Durarara!!, Vol. 4

By Ryohgo Narita and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On.

Narita’s books, be it Baccano!, DRRR!!, or what have you, all enjoy being endlessly re-readable. Not only do you get the single-volume habit of various disparate and seemingly unconnected plots all crashing together at the end, which certainly happens here, but you also see this as part of a series whole, as he also teases out future major plot and characters that don’t pay off here but will several books down the line. I’ve called DRRR!! a nerd series, and it’s not just because Erika and Walker talk a lot about anime and manga types (their discussion of whether Celty is a tsundere or not is one of the highlights of the book). It’s because his series cry out for Tumblr analysis and bullet points explaining what’s going on and how it affects things down the road.

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As an example, this volume is very good about taking the metatext and making it textual. In addition to the analysis of Celty’s character and how it applies to a seemingly ‘real life’ person, we meet Izaya’s twin younger sisters, Mairu and Kururi, who are not as loathsome as him but do seem to be just as difficult to stop. They’re polar opposite twins, as per the TV Tropes article, but Izaya helpfully tells us they deliberately engineer this in order to balance each other out, the better to be one person in two bodies (which is what they think they are). This isn’t the sort of exposition you expect to be casually laid out in the book itself. Things get even weirder when, at the end of the volume, Izaya has to meet with an even higher level of manipulator to find out about events he wasn’t around for (most of them, in fact). We don’t learn all that much about him, but what we do get seems to imply that Izaya is literally meeting the book’s omniscient narrator.

This is not to say the book does not function as a normal book as well. There’s a lot going on, as always, but if you pay enough attention it’s easy to follow and have fun (indeed, the narrative helpfully spells out the difficult bits, like the fact that all the money Celty lost ends up returning to her by the end of the volume). There’s car chases and fights, Shizuo throws people across the city and hits them so hard they need reconstructive surgery. We meet Aoba Kuronuma, who is a new high school student who is clearly there to manipulate Mikado for evil ends, but at the same time he himself is thrown off by the higher-levels weirdness of the Orihara Twins. (Speaking of the Twins, those who disliked Namie’s creepy incest subtext in previous books won’t be happy to see Mairu and Kururi making out here – again, they deliberately invoke tropes, even distasteful ones.) My favorite subplot was probably that of Shizuo’s brother, who runs into the cutest serial killer you’ll ever see, and helps her redefine what it means to be a monster.

Speaking of said killer, I mentioned how DRRR’s novels tie into each other and reward re-reading, and the same can be said for “The Naritaverse” as a whole. Nebula, the evil corporation we’ll see in Baccano!, is still the evil corporation 70 years later in DRRR!!. We hear about a couple of thieves who liked to dress in costumes, clearly Isaac and Miria. And while Ruri’s ‘monstrous’ nature is kept deliberately vague, anyone who reads Narita’s unlicensed series Vamp! will have figured it out already. DRRR!! is a nerd series that rewards overanalysis, and also a lot of fun and action packed. It ends with everyone in the cast having food with friends and loved ones, except Izaya, who is alone and unloved. Needless to say, this pisses him off and he will no doubt be far more active in future books. Can’t wait.

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