Izaya Orihara, the lovable asshole of Durarara and my favourite character in the series, somehow wound up being a surprise role model for me. Apart from his stylish appearance, cool & confident demeanour, and slick moves, what I like about Izaya that makes him stand out from the rest of the cast is his philosophy towards life. His varied interests stem from a desire to spice up his day-to-day life as a way of impeding any boredom.
One of his dominant fascinations is his interest in humans. As a master manipulator and closest thing to an antagonist Durarara has, Izaya is the focal force of the events that occur in Ikebukuro. All of his schemes are acted out in order to sate his appetite for entertainment. He’s not acting out of malice or benevolence, but rather a selfish predilection to serve as his amusement.
Regardless of Izaya’s questionable motives and actions, his speech to Mikado really spoke to me the first time I heard it. And even still echoes an earnest truth which inspires me to “constantly be evolving”. I definitely buy into the perspective of knowing that if you want things to change for you, you yourself must change first in order for your life to be any different. It’s about the power of cause and effect and the relationships between people and the environment. Anyone can do it if they have the awareness and will to manipulate it, as well as a keen understanding of human psychology and the gears of society.
“The only way to truly escape the mundane is for you to constantly be evolving. Whether you choose to aim high, or aim low. Enjoy each day for what it is.”
And while I do agree with that part of his advice, it’s the second half that truly resonates with me “Whether you choose to aim high, or aim low. Enjoy each day for what it is.” Essentially, no matter what you want to do with your life, regardless of what aspirations and tolerances you have between each moments that pass you by, the most important thing is to be content with whatever happens.
You could interpret it a step further and imply he’s suggesting to seize the day and bend the world around you to suit your whims, which wouldn’t be out of character for him, but I think he just wants people to be comfortable with whatever they choose to be. And if you want things to change but aren’t bothering to make the days count you have no one to blame but yourself, because you’re not trying to adapt or change.
Whatever the case may be, Izaya’s words are both powerful and important, and should be heeded by those who are ambitious (but maybe lazy or lack the confidence to chase their goals), as well as those who are unhappy with their lives (instead of believing they can turn things around, choose to wallow in self-pity) and curse the world and others for their predicament.
There’s a scene early on where Izaya and a girl (Miss Magenta) meet up on a rooftop after arranging to “disappear together” through their text conversations. After receiving the girls thanks for saving her, Izaya reveals that he was the one who had her kidnapped in the first place, as well as the the person responsible for her safety in the end. He notes that despite wanting to kill herself, the girl is actually relieved she didn’t die. Izaya did all this because he “wanted to see the expression on [her] face after all that”.
Izaya drags the girl over the ledge and points out that it’s a common place for people to jump, indicating the red stain on the ground below to her. He then remarks that nobody is special and that no one can live their whole life honestly. When Izaya catches her after she slips and almost falls off the ledge, he asks her as she looks down in terror “Shall I let go of you?”. He pulls her up and leaves her with some departing words “I’m not really interested in your personal problems, but how you behave when you’re worrying.” And remarks that her behaviour was boring as he expected, because he knew from the beginning that she didn’t want to die.
From what I interpreted from the scene, Izaya was trying to enlighten the girl of everything tied to her decision, and also make it a point how insignificant humans are after they die. When he leaves her alone at the end, it shows that he has respect for free will and the choices people make (stemming from his fondness for humans) and that he has no business with preventing her from making the choice to live or die.
But what fascinates me most about Izaya’s way of handling things here is that he makes her aware of her behaviour, her contradictions and even the consequences of her actions before allowing her to her own devices. He could’ve simply pushed her if he wanted her dead (which he didn’t), but he kept in contact and strung her along because he was curious what she would do if she was forced to understand her situation.
Izaya is someone who bends the environment to his will, but also someone whose outlook on life gives him the strength, knowledge and awareness to pursue his goals with a passionate vitality that fills his life to the brim. I’m not here to judge his actions in a moral sense or even qualify his success in the show. Rather, I am trying to make it a point that if we applied Izaya’s attitude on life to ourselves there’s a good chance that we can attain more than just peace of mind or comfort in our well-being. We can achieve self-actualization, not just someday, but as many times as feasible as our ability and self-esteem will allow.