One of the latest releases from Juné Manga to catch my eye is Unohana’s Where Night’s Blackbird in His Sad Infamy Sings. It’s a story of slowly developing love between the optinistic Seiji and his tsundere neighbor Rin. Rin has a lot of pressures in his life as a result of familial and professional obligations, and he’s not quick to return Seiji’s advances. This is boys’ love though, so naturally that changes over time. So, is the manga good?
Boys’ love titles tend to be made or broken by the quality of their romance plots, and this is a good one. Seiji and Rin’s interactions are well-written from the get-go, with Rin acting very annoyed by Seiji’s friendliness. The conflict here is believable thanks to how well both characters’ temperaments and motivations are fleshed out. The shifts in their relationship never seem forced, either. There’s no one scene when a switch is flipped and they go from zero to a hundred; rather, we get to see Rin open up more over time. With that said, there are still some watershed moments that are all the more poignant thanks to the care put into everything preceding them. By the end of the story the couple’s love feels both believable and like it’s truly been earned.
Nonetheless, Rin is probably a bit more of a main character than Seiji is. We get a lot of backstory about his relationships with his family members, especially his father and brother. This familial framework is also heavily intertwined with Rin’s economic future and employment. The resulting conflict helps add layers to the narrative that really sell how the characters have troubles in their lives besides the will-they/won’t-they romance. Seiji doesn’t get as much fleshing out, but it’s not a huge deal since he’s still well-written and bounces off Rin in interesting ways.
I have mixed feelings about this volume’s last few chapters. As a whole, I like them. This manga probably has one of the most effectively paced endings I’ve read in boys’ love in some time. Nothing about the story’s resolution feels too convenient; if anything, it’s all the more enjoyable for all the conflicts that had to be resolved to achieve it. With that said, I still wish we got a little more than we did. There’s an ending bonus scene that takes place months after the last main chapter, and while it’s cool to see how the characters’ lives have changed there isn’t quite enough context given to alleviate some confusion that arises. I’m really splitting hairs though; these chapters are fun overall.
The art in this manga is also enjoyable. The opening color pages are quite lovely; they depict Seiji watching Rin as he gets rained on in his yard. The soft blues and greens of the sky and grass are quite pleasing to look at. There’s also a hazy texture that effectively conveys the rainy atmosphere. Besides all this, the manga impresses with its page compositions which lead the reader’s eyes along flawlessly. The facial expressions and body language throughout are also great and add to the poignancy of Seiji and Rin’s romance.
All in all, Where Night’s Blackbird in His Sad Infamy Sings is one of the best new boys’ love releases this year. The characters are well-written and the romance and conflicts are very effectively paced. The art is also consistently pleasing to look at. There are some small cons to the book, but nothing major enough to hinder my enjoyment much.