All is NOT fair in love.


Durarara!! is a show chockfull of strange, unhealthy, and sometimes downright disturbing relationships. The show just gets stranger and stranger, but today’s focus is on Shinra and Celty. Many find these two to be ever so cute together, but from the moment Shinra appeared on my screen, I was suspicious of him. As with so many other things in Durarara!! I had a feeling something just wasn’t right. However even as more is revealed others seem to view Shinra very differently than me and Hisui.

The thing in Durarara!! that really gets to me is not the strange or broken relationships. It is exactly like Narutkai said, I it find odd that Shinra gets a free pass. While no one would say that Seiji and Mika’s relationship is healthy there is a near universal approval for Shinra and Celty’s relationship. The first is obviously dark, grim, and clearly sickly while the other one has a lighthearted coating which makes people overlook its rotten core. Our purpose there is to examine Shinra’s actions and show that his motives are not as pure as you might first think.

Shinra was suspicious from the beginning because of his occupation as a doctor amidst the strange world of Ikebukuro, it was not a big leap to think he would know where Celty’s head was. How could he justify keeping that information from Celty? Shinra is scared to lose her and expresses it when confronted but is that really an acceptable reason, at first it seems rather understandable. But is it really okay to do whatever you want just because you love someone? He is lying and keeping secrets and he stood purposefully and manipulatively in the way of Celty’s goal. To be fair here, I was very disappointed in Celty’s reaction to his betrayal. Forgiveness is very much a part of love, but I don’t feel that Shinra thinks he has done anything wrong. This is the biggest problem in his selfish actions. Since when is love about disregarding the wants of the other person? Celty is the most important person in his life, he loves her up and down, but I don’t see it as much as love as obsession. Obsession begets possession. It’s as if Seiji is obsessed with Celty’s disembodied head while Shinra is obsessed with the headless body.

Shinra is possessive and dominating but since he does these things with a goofy smile on his face people accept his deeds as gestures of love not acts of control. We find that Shinra has not only been keeping the location of Celty’s head from her but he took part in separating it in the first place. He has done everything in his power from making sure that Celty does not get her head back and with it her memories. He says that he accepts Celty for who she is and that she should make new memories. While this is a noble sentiment his actions betray a darker intent. He constantly tries to block her from getting her memories back. He keeps her under his thumb by making sure she remains who she is now. This control forces one person to stay the same to make the other happy. If Shinra truly cared for Celty he would accept the Celty with her memories as much as the one without her memories.

Sometimes it is just gut feeling but I truly don’t feel we are supposed to see Shinra and Celty’s relationship in a positive light, that is how I understand the story. Maybe this will be further realized in the narrative and others will see what we see. Shinra is a weird guy, and in his awkwardness he becomes quite relatable, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t receive any comeuppance for his actions. While I can’t say how I would personally feel about it, there is still time to redeem Shinra. I also have to admit there could be a reveal for some incredibly good reason for his doing all this. Or an evil plan could be revealed!

People over look the dark nature of Shinra’s actions for two reasons. First he does everything with a cheery demeanor. If he was physically or verbally aggressive with Celty everyone would condemn his actions. But he wisely smiles, and smiles, and is still a villain. It is often the more insidious control we succumb to because it is easier to ignore the signs that it is hurting us. Secondly, you want to like Shinra. The cheerful geek appeals to both male and female anime viewers. Since people relate to him they are more willing to give his actions a positive spin. But when you step away from the character you can see how horrible these decisions are.

11 thoughts on “All is NOT fair in love.

  1. Shinmaru says:

    I’ve been against Shinra x Celty from the start. He’s like a guy who has hit way out of his league and is trying desperately to keep everything smooth and under control. Look at Celty during the time she’s been with Shinra — she’s lost, doesn’t feel completely under control of herself, leans on Shinra maybe a bit too much, etc.

    • reversethieves says:

      I think you have hit the nail on the head. I really like the idea that he is this guy desperate to stay with someone out of his league. It’s an interesting take on his character.

      – Hisui

  2. Eugen R. says:

    I don’t want to admit it because Shinra is very sympathetic and Celty x Shinra is an uberly cute shipping, but it’s most probably not going to work out. Two threads: the fortune-telling cookie that told Shinra that his dream ain’t gonna come true, and how excited Celty talked about Shizuo with the reporter. Adding to that how protective towards Celty Shizuo showed himself, I think they are going to end up together. .__.

    On Shinra’s actions, we can’t know how much he regrets or doesn’t regret them. He could not have helped his father to steal the head from Celty, because we could see he met her the first time on the ship, but keeping it secret from her wasn’t nice at all. On the other hand, what if he made a promise to his father not to tell anyone? That could have explained it. One’s for sure though: wanting to keep someone you love the way they are is egoistical, but normal.

    • reversethieves says:

      Well I myself think that Celty/Shizuo is an awesome pairing but I did not want to push any of that in the article. I want to focus on Shinra is he actions which could be interpreted as very nasty.

      But as you said there is still much to be revealed in Durarara!! All our interpretations could be mistaken as they are just setting us up to beleive that Shinra is doing things for selfish reasons. As Narutaki mentioned me might have some higher purpose we have yet to discover. I doubt this but I cannot say for sure this is not the case.

      – Hisui

  3. Looped says:

    Wasn’t Shinra’s dad the one who cut-off Celty’s head 20 years ago? I doubt Shinra even knew what happened back then he since was only 4. But really, if Shinra was such a bad guy he probably would have taken care for 20 years and just have experimented on her like his father or, sold her off to Nebula or, Yagiri Pharmacy for money.

    Ironically in contrast to what you two have stated Shinra’s rash actions is because he loves her, if didn’t he did he wouldn’t care what would happen to her if her head came back she disappeared. Shinra also has said that she is the only one he trust, but not her head due to both it and Celty’s body being independent and regardless of what Celty wants the head would control her.

    And this point he not keeping anything from her atleast not intentionally. Shinra didn’t even know about the connection to Saika and his father until he researched it recently and was upfront with Celty about it instead of keeping it away.

  4. Sorrow-kun says:

    Yeah, I too am starting to become more and more uncomfortable about the undertones of control in this relationship. Considering the common theme across so many of the relationships, maybe this is the point. Maybe the show wants us to think twice about the relationships it portrays. I guess it’s a case of “wait and see”.

    One question that still remains is, why is Celty so dependent on Shinra? Is this a romance that was borne out of familiarity? Or is there also something else that keeps them together? Maybe I’m underestimating the strength of their relationship, but to me, it doesn’t look like it’d take all that much for Celty to leave Shinra. Shinra seems to realize this (which partly motivates his actions), but for some reason, Celty doesn’t.

  5. Narutaki's Secret Admirer says:

    The ShinraXCelty relationship is a fascinating aspect of the show. I wasn’t really aware of the fans accepting this relationship, especially in a show like this where everything should be especially suspect. When the revelation was made that Shinra knew the location all along, I expected much greater consequences. The way it led to an even deeper relationship between the two is something I saw as suger-coated macabre. Given the material, I think its safe the assume that this was the creator’s intention and not just and awkward forcing of their relationship. While I don’t see how anyone could accept the relationship as perfect, even I _want_ to see things go well, for the reasons you two covered. I really look forward to seeing how this all plays out.

  6. Jaren L says:

    I think it’s unfair for you to set this up as a dichotomy – that *either* Celty and Shinra are adorable whenever they’re within a frame of each other, *or* their relationship is unhealthy and in any realistic context would collapse in on itself.

    Durarara!!, like Baccano! before it, actively thrives on these happy and upbeat depiction of the absurd and macabre; every episode reveals a new life-altering secret that *somebody* is hiding from *somebody else* who ostensibly trusts them. The way that I see it, acknowledging Shinra as a likable and entertaining character in spite of his unsavory motives isn’t at all out-of-place or uncalled-for in a show whose other candidates for protagonist include the mastermind of a cult-reminiscent online gang, an ex-gang leader, a host of psychotic superhumans, et cetera, et cetera.

    The problem I see with your analysis is that you seem to be equating the moral systems of characters the author has written with the proposed morality of the author himself – and, by connection, that fans’ aesthetic appreciation of some element of the show indicate an unconditional approval of that element’s moral soundness.

    I certainly can’t speak for every other fan, but I have no problem reconciling my enjoyment of the Celty/Shinra moments with the moral qualms that – importantly – *both* of them would raise if we were to evaluate these characters as real members of 3D society.

    Celty may not be quite the magnificent bastard that Shinra is, but she’s hardly passive to Shinra’s manipulation – following the big reveal, their romantic scenes take a sudden spike not in spite of but *because* of the fact that all of their posturing and manipulation and misguided expressions of love are out in the open – their romance’s entertainment value doesn’t *obscure* its “rotten core”, it *amplifies* it to a degree of absurdity that manages to fit in the same show as a girl who got plastic surgery to look like a disembodied head, a black Russian shilling for a sushi joint and a Scooby van of otaku with a magnetic attraction to plot-relevant events.

    To draw a parallel, it’s the same sort of warped narration that made Light a likable protagonist in Death Note as he nonchalantly carried out crimes that would make Shinra queasy.

    Maybe I’m just odd, though, because I happen to think Seiji/Mika is adorable too – for, generally, the same reasons.

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