Durarara!!, Volume 2 – Manga Review

Review by: Kylee Strutt

Publisher: Yen Press
Author: Ryohgo Narita
Artist: Akiyo Satorigi
Character Design: Suzuhito Yasuda, Masayuki Sato (Cover)
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $11.99 US
Rating: OT (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now

It takes a lot to impress this girl who likes to think that she has seen it all and read it all but along comes that rare gem that has fellow otaku like me sitting up in their seats totally immersed in the story. That’s the effect that the anime version of Durarara!! had on me and – wouldn’t you know it? – now the manga version has me under its spell despite the fact that I already know the story.

In fact, Volume 1 of the manga made an impression on me because Narita-sensei and Satorigi-san’s collaboration compliments the storytelling in the best way possible. They even tip their hat to familiar properties like Darker Than Black and Black Butler just to name a few of the works that inspire them. In the end, the volume was good enough that I certainly did look forward to a second helping. After an enticing beginning, Volume 2 begins with even more surprises.

As I mentioned in my review of the first book, the mysterious Black Rider is actually Celty Sturluson who is one of the most compelling and original characters to come along in a long time. We have come to discover in the last volume that Celty is what legends call a Dullahan (an Irish folkloric entity that inspired the creation of the Headless Horseman that chased Ichabod Crane in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow). As it turned out, Celty has no head but also of the female persuasion. We also find out she is in Japan in search of her severed head.

In fact, it is because she is female that she puts up with the young Doctor named Shinra Kishitani who found her so long ago and whose father ran tests on her. I mean, how often does a man of science has the chance to study a legendary being whose past certainly does coincide with the Celtic legends. Yet, somehow – despite his seemingly dubious nature – Celty makes a discovery about herself that surprises her and it is connected to the young man.

Somewhere else in Ikebukuro, we meet four members of The Dollars including Yumasaki and Karisawa (who Mikado’s friend, Kida, introduced in the Animate store) who concoct comical torture methods (involving manga, no less) to one of the kidnappers from Volume 1. We also meet their young leader, Dota, who helps break the captured kidnapper and gets him to reveal the group responsible for the kidnappings. They come up with one name: Yagiri Pharmaceuticals.

Meanwhile, Anri Sonohara (the cute girl with glasses), becomes class representative and is joined by Mokado Ryuugamine who suddenly volunteers to be the male class rep. While it was evident from the start that he finds the girl attractive, he also discovers the truth about her. Yes, she’s a bright girl but not everyone finds that a very likeable quality. In fact, when he spots her outside of class, Sonohara is being bullied by a group of girls because she became a class rep.

Oh but things get crazy when Izya Orihara steps in to push the timid Mikado into taking action and defend Sonohara. When the young boy doesn’t take action, Orihara terrorizes the bullies in an almost psychotic manner. As I said in my first review, he’s both sinner and saint but there’s more to Orihara than meets the eye when a man in a bartender outfit named Shizuo Heiwajima who has a serious bone to pick with Orihara. In fact, he throws heavy garbage cans at him as if they weighed nothing at all. There’s definitely bad blood between these two.

Escaping with Sonohara, Mikado gets to spend some time with the girl and gets to know her a little better. He also finds out why she had a rather public almost pleading conversation with Seiji Yagiri who was the last to see Sonohara’s stalker friend, Mika Harima. According to Sonohara, Mika isn’t considered missing since she has been receiving letters from her. Little does she know what fate befell her friend who has a long history of falling in love with guys and stalking them. She once, comically enough, snuck into a boy’s apartment to invite herself to a family vacation she heard her crush mention to his friends.

Speaking of Seiji, we find out even more about this rather complex and seemingly disturbed young man and the role his sexy sister plays in his life. Disturbing is exactly the right word to describe Seiji’s sister, Chief Namie Yagiri, whose obsession with her brother is, well, let’s just say it’s abnormal. Things have gotten even more unsavory ever since Namie showed her then very young brother an item her uncle had shown her a most unusual item.

As a matter of fact, Seiji falls in love with said item and this does not sit well with a dementedly jealous sister who takes action that starts a chain reaction of events that lead to an unbelievable finale at the end of this volume. You see, it is Mikado who – having left Sonohara – is drawn in by the sound of the Black Rider’s motorcycle. Instead, he finds a young girl on the run from the Dullahan … a girl with very familiar physical features.

Ok, Narita-sensei, you have not only officially creeped me out but you also made me your biggest fan with just two volumes.

Injecting even more craziness that only this Ikebukuro can supply, Volume 2 of Durarara wastes no time exposing a story that has no shortage of twists and turns that doesn’t fail to provide readers with a puzzle they can’t wait to see revealed. You just have to love a series that features a Herculean bartender, a truly twisted love story and a “living” severed head. Even if you know the story, the manga version is still a delight. If you’re new to this series, however, you are in for a wild ride.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: A
The plot thickens as we continue to discover Celty’s past including her connection to the young doctor named Shinra. Meanwhile, members of The Dollars look into the string of kidnappings and discover who is behind it while the streets of Ikebukuro hosts a crazy conflict between Orihara and a man named Shizuo. As Mikado gets to know his cute classmate named Sonohara better, we witness the twisted nature of the Yagiri siblings.

ART: A-
There are a number of stand-out scenes in this volume as Satorigi-san’s artwork manages to display some crazy moments that make this series so fascinating.

OVERALL: A
The story continues to evolve and take shape in the most intriguing way possible as Volume 2 of the series slowly yet spectacularly tears out the layers as it reveal a tale that can only get even more engrossing. Durarara!! is the kind of series that goes for the surprising twists that will leave the reader on the edge of their seats and this volume is undeniable proof of that.

Review copy provided by Yen Press

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