Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Kanoko Sakurakoji
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shojo Beat Manga)
MSRP: $8.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Now Available
The love lives of demons.
Like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to shoujo titles that offer a less than conventional kind of love story. I’ve seen them all, mind you, but sometimes there’s a familiar story that is told with a gifted storyteller’s own personal touch that sets it apart from those titles we‘ve picked up before many times. Black Bird is the type of shoujo manga that doesn’t seem original but thanks to Kanoko Sakurakoji’s style, it actually works wonderfully enough.
We are introduced to Misao Harada, an attractive 16-year old High school student who carries the burden of being the target of demons that wish to devour her or want to marry her. You see, it is rumored that every few years a person is born that demons cannot help but seek out. It is said that if a demon was to drink this human’s blood they would be granted a long life and if you were to devour them they would gain eternal youth. It is also said that if a demon was to marry said human that the demon’s clan would prosper. So you see, Misao is a tempting target.
While Misao’s classmates see her as a clumsy and somewhat scary girl because – to the normal eyes – she seems to stare off into space but the truth is that Misao sees demons all around her. Some are too small to cause any major damage (unless you count getting tripped every now and then) but it isn’t until she is called to an isolated corner of her school by the cutest boy that she comes to realize her life might be in danger. You see, the cute boy turns out to be a demon attempting to devour her and even draws blood.
Then, she is saved by a handsome dark-haired young man with black wings who she instantly recognizes. Years ago, as a child, Misao once has a crush on a boy named Kyo slightly older than her. This dark-haired boy was more than just a mere child … he was something else and on the day he left he told Misao that he would come back and make her his bride. While Misao dismissed this a promises only children tend to make and never follow through, the handsome young man with black wings is Kyo and he intends to keep that promise. Oh, and he’s also a kind of demon called a Tengu.
If the demons coming after her wasn’t enough, Kyo keeps insisting that Misao give herself in to his charms … and grabby hands. To make things even more complicated, Kyo heals her by licking her wounds. I know, totally steamy but Black Bird doesn’t use Kyo’s nimble tongue healing as a gimmick because Misao begins to question her handsome savior’s intentions. Does he love her or does he want to marry her because of the rumor that doing so would make his clan prosper? Things get more complex when Kyo shows up as the new teacher in her school.
As Misao attempts to make sense of her feelings as well as Kyo’s insistence on protecting the girl he had promised to marry, a handsome Kitsune demon named Kuzunoha who is also out to marry Misao rather than devour her. This, of course, places Kyo in a rivalry to win Misao’s affections … a rivalry that turns out violently as the two demons battle each another.
Volume 1 of Black Bird is not a bad beginning for a shoujo manga ripe with juicy seduction and bloody fights but, more importantly, it’s a well-written story with an interesting cast of characters. As I mentioned, this manga might not feel uniquely original but it is handled well enough to make the story a fun read that s worth checking out if you like your shoujo manga on the racy side.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Misao Harada has always had fond memories of her first childhood crush who went away and, as fate would have it, he makes an appearance again as her teacher. While this sounds like a simple premise, the twist is that Misao is the target of demons trying to either eat or marry her and the boy she loved is actually a demon himself who promised to make her his bride.
Sakurakoji’s art is familiar stuff but that doesn’t mean it’s not good stuff seeing as the backgrounds and characters do look decent enough.
While not an original concept, Volume 1 of Black Bird is a surprisingly fun and deliciously racy love story that is a rather good start for a series that promises to be even more exciting. With solid art and decently written characters, Black Bird is definitely a series we will continue following.