With Masaomi Kida stepping back into his shoes as the leader of the Yellow Scarves at the end of the previous instalment, it was always clear that he was going to be very much the focus of episode eighteen, and so it proves as we finally get some insight into the inner turmoil of this outwardly bright and breezy character.
This particular story doesn't really dwell on exactly how Kida built up the Yellow Scarves, but it does clearly come from a feeling of inadequacy and loneliness on his part, as he admits that all he wanted was to be appreciated and loved, and running this gang was as close as he could get... Until he met Saki Mikajima that is.
Saki's role in the whole affair is an intriguing one indeed - She appears in front of Masaomi effectively at the behest of Izaya, and once she starts to hang out with him she frequently encourages him to seek Izaya's council despite Kida's reservations about doing so. Is she just a plant as part of some grand plan by Izaya? It seems likely until she confesses to him and the two start dating, while Kida even gets over his unease about associating with Izaya.
As with all good things however, disaster strikes eventually as Saki is kidnapped and badly injured by a rival gang, while Masaomi simply isn't brave enough to do what is required to save her - A state of affairs which is the cause of his initially leaving the Yellow Scarves, but also a deep mental scar in his psyche which has left him trapped between past, present and future, unable to escape what he's done and move on whilst not actually wanting to do so at the same time.
What this leaves us with is a simply fantastic episode of Durarara!!, with what is arguably the most "human" story we've seen yet. Masaomi Kida's emotions are vividly showcased throughout but never in too "cartoonish" a fashion, leaving his inadequacies clearly exposed before his growing self-belief is manipulated by both Saki and Izaya until it slowly gets the better of him, to the point where he simply forgets that he's a mere middle school student and ends up way over the head in his capacity as the Yellow Scarves leader.
This tale is made all the richer by those aforementioned roles of Saki and Izaya - For starters, we know nothing about what connects the two of them, nor do we know how genuine Saki's feelings for Kida either were or are now. Indeed, we don't even really know how Izaya feels about Saki's injuries, although it seems pretty fair to assume he feels no guilt or concern judging by his actions throughout the series so far. In terms of leaving the viewer satisfied yet wanting to know so much more, this is pretty much a master class, even before its ending which will surely set the cat amongst the pigeons in terms of the three "tribes" Izaya is looking to bring to war against one another. The second half of Durarara!! may have been a little sluggish to get moving at times, but now it well and truly has my rapt attention.