I started the anime adaptation back in April, and upon finding out that it was based off a novel series rather than a manga, I decided to try to find some of the novels!
Summary: The Ikebukuro district in Tokyo is full of interesting people. A boy longing for the extraordinary. A hotheaded punk. An airheaded pseudo-stalker. An information broker who works for kicks. An underground doctor who specializes in truly desperate patients. A high school student infatuated with a monster. And a headless rider on a pitch-black motorcycle. Their story may not be a heartwarming one, but as it turns out, even weirdos like these sometimes fall in love.
Story: 4/5: It was a very interesting story, if you can call it that. It’s mainly a character study, and how all of these bizarre characters interact and how their separate stories connect. And let me tell you, they all connect in the strangest of ways.
Writing: 3.5/5: It may just be the translation, but I felt as though the writing needed some work. It felt like it was doing more telling than showing. But I’ve noticed that problem in all the translated Japanese books I’ve read, so it’s probably just translation differences. Anyway, this was also very funny, as the author tended to be very blunt while writing about bizarre happenings.
Characters: 5/5: Everyone was unique in this book, and in the anime. In fact, it’s the characters that truly make both shine. Everyone is so crazy, and that’s what makes it so fun! My two favorite characters would be our protagonist (Celty! The author actually confirmed this, which surprised me), who is a headless fairy known as a Dullahan. I mean, she is one of the most unique characters I’ve ever come across, and she’s really likable and sympathetic. Then there’s my other favorite character, Izaya Orihara. He’s an information broker who is likable in the same way Moriarty from Sherlock is likable; he just is. No matter how many horrible things he does, you like him anyway. I’m dubbing this, “The Moriarty Effect”. The other characters are great too; Mikado, our “window” into the world, Masaomi, his friend, Shinra, a black market Doctor, Shizuo, a man with an insane temper who hates Izaya, and many, many more.
Details: 4/5: The upsides of telling rather than showing tends to be the amount of detail. We get a lot of insight into each character because of this, and so it was very detailed.
World Building: 4/5: The world of supernatural Ikebukuro was so much fun! While I wouldn’t want to live there, I would like to visit…for a day. Then get out as fast as I can! Anyway, it was very vivid and strange and interesting.
- The humor: This was just as funny as the anime! It was very blunt and didn’t sugar coat anything, so everything remained clear. And the lines could be so deadpan that they were hilarious. For example: “Mikado was about to ask what he meant by that when a trash can from a convenience store hit Izaya on the side” (Narita 117). I mean, try and tell me that isn’t funny.
- Clearer than the anime: One of my complaints about the anime is that it can be very confusing. While the book is also confusing, it’s still more clear character wise and does a better job at explaining things. My recommendation would be to watch the anime first, then read the book to help you understand everything.
- The illustrations: Okay, this is shallow, but I really liked the illustrations! They were fun and unique, and most novels don’t have them.
- Relentless: Like the anime, the book hits you at a 100 miles per hour. It’s like the trash can quote in the pros section, it just keeps hitting you. You might need a break every now and then to relax from the insanity.
- Different order than the anime: not a complaint, but my recommendation is either: read the first two light novels before watching the anime, or watch the anime first and then read the first two light novels. It’s very chronologically different, and you will get spoilers for the anime or books if you watch one while reading the other, or vice versa. I know I was.
- Strange ending: Narita was unsure of whether or not he would be able to continue this series while writing the first book. So the ending seems rather conclusive, but also open ended, making the ending feel a little off. It could work for a series or a stand alone.
Rating: 4/5: The first volume in the Durarara!! series was a lot of fun, although I recommend you either watch all of the anime before starting this, or read the first two books before watching the anime to avoid being spoiled while watching or reading both like I was. However, I recommend you read this if you watched the anime and liked it, or if you haven’t seen it but find it interesting.