Durarara!!, Vol. 7

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

Sooner or later in the life of every light novels, you get the volume that consists of short stories, usually because the author is still figuring out where to take the series next. And so it is with DRRR!!, which gives us 4 stories here surrounded by Izaya recuperating from his stab wound he got last time in the hospital, where he runs into a girl that literally everyone has forgotten, including him (and the creators of the anime, who were unhappy to see this, I imagine). The ‘theme’ of these stories seems to be Ikebukuro on holiday, and indeed, Narita has discussed the idea of the city as a character in the volume before. And of course there’s also some setup and moving of chess pieces for future books, most obviously in the story with Shizuo and Tom, which gives them a new co-worker.

First, though, we have to deal with the story nobody wanted. I think if you were to ask Western fans in particular which DRRR!! characters they never want to see or hear from again, the insane triangle of Namie, Seiji and Mika would likely top the list. And what’s worse, Narita has them in your face here, never letting you forget how much Namie wants to screw her little brother, or that Mika is seriously looking to EAT CELTY’S HEAD so that she can get closer to Seiji, or that Seiji… well, no, Seiji continues to be a nonentity. He gets some depth here, of a sort, but his main theme still seems to be “what do these two see in him?”. It’s not the most pointless story in the book, but it is the most disturbing. We then get a look at the backstory and current life of Akabayashi, the yakuza with a sweet cane and missing an eye we’ve seen in the previous book. He deals with the fallout from Akane’s kidnapping, stops some drug dealing on his turf, and escapes an attempt on his life with ease. He’s here to be incredibly cool, and succeeds. He also has a surprising tie to Anri, which is good as the “main” trio of teenagers otherwise make very minor to no appearances in this volume.

The best story in the collection, even if you don’t love her (which I do) is the third one, in which Vorona is cooling her heels at Russian Sushi and wondering what to do with her life now that she’s been beaten and humiliated. The answer? Join Shizuo and Tom in shaking down local deadbeats who rent porn and then never pay for it or other such offenses. Tom is rather startled at how good Vorona is at beating others up, and impressed at her wikipedia brain. Shizuo (who does not recognize her as the woman who kidnapped Akane, as she was wearing her motorcycle helmet) is just happy to be able to mentor someone. And Vorona is watching Shizuo closely, seeing how he manages to be stronger than everything else, and deciding that he’s her “prey”… much to the displeasure of Akane, who has decided that she needs to take out Shizuo as well, despite the fact that she really likes him. (It is implied that getting kidnapped on top of the family revelations kind of broke Akane, but that’s Narita for you.) This story is filled with humor and unnecessary violence, and the book is worth getting for just this one.

We end with a cute, if completely pointless, date between Shinra and Celty, who have gone off to the mountains to get closer but keep getting interrupted by the rest of the cast calling Shinra for one reason or another. This mostly serves to remind us that, eccentric as they are, these two are the least screwed up couple in the series. The book overall is marking time, but it’s still worth reading, provided you don’t mind the author occasionally reminding you that he loves to read horrible people being horrible at each other.

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