Never Change, Ikebukuro: Durarara!! SH Volume 1 Review

Durarara!! is one of my favorite light novels of all time, and like every light novel I have read, I do not have time to reread it no matter how badly I want to. Thankfully, it has had a sequel series, by the name of Durarara!! SH, and Yen Press has finally published it in English. Oh, and for frame of reference, the afterword of this volume dates its Japanese release while the anime of the vanilla series was still airing. Sometimes, it takes a REALLY long time for us ‘Mericans to get stuff!

In Durarara!! SH, a new face arrives at Ikebukuro: Yahiro Mizuchi. He is so overcome by fear, that he resorts to violence to avoid it. Living a life of being called a monster by peers, he hopes that the real monsters of Ikebukuro will welcome him with open arms. Meanwhile, another newbie named Kuon Kotonami transfers in hopes of finding Best Girl Celty for some (probably) ulterior motive.

Holy crap, I missed this portrayal of  Ikebukuro! As soon as I started it, I recognized that same Narita touch; the nonchalant, yet melodramatic writing that made the original Durarara!! feel so ding-dang good. It also wouldn’t be Durarara!!-ish without the interlude chapters containing Internet articles and message board conversations, and SH thankfully brings those back as well.

The premise here is that there are a number of disappearances (typical Ikebukuro). These missing persons all have one thing in common: finding the Headless Rider. The catch, however, is that our Best Girl has not been accounted for since the end of the original series. Ooooooh mystery! Yahiro, of course, ends up getting wrapped up in all this nonsense.

My biggest worry was with the new cast of characters. It’s easy to have nostalgia for the original peeps, and think less of the new ones. Fortunately, an unlikeable character just doesn’t seem to be possible in Durarara!! Er, well, at least for me, who tends to fall for weirdos (which I understand I’m the minority in). Yahiro is a very interesting basket case, for starters. His unique cowardice is definitely a level of emo that I don’t recall ever seeing before. And even if I had seen someone like that before, the fact that nobody comes to mind must mean that they were a sack of crap.

Kuon also shows potential. Very early on, he’s established as the main antagonist, who has some very conniving plan that involves Celty in some way. He’s incredibly similar to Izaya in terms of his role, but he’s actually the exact opposite. Unlike Izaya with his love for humanity, Kuon hates humanity. I don’t like saying that I enjoy a character because I personally relate to them, but man… I really felt him in one scene where he’s looking on message boards and being all like “It’s all the same stuff on there…” Seriously, that’s any online community (excluding WordPress) in a nutshell!

The female lead, Himeka Tatsugami, is the weakest newcomer thus far. Her siblings were involved in the string of disappearances, and thus she’s the one who’s all like “Don’t do the plot-relevant thing” and is ignored. At least she’s pretty?

Since it’s only been one and a half years, a lot of the original cast is actually still present. As someone who loved them dearly, I was perfectly okay with them reusing assets. And here’s an example of how awesome they are: this was my first Durarara!! experience since I posted my full review of the original series. I had not reread it since then, yet I recognized almost everyone who was reintroduced immediately, without Narita even having to write their names. That’s good writing.

~~~~~

Verdict: 8.5/10

I was worried, but it looks like Durarara!! SH does not suffer the sequel curse. I’m already hyped to be back in Ikebukuro with old and new faces alike. It’s a no-brainer that I would recommend this to series fans.

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