Title: Black Bird
Author: Kanoko Sakurakoji
Audience: T+ (Older Teen)
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Drama, Mythology, Fighting
Summary: “”There is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, and she wants nothing to do with magical realms. She just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. All that changes one day when Misao is attacked by a demon. Her childhood friend Kyo suddenly returns to save her and tend to her cuts – with his tongue! It turns out Misao is the bride of prophecy, whose blood gives power to the demon clan who claims her. But most demons want to keep her power for themselves – by eating her! Now Misao is just trying to stay alive – and decide if she likes it when Kyo licks her wounds.”
Rae’s Review: Finally, a straight-forward romance for all you softies out there! Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Get married, buy a house, have kids, the whole 9-yards. H’okay, I’m totally lying. This is a “romance” in the oh-so-popular paranormal trope, but there’s not a lot of “normalcy” to be found. The schtick here is that Misao is an “ordinary” 16-year-old girl whose blood just happens to turbo-charge all the demons around her…so they want to eat her. Enter Kyo (a long-lost childhood friend, another brutally over-used trope in manga) who is now the head of his clan and determined to “claim” Misao (apparently he means to marry her for the power and prestige, but he also licks her bloody boo-boos, so it’s a gray area), no matter what.
So, this is a love it / hate it series. The good – The artwork is stunning. Very evocative and quite gothic. The female characters are more non-descript; Misao really doesn’t have very many expressions. Kinda like this: 🙂 😦 :0 : T_T (we see the crying face A LOT!) The young boys at Kyo’s estate are adorable and I quite love Kyo’s “posse” (mainly because the author’s love of androgyny and ambiguous relationships abounds) The exploration of themes as varied as predetermination, love versus need, and free will are quite interesting.
Where my love-love feelings end has a lot to do with Kyo’s casual cruelness (he calls it teasing) and Misao’s cluelessness / naivete. As a Bella-basher from way-back, I have no qualms calling-out lame female characters. And I know that Misao is *supposed* to be a sweet light foil to Kyo’s brooding darkness, but she’s really kinda dumb. And easily lead. Until she rebels at the worst possible moment and has to be rescued. Ugh.
Also, there is altogther too much “will they, won’t they” surrounding the (sexual) consummation of their relationship. For several volumes there are longing glances, heavy petting, and it almost-but-not-quite-happens several times leaving Kyo cranky and broody and Misao all teary. I will say this particular narrative issue is resolved (quite lenghtily) in vol. 8, which more than earns the T+ rating and is disturbing on many levels (all I’m gonna say about that!), but at least the story can move forward.
Only a slight quibble with the pacing of the story. Popularity = more chapters. So, this story doesn’t go anywhere very quickly. There are lots of side characters that come and go, rather like actors doing cameo roles. I hope that the author has a plan for resolution, but I’m not sure. Her previous story was Backstage Prince, which had similar characters (well, exactly the same, actually, brooding loner guy, stars-in-her-eyes Mary Sue…just no magical powers) but is a charming story very briefly told (only two volumes). I think I would like Black Bird more if it was shorter. Hard to say. I’m still interested in where the story is going, but it has definitely found my squick factor for melodrama and overt (just plain weird) sexual themes. I still think there is room for interpretation (maybe you think his teasing is funny and her tears are manipulative? he’s secretly insecure and she’s using her female wiles?, and have my fingers crossed for a more equal relationship to develop as they go along.
Official Drama CD (gotta love those!) Website (in Japanese): http://columbia.jp/blackbird/
Wikipedia Says: Black Bird
Online Streaming o’ Anime: Nope. No streaming. No anime. So sad. Read it anyways.
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