If escalating chaos was this show’s goal, it delivered in spades for both the present and future.
First off, I regret not writing about this show more often. I blame my lack of progress on Bloodborne and Skyrim, but it’s made writing this post extremely difficult because too much happens in these episodes to contain in one post. Unlike the first 4 episodes that rushed through loosely connected stories, this expands on ep 5 and 6 to create one overarching plot reminiscent of the original show. It’s a convoluted web of crime that sets the entire city ablaze, ranging from kidnapping and blackmail to assassinations and turf wars, tied together with a whole string of fistfights and chases. More importantly, it’s the type of conflict that forces everyone to become a participant. If they aren’t lighting the first match, they’re moving the firewood to another site or throwing gasoline near something explosive. And since everyone gets involved one way or another, it’s the ones forced out of their comfort zone that change the most.
This is especially noticeable when we compare all the participants. Shizuo, Anri, Celty, Shinra, the Awakusu clan, Kadota’s gang, Rokujou’s gang and several others get dragged into this wave of chaos, but rush in the face of danger to find their own solution to things. Aoba and Izaya take joy in their attempts at maximizing conflict, while Simon and Kida keep a watchful eye on those that get involved. And then there’s those that were totally lost throughout it: Akane, Vorona, and Mikado. All 3 enter this mess under misguided goals, only exit safely by the mercy of others, and come out completely changed by the situation. Akane ends up admiring the person she tried to kill and got over her fear of a crime-ridden family. Vorona learns to never underestimate Ikebukuro once a lifetime of assassination gets defeated in a day. And Mikado’s inability to stop this madness finally convinces him to step out of complacency, taking Aoba’s offer to attacking the very organization he built.
In fact, the primary aspect that separates this arc(and by extension this sequel) from the previous season is that it doesn’t return to status quo. Sure the current battle gets resolved, and everyone involved helps the city grow. But even if inner manipulation and outside interference played a part in this mess, it’s the uncontrollable state of the Dollars that escalated the problem. The lack of leadership in the Dollars was always the subject of debate in this series, but the Yellow Scarves incident showed that with a sympathetic motive and a trusting community, they were strong enough as a group to operate on their own. That doesn’t happen in this case. They are instead sharing the blame of attacking another city without anyone to depend on, which no decent person wants to get involved with. Members begin to see it as too much trouble, and those that stay take a more aggressive stance to their actions. Even when the scum are all punished, every character is aware that the current Dollars is dangerously close to becoming a monster.
So apart from Shizuo announcing his leave from the group, Anri’s power being revealed, Kadota and Rokujou becoming friends, Vorona being subdued, Simon going back to his mafia ties, and Mikado determined to take control of the Dollars, what’s the biggest indicator of change? None other than the untouchable trickster Izaya possibly getting killed in the last minute. Talk about a GENIUS cliffhanger! This is the same guy that survives vending machines flung at his direction on a daily basis, while causing almost every major conflict in the series. So the fact that someone was capable of psychologically cornering him and rendering him powerless means he’s also capable of more chaos. Heck no one even likes him, but his disappearance alone is guaranteed to cause an impact on Ikebukuro. At this point I have no idea what could happen next, and i’m dying to see where it goes.
Yes I sound like a hypocrite when praising this show for what amounted to complaints against Death Parade, but this got announced along with two sequels that are apparently going to finish the original LN run. You can’t really complain about sequel-baiting when a sequel is guaranteed, especially when it promises an ambitious ride to a set ending. I sure can’t! It took a franchise I was lukewarm to and instantly made me a fan; a starving fan to be accurate considering the 2nd installment of this sequel trilogy is a month away.