Durarara!!, Volume 1 – Manga Review

Review by: Kylee Strutt

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

I knew going in that Durarara!! was not going to be your average kind of tale set in a real city. Having seen the anime series and – thanks to my fellow reviewer, Emma Everton – devoured the light novels, I already knew the big reveals and shockers the story had in store yet somehow I found myself still completely absorbed by Volume 1 of the manga version of Durarara!!

In fact, I’d even go as far as saying I had fallen in love with the story all over again thanks to Ryohgo Narita-sensei’s unusual storytelling style (fans of Baccano! know what I’m talking about) and Akiyo Satorigi-san’s enjoyable artwork.

The story introduces us to Mikado Ryuugamine, a young man who has come to Ikebukuro in Tokyo to attend a private high school by the invitation of his closest childhood friend, Masaomi Kida. Very quickly, Mikado finds the truth about the district, including the fact that Ikebukuro Station is considered the second busiest station in Tokyo (really, it barely beats out the Shinjuko Station in my book).

It also happens to be home to the most interesting collection of characters in town, including a number of them that Kida considers should “never be messed with.” On top of that, there are plenty of unsavory groups, one of which is The Dollars who have gained notoriety. And, of course, there’s the mysterious motorcycle rider who has become something of an urban legend around the district. Interestingly enough, Mikado gets a very close look at this figure on his first day in Ikebukuro.

While it’s fun to get to know the shy Mikado and his expressive and comical friend, Kida. Half the fun is getting to know the interesting characters that inhabit the district. Among them is Seiji Yagiri who finds himself trying to shake off a girl who is stalking him until she makes the mistake of following him to his apartment. There’s also Seiji’s sister, who is keeper of her brother’s secret as well as something else. Then there’s an Afro-Russian bruiser who offers a great deal on sushi made by Russians.

One of these other residents is Izaya Orihara who Kida and Mikado run into in the streets. It’s clear that Kida is nervous around this seemingly calm young man and with good reason. You see, when we see Orihara again, he is speaking to two young women who had answered the call of a website that interest those who are interested in taking their own lives. However, there is certainly more to Orihara than meets the eye as we could see from this volume. In his interaction with the two young women it’s hard to tell if he’s something of a saint or a sinister presence.

While Orihara is something of a delightful conundrum, it is the mystery rider who becomes the star of the show. Those who have seen the anime know the secret of Celty Sturluson but for those who don’t, Volume 1 reveals Celty in the most deliciously surprising manner as we discover the connection between the rider and the mythical entity of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Oh yeah, Celty is definitely one of the most original and fascinating characters to be introduced in anime and manga in a long time. Add the fact that Celty is something of a crime-fighting courier who does jobs that include clients like Orihara and you will find yourself drawn to the character. Even more interesting is the young doctor who is not only interested in the supernatural mystery that is Celty but also might actually have a romantic interest as well. Trust me when I say that more of Celty and the young Doctor will keep playing a role in this story.

Narita-sensei knows how to spin a complex yet completely absorbing yarn and Durarara!! is no different. He, once again, fills his story with plenty of intriguing characters and bloody violence. Even the locale is a character as Ikebukuro’s many interesting spots like Sunshine City and the anime and manga fan’s dream mega store, Animate, make appearances. Add Satorigi-san’s art and you have a visually eye-pleasing manga that compliments the anime’s visuals.

A worthy adaptation of a brilliant anime series, the first volume of Durarara!! will not fail to grab you by the throat and not let go until the last page. I liken it the first bite of an exotic dish you always wanted to try only to find that you can’t stop eating it and want seconds. It’s been a long time since a manga version of a story I already know from beginning to end has surprised me. Color me impressed and looking forward to the next volume.

Young Mikado comes to Ikebukuro to join his elementary school chum only to discover that this part of Tokyo is home to some eclectic characters that include a young man who crosses the line between sinner and saint at a whim as well as a mystery courier whose identity might be tied to a recognizable mythological figure.

Akiyo Satorigi-san’s artwork is a delight and beautifully detailed when it comes to the backgrounds and how Ikebukuro is represented. The district is certainly another character in the book and Satorigi-san highlights this fact. The cover artwork is simple yet you can’t help but examine it each time you pick up this volume.

If you’re not familiar with the anime series or even the light novels, Volume 1 of Durarara!! should come as a pleasant surprise for those looking for something on the unusual side. Sure, this first volume can also come off as confusing at times but believe me when I say that part of the enjoyment is how this story slowly unravels before you until you find yourself glad you took this jaunt to this version of Ikebukuro.

Review copy provided by Yen Press

2 thoughts on “Durarara!!, Volume 1 – Manga Review

  1. Pingback: MangaBlog — New Tezuka manga found, JManga finalists announced

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