There is a statement I will stand by for the remainder of my life and always stash to keep as a reference for later: popularity does not amount to quality, which is why subjectivity exists. just because the majority seem to be in unanimous agreement that something is good, does not mean it actually is good to all. For there will always be at least one disdained with that particular thing who believes it doesn't deserve the popularity it gets or the right to exist whatsoever.
And nowhere is this theory more painfully highlighted than in the case of Durarara!! and one of its most famed characters, Izaya Orihara. I hate Izaya Orihara with almost every fiber in my being, nowhere in any other series have I ever examined a supposed antagonist and been so underwhelmingly saddened by what could have been or what could have replaced him. In a series of ensemble, the only thing that keeps Izaya afloat at all is the supporting cast, and Shizuo, perhaps, who is another one of those characters I would categorize as 'overrated', but at least he has some sort of crisis...
Unimpressive, with an irksome personality that makes me want to break my drywall, a droll backstory, and a design that resembles a weasel on the prowl for small mammalia to pin, Izaya Orihara from the beginning was never someone who truly caught me in any sort of captivation, only a character that existed as safe villainous fodder while the real deviants worked their magic in the darkness of each arc. In a series that was supposed to be dark, he was not light, but he was hardly pitched black. He was at best, dimly lit at all times. Generic.
Morally corrupt in many ways he may be, but in his execution of character, every action of his that's supposed to be nefarious only comes across as irritatingly bland. Izaya simply is not tragic enough in a story that embodies so much of it, mentally ill seemingly without purpose and eternally cheery without even the slightest bit of disruption or event horizon, this consistency and staleness throughout completely soils any potential his character did have, and makes him seem incredibly hateful and disinteresting to boot. None of his arcs were any of my favored, and despite him having some pivitol role, I always thought him to be replaceable. Nasujima, perhaps, would've been a grittier choice, but too offensive for the youngsters to digest.
A textbook example of a safe villain with no exciting past or tragedy, Izaya's supposed 'coolness' may capture the attention of some, but to my sense of taste, is nothing but pretentiousness wrapped up in what happens to be an equally pretentious design that still is somehow astonishingly meh. He never has any climaxes or arcs where he learns anything, he tends to escape unscathed or with minor beatings, until the final act where he's finally dealt some form of karmatic justice, even if it unfortunately does not end his life and existence in its entirety. I for one am not a fan of subtlety, but Izaya's brand of what was supposed to be 'subtlety' to me is projected in such a way that I simply cannot find in my heart the sympathy or the care to want him to win, live, or contribute. The story would be on perhaps better footing with less dragging out of arcs if a more tragic villain swept in to replace the bore, and thirteen volumes wouldn't be as excessive and towards the end, lousily paced as they were, if not for a little diddy with the initials IO.
Simply put, there are much, much better examples of villainy in fiction than Izaya, which is why it's so shocking that he is highly ranked as he is. In almost all senses I undeniably am repulsed or bored by him. He's a dumb broad with some level of luck whose supposed mental illness was improbably brought on by boredom in a nonsensically booooring backstory that explains nothing of value and wastes pages. A yawnfest. Total yawnfest. Nasujima deserved to overtake him, man. He really did.