After introducing us to a cornucopia of characters and getting its numerous story-telling plates spinning in a suitably fascinating style over the course of its first two volumes, this third instalment of Durarara's light novel to manga adaptation zooms in to tighten its focus in volume three.
Covering what is effectively the final part of the franchise's first light novel, things come to a head (with every pun intended) for Celty, as the Dullahan's hunt for her missing noggin suddenly bears some surprising fruit as she runs into what seems to be the object of her hunt, albeit attached to someone's body. Before she gets an opportunity to fully verify the facts of what has seemingly just presented itself in front of her, the new owner of this prized head does a runner, assisted in an impromptu fashion by none other than Mikado.
Little does Mikado know that his seemingly benevolent act is about to make him the centre of this story - not only does it drag him into Celty's hunt for her head, but it also makes him the object of attention for some decidedly less savoury and patient types at Yagiri Pharmaceuticals, thanks largely to Namie's unhealthy desire to protect her little brother and his interests at all costs. With Izaya Orihara already interested in Mikado, it seems as if our unassuming protagonist is in real trouble - then again, perhaps this is exactly the kind of situation he's subconsciously been hoping for, and as a result it might just be his time to shine...
Having charmed us with the sheer breadth of its story and the sprawling city it takes place in, it actually feels a little odd to have this tightened focus upon particular events - although the decision to concentrate on one particular facet of the story and its characters is undoubtedly necessary, it certainly makes this volume stand out from the crowd less than its previous instalments. As a result, it also feels like there's less story-telling taking place in the volume - we breezed through reading it in no time at all, even by normal manga reading standards.
In spite of this, there's still no shortage of quality in the story we are served up with in this volume - its twists and turns still entertain and fascinate in equal measure, and the climax to this volume is simply delicious in bringing some its previous disparate elements together (although the surprise factor is decidedly reduced if not removed entirely if you've previously watched the anime adaptation of the series). If you're already drawn into the characters and situations presented by the series (and you'd be hard-pressed not to be, in truth) then this third volume will leave you hungry for more while still doing a decent job of satisfying your immediate need for some Ikebukuro-based satisfaction.
As per previous volumes, Yen Press' presentation of this third instalment of Durarara is excellent, with a striking cover and a solid translation with comprehensive translation notes when required. This volume's artwork is reasonably good for the most part; although arguably a little bland at times without the bustling feel of previous volumes it still gets the job done.
Although it lacks the sparkle of the first two volumes (aside from its cover, which is literally somewhat sparkly!), Durarara still has enough narrative power and sufficiently strong characters to keep on trucking even when it puts its sprawling world to one side to focus its attention more directly on one or two areas of its plot. Sure, it's the weakest instalment of this manga adaptation so far, but it's still the home of a fascinating story in its own right that will keep its fans hooked.
A tighter story-telling focuses loses some of the charm of earlier volumes, but there are still some great storylines brewing and evolving within these pages.