(Crossposted here! Also, this person seems to have plans to translate it, so check their blog out)
From your friendly neighbourhood informant (spoilers for drrr volume 13)
This turned super long…
As mentioned earlier, it’s the first of an ‘Izaya to, ___’ series based on what would happen if Izaya was free from the shackles of Ikebukuro. Shackles, Narita says, because Izaya (like Vino) is a character that runs wild when he writes, but a certain character keeps him from really doing whatever he likes.
The novel as a whole is closer to Baccano! than Durarara!!. You can see many elements recycled from Baccano!, especially with the setting and the sheer number of characters introduced in such a short span. Nevertheless, some Baccano! fans take issue with Izaya’s pretentious character, so Baccano! fans who dislike Durarara!! may not like this… Similarly the amount of exposition involved (the plot doesn’t show hide or hair in the first third of the book) and the much reduced action element may turn off Durarara!! fans.
Getting through the exposition was rather tedious for me. I personally get the feeling that the book was somewhat rushed; although the typo issue is not a problem, the “recycling” feeling is… quite strong, especially when you compare with Baccano!’s 1700s.
- the cast
- the plot
- Izaya’s condition and character development
Haruto: The boy.
Himari: The girl.
Their backstory is minor in the plot, this part can be skipped. Himari’s father was close friends and business partners with Haruto’s father. When their business succeeded Himari’s father took all of the credit and became the director of the company. Haruto’s father perceived this as a betrayal and hired Izaya to find an opportunity for him to kill the director and take all his money. What Izaya omitted was that the director had taken the reins of the company so he could take the full blame for a huge problem in the company and protect Haruto’s father, who he would then leave the company to. Himari’s father, only learned this after killing Haruto’s father. Afterwards Haruto’s mother fell out with Himari’s mother, and eventually stabbed Himari’s mother with a chopper and tried to kill herself and both the children. She was sent to a mental institute, Himari’s mother was sent to the hospital, and the children were left temporarily parentless. In this volume Izaya uses them as his lackeys. They do not go to school.
Haruto is portrayed as cheerful and innocent. He does not know Izaya’s hand in his father’s death and admires him a lot for “helping” them, and for his power where Haruto is powerless. He wants to become like Izaya even if he has to sacrifice his own humanity (which Izaya obviously would not prefer). It is stated that Haruto is clinging to Izaya to keep himself together.
Himari knows what Izaya did and hates him. She is darker and more cynical than Haruto, but does not speak much.
Sozoro Densuke: The 70-year-old bodyguard with the black-and-white suit. Once the strongest martial artist in Kanto who taught Traugott Geisendorfer (from Vamp!, he founded the franchise of gyms to which Rakuei Gym belongs to), he was in gaol for 10 years for a crime he did not commit. Meanwhile his child’s business got into trouble to the point where even his grandchild(ren) were threatened. Izaya proved his innocence and allowed him to step in to save his family, also catching the actual culprit of the crime. In return, he has a 10-year contract with Izaya. He frequently says he will kill Izaya when it is up.
Adamura Jingoro: The equivalent of Senator Beriam from Baccano!. Ruthless businessman who sees his family as his property. The Adamura family have reigned over Bunokura economically for generations, but their power is limited to Bunokura and they are not well known elsewhere. He is dubbed the ‘Lord’ (of the region).
Adamura Ryuichi: The eldest son, who is brutally murdered at the beginning. A pervert with a prospensity to assault young girls. He is also seen abusing drugs. Although Kiyojima Douma and he got along at one point, they fell out when he assaulted Douma’s younger sister Nana. Douma tried to kill him afterwards.
Adamura Ryuji: The second son. More brawn than brain. Haughty.
Adamura Kazuhisa: The third son, fresh out of high school. Child of a mistress. Grew up not knowing his parentage and fell in love with Nana, and became lovers with her. After Jingoro’s wife and mistress both died he was brought into the family, resulting in a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque situation. Smaller in build than his brothers, he is the obvious underdog.
Niiyama Azami: The maid. Possibly the ‘shadow protagonist’ of this volume. Her younger sister Kasumi was sent to a foster family in Bunokura after their parents died, and was subsequently violently murdered. Her throat was slashed 13 times. Due to corruption it was labelled a suicide. Azami spends the next ten years seeking the truth and revenge, and finally enters the Adamura household as a maid.
Kiyojima Munenori: Old man politician. Dubbed ‘Sensei’.
Kiyojima Douma: The son. 28 years old, he is technically employed at a cleaning agency his father made so he could have a job, but he hardly shows up. Instead he hangs out with the local gang, known as the Oka Rengo. His father constantly has to clean up after him to protect his own reputation, and disdains him.
Kiyojima Nana: The daughter. Star-crossed lovers with Kazuhisa. Final year student in high school. Escapist with unrealistic optimism as opposed to Kazuhisa’s pragmatism.
Kakizawa: The newly posted police supervisor. A career-focused youngster, he only wants an uneventful term so he can be promoted and return to the bureau. To this end he turns a blind eye to corruption and kisses up to Kiyojima when he comes knocking.
Sasazaki: A corrupt police detective who leaks information to gangs in exchange for side cash.
<Futsuku-kai> The local yakuza. A tiny organisation labelled the dog of the Adamuras, they survive by backing the Adamuras in this region and are not related to a larger collective like the Medei. They are so small that without firearms involved the local gang, which includes Kiyojima Douma, could probably take them down.
Udagawa: The young head.
Koshino: Lackey who corresponds with Sasazaki.
Usubara: ‘Adamura’s pet whale’. An enormous man (taller than Simon) with enormous strength. Resident mercenary.
<Oka Rengo> Roughly translated as the Rich Son Alliance. A big gang with a history of more than ten years, including a period as bosozoku.
<Candiru> Detective/hacking agency. Has tens of unregistered, anonymous employees across Japan and possibly overseas. Occasionally employed by Adamura Jingoro. Candiru is a species of carnivorous fish.
Nec: Head of information. The girl on the cover with the goth-loli-punk aesthetic. Her real name is Inari Hisae; due to the alternate pronunciation of Hisae she has the nickname Inarizushi (a kind of sushi). She appears to dislike her real name, however.
Bunokura town, which started off as a mining town, is split between the powers of the Adamura family which owns the mine and supports most of the economy, and Kiyojima, a politician in the region. It is called a cradle of evil, since even the law bows to these powers, with even murders being covered up. After years of standstill things begin to heat up when Adamura sabotages a city renewal project in the region, and Kiyojima restricts the mining business in retaliation. Things come to a head when Adamura Ryuichi is murdered horribly.
Izaya comes in at this point, and begins to connect with the populace. He offers money and information in exchange for even paltry rumours from small fry like the maid Azami and the corrupt detective Sasazaki. Rumours both true and false begin to spread, agitating Adamura and Kiyojima, who only know Orihara Izaya’s name and not if he is affiliated with the other side. Furthermore, due to the bizarre kanji reading of Orihara Izaya, they cannot find any information on him.
Orihara Izaya brings in Kiyojima Douma in a high profile manner, they make an information trade, and Izaya releases Douma after. Adamura Ryuji interprets this as Kiyojima joining hands with Orihara Izaya, and brings in hacking agency Candiru and the yakuza mercenary Usubara; his father stays passive. Izaya calls to mock Candiru and Ryuji.
Meanwhile, Douma has received the information that the mine has in fact been out of resources for a few years now, and Adamura has been importing ores to put up a strong front so neighbouring organisations do not swoop in on the vulnerability. This is a temporary measure until the city renewal goes through. Douma tells his father, who then plans to expose this at an annual gala.
Izaya threatens the maid Azami with information on her.
Izaya offers to help Kazuhisa and Nana elope. They run away from home and are sighted occasionally while they make preparations, but cannot be found for days. Tension hikes.
Before the gala starts, Izaya is attacked by Usubara (since Adamura Ryuji thinks he is on Kiyojima’s side) and Kiyojima’s men (since Kiyojima wants to eliminate a wildcard like him). He tricks them into attacking each other.
The gala starts. Kiyojima Douma receives a message from his sister and tracks it to an old mining tunnel. Azami passes on that location to Ryuji also. The rival sons and some lackeys go to the tunnel only to have it collapse on them in an explosion. Apparently Kazuhisa and Nana are in the tunnel too, but that is blatantly not true. Explosions occur all through the town, particularly in important properties of Kiyojima and Adamura.
Adamura announces that the mine has run dry and will be closing before Kiyojima can expose him.
Azami stabs Kiyojima in the neck in the middle of the gala. The guests flee. Azami whips out dynamite and says she is taking revenge on the whole of Bunokura, even if she dies in the process. Her identity and motive are revealed. It turns out that Adamura Ryuichi assaulted her sister Kasumi and murdered Kasumi when she resisted; the police covered up the incident afterwards and there was no surprise or resistance from the denizens, so she blames Bunokura as a whole. She murdered Ryuichi. Initially she had an accomplice who wanted her to simply threaten Ryuichi into turning himself in, but she lost control and killed him.
Present are Kiyojima, Adamura, Izaya and his bodyguard Sozoro, and Azami. Izaya talks to Azami and says she has tainted her sister’s name. Usubara breaks in to kill Izaya before Azami can choose to detonate the dynamite. Azami and Kiyojima are flung like rag dolls. Sozoro has a showoff with Usubara. Izaya escapes after detonating the ceiling with Azami’s dynamite.
It is revealed that: Adamura contacted Izaya – he knew that the secret of the mine had been exposed and decided to cut losses by admitting it himself and starting over afterwards. Izaya is the actual, unregistered shadow director of Candiru. The police supervisor was posted here from Ikebukuro. Kazuhisa was Azami’s accomplice; Azami helped him fake he and Nana’s deaths in the tunnel, while Izaya offers them new identities. In the end Izaya and his accomplices – Candiru, the police supervisor, Kazuhisa and Nana – watch the sunset burn over Bunokura. Even if this incident does not destroy the city, the oligopoly of Adamura and Kiyojima has ended.
Izaya’s physical condition:
Izaya is capable of activities of daily living. He can walk, but even crossing his legs hurts (he does it anyway), so running or jumping is completely impossible. He explains the events of Volume 13 where he was hit by a scaffold, had his arms broken, and then was stabbed in the abdomen: the inital blow by the scaffold was actually the worst of his injuries and damaged his entire body, but the pain was blocked by his adrenaline and continuing to fight worsened it. But that’s not the problem – the disability in his legs is mostly psychosomatic.
He could regain his ability to walk if he stayed in one place to rehabilitate, but that’s dangerous for a person like him. His upper body remains remarkably strong, though.
His wheelchair is specialised. It can move manually or automatically, and resembles a recliner.
Izaya’s character development:
If anything his Shizuo complex is still there and may even have worsened. When he’s told that Usubara can lift a vending machine he tenses and asks how far Usubara can throw it (he can’t throw it). Afterwards he waves it off as a “personal trauma”. He says he lost to Shizuo because he failed to appreciate the part of the monster that was human and even made friends with another very reliable human (Vorona), who stopped him from becoming a complete monster by killing Izaya.
Izaya seems much braver. He appears to have accepted that he will eventually die, especially with the kind of things he does. He talks about his own weaknesses willingly, and says he wants to know more about humans. He says his previous love, from a distance where he couldn’t be hurt, was impure. There is a symbolic scene where he says he would like to know if it is possible to defeat even an organisation head-on if you attain the pinnacle of human excellence, and has hired Sozoro for this purpose (Izaya wants to reach that pinnacle himself, too); he then says it’s because he can only “fight like this”, pinning the dynamite to the ceiling with a knife and detonating it, causing the ceiling to collapse around them.
The gala is held at the most luxurious hotel in the town. Izaya is staying in a royal suite there because he likes heights. He says he wouldn’t mind setting up a tent on the helipad if he could.
The connecting chapters are interviews of Durarara!! characters (Kishitani Shinra, Shiki, Kadota Kyohei, and Heiwajima Shizuo), who each realise that the fact they’re being asked about Izaya at all must mean he is alive, and advise the interviewer not to get too close to Izaya. Shiki says Izaya is like a child with access to too dangerous things. Kadota says he has a handsome face but no homo, but then he tries to tell us how to get along with Izaya: don’t use him you will suffer, if you want him to be friends with you you have to love him first since he’s surprisingly ethical. Shizuo has two parts; first he refuses to participate. Then he gives in and says Izaya has a tendency to get scarily obsessed once he wants something to the point of risking his own life, and says, so he’s alive after all… if you see him again, tell him, stay out of Ikebukuro, I~za~ya~-ku~n.
Izaya calls Namie to tell her everything afterwards, oh m y g
I think that’s all.