Eishi Karasuma is a loner with a monotone life and his only friend is Mikisada Kamoda. One day they venture together while skipping class and they meet Tsubame, a very energetic girl, and Rei Sagisawa, a pretty boy that attends the same middle school. On their way back to school a sudden event happens. A mysterious boy with wings will come to help.
I hate pushing excessive praise especially this early in a manga's life, but with Tanabe Yellow's Birdmen I feel safe to declare this an outstanding work. A story after my own heart, Birdmen explores the nuance of the typically coming-of-age, call-to-action hero stories with a unique sense of characterization, pacing, and tone. It's a story that reads like a book, careful in the narrative climb and intensely detail oriented. From the poignant reaction panels to the excessive walls of text in a character's thoughts, Tanabe-sensei spares no expense in making this story speak beyond its contemporaries' status as superficial entertainment.
The characters are by
far its greatest triumph. Distinct and memorable, the main cast has a strong look as well as defining characteristics that excel them beyond lifeless tropes. The main protagonist is so intensely explored that you are relating and sympathizing with him before the end of the first prologue. The biggest take away is their realism. The protagonist will probably touch upon an anxiety you've had before or his friend will muse something from your most mundane of pleasures. They're given time to breathe and therefore they solidly drive the story to the point where the plot is a minor plus.
As you can glean, the pacing is noticeably slow. Tanabe-sensei takes the realistic approach to the exploration and discovery of the plots happenings. There's almost a Western comic-book vibe to the initial origin story of these characters that contrasts the convoluted supernatural plots of most modern shounen series. Despite this comfortable pace, the wit is dashingly sharp. The humor is on point and natural, providing a good laugh most every chapter... sometimes in excess.
Finally with such confident characterization and pace, the tone results in something rather peculiar. The premise is slightly ontological, placing the protagonists in a rather mysterious and unexplainable situation and exploring them from there. It makes for an intriguing mystery and an unpredictable air to what seems like a standard premise. There are concerns behind every corner and the potential in each plotline feels mounting and probable. It makes for a hard to place and curious tone.
If you like a lot of high paced action and intensity, this series might not satisfy, but if you’re interested in a heartfelt and intriguing, coming-of-age, supernatural/ sci-fi plot with realistic characters and amazing execution, this might just be the holy grail in the manga world. 10/10
All I can say about this series, is that the characters are very well thought out and do not strictly adhere to any cliche character type, and I love how the different characters interact with each other as the story unfolds. What's more is how Tanabe uses humour to great effect without losing the tension of the overall conflict in the story.
The actual pacing of the storytelling has been very even and always gives enough information to move the plot but always leaves some suspense. Thought there is inevitably going to be a large conflict at some point, the story does a great job of
almost making the main characters seem separate from the main plot, which really leaves you wondering how everything fits together (in a good way).
Overall, worth reading if you are into sci-fi shounen style things with less focus on action (there are still plenty of cool action scenes!), and great attention to details, I see no reason why you wouldn't enjoy this.
The scanlation I read (it is not generally available in my country, and I'm poor) had some translation problems in some chapters, not a huge problem but it did require a bit of attention to make sense of some things.
~ The story is alright, it's your typical 'mutants fight against their creator(s)' deal, but with an 'interesting' twist of naming every mutant sect after a biblical character. . . don't expect anything groundbreaking there.
+ The concept of a birdman is /very/ cool, who doesn't want a sexy black bodysuit & sick wings to fly around with?
- The author does NOT have a good grasp of how to write characters ( especially not women, lord I swear the female "lead" here only exists to be a girl ((e.g. for the male lead to fall in love with and have man angst over) ) but
that's a whole can of worms I won't bother opening rn) unless they're Karasuma. Who is very well done.
- The rest of the leading cast is absolutely a bundle of archetypes. Rich pretty boy with family issues who /may/ be two-faced, a gentle giant, and the ~girl~. There *is* Sou, who I thought was going to become a good character but he's basically Gon without depth, and edgier. Even their hair is the same, lol.
+ Art's wonderful, some panels do look wonky but that's to be expected in manga, what with their crazy deadlines.
All in all I'll give it a 7. It's a decently enjoyable little romp when I don't feel like seeking out anything better.
Might come back to rant about it more but I think I've done enough. It's definitely not a 10/10 series.