Welcome to Ikebukuro, where Tokyo’s wildest characters gather!! Meet an ordinary boy who daydreams about the extraordinary. A naive stalker girl. The strongest man in Ikebukuro. A shut-in doctor with questionable credentials. A hedonistic informant…and the “headless rider” astride a pitch-black motorcycle!? As their paths cross, this eccentric cast weaves a twisted, cracked love story…

Story by Ryohgo Narita; Art by Akiyo Satorigi; Character Design by Suzuhito Yasuda
Publisher: Yen Press
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action/Supernatural/Romance
Price: $12.99
Rating: ★★★½☆

There was a lot of hype for Durarara!!, first when the anime was streamed and then when the manga licensed. This first volume doesn’t evoke a lot of that excitement. It plods along, introducing most of the large ensemble cast, but so far, only one character is of any interest to me.

I wasn’t pulled into all the hype that surrounded this series, and at hearing the manga was licensed, I was at least mildly interested. This volume suffers from the “First Volume doldrums.” With such a large ensemble cast, it takes all of the book to introduce them, and it still can’t get to everyone! The story revolves around Mikado Ryuugamine, who at the invitation from his childhood friend Masaomi Kida, decides to go to High School in Ikebukuro. Mikado is coming from the country and is looking for excitement in the city. Masaomi is looking to pick up girls. As Masaomi shows Mikado around, the other characters are introduced as they run into Mikado, both figuratively or literally.

It’s a different cast of characters, from the unstable and criminal, to otaku, to supernatural entities on motorcycles. while several of the characters received more a more in-depth look after their initial introduction, hardly any of them seemed interesting to me. Mikado is rather bland, and Masaomi is a generic best friend. But I suppose these guys are needed as “normal” so that they more eclectic characters will stand out more. It appears as it might be hard to stand out otherwise in Ikebukuro.

The only character that interested me, and who got the most development, is the Black Rider. This urban legend makes itself known to Mikado right on his first day in town. It is an intriguing spirit, as it interacts with people, working as a messenger, as well as playing vigilante at night. It is a celtic spirit, but has come to Japan in searching of its head, which it lost twenty years ago. One of the things I really liked about the Black Rider is that it could be so expressive with a face. And the cat ears on its helmet is very cute.

I’m still only mildly curious about Durarara!!. If I were to continue following it, it would be for the Black Rider’s story. And I will admit some curiosity about who “The Dollars” are, a mysterious gang that is supposed to be based in Ikebukuro, but that no one has ever seen. The rest of the characters have yet to really engage me. Perhaps another volume or two will change that.

Review copy provided by publisher.

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