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Durarara!! Vol. #04 Manga Review

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Durarara Volume 4
Durarara Volume 4
If only all manga adaptations based on existing works were like this one.

Creative Staff
Story: Ryohgo Narita
Art: Akiyo Satorigi
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul

What They Say
When Yagiri Pharmaceuticals crosses the line, the true leader of the Dollars steps forward to take command of the vast network of members at his disposal…Though this unobtrusive boy holds a disturbing degree of power in the palm of his hand, Celty is preoccupied by the powers that still control her head…At the end of the day, will her twenty-year search all be for naught? Or has she found something even more precious along the way?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Over the course of this four volume manga adaptation of Durarara, there has been a near seamless shift between the characters Mikado Ryuugamine and Celty, the headless rider. At the beginning it was clear that Mikado was the main character and that there were simply dozens of supporting characters. While we spent some time with a lot of these side characters, the focus was always on Mikado. However, amongst the various plot threads the focus shifted more towards Celty and the search for her missing head. As the series progressed it was no longer clear who exactly the main character was and that all the supporting characters were simply that, supporting. This final volume really brings this focus to a clear conclusion as we learn how and why Mikado created the Dollars and Celty discovers the whereabouts of her head.

With most of the plot threads coming together we are able to get a very good grasp of the world of Durarara and sympathize with the two leads. Up until this point everything just seemed like a series of non-sequiturs used to simply string the readers along without ever making a defined point. While this approach worked terrifically, it always made the series feel meandering yet entertaining. The revelations presented in this volume provide exactly the satisfying ending that the series needed. Mikado is given a lot of character growth that makes him just as interesting to us as he was to Orihara. Orihara’s strange attraction to Mikado finally makes sense as well as his personal outlook and ambitions finally coming to light. Celty, while always being a sympathetic character, finally concludes a portion of her character arc that not only continues the sympathetic streak but makes her feel even more human and normal that we expected her to be. The rest of the cast sits just where they need to be, in the background.

The pacing of this volume is exactly the same as the previous books, just right. With a series that focuses so much on dialogue and character interaction, the panel layouts and construction of the plot works entirely in its favor. It never feels dragged on or rushed during any point in the series and the reveals in this final book come at just the right intervals to provide a leisurely yet purposeful pace. The only downside is that the story, while reaching a conclusion, is obviously nowhere near the end of the story. As revealed in the afterword by original author Ryohgo Narita, this manga adaptation only covers the contents of the first light novel. That actually explains a lot of things. The very deliberate and relaxed pacing that’s able to sift through its characters with easy and absolutely zero confusion, the fact that everything the series needed and wanted to say has been completed, the satisfying ending that feels like a complete work, and even the open ended-ness of the finale that leaves room for more but doesn’t necessarily require more. Honestly, this is how an adaptation should work. Because of its success at creating an interesting, worthwhile adaptation I am fully on board for the sequel series, Saika Arc, coming soon from Yen Press.

In Summary
I never finished watching the anime adaptation of Durarara because things like life tend to happen. So while I cannot directly compare the impact of the two, I can say that this manga adaptation is what manga adaptations should strive to be like. The episodes of the anime I did watch were very fast paced and seemed cluttered with all of the characters and hadn’t totally found its focus by the time I stopped watching. The manga is telling the same story but is much more in control of how it doles out the story without ever feeling static or unnecessary. So, in concluding the series, I can wholeheartedly recommend this adaptation. It gives the same story with a slightly different flavor and puts the focus and emphasis exactly where it needed to in order to create a credible work that stands on its own whether you are previously familiar with the franchise or not. Here’s hoping for more quality adaptations of existing works from Yen Press and less works that suffer from the medium translation just to make a cash grab.

Content Grade: A
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: October 30th, 2012
MSRP: $11.99

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