there, because she’s clearly as scared as he is — even the moment they share afterward is fleeting. Poor Mikado can only dip a toe into the vast pool of this world right now.
I also like the fact that all this happens during the daytime — it shows an extra layer of unpredictability to this city, the fact that nobody can count on all these crazy people showing up only under the cover of darkness. The moment that Celty speeds through Ikebukuro during the day (where is she going?) should be the moment we know something crazy is going down. It’s inevitable, something Mikado certainly cannot stop. These people — Izaya, Shizuo and Simon — are people I’d classify even beyond the tag of “superhuman”; they feel like more than that, in both their strength and their propensity for appearing whenever the hell they feel like it.
Southern California has been in the midst of a major storm (for us) in the past few days. The rain hasn’t been constant; it comes more often in massive waves that flood streets and pound the hell out of roofs whenever the hell Nature wants to say, “Hey, I’m still here, motherfuckers.” One moment it will look normal outside — if a bit gray — and the next the rain will come down so hard that there will practically be a natural moat around the building when I go to work. That’s what these guys are like; they don’t especially care about the situation (well, Simon probably does, but definitely not Izaya or Shizuo) or the time of day — they will rain pain upon the world whenever they see fit, just to remind people that they’re still around.
These three are definitely aware of their otherworldly strength. After Izaya chases away the wannabe gangsta and his floozies, he laughs and remarks, “Here come the kamaitachi.” The speed at which Izaya can use his knife (he cuts one woman’s purse and then the hair off the head of the gangsta wannabe) is such that he can offhandedly compare himself to a youkai that is lightning quick and has razor-sharp claws and not at all come off as if he is exaggerating. Simon describes Shizuo as someone who is like “violence dressed up as a human. Someone who lives with only violence in [his] mind.” Not human, not even superhuman — beyond that. Nobody describes Simon, but we can see that he can at least match up against someone like Shizuo, even if he comes out worse for the wear because of it.
A couple of other things I like about these forces of nature: For whatever reason, I get a kick out of the fact that they all seemingly know each other and are even on friendly terms in a couple of cases. Izaya and Celty are at least on good enough terms that Izaya can hire Celty for jobs, and Celty and Shizuo are shown to hang out a bit and talk in this episode. Izaya and Shizuo have an ongoing rivalry; can’t say too much about Simon and Shizuo’s relationship, but it actually comes off to me like Simon is the guy who shows up and cools things off when his friend gets heated. Shizuo doesn’t want Simon to get in his way; however, that’s only because his temper has flown off the handle due to wanting to murder the shit out of Izaya.
I also like that there is a certain amount of reverence paid to these characters. They’re like living legends — Kida tells Mikado to be careful of both Izaya and Shizuo, and when they actually meet Izaya, Kida is the exact opposite of his normally outgoing, talkative self. Izaya is a dangerous man, but he’s commanding respect along with fear. The name “Shizuo Heiwajima” inspires great fear in Mikado. The physical strength is frightening, but the name pushes it to another level. People are eternally wary around Simon, who is a black Russian in Japan — even in a hip, young place he cannot help but attract stares wherever he is. And Celty is of course an urban legend herself; where these dangerous men inspire fear in Mikado (although maybe not as much with Simon), Celty makes Mikado stand up and notice. She inspires not fear, so much as utter awe — she represents that true adventure he seeks, that feeling of stepping into another world and coming out a totally different person, if only for a fleeting moment.
There are so many other things to talk about with this episode, but this post is bordering on tl;dr already. I’d just like to plug Scamp’s Durarara!! post and mention that with each episode, he has me more convinced that Mika (the girl with the scar circling her neck) is “wearing” Celty’s head. That guy knows how to compile serious evidence.