Episode 05 – “No One Knows What the Future Holds”
How about that Persona 5 trailer, huh? The whole thing is visually and aurally arresting, particularly when the music kicks in. Shibuya is quite literally constructed with the first three notes of the soundtrack, raising up a building, an overpass, and a bridge, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Durarara!!. Sure, the latter takes place in Ikebukuro rather than Shibuya, but they’re both part of the Tokyo metropolitan system, and we see plenty of similar architecture in both districts.
Ever since I watched the first series of Durarara!!, I was captivated by the atmosphere contained by its urban setting. Big city settings in general fascinate me, perhaps because I’ve spent my entire life living and going to school in suburban areas. A place like Ikebukuro just has so many buildings, streets, alleyways, bridges, and tunnels, with secrets hidden in every corner and provides the perfect setting for a dense story like Durarara!!. This layered density is something that I bring up every week because it becomes more and more apparent with each episode. This week in particular, as it seems that we’ve started an entirely new arc, we’re introduced to the rest of this season’s cast, namely the taser-toting Akane Awakusu who tries to kill Shizuo and the motorcycle assassin Vorona who tries to kill Celty.
Even with so many characters and scenarios occurring around the city at the same time, there is one place where they all seem to converge: the internet and largely thanks to Mikado’s curiosity-driven desire for adventure. No matter who it is, be it a headless spirit, a runaway high school student, or crazy twins, a rich conversation can be shared via a simple chat room. For all of the bad that seems to come out of online anonymity, Durarara!! argues that there is plenty of good that comes out of the internet, as it provides us a space to express ourselves or to even act out characters we create for ourselves out of our Mikado-like sense of adventure.
I think I mentioned in a previous post that I wasn’t too happy with the voiceovers that occurred throughout an episode, but I really loved the execution for this week. The episode opens with a crappy home video recorded by Izaya, talking about why he likes to observe and manipulate people who are in precarious situations. He is, in a lot of ways, like Mikado as they both share that same desire for interesting things to happen. Namie then takes over for the rest of the episode, and it’s so incredibly interesting hearing her commentary for each situation that’s happening on screen because her personality is so different from everyone else’s.
As far as we know of her character, she’s an incest-crazed woman who is always at odds with Izaya. At the beginning of the episode, we’re watching this guy play a UFO catcher, and here’s Namie talking about her love for Seiji. We don’t care about Seiji right now, and yet hearing her talk about him is oddly captivating because that’s part of her character and she’s in control of the narration. At that point in time, the world is hers, and that’s what the world is like for her. To be able to observe the story from the perspective of such a weird character adds an entirely new layer to the narrative experience.
Durarara!! shows that it can layer and link together its world not only through various scenes that span across several episodes but also within singular scenes, by constructing its own overpasses, bridges, and tunnels not with music like Persona 5‘s Shibuya, but with its unique narrative style. Because in the world of Durarara!!, it’s all about observers and actors living out their lives in Ikeburuko, overlapping in accordance to urban design.
“That’s right. Just go on destroying each other like that…and die.” ~ Namie Yagiri