Rainbow and Black, by Eri Takenashi, is a cute, pet manga about a rigid-minded young lady and her exotic bird. Or is it a mammal? Or is it both?
Kuroe is a college student who’s uncompromising approach to life frequently gets her into trouble, costing her several jobs and making it difficult for her to make friends. Her black-or-white world is suddenly livened up when she stumbles upon an abandoned Rainbow-Coloured Heavenly Parrot, a rare and intelligent animal, with beautiful, multi-coloured plumage, that defies categorization. Kuroe takes it home, intending to only look after it until she can find a new owner, but, when the Heavenly Parrot bonds with her, she ends up adopting him permanently and naming him Niji. Since she’s never even owned a regular pet, let alone an exotic and little-known one, Kuroe has a lot to learn about how to care for her new friend, but, as she lives with and grows more and more attached to Niji, Kuroe starts to find her perspective expanding, little by little.
Rainbow and Black is a relaxing, slice-of-life manga that focuses on Niji’s weird and adorable antics, Kuroe and her mom’s efforts to learn how to care for him properly and how his companionship starts to help Kuroe to grow.
Niji is a mammal, but his species has feathers and is so singular that scientists have had trouble classifying it. While he isn’t actually a bird, Niji can mimic sounds like a parrot. He learns how to say a few words and phrases and seems to have a rudimentary understanding of some human language, meaning he can sort-of communicate with Kuroe and her mom on a very basic level. It’s difficult to assess exactly how smart Niji actually is, meaning, for the first time, Kuroe has encountered something that she can’t make a cut-and-dry judgement about and this throws her for a loop. Since she doesn’t know how to categorize Niji in her mind, Kuroe is forced to accept that some things are just ambiguous.
Being a pet-owner also sets Kuroe on the path to making new friends, as she’s inspired to look up other Heavenly Parrot owners online and ends up messaging one of them. This is a pretty big step for her, since she’s not very social-media savvy, and it looks like her efforts to reach out is going to lead to her becoming friends with her online pal in real life. I’m looking forward to seeing Kuroe continue to push herself and hopefully find people who she can relate to, as she could really use some more people to hangout with besides her strange pet and her mom.
Speaking of whom, I think my favourite character in the manga is Kuroe’s mom. Since Kuroe still lives at home, her mom ends up becoming co-caretaker of Niji and she’s just as taken with him as Kuroe is, even if Niji clearly prefers Kuroe’s company. While this manga could have easily been about Kuroe living alone with Niji, I’m glad that her mom was included in the narrative, as she acts as a good foil for Kuroe and a useful sounding-board. She’s much more relaxed and happy-go-lucky and is continuously perplexed with her daughter’s inflexible way of thinking. She’s also not above giving Kuroe a scolding when she fails to examine issues from all sides. Despite their differences, I thought Kuroe and her mom had a very sweet mother-daughter dynamic and I enjoyed seeing their cozy everyday life with Niji.
A simple, whimsical and light-hearted story, Rainbow and Black is perfect for readers who love pet stories but are interested in something a bit more fantastical then your average cat manga. I plan to continue reading the series and I’d recommend checking it out if you’re in the mood for a sweet, comfort read.
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10.
What did you think of this manga? If they were real, would you want a Rainbow-Coloured Heavenly Parrot as a pet? Let me know in the comments! Personally, I think they sound a bit too needy.
For more information on this title, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website.
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