Black Bird Volume 1 by Kanoko Sakurakoji
I generally don’t pay super close attention to reviews of titles I think I’m going to end up reviewing myself, but my impression is that the reaction to Black Bird among manga blogs was decidedly mixed. Sakurokoji wrote the cute two volume series Backstage Prince, so I pre-ordered this series based on my enjoyment of her previous work.
Misao is burdened with the ability to see demons. She frequently gets sick at school or trips and falls due to her visions of the otherworldly creatures that are invisible to everyone around her. One thing comforts her – the memory of a childhood friend who also saw demons. The boy next door was a few years older than her and before he left he promised to return for her.
A handsome man suddenly appears next door and introduces himself as Kyo. He greets Misao by name and tells her to call him if she runs into trouble. Misao doesn’t connect him with the long-lost friend from her youth. The next day at school a fellow student slashes Misao’s neck and announces his intention to eat her – she’s a rare human whose blood will grant a demon long life and eternal youth. If a demon marries her, his clan will prosper. Misao calls out for Kyo and he appears, asking her if she remembers him because she’s going to be his bride. Kyo is a tengu, a bird-like demon. He fends off Misao’s attacker and heals her by licking her wounds. Evidently Tengu saliva contains magical healing properties.
Kyo seems to spend most of his time licking Misao’s wounds. I wonder that she has much blood left in her, because she is constantly getting cut. He also frequently gropes her, and while Misao slaps him a bunch I find her curiously passive about her predicament. Why isn’t she trying to come up with some sort of strategy or solution to dealing with her demon problems? While she doesn’t seem too thrilled about marrying Kyo, she isn’t doing anything on her own to make her situation better. Kyo is given to the worst type of romance novel alpha-male utterances like “You can’t live without me. I have to teach your body that.”
I didn’t feel a whole lot of sympathy for the characters. On the other hand, with all the licking, groping, and random injuries going on Black Bird isn’t bland and even though I found it frustrating it captured my attention more than another recent supernatural series, Rasetsu. So while my reaction to Black Bird was mixed, I think I’ll at least check out the second volume to see of some of the charm of Backstage Prince starts to work its way in to this series.