Title: Black Bird
Author: Kanoko Sakurakoji
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 9 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2009 by Shogakukan in Japan, July 2011 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural, romance
In the previous volume, Kyo was attacked by the exorcist Raikoh and was gradually deteriorating and moving closer to death. To recover, his only choice was to bed Misao, but without the full knowledge of the consequences of such an act, Kyo refused to do so. Misao stayed by his side, but watching the man she loves slowly die was becoming too much to bear. She convinced Kyo that it was pointless to whither away when the cure was readily at hand, and the two at last consummated their relationship. The volume opens with the morning after, and all appears to be well and normal. However, Kyo quickly realizes that along with the wave of power he received the night before, each time he touches Misao he feels a surge of power. If her power still behaves like before, then just because the two of them have joined the demon attacks on Misao will not stop. Immediately Kyo starts acting distant and cold, much to Misao’s bewilderment. Yet when an emissary from the tengu’s village comes asking for Misao’s blood for the clan, Kyo vehemently denies the privilege. She soon learns that it isn’t that Kyo has changed, but that he doesn’t trust himself not to devour Misao completely; it is also the reason he will not allow her blood to be given out to the clan. Misao decides to respect Kyo’s wishes, but finds herself becoming more lonely than she has ever been in her life. Her mental disposition isn’t helped when she begins to feel someone following her, and is then attacked at school by humans possessed by demons. As Misao begins to realize that innocent people are being caught up in the demons’ battle because of her, she slips into despair. It soon becomes clear to Kyo and his guards that someone must be slipping information out, as information about Misao giving blood to Ayame, and also Kyo’s weakness toward not harming other humans because of his love for Misao, has clearly become well known. Torn between humans and demons, Misao’s despair overtakes her, and Kyo decides to take action by coldly turning her away and forcing her into Raikoh’s arms. By pulling the blame toward himself, he helps ease Misao’s guilt, but while that hurdle has been (mostly) overcome, a new one immediately appears, and it may be the toughest yet. The former clan leader appears on the scene, claiming to know who is behind the information leaks in the clan. A rather touching bonus story follows, taking place before Kyo became the clan leader, and featuring the munchkin trio of Taro, Saburo, and Jiro. As Sho (Kyo’s brother) viciously beats the little ones (in the name of training), Kyo takes them under his wing and prepares them to become members of his bodyguard when he becomes clan leader.
Ah, here we go again. I had thought Kyo was finally beyond manipulating Misao and cruelly forcing her to make decisions and fall at his feet. He always does this whenever she tries to accomplish things on her own, which is really annoying, because I would love to see Misao on equal footing with Kyo, rather than as just some weak, simpering human girl. Even Misao wants that. She has a lot of inner dialog about wanting to be strong enough to stand side by side with Kyo rather than always standing behind him for protection. So why won’t Sakurakoji let this happen? Misao is very far away from being able to make good on that desire. She’s taken things into her own hands a couple of times, but usually she’s just told that she shouldn’t have bothered getting herself into trouble because the others would have handled it anyway. Her efforts tend to be brushed aside. Let’s give her some self defense training! Even Kuzunoha’s (the Kitsune clan leader) human girlfriend knows how to use a bow and arrow (and quite well, it seems). Maybe even some supernatural powers, since she herself is bubbling with it inside her body. I’m getting a little tired of a virtually helpless Misao. She has the potential for more, I think, and she certainly has the will for it. She just needs the chance. As for this volume, well, it’s nice to see Kyo and Misao finally have sex (er, well, it happened last volume, but whatever), since it’s been the main focus of the series for eight volumes. Now we can move on to more pressing matters…I hope. A good part of this volume was Misao trying to have sex again, because she was frustrated that Kyo seemingly wanted nothing to do with her anymore (forcing yourself on the guy is apparently the perfect solution for that). So there was that. But now it seems we’ll be getting into the deeper intricacies of the demon clans, which should be interesting. The best part of this volume was the bonus story at the end, which detailed the relationship between Taro, Saburo, and Jiro, and highlighted Kyo’s kind side as he cared for them when they were injured by Sho. It also shows the reasons why Kyo’s eight daitengu (well, seven now) are so fiercely loyal to him.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.