Toriko Gin's unique story glides ahead with wonderful characterization and lovely art...but the action gets a little muddled at times.
Writer/Artist: Toriko Gin
Translation: Christine Schilling
Adaptation: Christine Schilling
What They Say
Tensions rise within the clan as their fear of humans leads them to recall their painful history. When an old comrade of Jack's is found wounded in the forest, the clan's long-lost prophet tends to him. As the Day of Destruction looms ever closer, the prophet must return to her clan... but how will they react to having yet more humans among them?
The trials and tribulations of the legendary Bird Men continue. The fading tribe is divided when young Hello, Wolf, and Another Bear go on a hunt for the group's guru. This leaves Jack, an army medic adopted into the tribe by Hello, unguarded amongst members who fear and dislike humans.
Volume two of Song of the Hanging Sky focuses a good deal on the tribe's past, which Jack learns through stories relayed to him while waiting for Hello to return home. The retelling includes the “Day of Destruction”--the events that decimated the adult members of the tribe and their ancestors, the dragons.
Unsettling signs and prophecies indicate that another Day of Destruction might be boiling on the horizon. The Bird shaman named Across the River reasons that humans are the only creatures on the planet capable of changing fate. She herself has taken a human lover while away from the tribe, and humans like Jack and a soldier named Cherry cautiously become more comfortable amongst the Bird Men. It's not known if this interaction with the humans will poison the Bird Men, or save them.
Song of the Hanging Sky is a unique offering from the shonen genre. Though Hello is technically the character young readers are supposed to identify with, a significant page count is spent exploring other characters and their motivations—even the female characters, which is nice to see in a shonen manga.
The manga's art is beautifully detailed, with complex ceremonial costumes styled after Native tribes (and hairstyles inspired by different bird species!). Pages tend to get busy, however, and dramatic events can get confusing. Toriko Gin has a love for facial close-ups; pulling back a little more often would help clear things up.