Durarara!! – 6
Being a member of Dollars looks pretty fun. I like milk, I like the Internet and I like immigrants. Where the hell can I sign up??
Aside from revealing a number of interesting plot details, this episode is just a ton of fun all around. We don’t know if all the Dollars gangs are like this, but the group with Kyohei, Erika, Walker and Saburou is certainly whimsical. (Is Kyohei some sort of interior decorator? Haha.) I like the idea suggested by one of the commenters in psgels’ post that people who would actually get things done are invited into the group. But what is supposed to be done? The e-mail says there are no rules or restrictions involved with being a member of Dollars — you just have to identify yourself as such.
Maybe it’s just a way for potentially talented but alienated people to feel some sort of connection in this massive, confusing city. A lot of Durarara!! has been about connections to others that people are not aware of; perhaps the Dollars gang is a way to bring those connections to the forefront. You meet a stranger in a city, and your relationship is basically a blank slate. But what if you are both a part of something — a part of Dollars? There’s something. (Albeit a pretty dark something . . .)
Dollars, in a way, seems to me so far to be less like the classic idea of a gang, and more like a massive tribe. Many stories that take place in sprawling urban areas almost necessarily include some theme of alienation — it’s easy for a single person to get lost in this enormous world. (One of my favorite writers, Haruki Murakami, has basically built a career off exploring alienation in various ways. And it’s certainly not a theme that is alien (l0l) to anime writers and light novel authors.) Before reflecting on how he got involved with Dollars, Kyohei thinks about why the hell people like Erika, Walker and Saburou would gravitate toward someone like him. Maybe there is something in his past, or maybe he just sees himself as just one tiny speck in this massive Ikebukuro urban jungle.
But again, Dollars might give the alienated a chance to ease their loneliness a bit. And to comment on Kyohei’s speculation that Izaya is at the top of the Dollars food chain — that actually makes some sense. If you’ll recall the loser wannabe gangsta who claimed to be a part of Dollars and have a bunch of friends in Dollars a couple of episodes back, well, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy Izaya would recruit, and Izaya embarrassed him pretty thoroughly. You don’t falsely claim to be a gang member when The Boss is an apparently expert gatherer of information.
But again, if Izaya is indeed the leader of the Dollars, what is their purpose? Could there be even a shred of benevolence beneath Izaya’s sneering trickster facade? (A darker sort of benevolence, but benevolence nonetheless.) Or is there still something more to them we cannot see because we have not seen the Dollars through the eyes of a character with the necessary perspective?
Enough random thematic analysis, though: A relatively small part of the episode complicates the whole Selty’s head storyline quite a bit. All the speculation about Shinra being the one behind Selty’s head (possibly) being transplanted onto Mika’s body was based on the assumption that he was the only game in town for crazy underground doctoring. But while Shinra still may be the man behind the plan, the one who is ordering fresh heaps of human for experimental purposes is Seiji’s sister, Namie (who, uh, might like Seiji just a bit too much). Her connection to Seiji, combined with whatever nefarious experiments she is working on, might be enough to say she could have experimented on Mika for him. Or it could be a red herring. (Does she like Seiji enough to set him free, as Sting would say, and throw his true love at him? Or does she want dear, darling Seiji-kun all to herself?)
(Also, this part definitely worked to make me feel dumb: Yes, through six episodes I somehow glossed over Seiji and Namie sharing the same surname. I guess my brain shuts off when presented with slick, shiny visuals. I also didn’t make the connection between Mika’s disappearance and the possibility that she may have been kidnapped by the same thugs from earlier in the series. That might be a bit more forgivable, but I don’t know.)
(One other amusing aside: Both completely untrustworthy doctors in this series have bizarre love interests. Shinra wants to fuck a mythical creature, and Namie appears to want to jump her brother’s bones. Do you become a weirdo doctor because you fall in love with the wrong people/creatures, or is it the other way around?)
And a couple of random notes about my enjoyment of this episode: Again, this Dollars gang is a ton of fun. I like finding out about their personality quirks (Saburou, the seemingly serious one, is an idol worshiper) and how they make friends in unexpected places (like Scamp, I grew to like Kaztano a lot more as the episode went on). The music is used to fantastic effect, too — the first few episodes largely had the same (awesome) tunes, but I don’t think the same song was used twice even once in this episode. Great variety here.
Psgels also pointed out that the dog who licks the pipe (gross potential euphemism there) when Selty is around is the same dog from Shizuo’s near Pet the Dog moment a couple of episodes back. Fun stuff. Wonder if that dog will become a signature visual joke like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei‘s stickbutt dog?