October 23, 2010

Despite its strange name, Durarara!! is more of a supernatural action thriller rather than a show for toddlers. Why do I say that? Heck, I don’t even know what the title is supposed to mean so I thought those gibberish may appeal to younger audiences at first thought. But this series is for mature audiences as it has some questionable violence and gang wars in it. Questionable as in exaggerated. Well, that’s what I thought. If you think Ikebukuro is one of those commercial and entertainment districts in Japan, wait till you see its darker underground side. At least in this anime.

As introduced in episode 1, Mikado Ryuugamine returns to Ikebukuro after 4 years of hikikomori shut in-like in his house in the countryside. Wow. He’s got to be bold to take such a brave new step in life. The reason? His parents want him to attend Raira Private Academy, supposedly a good reputable school. He is picked up by his pal, Masaomi Kida as he brings Mikado around the various places in the vicinity. They talk about the gang wars and violence in the streets these days. On the way, they meet Kida’s pals, Erika Karisawa, Walker Yumasaki, Kyouhei Kadota and Saburo Togusa. A girl named Magenta meets a guy she supposedly knew, Nakura. He leads her to a bunch of guys waiting in the van but it’s a trap to kidnap her. Mikado and Kida continue to meet the other people the latter knows like Samia AKA Simon Brezhnev, a black Russian of American descent working as a sushi chef but also a tout (how diverse can you get with this guy?!). In short, don’t mess with him. They also meet Shizuo Heiwajima who likes throwing big objects when mad. In short, stay out of his sight. Meanwhile the kidnappers are waiting for someone when a black biker lady shows up. They get violent but she uses her bike to smash 1 of them and banged another’s head to the wall till he bleeds! Overkill! She goes after the last one but soon crashes. The guy thought it’s over but she gets up without a head! She pulls out a scythe and cuts him! Kido tells Mikado the people he should stay away from apart from the gangs: the Yakuza, Izaya Orihaya and The Dollars. They bump into a girl with a scar on her neck but she runs away in panic. Kido feels Mikado is lucky and will have a swell time with him around. Then they see the urban legend zooming pass them: The black motorbike-cum-headless rider.

New semester at Raira begins in episode 2. We are introduced to some of the characters. Anri Sonohara, a girl who seems like she wants to escape from the worldliness. Rio Kamichika (Magenta), a girl with a mysterious past and supposedly to have died 2 days ago. Seiji Yagiri, a guy coming to class late just to say he can’t attend them anymore because he’s got an important business to attend to. Rio’s flashback on how she was sent pics of her dad cheating on mom with another woman. She kept it a secret and it became awkward. She met an online guy, Nakura, who shared the same past and he decided they meet up to do suicide. That’s when the kidnapping event happened as they’re being watched and the headless rider despatched. After disposing the kidnappers and freeing Rio, the biker, Celty Sturlson (communicating via PDA text because she’s got no head, remember? But you’ll hear her speak since it’s a pain to read her little PDA typing every time. Saves a lot this way) gives her a lift to a rooftop to meet the real Nakura. Rio learns he set everything up from the kidnapping to the rescue to see her emotions, reactions, etc. He brings her to the ledge where people have leapt off (bloodstains on the ground) and continues mocking her. She almost falls when she tries to slap him but he grabbed her hand. After he leaves, Rio actually jumps down! But a mysterious shadow cushions her fall and she survives. It is Celty and in response to Rio’s question on why she did that: “The world isn’t as cruel as you think”. That’s when Rio has her eyes opened, view things differently and has hope to continue living. Celty meets up with Nakura who is actually Izaya. She confronts him about his recent actions. She, a deliverer, isn’t happy that he, an informant, is ‘responsible’ for the previous one that died but he says he isn’t such a bad guy. Though he notes he’s not kind enough to stop someone who wants to die.

Anri volunteers to be the class rep in episode 3 so Mikado volunteers to be one for the boys. Kida thinks he’s such a playboy so after school he drags him out to the city while he tries to hit on girls (major flop!). We learn gangs are represented by a certain colour, thus the term Colour Gangs. But a certain gang without any colour has been increasing its influence of late. They are The Dollars and they recruit members via website. Mikado and Kida bump into Kadota and co. They talk about Dollars and its rumours. Kadota warns not to go near them even out of curiosity. Mikado and Kida spot Anri being harassed by a group of ganguro girls and one of their boyfriend, Hiroshi, supposedly from Dollars. Mikado thinks of rescuing her but is nervous. Izaya happened to show up and push him into their conversation. Izaya lectures them with his poetry and repetitively stomps on 1 of their handphones! Hiroshi goes to beat him up but he and the ganguro girls retreat in fear when half of Hiroshi’s hair suddenly shave itself off. Kida seems to know Izaya and wonders why he’s back at Ikebukuro. He came to see someone and already got in touch. Suddenly a vending machine hits Izaya. It’s Shizuo and he has a grudge against him. As they both prepare to fight, Hiroshi returns with his gang. One of them panics and whacks his stick on Shizuo’s head. Shizuo shows his fury by punching him away so much so his clothes also flew off! Shizuo takes on the entire gang by himself. Izaya tries to use this chance to escape so Shizuo throws another vending machine. But Simon appears to catch it and they start trading fists. Mikado takes Anri and runs away amidst the chaos. At a safe location, she thanks him and rushes off. Seiji seems to have found the person he’s searching for. That scar girl, supposedly the love of his life. Shizuo talks to his friend Celty about Izaya’s return and isn’t happy that his chance to kill him was interrupted by Simon.

Shinra Kishitani, an unlicensed underground doctor knows a lot about Celty. That’s because he lives with her! Episode 4 has him narrate about her and her past. She’s a Dullahan, a fairy from Celtic folklore. She seems to be searching for an old man. So how can she see, hear, talk, etc without a head? Must be that broad sense thingy. 20 years ago when she realized her existence, she was already headless and knew how to use her abilities. She thought if she could get back her head, she’d find out the truth about her existence. Relying on her senses, she sensed her head has gone to Japan and needed to get there and transforms her headless horse into a motorbike. In present time, Celty and Shizuo go see an old man drawing portraits. He was a witness of a Dullahan when he was living in Ireland. She asks about her head but he insists that she did not have any to begin with and shows his sketches of a headless Dullahan. Celty returns to Shinra and they discuss about the possibilities she has no head at all and that guy may have seen wrongly. He wants her to give up her search and just like the old guy said, she doesn’t really need one (on an unrelated note, this may sound like an insult). He also wants to go somewhere with him and may even take her back to her homeland. Celty isn’t happy and storms off. Shinra continues narrating Celty’s past. When she stowed away on a ship, Shinra was 4 years old then when he spotted her in the cargo area. He informed his dad, Shingen, as he struck a deal to do autopsy on her in exchange for a place to stay. On the autopsy table, she was in extreme pain even with anaesthetics. She has organs but don’t work, like as though she’s a living anatomical model. Her flesh also heals back. Shingen gave him a knife to dissect her but thanks to that, he got what it takes to be a doctor. Yeah, starting them young.

While Celty is on a job to retrieve a stolen bag in episode 5, a mysterious figure known as Slasher stabs her from behind, slices off her head and fled. But she heard her wounds telling her she’s a monster! She thinks that was an alien?! Kida and his usual romantic poetic rant as he even tries to get Anri to go out with him. Flashback on the day Seiji left class, teacher Nasujima talks with Anri on how he went through great lengths to arrange her and best pal Mika Harima in the same class (is he trying to seduce her?). But Mika never showed up since as Nasujima indicates to rely on him and some Mr Saito told him to take care of her. Kida spots the ‘harassment’ and jokes about spreading it so he leaves. Mikado, Anri and Kida hang out together and talk about Nasujima’s probably flirting with school girls. Anri tells them about missing Mika. She left a message that she’s on a trip to ease her grief. To the guys’ surprise, Mika is a stalker! Kida concludes Mika liked Seiji but got rejected. In a way, Anri feels bad for relying and using her so she thought being a class rep would able to surpass her. When they part, Mikado feels the need of a strong organization like Dollars to help search. Kida thinks he wants to join them so he advises not to. Kida alone goes to meet Kadota and co at Russian sushi bar to ask more info on Dollars to prevent Mikado from joining. Unfortunately they don’t have much info on them either. They talk about gang battles between Yellow Scarves and Blue Squares. Mikado spots Seiji with the scar girl and notes she isn’t Mika. Seiji tells him to stop bothering them as they’re eloping. Mikado sees Kida being taken to an alley by Yellow Scarves members. Then that Celty-Slasher scene from the beginning and that commotion prompts Kida and Mikado to get out. The Yellow Scarves bump into Slasher as it slashes them all. Izaya visits a girl in hospital, Saki Mikajima, and they know each other.

Episode 6 sees Kadota and co chasing down those kidnappers back in episode 1 (they survived?). They catch them and have them spill details on human kidnapping for experiments. This was what happened 8 hours ago as it’s known as the famous Kaztano incident. The 3 kidnappers enter a rundown building (all tenants fled in fear upon seeing them?) to kidnap a foreigner, Kaztano. He tried to escape but was caught though he managed to SMS Kadota about it. However they dismissed it thinking it was a joke and continued their meal at the sushi bar. Kaztano was put to sleep since he was struggling but the potion was also splashed onto all of them during that. Remember, driving in this manner is dangerous. Though Kaztano is still drowsy, he can still thank and convinces them to leave 1 of their sleeping comrades on the road (that guy has his handphone in his pocket). When Kadota and co return to Kaztano’s place, they realize he’s telling the truth. Kaztano meant a lot to Togusa so they’re going after him. Luckily a little kid at the place, Hashim, spotted the kidnappers’ van and was able to give descriptions. Kadota calls Shinra about the incident and requests for Kaztano to be saved. A scientist lady, Namie, is behind these human experiments, seems to hold her brother, Seiji close to her heart.

Celty is despatched but realizes Shinra gave her a shopping list instead of the van’s number plate. Kadota narrates how Kaztano is Togusa’s life saviour because he was able to give him front seat tickets to an idol he worshiped like an eternal goddess, Ruri Hijiribe. WTF?! He calls Kaztano’s handphone but Izaya picks it up from the sleeping dude. However he has to cut short since Shizuo is hot on his trail throwing vending machines. Kadota fakes the kidnapper’s voice to call his comrades and reveal their whereabouts. Kadota narrates why they joined Dollars. One day they got a mail to join them, saying there are no rules or restrictions and all you need is to say you’re part of the gang. He was given a password and nickname that logged into Dollars’ site. Nobody has seen the face of Dollars’ leader. But he was curious to see who created this strange system and suspects Izaya. Kadota and co finally find the kidnappers. They’re ready to fight till Celty shows up. The kidnappers get scared, release Kaztano, repent never to do it again and fled but Kadota is hot on their heels (that chase scene in the beginning). They manage to get them to lead to a place supposedly where human experiments take place: Yagiri Pharmacy. But instead of checking it out right away, they decide to get breakfast first. Hey, can’t work on an empty stomach, can’t they?

Shizuo is in 1 of his bad moods, throwing things and hurting people in episode 7. He notices a movie poster of his brother, Kasuka or better known by his film name Yuuhei Hanejima, in a leading movie role, Vampire Ninja Carmilla Saizou. When some guy starts talking about Kasuka, Shizuo loses his temper and goes into a rage. Flashback of how it all started when he was a kid. He got provoked by the slightest teasing. He couldn’t control himself throwing things and as a result was always breaking his bones. But he didn’t care and continued doing so, thinking it as a way to make him stronger. One day a kind florist always noticed his injuries and gave him milk. On another day, he saw thugs threatening her. His instinct took over. Not only the thugs beaten up badly, the store and the florist too bear his brunt. Shizuo enrolled in Raira and his old pal Shinra was there too. Too bad so was Izaya. He hated him at first sight and ever since they tried killing each other. Though Shizuo wished for a peaceful life and hates violence, gang after gang just came after him and they fought. He thinks all this is Izaya’s setup. This even continues after graduation and Shizuo’s frequent job change. Till concerned Kasuka gave him bartender clothes. But 1 night he got setup by Izaya again. By the time he was proven innocent, Izaya had fled Ikebukuro. That’s when he met Tom Tanaka, a senpai from his school so he became his bodyguard for his debt collection agency while Kasuka bloomed as an actor. On a debt collecting round, a bunch of kids splash drinks on his beloved bartender suit so he tore the place apart. Back in reality, Shizuo starts calming down but the sight of Izaya makes his blood boil again. There are things that you just can’t stop hating.

Since Shinra notices Celty’s 1st day off in 265 days as a deliverer (he’s got nothing better to do than to keep such statistics?), he decides to take her somewhere in episode 8 but she decides to cook for him. Karisawa and Yumasaki seem to be searching for each other. A strange foreigner has Karisawa write in her sketchbook for things she’s looking for and she’ll go look for them. Kadota alone investigates Yagiri Pharmacy. Celty mistakes Shinra’s tears of joy for her horrible cooking. The conversation turns into that of searching for her head. Though Shinra is okay with the way she is now, Celty’s upset because she’s worried she’ll forget how she looks like. She storms off but when she returns, Shinra isn’t home and thinks he’s at work. Shinra seems to be treating a guy who nearly did a kamikaze at Yagiri Pharmacy by strapping dynamites around his body. The guy who brought him for the treatment thanks Shinra for keeping their big secret. Mikado spots the strange foreigner and goes through her he list of things to be found. Weird ones include “Head”. He writes his. At the end of the day, Shinra and Celty meet up and eat at Simon’s Russian sushi. They read their fortune cookies. Celty is happy that hers say “Lost and Found” but Shinra’s one read “Unrequited Love” and swallows it. Seiji is comforting and assuring his love for scar girl and he calls her Celty. That night, Celty has a wonderful dream whereby she was a whole and holding her head in her hands: It is the face of that scar girl.

Namie isn’t pleased that Seiji is not at his usual place despite recently contacting him in episode 9. She goes to see Izaya and wants him to look for Seiji. He thinks she’s madly in love with Seiji and acting like a stalker. Flashback how Namie and Seiji were always alone together when they’re young as their uncle took care of them. She noticed her uncle was always talking about ‘that thing’, staring and admiring it. It turned out to be Celty’s head in a jar. One day she showed it to Seiji and regretted it because he’s starting to like it, something that isn’t human or have a heart. In order to rid of it and ‘protect’ Seiji, she put it in her uncle’s lab as a research specimen. But 1 day when an American company, Nebula contacted them and she forgot her security card, it got stolen. Namie got a call from Seiji saying he killed someone. Namie felt relieved in a way and promised to protect him. Seems Seiji is slurping his ramen while the girl he killed lay lifeless on the floor. That girl is Mika and was stalking Seiji. She snuck in and saw ‘that thing’ Seiji stole and the rest as you could see. In present time, scar girl still feels insecure and wants Seiji to take her far away. She runs off and happens to pass by Celty. Their eyes met (ironically, Celty got no real eyes lah!) so Celty goes after her while Shizuo stalls Seiji. Even if Seiji sticks pens into Shizuo’s limbs, he’s not feeling any pain! Shizuo knocks him out temporarily. During the chase, scar girl bumps into Mikado. Without thinking, Mikado takes her and runs away. Celty loses them. She relates this to Shinra back home. She was in a middle of a job from Izaya and spotted Shizuo so they both chatted when she saw the scar girl. She’s not happy her head is on someone else’s body. Seiji is back at Namie’s place and very depressed and anxious. Namie says to leave everything to her since she loves him. But not wanting to regret, she calls her subordinates to capture her and if necessary, get rid of her on the spot. Scar girl is at Mikado’s rundown apartment as he learns she has amnesia. She notes she has to go before that person interferes.

Scar girl is fast asleep in episode 10 so Mikado calls Kida over for advice. He says he’ll have to wait and see, decide after listening to her. Next day in school, Kida shows Mikado a list called Dollars Degree Prediction. Vote for a person whom you suspect is part of Dollars? One can vote many times? Mikado notices Ryo Takiguchi has only 1 vote and that’s from Kida. He decides to meet him and confirm so. At the rooftop, Kida asks him directly so he admits it. He thought it was cool to join it when he received an anonymous SMS invitation. He also felt Dollars is kind of ‘colourless’ since it didn’t try to expand its influence by recruiting members unlike the Colour Gangs. He continues his frank answer how he met other Dollars members by coincidence (since members were just given online nicknames) and that it was no big deal. As Mikado leaves school, he is shocked to see that ganguro girl and her new boyfriend Takeshi. Takeshi exacts verbal harassment on him but Celty kicks him to the ground and Izaya stomps on him repetitively! Celty and Izaya follow Mikado and realizing he can’t go back home directly or else risk revealing scar girl’s location, under a bridge as Izaya answers a call, Celty tells Mikado she’s looking for a relative but obviously Mikado knows it’s a lie. After telling what he knows about her being headless, he requests to see it himself but upon 1 condition he doesn’t freak out. She does so and though surprised, managed to keep his cool. Celty pleads Mikado to take her see scar girl. Not wanting her to go into further shock, Mikado tells the duo to wait outside while he goes to see her. However she is gone and suddenly a couple of guys pin him down. They want him to tell them where scar girl is. Luckily Izaya barges in and the perpetrators flee. He recognizes them from Yagiri Pharmacy. Mikado connects all the recent events and gets excited. He hooks up his PC and says how all the cards are in his hands.

Namie gets a surprise call from Mikado to meet up and make a deal in episode 11. In the crowded streets, Mikado tells her he has what she’s looking for. He doesn’t want money in exchange but the truth. In short, he has an idea what she and Seiji did to Mika and wants them to turn themselves in. Obviously Namie isn’t going with that and thinks Mikado is an obstacle in Seiji’s life. Mikado goes on ranting about his beliefs and principals on harmony and peace. Namie then summons her bodyguards. Mikado knows he can’t win so he’s going to rely on numbers. He sends an SMS message. Suddenly everyone’s handphone starts ringing! This startles Namie. It’s an indication that everyone is from Dollars! From Izaya to Shimon to Shizuo to Celty to Kadota and co. Except for Namie and her bodyguards of course. Kadota has scar girl with him as he confronts Celty on the rooftop. Flashback of Mikado’s boring uneventful life in the countryside. He got a PC and hooked it up to the internet and kept in touch with Kida. Seemed Mikado started Dollars and purposely leaked rumours and even fabricated ‘members’ on the forums. As time passed, though it grew and some even defended the group, there were people starting to call themselves Dollars in the real world and doing bad things and their numbers rapidly increased. Even so, there were some doing good in its name. A montage of people’s view on Dollars, nothing of which are bad and some even admitting they’re part of it. Another flashback whereby Togusa was furiously chasing a van who accidentally scratched his van paint with a pebble, nearly collided into scar girl running away. They talk to her and got a message on Dollars forum board admin, who is Mikado, right after the intruders at his place. He agreed to let Celty see her but in return wants her help. At present, Celty asks scar girl her name and her reply is well, Celty. Celty has come to terms with her existence in the city and goes off. We see the message on everyone’s handphone telling them those who aren’t looking at their handphones are their enemies and that they’re not to be attacked by stared at. Namie loses Mikado in the sea of crowd and orders her bodyguards to search. That’s when Celty rides down from a building and fights them. One of them hit her helmet off and everyone saw her headless. Some got scared and some took pics with their handphones. Mikado at the back of the crowd, comes face to face with Seiji who wants him to give back his lover and charges at him with a knife.

Celty takes the stab in Mikado’s place in episode 12. She’s going to slice him with her scythe when scar girl suddenly rushes to cover him. Celty realizes that isn’t her head and Mikado concluding scar girl is Mika. Flashback when stalker Mika picker her way into his room (man, she’s desperate!), she saw the head and right at that time Seiji walked in. Though she promised not to tell, Seiji slams her head against the wall! Mika didn’t die and woke up in Namie’s lab. With Shinra by her side, they did plastic surgery and make-up so she could look like the head Seiji loves. They tell her name will be Celty since that’s the head’s name and Namie even used drugs and surgery to erase her memories. Mika continued pretending to be Celty as she was in love with Seiji for his sake. Seiji goes into shock so Izaya mocks him he can’t tell the fake from the real. Celty goes back to confront Shinra. She’s upset he had a hand in Mika’s surgery. His reason for not telling was because he loved her (he’s a weird guy to begin with). He’s afraid she’d leave him once she found out. They talk about fairies hypothesis, fear, existence and confirm each other’s love by hitting each other and then hug. He says she’s the prettiest when she’s not hiding her face (are you kidding me?!). Izaya praises Mikado’s plan and says if he wants to escape the everyday life, he has to constantly evolve and enjoy it. But he has to flee since Shizuo is starting to throw things. Then it hit Mikado that Izaya may be 1 of the frequent members on the forums. Life returns to normal. Seiji and Mika come to school and as an inseparable pair. Seiji doesn’t love Mika but every time he looks at her, she reminds him of Celty and will accept it and vows to get her back some day. Mikado tries to confess to Anri but joker Kida was there first so Mikado kicks him. Namie visits Izaya’s office and reveals she was using Mika to keep tabs on Seiji. Also Izaya was the one who contacted Mika to flee Mikado’s apartment when his informant called him about the intruders. Seems Izaya has Celty’s head with him. Izaya and Namie talk about myths, Valhalla and heaven. He plans to keep the head since he’s part of Dollars and that Celty won’t expect it to be in the hands of the organization she belongs to. He was also the one who partially started gathering people.

It’s been 6 months since that incident but the Slasher has become that latest hot topic because of the numerous slashing incidents lately in episode 13. Celty is being chased and cornered by a tough traffic cop, Kinnosuke Kuzuhara and his colleagues. He intimidates her not to underestimate her. A supernatural fearing humans? Ironic. Celty is scared and seeks Shinra’s comfort but he has her go pick up returning Shingen (wearing a face mask? Ikebukuro’s air is toxic?). That guy is in the midst of getting bullied by Yellow Scarves led by Horada. Even when Celty shows up, they remain arrogant till she did some shadow trick and scares them off. While Seiji and Mika continue to be lovey-dovey (he says he’s in love with her scar?!), it’s obvious that Mikado and Kida like Anri. Hanging around her and even talking about her attractiveness. Kida is straightforward but Mikado is shy. Anri also knows both guys like her but notes she couldn’t give an answer if they both confess and indicates she still likes Mika. A bunch of Yellow Scarves members come up to Kida, wanting him to return but he refuses, not wanting to go back to that side again. There are talks and rumours on the forums that Yellow Scarves are reviving and Slasher may be part of Dollars and is the headless rider. Anri on her way home gets bullied by the ganguro girls (don’t they every give up?). They mock her for being a slut and parasite living off people. Anri stays silent and does nothing. Suddenly Slasher appears behind them a slashes the ganguro girls right before Anri’s eyes.

In episode 14, Anri gives her statement at the police station as a witness so Kida and Mikado go pick her up later. Shinra comes home and thinks he could take a peek at Celty’s body while she’s bathing but to his horror it’s Shingen (still wearing that mask?!). Shingen is surprised that Celty admits she likes Shinra. During the family ‘quarrel’, Shingen accidental slip of his tongue causes him to reveal he was the one who stole her head. Already childish, he acts even more so and reveals he gave it to that pharmaceutical. He escapes so Celty goes after him but it was just a bluff. Celty sees Mikado depressed at the park and talks to him. He tells her about the rumours of the Slasher and tension between the Dollars and Yellow Scarves. She will help do research on Slasher. Celty sees Shizuo and the latter thinks of killing Slasher for hurting her when he learns she has fought it once. But she tells him to wait as she needs more info to track it down. She goes to see Izaya and he says it has something to do with a demon sword called Saika which has a soul that can take over humans. Coincidentally, Saika is usually seen on the forms, spamming mainly words “Cut” and “Mother” before leaving abruptly. Shingen threatens Namie (now working as Izaya’s secretary) with a toy gun to enter Izaya’s office. They talk about Izaya’s unique theory on Valhalla and Dullahan, and his higher-ups are interested in Celty after seeing her on TV. He says they want to study the body first before the head. Shingen also knows Izaya’s plan to start a false strife in Tokyo to spur Celty’s head or soul. Nasujima once again seems to ‘harass’ Anri so smooth Kida takes her away after mentioning the name Haruna Niekawa, which leaves him paralyzed and sweating. Kida knows Mikado’s in love with Anri and would stay by the sideline to watch their development. Kida visits Saki in hospital. Shinra says that Saika is a sword that can slice through the soul and Shingen used to it to sever Celty’s soul connected to her head and body to steal it. He didn’t want to bring this up since he felt she had begun to forget looking for it. Celty has mixed feelings and decides to be alone as she rides her bike out. Slasher appears before Anri and prepares to slash her.

Shuji Niekawa, a 3rd rate magazine writer is seeking to write an article on Ikebukuro’s strongest in episode 15. He was that guy who got beaten up by Shizuo when he asked about Kasuka. His interview leads him to Simon, Shiki (Awakusu Group executive), Izaya, Yellow Scarves and even Celty, each mentioning Shizuo as the strongest. Niekawa narrates he lives alone with his estranged daughter when his wife ran away. He returns home but Slasher stabs him. He wakes up in hospital but has no memory of the incident and something took control over him as he makes his way out. On the forums, Saika appears but this time in addition to her usual spam, she spams “Shizuo” and “I love him”. Anri wakes up from a dream about her parents who died 5 years ago and she herself was the lone survivor. That was when Slasher first appeared in the city. Shizuo and Celty are on a stakeout and to let off some steam, Shizuo beats up Horada and co nearby. Anri is having lots on her mind so she wanders in the city late at night. Niekawa is seen stalking her. He corners her at an alley and is ready to slash (that scene in the previous episode). Luckily Kadota and co was passing by and rams into him with their van. But Niekawa stands up like nothing happened. He starts swinging his knife violently and attempts another attack on Anri. Now it’s Celty’s turn to land her bike on him. He gets up again and sees Shizuo. The possessing force spouts out his love for Shizuo so Shizuo rips Kadota’s van’s door and slams it into him.

While Niekawa is knocked out and left there in episode 16, Kadota takes Anri back. Celty brings back the knife and shows it to Shinra and tells him what happened. He concludes Saika wanted to love humanity so much and probably tried to show its affections. Saika is a cursed blade with no body that’s why it uses its owner’s body and keep slashing people again and again to realize her love. But the knife can’t be Saika as there is a label “Made in Japan 2009”. As they check the forums, they realize Saika is trying to give birth by putting her ‘children’ into those people she slashed. But Saika vanished 5 years ago and surfaced only recently. Shinra thinks someone strong held it back. Insane-looking Haruna appears at Anri’s doorstep. She tells of her infinite love for Nasujima but got rejected. She blames Anri stole him from her. Haruna can’t forgive her for liking him and was the one who slashed her dad and is here to finish the job. Anri is shivering in fear. Before she could strike, Nasujima rings the doorbell. Haruna is surprised to see him. Nasujima isn’t and flees. She goes after him and sends her Saika-possessed people to kill Anri. Shizuo goes to Izaya’s office to beat him up but Celty comes between them and shows Shizuo the forums and takes him with her. At the park, they’re surrounded by Saika-possessed people, all wanting to love him. Their reason is because they love his super strength and want to spread their love for humanity. Shizuo laughs it off that he never thought anyone would accept him. The power he hated so much and wanted to rid off, he can use it all now. He says he hates them all and not his type and starts attacking. Haruna corners Nasujima and is going to spread her love when Anri somehow escaped and tells her to stop hurting people with her blade. Haruna mocks her for being a parasite and lectures about using Saika’s power to spread her love. She strikes but Anri uses her hand to block. Anri admits being a parasite and says Haruna’s Saika is a child. She unsheathes the original Saika from her sleeves. Anri (her eyes now red) says she cannot love that’s why she depended on Saika who can love others in her place and that she’s her parasite.

Shizuo continues to beat everyone singlehandedly with his monstrous strength in episode 17. Though he got slashed, he didn’t fall under their control. Celty senses something and before going off, she gives him a pair of shadow gloves. Anri disarms Haruna and then slightly pierces her arm. Peeking into Anri’s past, seemed her dad abused his family over his failed antique business. One day when daddy was strangling Anri, mommy (the Slasher) slashed him dead and then killed herself. Anri took the sword. Anri was able to endure it all because she lack lots of things and lived as a parasite. Without a capacity to love, she could listen to Saika endlessly without being swayed. Anri lets Haruna slash her several times to allow Saika take over her mind and protect her own peace. Saying that Saika is a lonely being that loved humanity, Haruna collapses. This frees all the possessed people. Celty arrives at Anri. Nasujima tries to persuade Anri to come with him but she says she’s just merely repaying him. She thought Slasher was Celty so she attacked her when Celty confronted Nasujima then (that time when Celty got her head slashed off) to save him. Nasujima gets defensive, thinking she’s one of them and flees in fear when Anri says she hates him. Celty takes Haruna back to Shinra. Mikado visits Anri in hospital as she tells him what happened but stops short of admitting them as true. With all the Saika-possessed people under her control, her boring everyday life is back unless that person destroys it. Izaya tells Namie how he setup Nasujima to go to Anri’s place. Further explanation reveals he was in debt and was blackmailing him. He went to see Izaya for help from loan sharks but stole a bag of money Izaya set as bait to threaten and use Haruna to blackmail him. But that’s when he encountered Celty and the real Slasher in the alley. Where’s he now? He’s trying to rob someone. But that someone is Shizuo as he got punched to the sky. While Kadota and co’s van’s door is replaced by an otaku deco, they receive an SMS from Dollars leader (Mikado) seeking info on Slasher. Izaya notes Ikebukuro has 3 factions: The cursed blade, Dollars and Yellow Scarves. The former has infiltrated the latter 2. He thinks the general of Yellow Scarves is still a threat though he’s a kid because he was able to gather a large number of members. He knows who he is. Seems Kida is being persuaded to rejoin Yellow Scarves. Initially he refused but since Anri was injured, he got dragged back into it and will make them pay.

Kida visits Saki in hospital in episode 18. He leaves when he she says no matter how many girls he loves, he’ll love her the most because Izaya said so. Flashback a year ago when Saki was in coma, Kida was mad and Izaya very provoking. He talked about guilt, the past, God, life and that Kida loved her. Further flashback on how Kida and his Yellow Scarves were just a bunch spending their days fighting. Kida met Saki on the streets and also Izaya, supposedly her guardian and she even said Izaya’s some sort of esper because he knows everything and is always right. During conflicts when Kida’s at a loss, she always told him to consult Izaya. He stepped in and settled things but Kida still didn’t trust him and kept his distance. Kida pitied Saki and wanted to free her from him. They started dating as Yellow Scarves frequently battle Blue Squares but the latter always used dirty tricks causing many Yellow Scarves to suffer injuries. Saki told Kida to seek Izaya’s advice and with his info, they turned the tables as Kida began to rely and fear him less while basking in glory. One night he got a call from Blue Squares leader, Izumii. He kidnapped Saki and even broke her leg over the phone! Desperate Kida calls Izaya but the latter ignored and never picked up. Kida rushed out to find her but froze in fear midway. A Blue Squares member was trying to persuade Kadota and co (they were part of that gang then) to take part in the kidnapping. He wasn’t happy and betrayed his gang by doing an ambush to rescue Saki. On his escape, Kadota spotted Kida paralyzed in the streets. Soon Saki woke up in hospital and her testimony has Izumii arrested and weakened Blue Squares disbanded. Kadota met Kida outside the hospital and told him he told Saki he was held by Blue Squares, thus the reason he came late. Kida isn’t happy he lied but Kadota tells him off he’s got 2 choices. Lie and life the rest of his painful life lying to her as a way to make up or say the truth to her face. He adds he can run away from his past but not the present and future. Eventually Kida couldn’t tell her or even break up and soon left Yellow Scarves. Thinking how lonely he was, chatting with Mikado online calmed him down and he invited him to join him at Raira. In present time, Kida is at Yellow Scarves’ HQ when a member spots a girl. He orders them to catch her unharmed. Seems that girl is Anri and she is shocked to learn about Kida.

Anri hides to evade capture in episode 19. Flashback how she was released from hospital early. Kida and Mikado came to pick her up but Anri noticed Kida acting strange ever since he visited her. On the forums, Saika appears but is more polite and apologetic. They talked about Yellow Scarves being more violent these days and a possibility of a gang war at Ikebukuro if nothing is done. Anri decided to investigate and was made known by her ‘children’ (several possessed Yellow Scarves members) that Kida is the head. Not believing it, Anri requested to be taken there and was shocked to discover the truth. As Anri hides, Celty appears. Anri texts her to rescue. Celty swiftly does so and puts a shadow helmet over Anri. Celty’s bike transforms into a headless horse, shocking everyone. Kida and Celty come face to face. When they flee, Anri’s instinct has her use her sword to deflect a pipe aimed at her. Kida came to a conclusion: Slasher is part of Dollars. Mikado unknowingly learns from Izaya via forums about the Yellow Scarves-Blue Squares war. Izaya says in the aftermath Yellow Scarves’ leader got sick of fighting and left. Blue Squares members got absorbed into them. Nobody bothered to check who was from where. He warns him to be careful since there are some people in both Dollars and Yellow Scarves and that Dollars have no rules too. Kida goes to see Kadota and co to talk and indicates he is back.

At the sushi bar in episode 20, Kida wants to know the name of Dollars’ leader but Kadota says he doesn’t know. They talk about Dollars picking a fight not with Yellow Scarves but Blue Squares. Kadota and co remain calm and rational though Kida was a little desperate. They think of forgetting the incident as though Blue Squares was a group that never existed. Kadota would help him if Kida had a firm grip on his gang but he doesn’t since Yellow Scarves changed when he left. When Kida tells about Slasher and headless rider incident, they feel it doesn’t add up since there are events when Dollars beat up Slasher. When they part, Kadota gives him the number of a guy who supposedly knows Dollars’ leader. To Kida’s horror, he is Izaya. No choice, Kida reluctantly goes to see him. Izaya’s usual analytical ranting about love and probably Kida was trying to make up to Anri for what he couldn’t for Saki. Kida is willing to take the plunge so Izaya tells him straight Mikado is Dollars’ head. In the forums, Izaya pokes fire by saying the head of Yellow Scarves and Dollars are going to have a showdown. Kida tells his members not to fight back when provoked but to find proof first. Some of the elder members like Horada aren’t pleased. Next day, word has it that Takiguchi got beaten up by Yellow Scarves and is hospitalized.

Mikado visits badly beaten Takiguchi in episode 21. Takiguchi thinks of quitting Dollars because they aren’t invisible anymore. Mikado reflects on Izaya’s advice to evolve and somehow regrets it. Kida beats up those members who went against his orders. But they still don’t listen as they continue beating up those they suspect as part of Dollars. Gloomy Mikado meets Kadota and they talk. Mikado is unhappy Yellow Scarves are targeting Dollars. Kadota says Dollars haven’t retaliated because their leader hasn’t given them orders. Mikado wonders if Dollars is necessary. There’re board postings that Dollars members are quitting or fed up with their leader’s inaction. Celty discusses with Shinra the conflict (including love triangle) and that Anri doesn’t know Mikado as Dollars’ head. After school, Anri orders her children to take out Yellow Scarves members beating up people. Kida interrogates those Slasher-possessed members about their betrayal but they don’t remember anything. A member says that he noticed the possessed ones started acting weird after meeting a girl that fits Anri’s description. Kida fears the worse. Mikado wanders onto the streets and bumps into Mika and Seiji (that guy is like an expressionless robot?). Mika wonders if anything is wrong with Anri but Mikado is surprised he doesn’t even notice anything strange. Before they part, Seiji knows Mikado likes Anri and tells him not to look away no matter what happens. Never let go because when you love someone, it becomes your responsibility. Disgruntled Yellow Scarves members led by Horada spot Anri in the streets. Mikado logs onto Dollars site after several days of staying away. Though there are many discouraging comments, there are a few encouraging ones to protect Dollars. Mikado is surprised to see a sudden post that a girl befitting Anri’s description has been picked up by Yellow Scarves.

Mikado orders all Dollars members to help Anri in episode 22 as he rushes out to look for her. They (including Simon, Kaztano, lost-and-found foreigner girl and Takiguchi) cooperate and exchange info of Anri’s whereabouts to give those clowns the run around. Horada not to be outwitted, calls his Yellow Scarves for backup. Surprisingly Kida saves Anri from a pair of them. Alone at the alley, Kida hints he know she spied on him. When he raises his voice and gets pushy, she slaps him and runs away. Horada and co finally corner Anri at the playground and suspect her of being part of Dollars. She’s going to unsheathe her sword but Shizuo happened to be there and is not in a good mood. He beats all the goons up and soon after Celty takes Anri home with her. Mikado thanks everyone who helped in the forums. Anri wakes up at Shinra’s place and they allow her to stay here for the time being. Horada acts in ‘missing’ Kida’s place and orders the Yellow Scarves to take out Dollars as they continue their beating spree. Kida ignores it all. On the forums, suddenly Mikado announces that Dollars is going to disappear. Many are upset but the website soon becomes inaccessible. Anri talks to Celty but the latter says Mikado is just like her and has something to hide because they consider each other important. Horada shoots and leaves Shizuo to die and says to blame Kida for all this. Mikado ignores calls from Kida.

Celty goes to see Mikado in episode 23 as he tells her he did the unplugging for everyone’s sake in hopes the war will stop. Kida gets a call from Horada telling him he’s fired as the general. He also says they know Mikado as Dollars’ head. Yellow Scarves are eager to see some action so they plan to get Mikado’s head and Kida’s as well. Bloodied Shizuo sees Shinra (he feels no pain?). While Shinra treats his wounds, Shizuo plans to kill Kida. Celty tells Mikado the truth about Kida and Anri and he is shocked. She tells him to solve his problems as his own and not for the gangs. She receives a call from Shinra saying that Anri has rushed out of their place and Shizuo hunting for Kida. Kida meets Simon in the streets. He advises him to stay away but Kida is apologizes and rushes off. Horada is assuming the role as Yellow Scarves’ leader and tells his grand plans of ruling Tokyo since the big guns like Shizuo are taken out. Then Kida steps in. He is shocked to learn Horada and everyone else here are ex-Blue Squares members. But Kida isn’t afraid even if Horada continues mocking him because he’s no longer part of the gang and just a normal high school kid. Kida isn’t just ready to die but to kill as well. Some of the thugs beat him up till he is bloodied and weak. Before coward Horada could shoot him, a member hits his gun away. Seems he is Slasher-possessed and soon Anri slashes her way in. This is soon followed by Celty and Mikado. The trio are stunned to see each other.

The Yellow Scarves surround them in episode 24. Before they could attack, a voice shouts “Now, betray him!” and suddenly some Yellow Scarves turn on each other. Seems Kadota and Togusa gathered around 30 Dollars members to infiltrate and pretend to be part of Yellow Scarves. Karisawa and Yumasaki had to ‘sit out’ because they ‘stood out’. Otaku power, eh? Kida punches Horada when he learns he was the one responsible for breaking Saki’s leg and 1 of Izumii’s men that escaped arrest. The 3 friends reconcile and made up but Horada escapes. Celty tells Mikado and Anri to take Kida to hospital while she goes after him. Horada is driving down the highway but sees Shizuo before him. He wrecks the car with the lamp post! Though Horada escapes, he is soon arrested by Kuzuhara and his men for pulling up next to him. One of Horada’s men meets Izaya as the latter talks of his plot to kill Shizuo. That guy turns out to be Anri’s child and she has heard the truth. She is going to slice Izaya for all of this. However Izaya is calm and smooth, able to play psychological mind games with her. He says he loves humanity? Except Shizuo of course. I don’t know how true or twisted he meant by that. He soon leaves. When he returns to office, Namie is shock to see a big bruise over his eye. Seems on his way home, he got punched by Simon as he lectures him and converse in Russian. Kida wakes up from a dream whereby Saki told him she knew why he was delayed because Izaya showed and mocked the missed calls from him. Kida and Saki talk. She reveals she let Blue Squares capture her because Izaya said it would end it all. Kida also knows she faked her broken leg so that it would keep him distant. They reconcile and confess their love for each other. Few days later, Kida and Saki vanished together (doing a Seiji-Mika?). Life returns to normal at Ikebukuro and for the characters. Mikado narrates Dollars is the town itself because of the various people and ever changing ways. Thus it’ll continue to exist. On the forums, a new member appears and is hinted to be Kida. Mikado and Anri hang out together (though they aren’t dating) as he believes Kida will return some day.

Erm… It’s over? Just like that? I can’t say that I’m totally satisfied but I’m not disappointed either. What is important that the great gang war has been averted and though it is sad that the trio can’t be together but at least they’ll still be friends. At least over the internet. Such a wonderful invention, don’t you think? Why I’m not satisfied was because I was expecting lots of the characters to make their appearance in the last episode for 1 big chaotic mess. I was hoping to see guys like Simon and even Shinra to play some sort of role but it didn’t turn out anything big. Shizuo was relegated to just stopping Horada and there wasn’t any of his usual big brawl in the end. Same for Celty. I thought she’d take out her shadow scythe and start slashing. Even I thought minor characters like Shingen, Kuzuhara or Tom would have a role. Why did I think so? Well, their names just like all the other main characters appear in the opening credits so I thought they would have some sort of impact. Just for show to throw you off guard?

To sum it up, this series is intriguing the way the build-up to the climax by introducing several characters and their stories in the initial episodes and then slowly how the main characters and most of the rest come together. There were several plots and revelations to keep viewers on their toes and wanting to know more. Probably with the large amount of characters, that’s the reason why many of them didn’t play a part in the end as I expected them to. Mika and Seiji were just good for the first half of the series and didn’t do much after they officially become a couple. Namie was relegated to more than just a secretary after that too. What happened to Rio? Probably she was just a one-off character just to catch viewers off guard. And Shingen? Must have gone back, eh? But the most interesting character of all has got to be Izaya. He’s some sort of an instigator and troublemaker. One with brains and schemes. He’s a character you love to hate because of his smooth talk and his mysterious ability just to know about anything. Is he really human? Does he really like the idea of using people as his pawns? You can tell he is so weird whenever he plays his own version of chess-shogi-othello and at one point burns the whole board and pieces! Though Simon didn’t make much impact, I felt that his happy and peace philosophies are something that everyone should heed. He can become a motivational speaker if he ever retires from his sushi job. Shizuo’s monstrous strength to unearth anything to throw is just so exaggerated. He must’ve taken lots of calcium. No anger management can cure him unless Izaya is dead.

Because of the way it ended, I had a few questions that still puzzles me. Why does Izaya want to keep Celty’s head? And if it was to spur her soul, what good would it bring? What would he achieve? What was Shingen’s return for anyway? There are hundreds of jokes and comments that I could have think up about Celty being headless and the love chemistry between her and Shinra but it’s probably not a good idea to list them here because I don’t want to be cursed by a Dullahan. But it goes to show that sometimes you don’t need a head when all you need is a heart. Like Celty, she came to accept her existence and love. Unlike lots of people out there with heads without brains and hearts without kindness. The drawing and art of the series somehow resembles closely to Yozakura Quartet, especially the characters’ features. Though they are produced by different companies, I’m not sure if the artists who work on them are the same. To forums may not be anything spectacular but it’s different since we get to hear opinions and thoughts of the characters in their online pseudonym. Thanks to the hardcore otaku of Karisawa and Yumasaki, viewers can spot several anime trivia from them whether they are life size posters, manga, trademark anime lines or figurines. But as I noticed most of them are from the series Baccano.

The first opening theme is heavy rock, Uragiri No Yuuyake by Theatre Brook while the second rock theme is Complication by ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D. Both songs are suitable for this anime genre. One of the unique things about the opening credits is that approximately 3/4 of it when the music takes a solo turn, there will be montages and clips of previous episodes and you can probably guess what is going to be the main focus of this episode whether it will be the characters or the plot. Trust Me by Yuuya Matsushita has R&B flavour for the first ending theme but I find the rock piece of the second ending theme, Butterfly by ON/OFF to be somewhat strange. I’d prefer if they just stick to the first one. Some of the background music are plain weird. Well, there’s one that sound like a cherubic tune, another like a circus carnival and one a cacophony like as though you’re tuning a guitar string but unsuccessful. For the mid-intermission, they are katakana words of “Durararararararararararara!!” in different arrangements across the screen. What the heck does that word mean anyway?

You know the saying, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies close” and “It’s just right under your nose”? I’m sure Mikado, Anri and Kida found that out the hard way till the inevitable came. Who would figure out that 3 close high school kids are the leaders behind the few powerful gangs in town. I’m not part of any gangs (heck, not even any clubs or societies – but if there was one for otakus anonymous or 2D harem maybe I’d consider) so if there is going to be a big gang war coming to my town, my first reaction would be to run away as far as possible. And if I see a bike-riding Dullahan? Run away faster!


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