Durarara!!, Vol. 2

By Ryohgo Narita, Suzuhito Yasuda, and Akiyo Satorigi. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialization ongoing in the magazine GFantasy. Released in North America by Yen Press.

In this second volume of Durarara!!, I was reminded once more of how mentally unbalanced the entire cast is. In Volume one we had Izaya and his ‘I will pretend to murder wannabe suicidal teens’ schtick, but here we manage to get our cover boy Shizuo, who seems to have a bit of a rage problem; Erika and Walker, who turn out to not just be crazy otaku but *really* crazy otaku; and the creepy incestual text (to call it subtext would be wrong; the bathing sequence speaks for itself) between Namie and Seiji. It’s enough so that when you see the supposedly three normal teenagers in the cast, your first reaction is to say “I wonder how warped we’ll find they really are?” rather than assuming they’re there as relief.

I’m also impressed with the way this series handles metatext. The characters aren’t necessarily aware that there is a fourth wall – there’s no talking to the reader or anything – but you can see the artist and writer playing around a bit with the medium. Walker’s monologue about how he and Erika are simply insane naturally, and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with all the anime and manga they consume, is a clever stab at Japanese moral guardians (even as the scene itself can be deeply disturbing – if you dislike implied eye torture, you may want to be warmed, even though it doesn’t actually happen). Likewise, Anri’s description of Mika’s past activities are done as a cute 4-koma, helping to show the dissonance between Mika’s looks and personality and her creepy stalker reality.

Celty gets the first chapter to herself, but otherwise takes a back seat until the cliffhanger. The main plotlines we seem to be following now are a) Celty and her head, and b) the Dollars gang that everyone seems to either be interested in or a part of. Kadota suspects the gang is Izaya’s doing, and you can certainly see why – it’s exactly the sort of thing he *would* do. But isn’t it a bit too obvious? Then we also have Mikado and the high schoolers, who, while interacting with the others, don’t seem to be getting drawn into their plots just yet, aside from Minako’s continued curiosity about Dollars. I quite liked Mikado during his meal with Anri – we see him reject the blunt, vicious reply he’d like to say, but when Anri shows she’s aware of her own flaws (and her own tendencies to use others), he doesn’t hesitate to be direct. They’re good kids.

Someone once told me that Durarara!! is a superhero comic where there aren’t any actual heroes, only supervillains going about their daily life. The word ‘villain’ might perhaps be a bit too strong, but not by much. These eccentrics are not your wacky moe harem cast, and the cliffhanger, which implies that the missing Mika Harima has been put to a very, very bad use shows us that things may only go downhill from here. Despite all this, however, Durarara!! remains a fun, breezy ride. It’s just a ride filled with sociopaths.

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