I am a fan of Durarara Season 1- rated Excellent. However, in comparison, this was a much weaker entry. It’s almost impossible to separate this from the first season of Durarara (Durarara S1) and evaluate it on its own. One thing to note is that production was much weaker – there were many more animation cheats employed, such as the “chat screen” and the “key animation only” scenes.
Purpose: Decent. I wasn’t terribly impressed with the purpose in this anime. The best way to describe the purpose was to split the anime into several arcs, with not all of them working towards the resolution. The first two arcs were really to re-establish the characters from Durarara S1 and then lay some groundwork for future events not covered in x2 Sho. Thus, the actual trajectory of the story was relatively short and made some digressions that didn’t really have anything to do with anything at this point. Now, I haven’t actually read the manga, but my impression is that what seems to have happened here was that this season followed the manga very closely instead of abridging it like Durarara S1. Unfortunately, the kind of purpose that works in manga doesn’t usually translate well into anime. Even at the point of resolution, we were left with the sense that x2 Sho was merely a bridge for other things, yet to come.
Characters: Good. The characters that carried over from Durarara S1 were competently done. Their characters were maintained in a faithful manner, but little was done to grow them. It was fun to see them interact and play off each other, but they remained relatively unchanged. As Zenko , my other half puts it, “It’s like an official fan-fiction with the continued adventures of our heroes as they were when we last saw them.” Basically, for everything that involved the Durarara S1 characters, it was like an OVA.
A bit of a problem area involved all the new characters, bringing the total “named” character count to 32 (If I remember correctly). Since there were so many, they were able to do small bits of character development, but not really enough to make the characters terribly deep. That said, they did manage to develop key quirks and oddness in those characters so that they (generally) weren’t out of place in the Durarara world. Unfortunately, they seemed to introduce and develop some characters that didn’t really have a place in the ultimate resolution.
World: Weak. This stems from the problem of adding so many “named” characters. The world itself made little progress or development since the characters were all directly moving the story in some way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case, it came at the expense of the world. For comparison, Durarara S1 managed to expand the world (at least to Ikebukuro) and give it a sense of life on its own. In S1, the characters seemed to have their own place in the world. In x2, however, the characters were the world. In sum, the world became somewhat of an invisible backdrop that really didn’t exist.
Plot: Very Good. The hallmark Durarara is the use of several intersecting plot points, which they definitely continued to do here. Generally, each character had a set of plot points that were gradually illuminating the overall plot, kind of like a photo-mosaic.
Storytelling: Excellent. The way they managed to tie the plot points together into the mosaic was strong. They would focus on individual stories, going back and forth through time enough to make sense of a different side of a certain event or why a character walks into a particular situation. They would tie them together in time though the use of some keystone event. In addition, when they “zoomed in” and told very character-specific stories, they did a really great job.
Pace: Decent. There’s not terribly much to expound upon here. It did pick up later, although it was never really slow. The way the stories were structured, they didn’t have too far to go. So what ended up happening was that the pacing didn’t really help or hurt anything. It was enough to get the job done, but slow enough that it didn’t seem to do it in a particularly tight or efficient manner.