We live in a diverse world. A world full of different stories and myths. In the US, we’re not necessarily aware of all the different myths and all the different characters in them. That’s why when I see a story with a mythological character that I hadn’t heard of, I get interested and excited.
Even though the US has a pretty decent population that’s Irish or even partially Irish, we are largely ignorant of Irish mythology and history (though history is an entirely different topic all together).
“Durarara!!” has a character that’s a dullahan. Now, I’m not sure if that’s some big secret or not… but there it is. I’m pretty sure that’s not a spoiler.
Now, I’m pretty sure that most people might not know what a dullahan is. And if I’m wrong about that, I’m sorry. I didn’t know what a dullahan was, so I looked it up.
“The Irish dullahan (also Gan Ceann, meaning “without a head” in Irish) is a type of unseelie fairie. It is headless, usually seen riding a black horse and carrying his or her head under one arm. The head’s eyes are massive and constantly dart about like flies, while the mouth is constantly in a hideous grin that touches both sides of the head. The flesh of the head is said to have the color and consistency of moldy cheese. The dullahan’s whip is actually a human corpse’s spine, and the wagons they sometimes use are made of similarly funereal objects (e.g. candles in skulls to light the way, the spokes of the wheels made from thigh bones, the wagon’s covering made from a worm-chewn pall). When the dullahan stops riding, it is where a person is due to die. The dullahan calls out their name, at which point they immediately perish. “ -Wikipedia
It’s interesting that one of the best traditional US Halloween stories uses a character from Irish myth.
Even more rare is when a culture that isn’t exactly flush with Irish (the Japanese) actually use an Irish mythological character. It also gives me a good idea of which myths were disseminated more successfully, namely Norwegian, Egyptian and Greek myths. The fact that they looked into a myth that isn’t entirely close to their culture at all and ran with it is fascinating to me… as is the story for “Durarara!!”. It makes me wish the anime was longer… and has now made me add another title to my already fairly lengthy manga list (some of which I can no longer get as Tokyopop is no longer producing or selling manga in the US, which might be a topic for another day).
Who would have thought that a manga about 3 teenagers in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, Japan would be so fascinating.