Keeping with the light tone from last week, this week I’ve got a review of a manga that’s connected to another TV show I reviewed earlier – Durarara. So, how does the interweaving non-linear narratives of the novel the TV show was based on carry over to the manga?

Well, we’ll find out next volume because this volume is pretty much setup.

Title: Durarara!! Volume 1
Written by Ryohgo Narita
Illustrated by Suzahito Yosuda & Akiyo Satorigi
Translated by Stephen Paul
Published by Square Enix (Japan) & Yen Press (USA)
Publication Date: 2012

Available from Amazon.com & RightStuf

The Premise

Taken from the review of the TV series:

Mikado Ryūgamine is a student from rural Japan coming to Tokyo for the first time (and living on his own for the first time) to attend High School, with his old friend Masaomi Kida, in the Ikebukuro district of Tokyo, inhabited by people as Shizuo Heiwajima, a bodyguard who can demonstrate superhuman strength when angered; Simon, an Russian immigrant who is about as strong as Shizuo, but is a pacifist, and who works at a local sushi shop (run by an old friend of Simon’s who is an Russian immigrant); and Celty, aka The Black Rider, a Dullahan from Ireland who came to Japan looking for her missing head.

One minor difference, though, Shizuo is Sir Not Appearing In This Volume, in spite of being on the cover.

High Points

Having watched the show first (as most people picking this up in the US would have), it’s nice seeing the story build when you know where it’s going, particularly when the route appears slightly different, and the pace is a little slower, so you can enjoy the journey better.

Low Points

If you don’t know where everything is going though, the pace of this volume could be kind of frustrating, due to how glacial it is. While this is good if you want to get all of these bizarre personalities nailed down, it causes some problems if you want to hook the reader in early.

By comparison, I re-watched the first episode of the TV show after reading this volume. The first volume does a very good job of running the audience through basically every important character from the show, albeit briefly (with a few exceptions), so you get a chance to see all of them, and at least one important trait. Mikado is the naive audience perspective character. Kida is the more outgoing street-wise one. Simon is the Russia Sushi guy. Shizuo has a short temper and super strength. Izaya is dangerous and probably a sociopath, and so on. This volume doesn’t do this quite as well – and it doesn’t help that Shizuo doesn’t appear at all. (To put this in context, Shizuo is the character from Durarara who I see the most people in cosplay as – which means that if you haven’t seen the show and haven’t seen any reviews, he’s your first exposure, and he’s the character who made you want to know more*.)

Scores

Originality: It’s an adaptation of a light novel series, though like most adaptations, it’s not afraid to make little changes to the source material. 4/6

Story: This volume focuses more on individual vignettes, each tied together through common characters. 4/6

Artwork: The art looks very good, particularly with some of the clearly real-world locations in Ikebukuro. The character designs are also great, with each character being easily recognizable and distinctive. 5/6

Characterization: We get some decent development for Celty and Izaya (or, at least, establishment). 4/6

Emotional Response: As someone who saw the show, it’s interesting meeting these characters again, for the first time. ON the other hand, people new to the series would probably find Celty to be the main character to keep them interested (again, another reason why Shizuo’s absence is noted.) 4/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: A decent start, but one that fails to truly give an idea of what’s to come. 4/6.

In total, Durarara!! Volume 1 gets 31/42.

*Don’t laugh – I’ve seen people check out shows just based on cosplay, and the amount of people cos-playing as a particular character is a good gauge in a show’s popularity.