Durarara!!, Vol. 11

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

If you enjoy scenes where one character tears down the motivations of another character, you’ll love this volume of DRRR!!, because that’s almost all it is. Yes, by the end of the book the plot guns are finally going off (or in some cases blowing up – nice cameo, Vorona), but most of this book is still buildup and dialogue. Izaya confronts Anri about her own nature, how she “uses” Saika, and her aggressive passiveness (yes, Anri can be very aggressive about not doing anything), to the point where she almost has a nervous breakdown. Izaya also confronts Mikado about what he’s trying to do with the Dollars – turns out Mikado is not ready for life entirely on the dark side either, and in order to maintain the excitement he craves, he needs to remain balanced on the edge between safety and danger. And Masaomi is forced, once again, to confront his past and the past of his gang, which looks to resolve itself in a series of beatings.

The cover implies hot Saika-on-Saika-on-Saika action, and to be fair, that is what we get, though the action is somewhat limited. Having been released from her “guard Celty’s head” duty, Haruna is free to try to find her true love, the creepy high school teacher, and also confront Anri, who dared to be loved and rejected by him. Midway through this battle, Kujiragi shows up, seemingly to try to get Anri to “sell” her Saika to her, but in reality we know why she’s really there – she’s angry they scared off the cats. Kujiragi’s stoic love of cat stuff (and later, as we discover, cosplay) is a charm point, but like so many, many others in Narita’s universes, she’s a villain who knows it and is content to be villainous even as she tries to escape. Anri, to be honest, spends most of this confrontation staring in confusion – she’s already mentally exhausted from Izaya tearing her apart, and how she has Kujiragi saying she’s far too nice to be wielding someone like Saika – which is true, but just taking Saika and leaving Anri normal won’t solve her issues. Anri doesn’t even get to go home and have a nice sleep, as Masaomi’s girlfriend is lying in wait outside her apartment.

Anri is the “main character” of this volume, but there’s other things going on, not least of which is Celty’s head being used to set everything in motion. Izaya is delighted and somewhat appalled by this turn of events. Meanwhile, Shizuo is out of prison, but after seeing Vorona stealing the head, he thinks she’s working for Izaya, and finally seems to be snapping. Unlike the anime, Shizuo and Izaya have rarely personally confronted each other in the novels – they just want to never see each other. I suspect, though, that the climax of these books will finally feature what fans want to see. No, not that. What non-BL fans want to see – Izaya getting the shit beaten out of him. As for Celty, she, like Anri, is having trouble coping with everything around her at the moment, and the cliffhanger ending (there’s about four cliffhangers at the end of the book) shows her about to snap as well. Is everyone going to get angry and snap at the start of the next book? And will Erika get Kujiragi to cosplay for her?

Fans may be familiar with these events from the anime, but I still urge them to get the books as well, as the examination of everyone’s psyches works better in prose format than spoken aloud.

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