It’s Manga Monday! I usually refrain from requesting ARCs of certain types of books – Manga are one of them. But I was curious as to what the quality of manga e-ARCs would be like, and Black Bird is one of the few “typical” Shôjo series I still read. The first part of the review (excluding the blurb) is relatively spoiler-free!
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. But she is the bride of demon prophecy, and her blood grants incredible powers, her flesh immortality. Now the demon realm is fighting over the right to her hand…or her life!
Misao has made the choice to forgo college and a normal human life in order to be Kyo’s wife and mother to the demon child she carries. But her pregnancy is unusual, even for the demon world. The last pages of the Senka Roku will reveal the truth of the matter, but now that Kyo has it in his hands, does he really want to know…?
Black Bird, if it was a novel, would be a 19-tankobon-long, semi-mature Young Adult PNR series. There is a secret.. society consisting of demons, that only few can see. Misao Harada, the protagonist, is one of those. She’s the ordinary girl, who ends up being extraordinary: Her body has healing powers, to the point where eating her (urgh) grants immortality.
As it so happens, the leader of the Raven-clan wants her to be his. He’s the kind of possessive lover that you might find in.. any given romance novel ever, truth be told. The difference between Misao and Kyou and other Shôjo couples is that they are aware of their (almost) co-dependent, semi-dysfunctional relationship is their awareness of it: Despite my dislike for it, given their personalities, they are genuinely happy with eachother. They fight, they aren’t quite equal, but they are content in their positions, which, in the end, is satisfactory enough for me. 
Sakurakouji has a tongue-in-cheek humour that doesn’t come across as well in the American translation as it did in the German one and, as far as I could see, the original, but it was apparent enough to make me grin several times. She really loves her fluff and angst, and it shows: We go from adorable dates to pre-apocalyptic outbursts in a matter of minutes.
As for this particular volume, (in other words, spoilers start here) it was rather mediocre. After the big announcement in the 15th volume, Kyou and Misao try to figure out what to do next: Even though he thought it was her body and her choice in the previous tankobon, upon realizing that her pregnancy will eventually kill her, he wants to “get rid of” the baby as soon as possible.
I’m not a particular fan of instant and/or teenage pregnancies, and think that Sakurakouji will have to work very hard to make this particular plot work; but I also think the portrayal of all the affected characters was quite good: There was Kyou, who blames himself for everything and yet can’t let go of Misao (not that it would help any of them at that point), then Misao herself who stands up for herself and goes through multiple emotions (ranging from despair to hopelessness, resignation, hope, younameit) and the entire Raven-clan, who is.. pretty much devastated.
Given the nature of Shôjo manga, I think this series isn’t bad, but it is definitely more of a guilty pleasure, than a series I’d recommend to relatives who are interested in what I’m reading “all the time on that e-reader-thing”. ;)
- The old discussion about who was a better role-model, Mulan or Aurora, when it depends entirely on us as individuals, and it’s as sexist and destructive to criticise Aurora as it is to glorify her. Misao makes an active decision to be with Kyou and is content in the role of a more submissive “house-wife”.↵