By Leroy Douresseaux
July 18, 2009 - 14:04
|Black Bird Volume 1 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
Ever since she was a child, Misao Harada has been plagued by demons and spirits that cause her to trip and fall or stare off into space, and this, in turn, caused the other kids to consider her strange and weird. Now a high school student, Misao wants nothing to do with the magical realm, but it wants her. When a demon attacks her one day, Misao is rescued by Kyo Usui, her dear, childhood friend who left so long ago. When he licks her wounds, Kyo heals them… because he’s also a demon!
In Black Bird, Vol. 1, Misao discovers that she is the bride of prophecy. If a demon drinks her blood, he will be granted a long life. If a demon eats her flesh, he gains eternal youth. If a demon makes Misao his bride, his clan will prosper. Kyo Usui is a demon, specifically a “tengu” – half-human & half-bird (crow). As the head of the Tengu clan, Kyo wants to marry Misao, which will make his clan prosper, but he most wants to marry Misao because he loves her. Or so he says.
Kyo becomes an assistant math teacher at Misao’s high school, where he can keep an eye on her and romance her. However, there is a new rival for Misao’s affections. This silver-haired (and silver-tongued) new student, Shuhei Kuzunoha, is a kitsune, a fox demon, and the things he has to say about Kyo puts doubts about Kyo in Misao’s mind.
THE LOWDOWN: Shojo fantasy romances are a dime a dozen, but because manga-ka are so good at creating these entertaining stories of young women meeting magical boys, that dime would be best ten cents a reader could ever spend. Thus, it is with Black Bird; there is something that marks it as a special series in a specialized subgenre.
Perhaps, it is the underlying sexuality – Kyo licking Misao’s wounds to heal them. Maybe, it’s the usual romantic comedy trope of the bickering couple or the humor of the delightful sidekick, Taro, Kyo’s diminutive servant. Who knows, but this is good stuff. Beautiful art is a must for shojo romance, and creator Kanoko Sakurakoji (Backstage Prince) is a master of gorgeous compositions and eye-catching graphic design. This first volume of Black Bird promises a lot; hopefully it will continue to deliver.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: A Shojo Beat title, Black Bird will please fans of shojo fantasy.