A Standing Ovation w/ Izaya Thoughts
Finally got my copy of the latest addition to the Izaya spin-off series 臨也と喝采を (Izaya to kassai wo). Compared to what most people have been talking about (which is rather few in comparison to the last installment), I thought there was a ton of content to analyze. Mind you, I read through this rather fast, so I still have to re-read it to really absorb all the details, and I am just writing from what I remember and took notes of. In terms of plot, I would not say it was anything new, but what I give the book praise for was how it was done. What made the whole book to me was the style of how it was told and the characters.
So let’s get the main observations that most people have already mentioned before out of the way before getting into new territory.
1. Izaya is left-handed.
Yes, this is something that has been already established, but it was never really a detail explicitly noticeable. Right in the first chapter, Izaya and Sozoro have a conversation about baseball and Sozoro brings up that Izaya is left-handed. It is also brought up again in the later chapters. So for those that missed the detail, now you know.
2. Izaya knows nothing of baseball.
I myself do not have a particular interest for sports, so I am also at a loss of what point Sozoro was trying to make exactly (yeah, I am ignorant too). He brings up something about how a right-handed person would stand in the batter’s box in relation to the pitcher. Confused, Izaya thinks and makes a motion as if he was holding an imaginary bat. “Oh, isn’t Izaya-dono left-handed? Do you even know how to hold a bat?” Sozoro goes on to explain about the stance one takes in the batter’s box. Izaya makes a comment, “Oh, I already know that.” Only for Sozoro to prove Izaya has no idea what he talks about.
I find it hilarious how Izaya pretends to know everything until he is proven otherwise. He would naturally say “hey, I’m only an informant. I can’t know everything.” But when Sozoro teases how Izaya made such a big lie, Izaya immediately starts to have a conversation with Nec (the gothic girl with glasses). While Izaya can admit certain aspects of himself, he still can show embarrassment in his own cute way.
3. Izaya’s Information Gathering/Acting
I guess this is the best way I could describe it with little context. Basically Izaya comes to the stadium because a previous client of his offered tickets for the game as payment for the information Izaya provided. Though naturally, Izaya just came to see the thousands of people gathered in one place and observing them rather than the game itself. So it is just coincidence he is there. Nec, who seems to me to just hack into the system because she had nothing better to do, is the reason why Izaya figured out about the murder.
Compared to the last novel where Izaya comes to town knowing pretty much everything, Izaya has no knowledge of the events that led up to this or even why there is a cleaning crew to take care of the body. This is what gets Izaya involved, his intrigue. This is what made this novel so interesting to me. Izaya had no prior knowledge to anything and had to figure it all out as he goes along. There is a point where he is meeting one of the big heads, named Hiura, at the stadium and says a few keywords to suggest that he knows what they are hiding, referring to the object/prized possession as “that” or bringing up information that he could remember that seemed important Nec found in their system only a short time before while behaving as if he knows everything the group has done up to now. The truth is, Izaya really did not. But he makes them think he does, and based on their reactions to his words can he tell if it actually means something or not.
There is another instance after his meeting with Hiura where he actively tries to make them think he was involved with the events of the murder. He made it sound like he was part of some organization and has connections (well, Haruto brings up that Izaya has “police friends”). Basically, when you get down to it, Izaya is just great at acting and reading people.
4. Izaya’s trauma
There’s another trauma incident. The professional killer, Iroha, was with Hiura and Izaya playing as a “servant.” If it was not for Sozoro coming along, she probably would have tried to eliminate Izaya (at this point, the organization thinks Izaya is possibly involved and dangerous). Izaya paid no attention to her at first until she asked him if he wanted anything to drink. She was wearing a bartender outfit.
What got me in this scene was there was not a lot of description of Izaya’s reaction itself. This is because at that moment, we were given Iroha’s thoughts on her next coarse of action. In the last novel, the police guy that was with Izaya noticed his behavior. In this one, Iroha was just thinking about her job and was not focusing on Izaya too much. It was not until Hiura asks about Izaya’s complexion that it is clear Izaya completely blanked out for that moment. “Sorry about that. I had a traumatic experience with a bartender, you see.” And he regains his composure and goes on like nothing happened.
I cannot help but feel like that scene went on for longer than it probably did just because there was little description on Izaya’s reaction. Just the emphasis on the words bartender uniform…And it was just that. It was a girl, who does not look like Shizuo at all, in a bartender uniform. Just the uniform alone caused a reaction.
5. Sozoro’s Entry on Izaya
Like the last novel, this one starts off with someone being interviewed asking about Izaya. Pretty sure it was Kine. I’ll talk about that later (this is a super long entry). But the rest of the “logs” are interviews with the people who are with Izaya: Haruto, Himari, Nec, and Sozoro. These interviews are called “What type of person is Izaya?” Sozoro’s entry brings up something very interesting and new depth to his character.
“If Izaya ever where to fall in love with one human being, something would change….If he ever really fell in love with one person, then he would truly become evil. To obtain that person, he would be fine with destroying the world, killing people, or making a mess of society….We probably should find ourselves fortunate. That such a man as he, a twisted philanthropist, to love the whole human race equally.”
Really paraphrased that last, but that’s really telling. He would be perfectly fine to destroy the world or kill to obtain the person he would love. Who does that sound like? It’s clear Izaya’s personality mainly was influenced after he met Shinra. Izaya has held jealousy for Shinra too. I think this further backs up Shinra’s observation of Izaya distancing himself so he wouldn’t get hurt. While he admired Shinra, he saw the dangers in being like that.
Now this brings something I think is going to be tackled eventually, but I think this is enough for now. I still have to talk about the other characters. We learn a LOT about the other characters. Yeah, Izaya is the main reason we read this spin-off series, but the other characters are quite enjoyable too. I have to explain some of the events that happen in the book and the characters that appear to also explain what I feel like is a “set-up” for a possible, inevitable future event.
Hope this is enough for now. I know a lot of people cannot get access to the book or read Japanese. I am NOT translating the book. You know, legal issues and all that. Not a professional translator too. But I am just super excited with the developments and thought I could share some of my thoughts. If there is anything I can clarify, I will try my best to elaborate. For those that read this massive post, thanks for reading. Hope this was not too jumbled. ありがとうございます。失礼いたします。