Black Bird is a supernatural shoujo series by Kanoko Sakurakoji that has run in Betsucomi since 2007. Currently it has 14 volumes in Japan. The most recent volume 13 came out last month in North America. I haven’t reported on this series in almost a year, so I thought it was time for an update.
Synopsis: Kyo rescues Hoki from Sho, who has set off unrest among the members of the Daitengu. Misao ends up stepping through a transport barrier onto the doorstep of Sho. While Kyo frantically searches for Misao, Sho is wasting away at Misao’s feet. As Misao cries for Sho’s fate and regrets, Sho begs her to stay beside him. She is the only person who has ever cared about him. He knows what happens to the Senka maiden, and does not wish that fate for Misao. Misao’s emotions overcome her and she gives in to better judgement. On the verge of dying, Misao gives Sho some of her blood. Sho is revived, and takes Misao back to Kyo. Filled with guilt, Misao apologizes to Kyo, but Sho and Kyo begin a confrontation with swords right away. The novel ends with Kyo dangerously impaired.
Thoughts/Impressions: This story has gone from flirtatious and humorous to sexual and violent. Although Misao apparently loves Kyo, he continues to use her for her abilities as the Senka Maiden. It’s obvious that Kyo does love Misao, but it’s hard to separate that from his need for her healing abilities. When Misao goes missing, I’m asking myself if Kyo is panicking because he doesn’t want anyone else to get Misao, or is it because he genuinely cares for her safety.
The scene with Sho was ridiculous. Misao has the power to not do anything and peace will be brought to the clan. Instead, she gets overly dramatic about Sho, and does something completely stupid. And she KNOWS it, and does it ANYWAY!!! I can sort of understand her emotional thinking – “This is Kyo’s brother. He’s saved me before. He’s lonely.” But the guy has been resurrected from the dead – he’s already unnatural. Why, oh why, would you help him, when he’s tried to kill you and your beloved? That’s just my frustration with Misao’s character. She’s an emotional disaster waiting to happen.
The events following her decision just prove my point. She is flooded with guilt, has betrayed Kyo, and keeps fainting from the loss of blood. Sho uses Misao as a point of weakness for Kyo.When Sho feints to attack Misao, Kyo reacts, and gets attacked instead. The final scene of the volume ends with an image of (what I interpret to be) Kyo’s chopped off arm lying on the ground. REALLY? That’s so gruesome. If I want that, I’ll go read a shounen or seinen manga.
As you can see, I’m not so happy with how Sakurakoji has led events. I’m most frustrated with the plot element of the Senka Roku. We were introduced to it back in volume 3, and here we are ten volumes later, now Sho is using it to plant doubts in Misao’s head. What the heck is Kyo going to have to do to Misao since she’s the Senka Maiden? Eat her, sacrifice her, chop her up in little pieces, give her to someone else? We should know that by now. It should be part of the emotional decisions that Kyo and Misao have to make. Keeping the readers oblivious is just frustrating.
Audience: Please don’t let young tween girls read this series. It’s full of the wrong kinds of messages. Misao is a very poor role model. Older teens should be able to judge these things for themselves. There’s plenty of sexual innuendos and intimate scenes as well as some bloody gore and violence. If it was a movie it would be rated R.
Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥
While I have continued to read this series, every volume leaves me more frustrated. I want to smack Misao and tell her to get the heck away from all those tengu. They’re just bad news!