Synopsis: In this third installment of the series, Misao Harada discovers that there will be consequences for becoming the bride of Kyo, head of the tengu clan. As a gift, Kyo gives Misao one of his primary feathers. This allows her freedom from the minor demons that usually plague her. However, it does not keep the other clan heads away, and kitsune heir Shuhei Kazunoha reappears along with the heirs to the shirohebi clan, Kensuke and Kiyo Dojoji. Kyo has his hands full dealing with the sly and scheming bunch, who tempt him with an offer to see the "Senka Roku"- a book documenting a successful bride taking by the kitsune clan. Misao's fears and doubts of leaving behind her family and friends make her hesitant to become the official bride, while Kyo patronizes himself over having to hurt Misao to make her his bride when he is suppose to be the one protecting her. The information in the Senka Roku would be quite valuable for both Misao and Kyo. Although, having read it, Kazunoha tells Kyo that if he really does love Misao he might not be able to follow through in the end.
Review: Birds, foxes, and snakes, oh my! Volume three of Sakurakoji's Black Bird brings the Japanese folklore to the forefront, with the tengu, kitsune, and shirohebi clans all fighting over Misao. Kyo's character has finally settled into the role of heroic protector with a blatant perverted side. I thought I might get through the volume without any corny sex jokes, but alas, half way through Misao overhears Kyo discussing the "nuka roku", a feat of sexual stamina, with one of his vassals. Sigh.
It was refreshing to see Misao get to act like a regular high school girl for a short span, once she receives Kyo's gift. Her position as demon bait has left her more or less dependent on Kyo's presence. At this point in he story, Misao has accepted Kyo as her protector and realizes that means becoming his wife. Her fears of being "swept away" from her family and friends are well grounded, as Kyo admits that he does not want to hurt Misao when he makes her his bride. The existence of the senka roku confirms that there is indeed some process that Misao must endure to become the tengu's wife.
The pace of this volume was smoother than the last. The action scenes moved the plot along quickly while the romantic encounters were fewer and more meaningful. Paneling and lettering make the story flow evenly enough, but the tonal patterns still look tacky in places. Surprisingly, while reading I came across one grammatical error that must have gotten past an editor. Most readers likely won't notice it when they're so involved in the story. It's easy enough to overlook all the faults when there are so many bishies (ie. hot demons!) staring you in the face.
Volume three ends on a rather climatic note, and leaves the audience speculating what the outcome may be. A rather amorous encounter could create more problems for the protagonists. While I may not be in love with this series at the moment, it still makes for an entertaining read. For now, Sakurakoji's recipe of violent action and spicy passion is the best substitute for a naughty romance novel in manga form.
Romance Rating: Steamy - he's gotten to second base.
Media Status: Black Bird 3 is currently available in English from Viz media. Volume 4 is slated to be released on May 4, 2010.