Book Report: Innocent Bird by Hirotaka Kisaragi

December 31, 2008 at 7:43 am (Animanga) ()

It is a short, three-volume manga about a faithful demon and a faithless angel. Shirasagi is a demon determined to keep his faith in God and one day be redeemed; Karasu is the angel who has begun to doubt and is sent to send him back to hell. Things get more complicated when it’s revealed that Shirasagi is actually Andrealphus, Beelzebub’s uh…pet. Things just get more complicated from there as Karasu and Shirasagi struggle to realize their greatest wish: to be together forever.

The manga is surprisingly…uh…shallow. It’s more a romance than anything, really; I didn’t feel like it covered any new ground in terms of demon/angel relationships and conflicts with God. The art’s not too bad and the main couple is cute, though the couples I was more interested in were the ones on the side.

There’s this one panel, in chapter 11 when Beelzebub confesses he’s always loved Sariel—it’s a narrow close-up of his face and his expression is so angry and bitter and hurt and resigned, that Sariel never knew or returned his love, that he was damned for loving Sariel. Coupled with Sariel’s brief flashback to Beelzebub when asked if he’d ever loved anyone…theirs is the tragic doomed love, of comrades-in-arms turned mortal enemies. I can see Beelzebub occasionally stealing kisses from Sariel and then passing it off as teasing and trying to mess with Sariel, and Sariel’s acceptance of those excuses just hurts him more and more while Sariel refuses to not buy into the excuses because he just. It’s not allowed, and. He can’t, and. He doesn’t know what to do. :/

And then Judas and Jesus—well, actually more one-sided, Judas–>Jesus, really. That’s an interesting pairing, because I totally thought the character Judas (mostly known as Koumori) was actually Lucifer…so it’s mostly interesting because it’s unexpected, and Judas’ admission that he was wrong to love Jesus and that’s why he betrayed him and was ironically forced to wander the Earth as Jesus’ hands and feet for eternity. I feel the Jesus of Innocent Bird is more sort of loving everyone but no one in particular. Which means there is some tasty angst there about Judas’ eternally unrequited love, which has little to no chance of ever being returned. And yet, he can’t make himself stop.

Some more random notes:

1. No mention of Lucifer anywhere whatsoever. It’s original, but the lack of it almost made me uneasy…I mean, if you’re going to write a story about angels defying God, you kind of have to mention Lucifer, even if he doesn’t make an actual appearance. It’s almost like Beelzebub takes Lucifer’s place, in a sense. He’s the Archduke of hell and the demons go to war on his command…which would suggest that he has a lot of power. Or perhaps Lucifer was also a construct like God, or perhaps he too was contained and controlled by the demonic equivalent of Seraphim. Or perhaps, in the theology of Innocent Bird, he never existed, and was just a legend made up to scare angels into obedience. There’s never any indication either way.

2. I like the nod towards everyone being reincarnated when God (Jesus?) performs a miracle to “reset” the divine system of Heaven, Hell, and Earth. Near the end there’s a series of pages that are mostly little insets and in one you see two men who look suspiciously like Beelzebub and Sariel standing and talking together. Awwwww.

3. I wonder if Beelzebub saw anything of himself and Sariel in Karasu and Shirasagi? I mean, he did use them to help with his plan to pinpoint God’s location, but at the same time they are very like him and Sariel in that their love is forbidden, and Karasu begins to fall because he refuses to give Shirasagi up, sort of like how Beelzebub was damned (but Sariel was not) because he loved Sariel. But unlike Beelzebub and Sariel, Karasu and Shirasagi aren’t afraid to love each other, and are willing to brave their way through whatever trials Heaven and Hell throw at them…unlike Beelzebub, who never admitted anything until it was too late. And even then, he couldn’t bring himself to actually say he loved Sariel…just that he’d always wanted to kiss him. Awwww.)

4. There are tastier things in this manga than I first thought, I think. The use of black and white to delineate sides and good and evil in particular is interesting and not as, well, black and white as it might first appear to have been. I have to think about this more.

TL;DR: It’s a nice, fluffy read and there are happy endings and no one’s unlikeable, but all in all it’s pretty much pretty boys with wings. Not too explicit, slightly unbelievable love story and the plot gets confusing towards the end as stuff about martyrdom and miracles and whatnot get thrown in haphazardly, and there are pretty boys in suits and military uniforms. With wings.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: