Durarara!!SH, Vol. 1

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

It’s been a year and a half since the final volume of Durarara!! dropped in English, and coincidentally that’s also how much time has passed between that book and this sequel. That said, it does not really feel that all THAT much has changed. Some folks have left the city for various reasons, some others have graduated, and we have three new “main characters” to take the place of Mikado, Masaomi and Anri. Of course, “main character” in a Narita work is always a fluid title, and one could argue that this book stars Ikebukuro, in which case nothing has changed. That said, it’s definitely more story than can fit into this book, and the author apologizes for making this a multi-parter right off the bat. There’s a lot of stuff going on. A young man treated as a monster comes to the city to learn how to be human. Another young man is trying his best to be the next Izaya. And a young woman is searching for her missing sisters, both supposedly done away with … by the Headless Rider.

The first three books in the DRRR!! series proper each focused on one of the three high school students, and there’s a sign this sequel may do the same, as Yahiro is definitely the protagonist of this particular book. A young man from Akiba who has spent his life getting attacked and desperately fighting back, to the point where most people consider him to be a complete monster. He hears about Ikebukuro, a place which not only has the Headless Rider but also Shizuo (whose backstory is very similar to Yahiro’s, deliberately so) and decides to go to high school in Tokyo. But finding the Headless Rider is not recommended given the string of disappearances involved with everyone who looks for her. As for Shizuo, well, Yahiro has spent his entire life accidentally beating the crap out of people, so there may be no avoiding it. But who’s gonna win?

As noted, a lot of the “main cast” of the earlier series isn’t here or only shows up later. Shinra and Celty are on a long vacation, Izaya is still AWOL (though he does get a cameo, setting things in motion towards chaos as always), Kadota, Erika and Walker are only mentioned, etc. That said, the new characters blend seamlessly into the cast herd, and there’s so many minor characters in this series that it doesn’t feel like there’s a gaping hole missing. Yahiro is highly likeable in just the sort of way that Mikado never quite managed to be, and Kuon and Himeka also look to have promising, if twisted, stories in the future. It’s clear the city has been in stasis since Izaya left. We see Akane has grown older and is in middle school now, but Shizuo and Tom are still doing the same old thing, as is Simon, as are the Orihara twins and Aoba (he’s still not dating them, mostly as he’s just not into Mairu). Peace is good, but makes for dull storylines. In that sense, I’m grateful to Izaya for siccing Yahiro on the place.

This is a typical DRRR!! multi-parter, in that the cliffhanger ending is fairly mild, but also definitely makes you want to read more. Good news! There are three more books in the series to date. And the next one should be out soon. DRRR!! fans will definitely want to pick this up: it’s like welcoming an old friend back into your life (and then having them destroy your house again).

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