By Ryohgo Narita and Suzuhito Yasuda. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks. Released in North America by Yen On.
It can sometimes be difficult to review a light novel that is part of a long-running franchise whose fans have already seen variations on it – anime, manga, etc. In Japan, of course, the light novel came first, and thus the manga and anime give artistic attention to plot twists and character beats that the audience knows about through the book. In North America, it’s usually the opposite – we get the anime first, then an associated manga (though that’s switching around lately), and finally if it’s popular we see the light novels it was based on. And honestly, while I’m sure there will be some casual readers of DRRR!!, the primary audience for this 2nd book are people who already knows what’s happened in it. It’s thus more than a little amusing that the primary twist in this book is Anri’s identity, and the book goes to great lengths to keep it a secret from the reader for as long as possible.
Just as Mikado and Izaya shared the ‘main character’ stage with Celty in the first novel, so Anri and Shizuo do with her here in the 2nd. The two are not dissimilar, though you wouldn’t guess that at first. Due to past parental abuse and then emotional trauma of their death (oh, and being possessed by a katana with a mind of its own), Anri is naturally repressed emotionally, and usually has no idea whether she should be happy, sad, or angry in any given situation. This is why she became best friends with Mika, and later on with Mikado and Masaomi – she sort of leeches onto their emotions and thus feels a semblance of normality. As for Shizuo, he simply has no limited, and has to repress his own naturally strong rage through sheer force of will – something he’s very bad at. The final fight he gets into is very cathartic, as he goes all out in his violent fury but doesn’t kill anyone, as he delightfully crows at the end. Shizuo is probably the most popular character in the series – Izaya is his equal, but has just as many people who hate him. You see why here.
It’s actually almost one year after the events of the first book, which comes as a bit of a surprise. There won’t be as much of a wait between the second and third, though – if the first book teased hints of future plots to come, the second is blatant about it, leading up to a cliffhanger where we finally see what the amassing Yellow Scarves are trying to do, and who they’re trying to pull in to lead them once again. It’s not all that much of a surprise – given that Mikado turned out to be the creator of the Dollars, and Anri (or at least Saika) being responsible for all the slashings, the identity of the leader of the third major force in this triangle is obvious in a literary way. It’s a nice way to bring in new readers to a third book, though, and as for those who’ve already seen the anime, hey, don’t hate on Saki too much, OK?
A good solid book for DRRR!! fans, who will enjoy the extra depth the narrative gives to the characters, particularly Celty, Shizuo, and Anri. And also for anime fans, Erika loves Shizaya, but it makes everyone around her, including Celty, want to throw up when they hear about it. Hee.