Black Bird 18

June 28, 2015

Kanoko Sakurakouji – Viz – 2014 – 18 volumes

“I love you, Kyo!”
“I love you, Misao!”
“No, I love YOU, Kyo!”
“Misao, I LOVE YOU.”

That’s pretty much the last three volumes of this series.  Interesting that it sets up for a big, dramatic storyline, then becomes more about the two main characters enjoying the pleasure of each other’s company as a deadline looms.  It’s super-cute, and none cuter than this final volume.  And, to be fair, Kyo never tells Misao he loves her before this, so that was a big deal (and to be even fairer, I didn’t notice until Misao pointed that out… but few shoujo manga love interests are as sappy as Kyo, so I wouldn’t have noticed).

It actually goes out of its way to avoid drama.  A potential storyline about Misao’s parents/mom is avoided handily early on, in favor of Misao and Kyo being cute together.

It was a refreshing ending to a drama-packed series.  I enjoyed the whole thing way more than I should have, but I was happy to see it end like this after so many years.

Black Bird 17

June 16, 2015

Kanoko Sakurakouji – Viz – 2013 – 18 volumes

At this point, Black Bird is reeeeeally stretching this last story arc out.  I thought there would be some sort of adversary that they had to defeat in order to save the Senka Maiden (again), but that doesn’t happen here, and isn’t likely to.

One conflict early in the volume is that Kyo wants to put Misao into suspended animation until they find a cure.  He gets angry because he loves her too much to let her die, and she gets upset to the point of passing out and doing herself serious medical harm because she doesn’t want life to pass her by.

I’m pretty sure one whole chapter was other characters talking about how Misao has a natural inclination to be loved.

There are lots of Special Shoujo Moments throughout the volume, lots of private time, two-page spreads of the two of them being together, et cetera.

Towards the end of the volume, another story element pops up when Misao is trying to decide if she needs to tell her parents Kyo is a demon.

There is a plot element I’m leaving out that makes all of this more ridiculous.  And soapy.  So soapy.  But part of me still loves it.  The part that has loved this ridiculous and sad, soapy series all the way through.

One more volume!

Black Bird 16

June 7, 2015

Kanoko Sakurakouji – Viz – 2013 – 18 volumes

So soapy!  I was pretty sure the volume was going to head in this direction.  It probably should have been more depressing than it was, but I knew there was no way they were going to go through with what they were threatening.

All the same… hoo, there’s a topic I’ve never seen come up in a shoujo manga before.

The relationship between Kyo and Misao got about 1000 times more passionate here, which doesn’t seem possible, because it was already hot and heavy.  But here it is.  You’d think I would be over these two now, but this is why I read shoujo manga.  To hear them talk about killing themselves if the other died.  They do that a lot here.

But… the plot goes back to the boring business of researching Senka Maiden prophecy at the end of this volume.  Ho-hum.  Although… while they’re doing that, the emphasis is still on Kyo and Misao’s relationship, so I prefer this to yet another friend-turned-foe brother-against-brother threat.  And their relationship only gets cuter, after getting over the dark stuff.

Admittedly, I am kind of done with this series.  Even with all the Kyo and Misao, this is pretty dark, and I can see where it’s going from here.  I’m just going through the motions of Kyo and Misao being miserable.  All the same, as I said last time, I do like Black Bird, so I owe it to myself to read the ending.  I’m hoping there’s a little more to savor in the last couple volumes, though.

Black Bird 15

April 12, 2015

Kanoko Sakurakouji – Viz – 2012 – 18 volumes

This series and I have a checkered past.  But actually, I’m kind of excited to read the ending.  I lost volume 15, and had to do a massive clean-out of my to be read stacks (seriously, it was ridiculous).  I have all my volumes of all my series together sequentially again, so I can finish this up.  Hooray!

Black Bird isn’t always good to me, but this was a really cute volume.  Unfortunately, discussing it is going to be a huge spoiler for the last story arc, so I have to leave out most of the details.

Kyo and Misao have to deal with a couple situations that come up in shoujo manga a lot.  Kyo makes Misao really think about her future, and what she wants.  Honestly, she just wants to marry him and be a housewife, and going to college and holding down a job don’t appeal to her.  So they move forward on that front.  It’s pretty sweet, and not something you see very often in shoujo manga.

Also rare:  the couple talks to Misao’s parents, and discuss their future plans with them.  Parents are also usually a non-issue in manga when it comes to couples like this, so that was also a nice touch.  The scene was brief, but still, it was there.

Foes are minimal here, as almost everything is Kyo/Misao-centric.  And that’s good, because the bad stuff is kind of what drags this down, and I was half expecting another clan war thing to come up and deal with a thousand characters that don’t really matter anymore.  Something along those lines will probably happen in the next few volumes, but this volume is all about the happy feelings and good vibes between Kyo and Misao.

And actually a really, really serious issue that almost never happens.  I should have expected it really, because this is Black Bird, but still.  I did not.

On one hand, after the dark and sudden way this ended, I know I only have two volumes of bad stuff to look forward to in the immediate future, maybe two and a half.  So I’m kind of bummed about that.  But again… it’s Black Bird, and it’ll be nice to finish it.

Black Bird 14

February 14, 2013

Kanako Sakurakoji – Viz – 2012 – 19 volumes

Oh maaaan. Black Bird. I thought it ended at volume 16. Well… can’t stop reading now, can I?

Actually, things are looking up in this volume. The fight between Kyo and Sho ends in this volume, which is the main reason I was happy. It was surprisingly dark for a shoujo manga, even for this series. Black Bird is fairly dark, but the characters always seem to seek out the path of least violence and resistance.

Hm. I’m not quite sure how to explain my feelings on this. I do actually like this series a lot because it’s darker and, admittedly, because it’s a little more smutty than most shoujo manga. We get both of those things in this volume, as the dark ending leads to more smut later. Which is interesting, since that never happens in shoujo manga, and is a bonus if you’re into that kind of thing. But man. I just cannot get into the story. I think that whole Tengu Clan leader storyline permanently soured me to the rest of it. A shame, because the second half of the volume seems to be getting things back on track to the whole Senka Maide/Kyo Will Kill Misao thing, which is way more interesting. But… I just can’t bring myself to care about Kyo or Misao, which sours the whole thing.

Maybe I’ll begin liking it again in volume 15, when the action and family politics hopefully take a back seat to the Kyo/Misao relationship. Unfortunately, one of the other things I don’t like about it is the fact that there are so many characters involved with the main storyline. All action seems to involve all seven of Kyo’s bodyguards, their backstory, and their kin, and I just can’t be bothered to care or to keep them all straight. I’d like it much better if things were pared down. But maybe that will be the case, since hopefully things will be less action-oriented now. Fingers crossed, it will delve more into mythology, which would suit my tastes perfectly.

I hate getting so down on this series, but… I mean, it’s not like I have high expectations for it. It’s always been a guilty pleasure, but it became a chore to read lately, and I do want to like it. Here’s hoping next volume will bring me what I want.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Black Bird 13

October 11, 2012

Kanoko Sakurakouji – Viz – 2012 – 16+ volumes

I was a couple volumes behind on this, so I thought I’d catch up. I forgot! Black Bird can be so infuriating!

My main point of contention deals with a major plot point in this volume, so I don’t want to spoil anything. But unfortunately, Misao finds herself in a position to end all the conflict. And she can’t do it. Not only that, she actually takes an action she knows will only escalate the conflict. Then cries about it later. I know this is pretty much Shoujo Manga 101, and I can’t really blame Black Bird for the fact that I’m becoming a cranky old woman, but man. It can still be headache-inducing.

And I’m sure there are those out there that will be willing to point out I had this coming to me, that Black Bird has been this way pretty much all along. And they’re probably right. The romance was what kept me coming back and had me absolutely addicted at first, but now that it’s more-or-less resolved, I’m starting to lose interest rapidly with the rest of what’s here. Admittedly, what Misao does shakes things up, and there’s still the matter of what happens to the Senka Maiden (it’s strongly hinted, of course, that she’s meant to be killed), but I doubt any of this will come to bear in a serious way. So we are left with the conflict between Kyo and his brother Sho, and the various attempts to stop Sho by members of Kyo’s entourage.

I believe this storyline will be coming to an end with one more volume, and I’ll finish it out and see what happens next. But really. I’m not sure if this can hold my interest much longer. I’m sorry, Black Bird.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Black Bird 12

June 12, 2012

Kanoko Sakurakouji – Viz – 2012 – 15+ volumes

This series… hm. As much as I enjoyed it as a terrible guilty pleasure initially, that was for the bodice-ripping romance between Misao and Kyo. But now that they’re together, the story is now about politics in the tengu realm. That… is unfortunately not it’s strong suit. A lot of the minor characters are developed in side stories that tie in to the main plot, but I feel like there are too many minor characters to begin with (Kyo has, like, 9 guards, which are all technically secondary characters). I just can’t get into these stories. Admittedly, this volume was more interesting than the past couple, though.

After an initial attack on the village by Sho that locks Misao and some kids in an alternate dimension, the story shifts focus over to two minor characters, Hoki and Zenki. Hoki is Ryo’s younger brother, and a broody little guy that foreshadows what happens later in the book. Except, then it doesn’t! Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting a double-twist like that, but not even a little surprise could get me wound up in the story. Basically, we find out backstories for Hoki and Zenki, Sho takes them hostage, and action scenes play out when everyone finally understands what’s going on. One of them leads into the next volume, but…

Again, I feel like I can’t be bothered. I don’t really care about Hoki, I want to hear more about Kyo and Misao. There’s not really more to tell about them without ending the series, though, and Misao isn’t really fighting in the war that seems to have overtaken the plot. There’s still a little romance, but… it just isn’t grabbing me the way it was initially. Bah. But I’ll keep reading anyway. I’ve got a couple more volumes, I think. We’re nearly caught up to Japan, so the releases will slow down anyway, and then maybe I’ll forget about the beginning and just read for the war parts.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.