Durarara!! – 18
So this week Masaomi Kida is the narrator again, and as such we get most of his back story – including how he met Izaya and how Saki became ‘Hospital-girl’.
Lets start with Saki – Izaya really did a number on this one didn’t he. The way that Saki worships Izaya is downright scary – what on earth did he do to the girl to achieve this level of obedience? Everything about Saki is designed to appeal to Masaomi, from the way she presents herself to the way she talks. It makes you wonder just how long Izaya had been observing Masaomi before engineering their meeting.
Izaya really is something else, the more we see of him the more fascinating he becomes. Izaya’s foresight and meticulous planning are impressive – he’s been weaving these threads of influence through Ikebukuro for years and his understanding of what makes the other characters tick is really quite frightening. Above all Izaya is ruthless – he may profess to love humans, but what Izaya really loves is watching people squirm for his own amusement – something that was best seen in episode two where he manipulated that girl to the verge of suicide, just for kicks. Once Izaya has had his fun he shows absolutely no hesitation in discarding a person.
This is probably what happened with Saki. Saiki’s entire purpose was as a tool to manipulate Masaomi – I really wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that Izaya arranged for her kidnapping by the Blue Squares, especially since he then rejected Masaomi’s calls. The creation of the tension and escalation of the fights between the Yellow Scarves and Blue Squares all correlates with Izaya’s involvement with Masaomi – once Masaomi started to rely on Izaya the situation gradually got worse until the two gangs effectively self destructed. My guess is that this minor gang war was Izaya’s test run to see how far he could control a situation, but being the careful person he is, Izaya didn’t completely discard his key to controlling Masaomi. Izaya kept up his visits to Saki once it was evident Masaomi’s guilt would keep him tied to her. Izaya probably couldn’t have predicted the exact sequence of events that lead Masaomi to return to the Yellow Scarves, but his careful maintenance of his pawns means he has the resources on hand to handle this.
The symbolism of Izaya’s board game was more or less explained this week too. As suspected it represents Izaya’s careful manipulation of the three groups in Ikebukuro and other key individuals. This week he sets fire to the board and then dumps a stack of playing cards representing key individuals into the flames – the Joker seems to particularly irritate him, which makes me wonder who that card represents. My guess is that it’s either Shingen or Dotachin’s group. Shingen seems a bit more likely since its extremely difficult to gauge what that man is thinking and Izaya doesn’t really have anyway to control him. My other thought was Dotachin’s group since they have clearly shown themselves to be a wildcard in Ikebukuro – they show up in the most unlikely places and seem to be a force unto themselves – their role is not to be underestimated.
It came as a surprise to me that the Otaku Quartet where Blue Squares members originally – they really are not your typical gangsters in the slightest, so the fact they were in a proper gang before becoming members of Dollars is unexpected. I’d really love to know what makes these four tick – Erika and Walker are clearly a touch unbalanced but show great deference to Dotachin making me curious about how they originally met. Walker’s speech when rescuing Saki had this really odd dissonance with his actual actions – setting people on fire (there was a lot of burning going on this week) while talking about becoming a hero with his own harem is not sane behaviour!
Dotachin and his group are very impulsive and hard to pin down – they show up everywhere, often on a whim and only serve their own agenda. Saying that they are also the Dollars members most likely to take action when Mikado puts out requests. As the leader of the little group, Dotachin himself is an interesting character. A contemporary of Shizuo, Izaya and Shinra he’s known these three since highschool, but thus far has rarely interacted with them beyond exchanging casual greetings. However Dotachin clearly has a lot of influence – he commands the absolute obedience of Erika and Walker (and probably holds these two back to some extent) and shows quite a bit of insight and intelligence in his dealing with Masaomi. As Erika said, his speech to Masaomi outside the hospital was pretty damn cool! These four are characters to look out for in the future – their potential to chuck a spanner in Izaya’s carefully laid plans is pretty big!
Now coming back to the other big event this episode – Anri discovering Masaomi’s involvement in the Yellow Scarves. I definitely wasnt expecting that to happen so quickly. Anri shows a lot of insight in this episode – she notices that Masaomi is acting strangely where Mikado, supposedly Masaomi’s best friend, doesnt. It was unexpected that Anri be the one to find flaws in Masaomi’s mask since she has expressed a lot of difficulty in understanding emotions – still I’m glad that at least one side of this triangle is starting to remove the blinkers.
The major problem with our central trio being the leaders of the big groups in Ikebukuro and each trying to eliminate the other to protect their friendship, is that if they’d take a step back and talk to each other the whole setup collapses. Leading a double life is damned hard and Masaomi is the first to show cracks in the mask which Anri picks up with ease. Mikado in his position as the Dollar’s leader doesn’t really have to do much since he’s completely anonymous and has been acting his role out since he first arrived in Ikebukuro, and all Anri really has to do is hold Saika in check which is something she’s been doing for years. So it really makes sense that Masaomi’s mask as the General of the Yellow Scarves is the first to go, as his role requires him to be a physical presence in the gang. But still I wonder how this is going to go down, Anri can’t really come out and explain that she’s the mother of the Slashers – it barely makes any sense to us who’ve had it explained to us over the past few episodes, so I doubt Masaomi would believe her! Mikado has shown an extreme reluctance to let anyone know his alternate identity so I really can’t imagine him coming out with ‘hey guys I created the Dollars!’ anytime soon.
The other thing that came to light is the overlap of the three groups in Ikebukuro – members of the Yellow Scarves are indeed also members of Dollars, and we know that there are also Yellow Scarves and Dollars members counted among the Slashers. It would also make sense if there was a very small number that were members of all three groups – behold my epic paint skills to demonstrate!
The overlap is inevitable when dealing with a small population, but the feeding of information between the Dollars and Yellow Scarves is where there could be issues. The Dollars are such a fuzzy organisation that there isn’t really any meaningful information to pass on, and the Yellow Scarves seem to be a bit too loyal to Kida to casually pass information in the Dollars chatroom. The Slashers aren’t really much of a problem while Anri isn’t acting on her parental rights – the Saika-children will remain dormant until she gives them the order to act, but we’re still unsure what kind of control she will have over the Slashers since her original Saika acts in a complete different manner to Haruna’s Daughter blade.
Anyway the next episode preview shows lots of shocked faces and a troubled looking Mikado, so the fallout of Anri’s discovery of Masaomi’s gang involvement is sure to be interesting. Oddly it seems that motorbike cop is narrating next week – an unusual choice!