The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!
Story: Ryohgo Narita
Art: Suzuhito Yasuda
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul
What They Say
Ikebukuro, Tokyo. All kinds of people are showing up to settle their scores with Izaya Orihara the information broker. A pair of foreigners who specialize in odd jobs. A runaway girl still looking for her Shizuo. A fellow dressed like a bartender who looks like he’s had better days. A womanizer set on getting his revenge against the Dollars. An underground doctor waiting for someone to come home. A class representative with a clueless classmate pal and a target on his back. And a headless rider who can’t help getting sucked into trouble. Question is, is this spring break something special, or is this just business as usual in Ikebukuro?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Durarara enters a new story arc in this volume. Izaya is about to unleash an attack on his nemesis, Shizuo, while consequences from the events of volume three catch up with Mikado. This volume has less back-and-forth, nonlinear storytelling than the previous. It takes breaks and asides to fill in the backstory for some new faces. It’s easier to keep track of the timeline but there is plenty left unexplained. It isn’t until the final pages that you get a good idea of just how much of the trouble in this volume was orchestrated by Izaya or a certain other character.
And what a mess Mikado, Anri, and Shizuo find themselves in. Mikado is targeted by a bunch of goons from Saitama who want revenge on the Dollars. Anri is targeted by Russian assassins for completely unknown reasons. Shizuo is targeted by all things, a little girl, who thinks Shizuo is after her family. By the end of this volume Shizuo is the one in perhaps the worst spot, while Mikado might be about to walk into a young psychopath’s trap. Poor Anri is stuck at the mercy of being rescued by Celty, who finds herself once again caught up in situations beyond her control.
It has action, it has quirky characters, it has escalating violence which threatens to undo everything all these characters have worked toward.
Which leads to my real complaint about this volume and the direction these series is slowly heading in. Everyone is special. Every single new character is extraordinary in some way, either through intelligence, superior physical abilities or through sheer luck or circumstance. No one feels like a real, normal human caught up in this insanity. They are either related to crazy or are crazy themselves. It’s starting to feel like an arms race, sometimes literally as in the case of the insane rifle which ends up fired off in traffic in this volume. When the extraordinary becomes the everyday it normalizes and loses that which makes it exciting. If the author doesn’t reign back the spectacle Durarara runs the risk of turning into a parade of circus freaks pulling stunts. All of the clever maneuverings of the first few volumes will have been for naught.
Which also leads to the choice offered to Mikado at the end of this volume. Mikado is interesting because he’s the most grounded character. It’s easy to project the idea that someone just messing around on the internet could accidentally create a monster of an organization. We’ve seen how well meaning people unleash tools which end up being used for nefarious, unintended results. Mikado reflects on a very real sounding situation his website dealt with in the early days of the Dollars. Mikado teeters on the edge of an offer he can’t refuse at the end of this volume, yet he can if he wishes. He has a guardian angel at his back.
Just as things start to heat up in this volume it all comes to a crashing halt. Clocking in at a mere 186 pages this is a thin volume of this series. It’s practically bite-sized, which makes the sudden halt of the action all the more frustrating. It’s certainly not Yen’s fault, although I think they might have been able to talk their parent company into squishing two volumes into one. The production is still very well done. The translation by Stephen Paul reads very well, natural and punchy, and I didn’t notice any typographical mistakes. This volume has the usual fold-out color illustration to open the book and the illustrations throughout. I’m not exactly fond of the illustrator’s take on boobs, Anri’s look quite out-of-control on the cover. The picture of Shizuo sticking out his tongue almost makes me forget the loose take on anatomy.
The latest arc of Durarara ups the stakes for our favorite residents of Ikebukuro. More new faces show up, each more outlandish than the last. From the precocious daughter of a mob boss to the latest Russian assassin and her father, the colorful cast grows and grows. Keeping dibs on everyone, their aliases, and their affiliations are starting to become a full-time job. With each new dangerous arrival, the scope of the attacks occurring in Ikebukuro grows to absurd new heights. It’s only a matter of time before someone loses their life.
Even as far as light novels go, this volume feels anemic. If what the author says is true about it only being a two volume story arc, it would have done better as a single volume.
Content Grade: B –
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A –
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: November 15th, 2016