(Apologies for getting this post up a day late. I will try to make sure the final post next week is on time.)
For the second week of this month’s summer reading program, we will discuss the second act of Durarara!! (volume 1) and The Witch’s House: Diary of Ellen. For Durarara, you need to have read chapters 5 through 9 (ending at page 149). Meanwhile for Witch’s House, you need to have read chapters 3 and 4.
If you have read further ahead, please refrain from spoiling anything past the points in the stories mentioned above.
This week a lot of ground was covered, and we got to see things from the point of view of quite a few characters. A chapter for Izaya, one for Namie, another for the Dollars underlings, some scenes for Seiji, and then things go back to Mikado and Celty. The fan favorite Shizuo has also been introduced, so I think all the major players of the series are now accounted for.
This is a twisted, twisted tale. A tale of twisted love.
This is the declaration Durarara started off with, and at this point I think there’s enough established material to begin analyzing what constitutes love in the world of Durarara, and the ways people are affected by their personal understandings of the concept. Shinra is in love with a headless dullahan. Namie is described to have a romantic attraction to her brother, Seiji, who in turn is smitten by a disembodied head. Meanwhile, Mika had taken a stalker-level fascination with Seiji. Are the feelings of these characters genuine? Is it acceptable for them to act on those feelings? To what degree does society dictate what constitutes love between two individuals? Does “love conquer all,” and if so, is that a good thing?
“I can’t help but live here where all the people are! I love people! I just love human beings! I love ’em! Which is why people should love me back.”
Izaya is one of the more curious characters of the Durarara franchise, and I feel that a lot of the story’s themes ultimately tie back to his unusual viewpoint and day-to-day life. Does Izaya actually love human beings as he claims? Do you feel there is an ultimate goal behind his efforts as an information broker? What is the purpose of his “hobby” with those contemplating suicide? And why do you think he has taken an interest in Mikado?
“No, no, no. Let’s make this clear for the benefit of our delinquent friend here–there’s nothing wrong with manga or novels. They cannot speak for themselves, and the blame for a crime always falls upon the silent, you know? …. If there were no manga or novels, we’d base this on a historical play, and if not for that, we’d use some classic old Natsume Soseki novel or something else approved by the Ministry of Education. And what would the politicians say about us then?”
Not really a major point of discussion (though I suppose it could be!), but I just found this whole “Dengeki Bunko light novels as a source for torture methods” sequence to be absolutely hilarious. I like to imagine the author Ryohgo Narita writing the chapter about the Dollars underlings, and wondering if everyone would find it all completely random and off-topic.
The Witch’s House: Diary of Ellen
Chapter three dealt with Ellen’s day-to-day life in the magical and deadly house over the years (over the centuries?), while chapter four finally introduced Viola (who players of the game The Witch’s House will be well-familiar with). I thought it was great to get Viola’s point of view before things wind down to a close.
Any predictions on how this story will conclude? It is probably cheating for someone like me to say anything, having played the game this book acts as a prequel for–but I am still curious to see how things play out in detail for the final chapter.
The concept of immortality is one I find interesting in fantasy fiction. Ellen makes the deal with the black cat in the first place because she does not want to die, but her time in the magical house has caused her to live far longer than an individual is supposed to live for. Why does she feel such reassurance when she is given the bottle of fatal poison?
Have Ellen’s goals remained the same over the years? In what ways have her hopes and dreams shifted over the course of the story? (If they have shifted at all?)
Yes, I was evil. I had killed innocent people, thus evil. I had killed many, thus evil. So I had to be killed…. But in my eyes, you are evil. Because you’re impeding upon my wish. You won’t allow it to come true. Evil, because I kill innocent people? Aren’t you trying to kill me? Then how are you not evil? Hm? God told you so? …What a pain.
This segment stuck out to me as a continuation of some of the points I brought up last week. Is Ellen still sympathetic as a character, despite her life as a mass murderer? Is it better for one person to allow herself to die, for the sake of others to live?
How do you feel Ellen views Viola? Is Viola a friend to Ellen, or is Ellen too far removed from humanity at this point to form such a relationship? And in turn, is Viola a genuine friend to Ellen, or is there merit to all the things the black cat tells her?
As mentioned before, feel free to discuss any point you would like to bring up about either (or both) of these two books. General impressions, predictions for how the stories will play out, some compare/contrast between the two books, or any random observations and things you’d like to analyze are all fair game.