This review of Twittering Birds Never Fly will include explicit content and sexual assault.
While exploring the LGBT+ market of anime, there is no doubt you will run into some sexual explicit series – some loved dearly, some notoriously hated. Saezuru Tori wa Habatakanai aka Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather, was one of those cherished series that was recommended to me when I was looking for a BL/Yaoi series that felt a little more grown up. While there were a few things I couldn’t find myself to love, Saezuru shows a great example on how trauma can place two people on opposite sides of how they are coping with the repercussions of it.
Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather , is an ongoing manga illustrated and written by Kou Yoneda. It currently holds six volumes, with an audio drama to compliment the intimate atmosphere the manga gives. Twittering Birds was recently released on Blu-ray February 2nd 2021 here in the States, and with glowing recommendations about the manga, I thought I could give its anime movie release a try first.
The story follows Yashiro, a yakuza member who has his own special way of running things in his office front, with only having loved and respected a single man: Kageyama. While Yashiro has known Kageyama since high school, giving him under the table jobs because Kageyama is a doctor of sorts, Yashiro knows in his heart that nothing could ever happen. Very quickly into the movie you find out that Yashiro is a masochist finding excitement and sexual pleasure in getting people upset and riled up. Though loving to be submissive, you see throughout the movie that he does the real orchestrating of who and how he has sex with someone, out of trying to forget how emotionally lonely he is from past trauma, and never being able to be loved how he wants to.
Domeki, a used-to-be police officer who found a job as Yashiro’s bodyguard starts his first day unphased when first meeting Yashiro himself having sex with someone from the gang family. Being different and even not being able to do what Yashiro tell him, Yashiro finds an interest in him and tries to pick at the curiosity himself. While the relationship starts out incredibly awkward as Domeki’s impotence in sex and Yashiro’s high drive clash; the dynamic between the two really shines when the emotional bonds strengthen. You see throughout the movie that while getting to know each other, both have suffered from a sexual trauma of sorts that have formed who they are today.
While this anime has very simple animation, in the hour and half of watching Twittering Birds, I came to really enjoy the little nuggets of intimacy and emotions we often miss when there is too much happening on screen. Moments like Domeki’s ears turning a slight red when confessing to Yashiro that he thinks he is the most beautiful person he’s laid his sights on. You see intimate acts of foreplay and asking if things are okay to act on. The subject of homosexuality is open as well, and questions on same sex relationships are met with no hostility.
What Twittering Birds also does well is showing how trauma can really stay and mess with someone’s ability to be romantic as they grow up. We go through the years of seeing love being something that we all must go through, making sure we go through the same patterns of romantic relationships like giving gifts, holding hands on dates, being there as a shoulder to cry on when your partner is upset. The anime shows that when trauma, especially relating to intimacy, can highlight that when you like someone, doing things like this aren’t as easy to do. Both Domeki and Yashiro have had a tough situation happen in their lives that they weren’t able to work through and get over, and now both of them have become a couple of stubborn 30-somethings.
Tackling trauma in LGBT+ media can be very touchy, and more times than not it’s through the lens of a straight person who sees trauma as a quirky backstory to slap on. Yashiro and Domeki having gone through something similar when they were very young shows how different people can land when expressing themselves, not even just sexually, but platonically, and how they act in their work, and more. When things are so emotionally damaged without resolve for so long, things we do, say, and feel, feel like normal. Twittering Birds highlights this very well.
While the movie had great messaging paired with hot visuals, I found myself bothered by a few things. Looking back and liking what it had to say about growing with trauma, it took me until finishing the movie a day later and reading some of the manga to find it engaging. The movie itself falls very flat when trying to pull in its audience, with very little focus on trying to relate and give more light to Yashiro, and Domeki’s very one sided personality that didn’t try to want to get me to know him a little better.Even if you aren’t into plot when watching BL and want something a little spicy to watch for your night in, I can’t even say the Twittering Birds movie would be the best option -although its manga is a whole different story. While the movie suffers from same face syndrome, and with an ending that felt off and forced, I can safely say that after reading the manga, as many can say for manga-to-anime media, you should read it before watching the movie.
I had very mixed feelings at first, but learned to really enjoy it when looking at its themes and reading between the lines, and I think you will too. I cannot deny understanding how excited fans were when hearing about the movie’s release. Especially if they followed the series from the very beginning, dating its debut in the early 2010’s. Try the manga out first, you’ll feel butterflies and maybe a bit shy, pushing you to want to get the Blu-ray, to try and intake as much Twittering Birds content as you can.
Anime Impact is a column from Monti Velez that looks at anime with a queer perspective.