Bloody and beautiful. This one has potential.
Writer/Artist: Kanoko Sakurakoji
Translation: JN Productions
Adaptation: JN Productions
What They Say
There is a world of myth and magic that intersects ours, and only a special few can see it. Misao Harada is one such person, and she wants nothing to do with magical realms. She just wants to have a normal high school life and maybe get a boyfriend. All that changes one day when Misao is attacked by a demon. Her childhood friend Kyo suddenly returns to save her and tend to her cuts--with his tongue! It turns out Misao is the bride of prophecy, whose blood gives power to the demon clan who claims her. But most demons want to keep her power for themselves--by eating her! Now Misao is just trying to stay alive...and decide if she likes it when Kyo licks her wounds.
The cover on this book is instantly gripping, showing an image of Kyo holding a crying a slightly bloodied Misao. It works well for the series and certainly catches one’s eye. The back cover is simpler, depicting only some simple background elements, a handful of logos, and the summary, but the colors flow well and it looks rather nice. The paper in the book feels nice and durable, and a little bit of character details and commentary from the author are included, as well as a nice glossary at the end for the Japanese terms used in the book. The translation is smooth and retains honorifics, which is very nice to see. Sound effects are translated in the general Viz style of completely replacing the original characters with stylized text in English, which is better than simply leaving them untranslated, but it would be nice to see them leave the originals and place the translated in the margins or somewhere underneath instead.
The artwork is very nice on this book, with the characters having a nice, solid feel to them due to smooth, defined lines. As with many shojo titles, the art is given a good bit of detail, particularly the characters’ hair and eyes, which makes for a rather attractive book. However, what really stand out is the monsters in this book, which while usually quick and rather simple can create some rather effective imagery such as a multitude of hands or a child with bleeding eye sockets. Kyo’s “true form” in particular is rather neat to see. All of this adds up to a novel that is quite visually impressive.
Misao has a little problem. She has the ability to see demons, and as a result she’s been considered odd throughout her life. To other people, it seems she’s simply staring at nothing when there’s a monster right in front of her, or that she’s tripping over nothing when demons are knocking her down. As such, as a child people often avoided her, outside of one boy who could also see them and promised to protect her, but she can’t even remember his name. Misao’s 16th birthday is quickly approaching, and the number of demons around is increasing. Depressed and thinking of her childhood friend, Misao notices that the vacant house next door is occupied by a young, beautiful man. To her surprise (but likely not to the reader’s) this young man is Kyo, her childhood playmate. Her birthday comes, and she quickly notices the demons have become much more violent, when Isayama, a handsome senior boy at the school, asks to talk to her in private.
Unfortunately for the boyfriendless Misao, he doesn’t want to date her… he wants to eat her! Isayama explains that she is a special human being. If a demon drinks her blood, he obtains a long life. If a demon eats her flesh, he gains eternal youth. And if a demon marries her, his clan will prosper. Right as Isayama is about to devour Misao, Kyo swoops in and rescues her, extracting the lesser demon possessing Isayama and revealing that he himself is the head of a Tengu (a type of bird demon) clan. Needless to say, Misao is surprised to learn of these developments, and outright refuses Kyo when he tells her he returned to make her his bride. Kyo leaves Misao with the choice to become his bride and gain his protection or get eaten by the various demons that will want her flesh. The set-up is complete when we learn that Kyo will be the new math teacher and assistant teacher for Misao’s homeroom.
From then on, Kyo and Misao continue to grow closer and learn more about one another, yet Misao remains adamant in refusing Kyo’s advances. Throughout the next few chapters, the pair comes under attack by a hateful snake woman who wants Kyo for herself in addition to Misao’s flesh. Kyo is injured in the fight, and Misao comes to visit him as he is bedridden. There we meet the overly cute Taro, who acts as Kyo’s servant. Misao then tries to date a normal boy only to realize that she truly needs Kyo’s protection, and Shuhei Kuzunoha, a kitsune who also wants Misao for a bride, shows up and keeps things interesting through the end of the volume.
Black Bird certainly shows some promise with a nice art style, solid writing, and even a little bit of nice comedy mixed in. The situations can be quite touching between Misao and Kyo, and it’ll be interesting to see their relationship develop in further volumes. Kyo’s pride and cocky attitude makes him an interesting male lead, and it’s fun to watch him act so controlling and all-knowing towards Misao, which helps to make it all the more touching when he actually does something selfless and kind. Near the end of the volume, you also get the slightly goofy Kuzunoha to help contrast Kyo’s serious attitude, and they do play off each other fairly well. The only real gripe I have with the novel is the constant insistence on using the concept of Kyo licking a bloodied Misao (his licks having healing power) for quick “eye candy.” The book certainly has better things to focus on, but luckily the occurrences aren’t frequent enough to seriously hinder things. There’s a lot to love in this volume, making this a series that you’ll certainly want to keep an eye on.