Black Bird Volumes 9 and 10

I know Black Bird is wildly popular, but I have a hard time getting into it. I read the first couple volumes and couldn’t get into all the weird wound licking, although I suppose demonic wound licking is at least a twist on the whole vampire romance trope. My main problem with this manga is that I find both of the main characters unappealing. Misao is basically the ultimate trophy bride, since she is a human girl who gives extra powers to whichever demon claims her. The demonic Kyo is just generally unsympathetic.

In Volume 9 Misao and Kyo deal with the aftermath of her allowing herself to be “claimed” by Kyo. Now that she’s Kyo’s woman officially, all the demon clans are on the prowl after her. Kyo’s clan wants Misao for the healing properties of her blood and the other demon clans are fighting back because they don’t want to support the sudden imbalance of power in the demon world. As a result other humans are targeted in the demonic civil war. Innocent humans are possessed by demons and sent after Misao, and Kyo has to fight them off. Misao is filled with guilt, but her response to the situation is to have a nervous breakdown instead of doing something more productive. Kyo is as contradictory as ever, as he orders Misao to “choose humanity” and throws her at demon hunter Raikoh only to suddenly appear and put on a big show by asking Raikoh if he wants to watch him rape her. Now, I’m pretty forgiving of the horrible sexual politics in manga just because I’m willing to forgive a lot for a story that is either humorous (Ai Ore, Butterflies, Flowers) or has a certain over the top soap opera tone (Hot Gimmick). But Black Bird doesn’t have this lighter touch which is why I find myself utterly unengaged in the story after scenes like that.

Volume 10 starts off a little more promising as Kyo’s estranged father pops up to give Misao the lowdown on Kyo’s tragic family past. The wars between the demon clans start to get more serious and it turns out that Kyo’s evil brother is alive and wearing an eyepatch (so you know he is extra evil). Kyo continues to act weirdly schizophrenic as he brings Misao to tears by telling her that she can’t come with him on his mission to restore order to the demon village only to suddenly change his mind and say “Just kidding….silly.” Seriously, Ryoki “You are my slave!” from Hot Gimmick seems like Prince Charming compared to Kyo.

Sakurkoji’s art is fine, with distinct character designs and interesting yet easy to follow panel layouts. I actually liked her short two volume series Backstage Prince, so I just wish that she’s hit it big with a series featuring characters that aren’t acting like jerks or spineless wimps all the time.

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