The Delight that is the “Durarara!!” Light Novels
For those who have read my post about my top ten favourite anime series, you would know that my second favourite anime is Durarara!!. I really love the show, but I love the light novels even more. The second volume of the novel was recently released in English and I, along with several of my friends, were excited. This delightful light novel is so much better than the anime. I have read them in Japanese and was a bit concerned about how it would translate into English since it took over ten years to be brought to the States. That’s right. Over ten years! The first light novel was published in Japan on 25 April 2004. The English translation came out earlier this year just before my birthday on 21 July, 2015. The second light novel, published on 10 March 2005 in Japan, was released in English on 17 November 2015. In Japan, the third and fourth books were released on 10 August 2006 and 10 March 2008 respectively. I’m seeing a pattern of the books being released on the 10th in Japan. Thankfully, we already have tentative release dates for these two installments her in the states. The third volume has a released date set for 22 March 2016 and 19 July of the same year for volume four.
In the States, Durarara!! is distributed by Yen Press. A fun little thing of note is that these are actually printed in the United States! Don’t believe me? Here is the back cover of the my second volume. Check out the bottom right corner.
They also did a beautiful job at keeping the inside features intact! I mean, look at this. How delightful is that? It is seriously beautiful.
If you have watched the anime, you really need to read the light novel written by series created by Ryohgo Narita. The characters are so much more interesting in the novel than in the anime. Seriously! Shizuo Heiwajima is one of the most loved characters in the whole franchise. Despite having several OVAs in the anime, his shy side and loneliness is only touch upon once in the anime as far as I can remember. In fact, you only really see it in the novels. The first time is in the opening of the sixth chapter of the second volume, page 153 of the American release if you wish to look it up in the book yourself, when it says:
Everything drifted away from the boy.
He only wanted to be loved by someone.
He only wated to love someone.
The shy boydidn’t even have the bravery to control himself.
He was afraid of hurting the one he loved.
So he decided not to love anyone.
Feared, feared and unloved.
Time evolved the boy into a monster.
Oh my gosh! Until I read this, I had forgotten how upsetting Shizuo’s character really is. How depressing! Izaya Orihara is another case where the anime only brushes the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his personality. He is described in the first volume as appearing relatively normal when first met, but he is so good at hiding his cracked and darker side that it only comes off as him being a little quirky. However, he is also described as being attractive enough that it is pretty much is implied that he could use his good looks and acting skills that he could get any information out of anyone he wanted to. Care to get a glimpse of what Suzuhito Yasuda, the illustrator for the light novels, imagined Izaya looks like. That picture over there on the right is it. Kind of awkward if you ask me. The characters of Mikado, Kida, and Anri have so many more details that are added to them that it really is fascinating to see how they develop. In fact, that is my favourite thing about the novels. The characters are so much more complex.
If you are wanting to know where the novels fall in terms of the anime, the first series of the anime only takes up the first three novels. So far, there are thirteen novels that have the standard Durarara!! title with a new set of novels, Durarara!! SH. There is also a story called A Sunset with Orihara Izaya. That brings the franchise up to seventeen light novels! That is a lot of books for just one franchise. There is also a manga series to go along with that and I will save that info for another time. The franchise is huge and incredibly underrated. Some of you may be more familiar with Narita’s other big work called Baccano! and would be interested to know that at points, the two franchises actually end up bleeding together in the same way that some of Stephen King’s works do. It is a bit odd and disorienting at times, but in a good way. The funny thing is, I couldn’t really get interested in Baccano!. I really want to, but I just can’t make myself watch it and the light novels haven’t been made available in the States yet for me to read. I guess I could get them in Japanese and read them that way, but getting them to the States is sort of a hassle since they are hard to find and when I do find them, they are expensive. They may be worth it though! I’m willing to give them a chance when they are released in English because I wasn’t disappointed in the English version of Durarara!! and Yen Press is going to be publishing and distributing the English version of Baccano! as well. So, if you have been thinking about reading the light novel of Durarara!! or you would like to read a really great story, I would recommend this series wholeheartedly. It isn’t really for kids, but it’s golden for pretty much anyone that is a teen and older.