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Black Bird, Vol. 1
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
I had rather high expectations for Kanoko Sakurakoji's "Black Bird". I'd already read the manga-ka's other work published in English, "Backstage Prince", in the pages of "Shojo Beat" magazine, and I thought it was pretty good. The preview for "Black Bird" in "Shojo Beat" made it seem a little cliche, but I still looked forward to the manga. After all, it won the 2009 Kodansha Manga Award for best shojo, one of the most prestigious recognitions in the industry.

But I ended up being disappointed with "Black Bird". There's really not a lot to it. The story is shallow, to begin with. It's got many cliche elements- the girl with special powers assailed by demons, the sexy demon who shows up to protect her (who's also the heroine's childhood friend and first love), and of course, a love triangle. These things can all be entertaining if done right, but that's not the case here. The story is kind of episodic and mostly consists of Kyo saving Misao from various demons. I'm a feminist, but I don't have a problem with the hero rescuing the heroine sometimes. A girl has a right to fantasize, after all. But when it's the focus of the whole plot, it gets old. But fantasizing seems to be what this manga is about. There's no sex in it as of yet, but there are definitely some risque scenes. Kyo is able to heal Misao's wounds by licking them, and this happens about once per chapter. It gets a little naughtier each time, too. I've heard it called a "bodice ripper", and that's definitely appropriate.

The characters were ok. I got a little tired of Misao's angsting, though. I can understand her being put off by Kyo's rather forward advances, but you think she would at least be a little grateful for him protecting her. Instead, she says she doesn't want him to protect her, that she wants to be a normal girl with a normal boyfriend (strange how these shojo heroines always seem to be upset by the fact that they have a hot, considerate guy madly in love with them). Misao's obviously got feelings for Kyo, but she won't admit it to herself. Then she goes around all gloomy because she thinks that he's only interested in her for what she can do for him. Which would be a legitimate concern, I guess, but it's been done a thousand times in shojo. Kyo, dark and mysterious, is protective of Misao, but also very forward with her. All in all, neither of them are too complex, but they fit this kind of story well.

I will say that "Black Bird" has beautiful artwork. It's simple but detailed, and the characters look great. Kyo's especially good-looking, and especially when his black wings show. But in this case, beauty is only skin deep, and it takes more than pretty artwork to hold my attention. I realize that this manga is mostly about being racy, but there still needs to be more of a plot. I'd be willing to give "Black Bird" another shot, though. The story has to get better if it won the Kodansha Manga Award, right? I guess we'll find out in time.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
I bought this manga, not having very high expectations because I was just looking for new material to buy, but I'm super glad I picked this one up. For me, it takes romance to a higher plateau and is slightly more mature than some of the other mangas I have read. The romance element is killer. I also love the protagonists. Many female protagonists are intensely annoying with their incessant squeals, incessant overacting, and the like, but I like this character a lot. The male interest is also great. I love also the dialogue. Instead of a "You need me, and I want you to know it," the male protagonist drops a "You need me, and I need to teach your body that." HAVE MERCY! Something as subtle as that has a great effect. I look forward to seeing what craziness will develop with the demon infestation troubling the female protagonist's life. I can't wait for volume 2!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2009
Some might say that the tale of Black Bird is cliche and old; a girl needing her hero to save her from outlandish perdiciments. But I found myself unable to put it down! Kanoko Sakurakoji made this tale work by adding a few different elements and twists. The main character, high school student Misao Harada, is able to see demons that are invisible to others around her. This cruel fate happens every century to an unlucky human. When she turns sixteen, she is targeted by relentless demons who either want her blood for a long life, her flesh for eternal youth, or to be her betrothed. Yes, thats right. If a demon claims her as his bride, then that demon's clan will prosper.

This interesting plot got me hooked from the start. To thicken this plot, Kyo appears after ten years of absence, to protect Misao. Kyo, a Tengu demon with black wings, was Misao's childhood friend, whom she has very little memory of. Unaware that Kyo was a demon, she has been secretly waiting for him to return. Kyo boldly asks Misao to marry him, in exchange for protection. But now knowing the truth, she rejects Kyo because he is a demon himself. But he doesn't quit his quest for her affection. Misao knows that Kyo doesn't really love her. He only wants her hand in marraige for the wellfair of his clan. But is there really love behind Kyo's determination?

This ravishing story will leave you wanting more! Not to mention the beautiful art. Sakurakoji's illustraitions catch your eye right from the store shelf. This book is funny, sexy, and imaginative. Once you pick it up, you won't be able to put it down!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2010
Black Bird is about a girl named Misao Harada who is gifted with the ability to see supernatural creatures (demons, spirits, and the like). She's spent most of her life trying to get by while being constantly harassed by these spirits until, one day, a childhood friend (Kyo) returns and saves her from a demon. It turns out that Misao is the "bride of prophecy." Any demon that drinks (a lot of) her blood lives longer, those that devour her get eternal youth, and if a demon marries her, his clan will prosper. Apparently, demons have commitment issues since most of them decide they'd rather just kill her and eat her. Luckily for Misao, Kyo is a tengu and happens to be set on taking Misao as his (sometimes reluctant) bride.
Like many shojo series, Black Bird is filled with high school drama, angsty love, and some slapstick humor. It's set apart by the introduction of Japanese monsters such as tengu and kitsune in addition to quite a bit of blood. The main character is often attacked by demons and her wounds are healed by having Kyo lick and suck them. It's been a few years since I've read manga so I was a little surprised by the pervy levels that that aspect was taken to. It's rated T+ (for older teens) and I have to agree with it. Younger readers may not get the quirky humor (at one point Misao laments that a guy who hit on her was possessed by an aborted fetus) and there are plenty of sexual references (in volume two, Kyo's "little tengu" is referenced twice). In addition, the relationship between Misao and Kyo is questionable in that daddy-knows-best/why-don't-you-succumb-to-my-will-you-silly-girl sort of way.
Everything said, Black Bird is fun, quirky reading.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
It's never a good sign for ANY series when the male lead reminds me of Edward Cullen.

Actually, a lot about Kanoko Sakurakoji's "Black Bird" reminds me of "Twilight," both in theme and in attitude. Like "Twilight," this shojo manga series has a passive heroine, a creepy jerk of a love interest, a completely generic setting, and a romantic subplot that makes you squirm with discomfort at the idea that anyone finds this romantic. The art is good, but not much else.

For her entire life, Misao has been haunted by two things -- memories of her first love Kyo, and lots of nasty little demons that try to hurt her. But on her sixteenth birthday, Kyo returns to tell her that she is a "demon bride," and demons will all be trying to eat her (for eternal youth) or marry her (for good luck to their clan). And oh coincidence! He happens to be a tengu, and the leader of his clan.

Oh, and her blood smells irresistible to demons, making them either want to eat her or have sex with her. Wow, that doesn't sound familiar.

Despite Misao's protests, Kyo insists that she's going to be his bride, and starts forcing her to have dinner with him, fends off various demons that try to eat Misao, and even feuds with a charming kitsune who ALSO wants to marry Kyo. And Misao has to consider the possibility that her first love is using her for his own ends. Does Kyo even really love her?

The answer: no. No, he doesn't. He sexually assaults her (reaches up her skirt, grabs her breasts), insults her ("Any human who approached you would have to be possessed or REALLY stupid"), and even tortures her by dangling her above buildings just to force her to cling to him. For crying out loud, this guy bullies a SMALL CHILD to tears just to guilt Misao into coming to dinner with him.

And here's some of Kyo's more contemptible lines:
"You can't live without me. I have to teach your body that."
"... because you're going to be my bride." (What girl could resist THAT?)
"I'll never let anyone else have you!" (Free will? What's that?)

And to make it worse, most of the comedy AND drama comes from Kyo acting like a controlling, chauvinistic pig ("Just remember to save your virginity. I'm the one who's going to take it!"). There's not much of a plot just yet, except for "Misao gets attacked by a demon, Kyo dives in to save her, but she's injured just enough that he has to slurp erotically on her bleeding injuries." That gets repeated over and over.

So unsurprisingly Misao isn't that great a heroine. She does show some spunk by popping Kyo in the nose when he gets too out of line, but she's otherwise quite wimpy, and gets all mushy and adoring when he treats her badly (like the whole sky-torture thing).

The most interesting character is a charming kitsune who (perish the thought) actually ASKS Misao to marry him, and seems to be an interesting third wheel... until Sakurakoji apparently realizes that he's more likable than Kyo, and turns him into a murdering rapist. The most likable character is, honestly, Taro -- he's an adorable little tengu who deserves to be in a better series.

There are a lot of contemptible men in shojo manga, but "Black Bird 1's" Kyo is definitely one of the worse ones I've seen. This is the Japanese "Twilight" -- avoid it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2010
Black Bird is a manga which follows the story of a girl, Misao Harada, who can see and is constantly bothered by spirits and is in love with a boy she can hardly remember. On her sixteenth birthday, she is approached by one of the school's hottest boys, but instead of a date, she gets an attempt on her life and the knowledge that she is irresistible to demons. Also appearing is Kyo, her old childhood friend that she loved for so long. The only problem? He's a demon too, and he wants to make her his bride. Misao is torn between her memories and his current attractiveness and the worry that he's only after her because a marriage to her would ensure success for his clan. Other demons and spirits won't leave her alone, so no matter if she wants him to or not, Kyo watches out for her, fighting for her and healing her wounds with his tongue. Also featured are Taro, the young servant of Kyo's, and Kuzunoha, a rival fox demon.

The dynamics between the characters is interesting, with Misao having to decide how much to trust Kyo, and if she is willing to let him protect her, even if the alternative is death. Kyo is bold, perverted, and possessive, but it's hard to doubt his sincerity.

The art style of the manga goes heavy on the giant eyes, tears, and blushes, and is fairly typical, though possibly a mite prettier.

Overall, the manga is worth a read, though it is heavier on angst than your typical shojo manga. There are funny bits, mostly focusing on Kyo's pervertedness, but it's definitely about the relationship between Kyo and Misao, or the lack thereof. Still, the series could use a bit of maturing, which will hopefully come in the next installment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I love this manga! This is the best manga I have read so far!
As the story opens we get a glimps into Misao's(the blond girl on the cover) past.We witness her bidding farewell to her childhood friend,who promises to come back for her one day.Sounds like the plot for every shojo manga in existence right? Well misao is no ordinary girl,the truth is she can see the spirit world that intersects ours,and it can be a real pain!
But her life goes from bad to worse when a demon apears intent on eating her! All seems lost until Kyo(cildhood friend we saw in the beging)comes to her rescue.As it turns out Misao is the bride of prophecy.If a demon eats her flesh he will gain eternal youth,if he drinks he blood he will gain a long life and if he makes her his bride his clan will prosper.Kyo is a Tengu,a demon with black wings who has retuned to make Misao his brie and protect her at all cost.Kyo has a very special way of healing her cuts,with his tongue!
This manga is funny,dark and sexy.Kyo is one of sexiest manga charectors ever!!!!!! I definatly recomend this to all manga fans over 13.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Plot: Although I feel like I have read something similar to this before, Black Bird definitely kept my attention. I absolutely loved that Sakurakoji mixes bits of violence, romance, and Japanese folk lore into this novel creating something that feels both authentic and fictional at the same time. The pacing of the novel is also something that really impressed me. The details of the novel are slowly revealed which allowed me to get to know the characters and understand each person's role in the overall story.

Characters: Black Bird has a TON of characters. But what I loved most was that I did not feel overpowered by them. Each had their own personality... their own traits. So by the end of the novel, it was easy to remember each of them for their own special reasons.

Graphics: Black Bird is a beautifully drawn novel. All the characters and scenery are just wonderful to look at. This is one of those novels that I would just love to jump into it and visit.

Due to some sexual content and violence / gore, this manga is rated YA, and may not be suitable for readers under 16.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2009
Having caught up on all of my interesting manga series, I went looking for some new series to start. I went to Amazon to return this volume the day it arrived.

First of all, the plot is obnoxious and repetitive and lacking. The main character is your generic damsel in distress, with a hint of masochism. It's always the same basic plot: stupid girl gets in trouble and is hunted down by some demon-monsters, and the mysterious and sadistic character everyone loves has to swoop down and save her because she is incapable of being self-reliant. It's a little interesting that the male character's slightly evil and maybe not completely head-over-heels in love with her, but their relationship is not fun to read about. The more I hear more about the male lead, the more I'm creeped out by him.

I'm not a fan of the teacher-student relationship, but it's not uncommon in shojo manga. But the relationship between these two main characters (ah, and I've even forgotten their names...) is, frankly, a little disturbing. He's always ripping open her shirt and sucking at her neck and drinking her blood and it's gross. Nothing about their relationship (if it is even considered a romantic relationship) makes me want to keep reading. They're not in love. They don't have strong feelings for each other, not in the typical shojo sense. It doesn't make me feel happy, it just makes me feel a little grossed out.

To be fair, I'm sure there's a selection of people who love this kind of manga.
But I'm glad I got my refund, but unhappy with myself that I spent a few hours reading and thinking about this book.
If you value strong characters and an interesting plot and relationships that aren't founded on sexual desires, then do not pick up this book. If you're so interested, I suggest reading it in a bookstore. I was uninterested by the first few chapters. (also, a box cutter in the first chapter, really? unoriginal and gory.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
Okay when I first picked up this vol manga I didnt care for it I flipped through the pages and it was not my thing but then last week I picked up vol 1 and two at the library just because I was bored and I already went through 48 of my library books I decided to read vol one I couldnt not put it down at all Took me thirty minitues to read and then I went onto book two I was up till two in the morning reading and then I went and put the rest on hold I just picked them up friday and I already went through six volumes they are excellent!!! Cant wait for vol 15!!! At first Kyo seems cold and only wants Misao for her blood but as you read on you can feel his love for her but he just cant say it in words... its so romantic I love it... Keep 'em comming I well read every volume =)
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