By Leroy Douresseaux
March 19, 2007 - 15:59
The lead is Karasu, a member of Heaven's angelic bureaucracy. The District Manager sends him down to Earth to forcibly deport a demon whose visa allowing him to live on Earth is expiring. To Karasu, it's just another job, but he discovers that the demon in question, Shirasagi, is a gentle soul. Training to be a priest, Shirasagi performs acts of charity and is a teacher to the young people in the neighborhood.
Karasu is instantly smitten by this young demon who wants to give it all up to be a human, but neither the forces of Heaven nor Hell will stand for disobedience and rebellion. Not only must Karasu protect Shirasagi from Karasu's own bosses, he must also face the demon who claims to be Shirasagi's lover, the elegantly malicious Beelzebub.
First, it must be pointed out that Kisaragi is a master at cartooning the human figure - from head to toe. With his flair for designing fancy duds for men and his mastery of drawing the figure in drapery and folds, this Manga-ka should be the envy of fashion designers everywhere. He's also quite good at drawing action scenes in the cramped confines of small and wide but short panels.
As for the story, there are some familiar elements from DC/Vertigo titles like The Sandman and Preacher. For all the fantasy elements, this is a romantic action concept. Think Bonnie and Clyde or True Romance, but replace guns with swords. For a BLU title, Innocent Bird has almost no sex scenes (except for a minor depiction), and only a little explicit language. I'm imagining that it gets hotter in later volumes.
Vol. 1 also includes Kisaragi's short piece, " My Sweet Darling." Two brothers, the older Shuuji and the younger Souta, have been abandoned by both their mother (five years ago for another man) and father (a recent remarriage and a job in another country). They get a surprise visitor in Kyoto Nishiwaki, a slightly effeminate boy about Shuuji's age, who claims to be their brother. He has shocking news to tell them, but he hopes to temper the surprise with his skills at cooking and keeping house. While Souta immediately likes Nishiwaki, Shuuji finds him irritating and wants him out of this "surrogate mother" out of his house.
My Sweet Darling is sad and touching - the kind of tale that would make a good Hallmark holiday TV movie. Still, this moving tale is a poignant reminder that people can come together to heal one another. The main Innocent Bird feature alone is reason enough to buy the Manga, but this short tale is a nice extra.
Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for the images.