All The Anime released the first season of Durarara!! back in March 2014, and they have now released the first arc of the Durarara!! X2 sequel series. This arc is titled Durarara!! X2 Shou; the literal translation of Shou is “understanding”, While the first series was produced at Studio Brain’s Base, this season was produced at Studio Shuka, though the main staff from the original series did return. This included director Takahiro Omori, who has also directed Baccano and Samurai Flamenco, both of which have seen UK releases by All The Anime. Though, my favourite work from this director, “Hotarubi no Mori e” has yet to see a western release. The remaining two Durarara!! X2 releases from All The Anime will be available at some point in the future.
“Half a year after the turmoil that rocked the entire city of Ikebukuro – peace has once again returned to the city and people are living each day normally. The high school students enjoy their days of youth as the strongest and most dangerous man of Ikebukuro works diligently. The informant plots a new scheme and the headless rider is pursued by the cops as she rides through the night. But soon this ordinary life will be cut short by extraordinariness. Slowly but surely, the unknown will seize the city and face an all new storm.” – All The Anime
I loved the first season of Durarara!!; I picked up All The Anime’s Collector’s Edition release as a blind buy because the artwork on the box looked interesting and it is easily one of the best anime I have had the fortune of watching. Unfortunately, it fast became apparent during the simulcast of Durarara!! X2 Shou that it would not be able to live up to the first series. The animation quality was mediocre and not much really happened throughout the season. Thankfully, this home media release sees updated animation, making for a much more enjoyable viewing experience. It’s a shame that this season of Durarara!! doesn’t quite manage the same brilliance as the first series, but it’s a necessary step on the path to the third arc of Durarara!! X2 that All The Anime will be releasing in the future. Watching this season as a simulcast each week felt like a chore, but that is not the case with the full season available to you. It’s much better suited to watching split up into a few batches rather than over 12 weeks.
This season is set around half a year following season 1, and Ikebukuro is relatively subdued. That doesn’t last though, with gang wars and supernatural goings-on aplenty. Oh, and a serial murderer. On top of all this, Celty is struggling with her job as a courier, Masaomi isn’t around, and Mikado is falling deeper into the gang world. It’s still amazing that with such a big cast of characters, Durarara!! never seems to make any of them feel unimportant or underused. This season looks noticeably less refined than the first, and this is exacerbated if you’re watching the softer DVD version. Even if you’re not enjoying this season compared to the first, see it through to the end in preparation for the releases of the rest of the Durarara!! X2 anime; it gets so much better.
Having watched all of Durarara!! and X2 subbed previously, I opted to give the dub a try this time. I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting much from the dub but it almost managed to impress me. Most of the voice work from the English cast is far above average, but Izaya’s voice actor ruined the character for me. I’m of the unpopular opinion that Johnny Yong Bosch’s VA work is annoying to hear, so if you have no objection to his voice work, you’ll probably find this dub to be perfect.
This release includes textless opening and ending videos, as is expected. Unfortunately, in order to bring us a single release covering all 12 episodes at a much more reasonable price than the US release, the possibility of including the OVA episode for this arc was traded away. It’s a shame, as it’s an enjoyable OVA revolving around a Hot Pot Party. All The Anime have said that they’ll look into the possibility of releasing all 3 Durarara!! X2 OVAs further down the line, however.
It's a shame that the first arc of Durarara!! X2 doesn't quite manage the same brilliance as the first series, but it's a necessary step on the path to the much more worthy third arc of Durarara!! X2 that All The Anime will be releasing in the future. With another 24 episodes to come after the 12 included in this collection, it's still a satisfying journey, just keep in mind that while this arc may be good, the next two are each better than the previous.