While Izaya fools Mikado into believing he’s a cool guy, Varona breaks into Anri’s apartment for reasons unknown. Luckily, Simon’s there to tell us a bit more about what this girl’s deal is.
Thank the heavens for Shirobako teaching me how and why episodes like this one happen, because this barely animated disaster would’ve made me break down in a fury of sadness and confusion not seen since Toei’s highly-anticipated Sailor Moon reboot turned out to be a perfect argument for never caring about anime ever again. Countless scenes in this episode move by at a rate of around two frames per second, as if studio Shuka simply forgot to do any sort of in-between animation, while certain shots aren’t animated at all, but digitally zoomed in on, leading to some hilariously incompetent enlarged shots straight out of the infamous ‘Meduka Meguca’ thread being flaunted front and center. Whatever happened to make one of most consistently well-animated anime of the decade look like Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties is a complete mystery to me, but I sure as hell hope it’ll be resolved by the time next episode rolls around.
It’s a pity, for in spite of its disastrous artistic quality, this episode did actually have some nice story threads going for it. Varona’s back story is another take on Ryogho Narita’s beloved ‘sympathetic psychopath’ trope, though it remains astonishing how the man goes out of his way to avert the cackling, overdramatic archetype anime could easily do without. It’s explicitly stated that Varona loves the thrill of the kill, but unlike most walnuts wandering the Ikebukero streets, she sees violence as strictly intellectual satisfaction. Last episode already highlighted her obsession with trivia and this episode only further drives down the point that knowledge is the only thing she hopes to gain from her ‘profession’. It reflects in the overly elaborate and far-fetched ways she chooses to take out her targets and the fascination she has with ‘monsters’ like Celty and Saika. This obsession is just one of the many traits she has in common with Ruri, the Hollywood killer, though whether all these new deadpan assassins being introduced is indicative of Narita running out of creative steam or a sign of bigger things to come remains to be seen.
We’re still left in the dark as to why the daughter of a Russian arms dealer ended up in Tokyo trying to kill a random schoolgirl in her unflattering pajamas, but I’m going to guess someone doesn’t want Saika getting in the way of the increasingly complicated war brewing in Ikebukero. Speaking of complicated, Varona’s motives get harder to understand the more time passes. We’ve seen her try to assassinate three entirely different people at this point and whether any of it has anything to do with her father’s ‘business’ and the pile of weapons she, uhm, imported from Russia, is lost on me. Obviously, all the puzzle pieces regarding Varona, Egor and the Russians, Akane, Ruri, Aoba and the Blue Squares and fedora guy and his zebra gang will have to fall into place eventually, though Durarara!! will have to be careful it doesn’t spiral out of control so badly only obsessive archivers like me will still be able to know what’s going on. With Izaya inviting Mikado to take leadership over the Dollars into his own hands in yet another great display of concern trolling, things might finally kick into the next gear next week. Let’s just hope Shuka will cough up the budget required to give the ensuing conflict the visual flair it needs.
- Why is Izaya hanging out at what I assume to be the library at 11:30 at night?
- My heart broke when Celty lost her beloved cat-ear helmet. Luckily, she has a spare, and props to Anri for pointing out she could have just made a helmet out of shadows like she’s done for all of her passengers.
- I’d call Mikado a fool for believing he could actually have some kind of leadership over an anonymous, lawless mob of libertarian Internet trolls, but recent developments on the real Internet have taught me that might not be so hard after all…