— 豊永利行INFO (@toyonaga_info) May 20, 2016
Viewers of Durarara!! will know that Shizuo Heiwajima is a badass. The bartender outfit, the muscles, the attitude… He’s the coolest thrower of vending machines in Ikebukuro. So, if one to were, say, try and pose as him for day, you’d think the guy would have to be quite the smooth criminal, right?
Well, not exactly.
The story of Durarara!! revolves around the residents of Ikebukuro and the crazy–sometimes dark–happenings that occur around them. The cast of characters include a Russian man working at a sushi store involved with a crime syndicate, a headless horsewoman whose horse is also a motorcycle, a girl half-possessed by an evil sword, and more. Durarara!!×2 Gaiden!? Episode 19.5: Dufufufu!! is an extra episode that will be included with the final volume of the TV anime’s Blu-rays, but as with the other extra episodes that came before it, Dufufufu!! was screened for a limited time in select movie theaters in Japan.
The premise is fairly simple: in between episodes nineteen and twenty of the Durarara!!×2 television anime, a blonde-haired, pudgy worker at a restaurant–who just happens to wear a bartender uniform and sunglasses–is attacked by thugs in an alleyway. When they hear his name, however, the men who were about to attack him suddenly cower in fear. In this way, the pudgy man–named Shizuo Nobusuma–finds out that he might look similar to the urban legend “Shizuo Heiwajima,” giving him the idea to pose as him for a day and see if he can bully others into giving him what he wants.
— TVアニメ「デュラララ!!×２」 (@drrr_anime) May 19, 2016
This episode’s star, of course, is Fake Shizuo. All throughout the short, he approaches multiple people the real Shizuo knows personally, and tries to intimidate them or get them to give him money. Let me be blunt: Fake Shizuo is annoying. However, the staff of the episode turn annoying into enjoyable by playing with the viewer’s expectations.
Fake Shizuo looks completely different from the real thing, so of course, the viewer is going to think that the other characters will call him out immediately. However, all of the people that come into contact with him have unexpected reactions. For example, when Fake Shizuo extorts the real Shizuo’s biker friend Celty, she gives him money, despite admitting to her boyfriend later that she knew he was a fake. Her reasoning? She gave the money to him out of pity, knowing that the real Shizuo would eventually give him a beating so bad that he’d have to go to the hospital. Even street thugs pity him and his unavoidable fate and give him free drinks. Rather than getting suspicious, the actions of others lead him to believe that people really believe that he is the real thing. This makes his head swell even further, pushing him to cause even more mischief that gets him into even more trouble… and that makes it all the more fun.
— TVアニメ「デュラララ!!×２」 (@drrr_anime) May 2, 2016
As I said earlier, Fake Shizuo is not exactly likable. Although he appears to be a meek, sort of cute pudgy man at the beginning of the episode, he lets power get to his head pretty quickly, and does horrible things like extortion and property damage. He even starts an unprovoked fight with a gangster. However, this leads up to an absolutely satisfying conclusion when he gets his comeuppance.
— TVアニメ「デュラララ!!×２」 (@drrr_anime) June 4, 2016
The main element that makes Fake Shizuo hilarious in my eyes, however, is the casting. The staff at Shuka shocked fans when they announced that Kenjirō Tsuda would be playing the porky, dimwitted imposter. Tsuda is known for his deep, gravelly, sexy voice, making him perfect for such roles as Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! and Mikoto from the K franchise. Heck, the man’s even the official voice for Christian Grey in the Japanese dub of 50 Shades of Grey!
Despite his usual typecasting, Tsuda plays his role perfectly. He uses a comedic nasal voice, and doesn’t hesititate to throw in a few nasty snorts once in a while. While the voice is hilarious and perfectly acted on Tsuda’s part, I have to admit that the character wouldn’t have been nearly as funny without Tsuda’s past repertoire. However, thanks to clever casting and great acting, a character that would usually be annoying becomes a joy to watch.
And that’s a good thing, because while regular characters make appearances, make no mistake that the star of this episode is Fake Shizuo. The interactions he has with the regular lineup of characters lets the audience enjoy their reactions in a strange situation, but the majority of the time, the cameras are on Fake Shizuo and his unfortunate life choices.
If the staff of Dufufufu!! were trying to awaken me to my hidden desire for schadenfreude, they sure succeeded, because I feel absolutely refreshed after seeing that impostor suffer.