I think I’m forming a love-hate relationship with this series. I didn’t care for the first volume. I thought the characters and story were too stereotypical for a supernatural romance to ever really get interesting. And some of the scenes of Misao and Kyo bordered on obscene. But one volume later, things seem to have really changed. I found the characters and story getting a lot more interesting, and even some of the “healing scenes aren’t so bad, though neither are they so much innuendo.
Starting in volume 3, I noticed a distinct improvement in the lead characters Misao and Kyo. Misao has finally accepted her feeling for Kyo, so she isn’t so conflicted about enjoying his “healing”, which she still needs. Why? Because she’s still just as gullible as in the first volume. She’s easily lured into the Kuzunoha clan’s compound and allows the talisman that Kyo gave her be thrown away. She knows what Shohei is after, and continues to believe him when he says he’s given up on her. But her trusting nature seems to be a double-edged sword, as her friendship with Kensuke Dodoji, the head of the Dodoji clan turns into a blessing as Kensuke helps her and Kyo against Shohei.
Kyo still has his ruthless side, but it’s not directed at Misao so much, it seems. He’s only ruthless now against those who try to hurt Misao. Shohei learns this as he pays the ultimate price for attacking Misao with his head. Kyo makes Misao watch, which seems like a cruel act, but it’s his way of showing her that the world she will be joining with him is not a nice one.
Volume 4 has Kyo having to finish things with the Kuzuhona clan, who has a new heir now. Tadanobu, Kyo’s childhood friend. Even though their families fought, Kyo and Tadanobu found the one thing that can bring teenage boys together; porn. Meanwhile, Misao and Renko, Tadanobu’s girlfriend end up bonding as well. Renko can see spirits just like Misao. This volume spents most of its time over the conflict between duty and friendship that both Tadanobu and Kyo have, but Misao manages to find them both a happy ending.
Seeing Kyo and Misao’s relationship grow into something more real, really helped me enjoy these volumes more. There’s more of a family atmosphere at the Tengu compound as more of Kyo’s fellow clan members have joined him. Now there are elders, members the same age as Kyo, and even the triplets, who are little kids who look up to Misao as a big sister. It really warmed up the atmosphere a lot, making it more pleasurable to read.
But that doesn’t mean things are all coming up roses for Kyo and Misao. The end of volume four left an ominous feeling as there seems to be not only a consortium of clans fighting against the Kuzunoha and Tengu, but that there might be problems in the future for Misao if she and Kyo get together. So now it seems it will have to come down to choosing between love and duty.
I still don’t care for all the “healing” scenes, with Kyo licking Misao. They are still more erotic than medicinal. With their relationship improving, these scenes become less annoying as there is actually feeling behind the actions.
These volumes are actually more bloody than just the typical cuts and bruises that were in volume 1. Shohei loses both his arm and his head. His brother Tadanobu is killed but Misao keeps that from being permanent. These scenes show the brutality of the Yokai world, that it’s not all fun and games, with bishonen guys with wings. It’s a fact that Misao needs to get used to, and one I’m glad this title is showing.
Black Bird has improved greatly over the last few volumes. The characters have grown into someone likable. It doesn’t feel like a chore to read about them, and now I do want to know what’s going to happen with them. The story might still be a little on the cliché side, but it’s getting better. While I still don’t consider this series to be a must have, I think it is worth the price of admission.