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Durarara!! Vol. #09 Light Novel Review

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Durarara!! Vol. #09

Who exactly is Izaya Orihara?

Creative Staff
Story: Ryohgo Narita
Art: Suzuhito Yasuda
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul

What They Say
A twisted love for humanity…
Izaya Orihara is used to getting his hands dirty, manipulating others for his so-called “love.” While working with the Awakusu-kai to locate a group distributing drugs, the information broker finds himself trapped in a dark room with a burlap sack over his head. As with all things Izaya, one of several reasons for his current predicament can be traced to his youth. Meanwhile, Shinra opens up to Celty about his time in middle school with Izaya and the boy’s connection to his car. Through all the chaos, does Izaya have everything under control in Ikebukuro?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This volume of Durarara doesn’t just push the narrative forward but serves as a crash course in all things Izaya, the man we love to hate. Actually, I just hate him, and this volume doesn’t go far enough to humanize him to a point where that opinion has changed.

As we enter this volume we find Izaya held hostage by a shady group lead by a shady girl who goes by Earthworm. Immediately a million possibilities run through my mind. Is that really Izaya, or did he trick someone else into taking his place? He was already stabbed once before but maybe he’s finally met his match? How deep does Izaya’s manipulative personality delve, and what makes him tick is what the core of this volume is. I don’t want to get into specifics because it’s fun to watch play out. The story jumps back and forth between the present and the events leading up to the torture session, sometimes all the way back to Shinra and Izaya in school. 

We knew that at once point Shinra was stabbed by Izaya, or at least that’s the story that’s told. And it’s not clear until the very end of the volume what that past has to do with the present. In fact, the interplay with the past and present is at first a confusing

tease. It ends up being a lynchpin to the house of cards that Izaya constructs in this volume, the reason for his entire predicament. I do respect how the author was able to knit everything together by the closing chapter of this volume.

Surrounding the key plot of Izaya and the kidnapping there are only a few other ongoing issues touched upon. Masaomi is back and town and slowly letting his friends know it. Celty is still fretting over Shinra and agrees to work a job for Izaya. Izaya’s sisters are lurking, and being their typical flirty selves. However, the story remains laser-focused on Izaya for a lean, mean, 200 pages of suspense and mystery.

I don’t usually bring up the artwork for this series very often, but this volume is forcing to mention it because of three illustrations. Light novel illustrations tend to focus heavily on fanservice, and in the case of Durarara, that focus often is at the expense of the source material. Case in point, the cover illustration for this volume? It has nothing to do with the story. The pin-up of the sisters in swimwear does reference the story, but a later illustration in this volume of sleazy Ran Izumii lifting Mikage’s shirt? That scene doesn’t occur the way it’s portrayed in the text, or at least in the translation. What’s worse is that Izaya’s sisters are, well, underage. The illustrations have only been getting more questionable and really don’t do justice to the story being told.

In Summary
Izaya, a portrait of a villain. That’s how this volume of Durarara is framed, and despite how deeply it pries into Izaya’s past and the insight it gives us on what makes him tick, he’s still a despicable human being. His claim to love humanity is just another skewed take on his base desire to tinker with the human psyche. He’s yet to meet his match, yet there is a glimmer of loyalty to the weasel. If anything, it paints those that Izaya has been walking among as the most dangerous is Ikebukuro. Plus, we catch a glimpse of the real bad guy operating behind the scenes. It’s a nice change of pace for the series, and a much-needed character profile.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B –
Packaging Grade: B +
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 13 +
Released By: Yen On
Release Date: March 27, 2018
MSRP: $14.00 US / $18.50 CAN

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