Toritan: Birds of a Feather has an intriguing bird-focused premise that comes off as wholesome even in its absurdity. The series is published in English by SubLime, VIZ Media‘s yaoi/BL imprint, and written and illustrated by mangaka Kotetsuko Yamamoto and the English translation is provided by Adrienne Beck with touch-up art and lettering from E.K. Weaver. In this manga, a birdsong begins to sound like a love song.
Toritan: Birds of a Feather Volume 1 is the debut volume for the new series from SubLime which follows a private detective Inusaki who has a special gift: talking to birds. But like any special talent in a manga where you’re the only one with a gift, it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, his ability to know what the birds are saying is the reason why he despises them. Tired of the incessant chatter, he spends most of his day trying to tune them out, until the day he meets an intriguing and strangely handsome crow he just can’t get off his mind. The unwitting jack-of-all-trades who is the neighborhood man you call for all “odd jobs” is shocked when the crow in question knows his name.
This piece of familiarity is enough to build an instant connection that when you throw in that this crow is acting like anything but, even helping a baby bird that would be its prey, Inusaki names him. Now, while the name isn’t original, “Kuro,” it does show the first and only time this bird whisperer has sought friendship in a bird instead of fearing them. Later, when Inusaki seems to hear Kuro’s voice call out to him as he walks down the street. But when he turns around, he finds only the landlord’s son, Mitsuru.
Over the course of eight chapters, we get to see Inusaki explore his gift and deal with interesting feelings for a bird. A crush on a crow? Well, while this may seem different for American readers, this is a common trope in manga, especially in romances. Animals turning into humans to meet their crushes or to become closer to them is a common piece of fantasy romances and in Toritan: Birds of a Feather, it isn’t as straightforward. As Inusaki becomes closer to Mitsuru at the same time, he begins to realize that his feelings for Kuro are really his feelings for Mitsuru. But, for the entire volume, we aren’t given a clear answer as to how Kuro and Mitsuru are the same, just that they are. This mystery is something that pushes the story and makes the ending of the volume end on a note that leaves you excited to pick up the next one.
Now, you can tell that Mitsuru and Inusaki will be together, just from the genre that you’re reading. But, how it happens is a journey and one that revolves around miscommunications and growing affections that both parties keep hidden. While this volume is marked with SubLime’s “explicit content” marker, it doesn’t feature any adult scenes and instead focuses on a slow-developing romance that doesn’t start to get its footing until the last pages. While this marking is given to series and not just individual volumes, it may set some expectations for some BL readers.
That said, the slow nature of the story is essential to what makes it so heartwarming, funny, and a must-read. That said, the only issue I have with Toritan: Birds of a Feather is that volume 2 isn’t slated for release until March of next year.
Toritan: Birds of a Feather Volume 1 is available from booksellers now.
Toritan: Birds of a Feather Volume 1
The slow nature of this story is essential to what makes it so heartwarming, funny, and a must-read. That said, the only issue I have with Toritan: Birds of a Feather is that volume 2 isn’t slated for release until March of next year.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.