Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather is an anime movie based on a yaoi manga. This film explores the criminal underworld of a promiscuous yakuza and his spiraling life. It's a provocative tale about sex, power, crime, and the lasting repercussions of trauma.
As somebody unfamiliar with the Twittering Birds Never Fly manga, this anime was a lot more intense than I anticipated. It thrusts me into a provocative and disturbing tale with sinister undertones. I enjoy the dark, gritty, and sombre atmosphere in this highly stylish film.
Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather Summary
囀る鳥は羽ばたかない The clouds gather
Around 90 minutes + 2 planned movie sequels
Dark and disturbing
Yes, written by Kou Yoneda
Yes, it's an explicit BL anime movie.
Yashiro is a high-ranking member in his yakuza organization, where his powerful position has given him free reigns to do whatever he desires. Usually, what Yashiro craves most involves lots of sex, with a flurry of different men, that come and go once he gets bored of them. Yashiro is not built for any serious long-term relationships. He seems to be hung up on one man only: Kageyama, his best friend from high school. Yet, a relationship between them never materialized, and Kageyama is currently in a relationship with another man.
One day, Yashiro takes an interest in a new subordinate working at his office. He is Doumeki, a quiet and stoic bodyguard who is exactly Yashiro's type. It does not take long before he is sexually propositioned by Yashiro, only to discover that Doumeki is impotent based on a past traumatic event. This revelation does not shake Yashiro's resolve, and he continues to engage with Doumeki in sexual pusuits, despite the lack of gratification from their encounters together.
A complicated relationship develops between Yashiro and Doumeki. Despite Doumeki's growing feelings for his boss, Yashiro remains emotionally unavailable and puts distance between them every time they get closer. While the two of them navigate their feelings, Yashiro is also involved in the risky undertakings of his yakuza organization. In between the past grudges and constant power struggles, it is a dangerous life that Yashiro leads, one that becomes increasingly perilious.
Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather
Twittering Birds Never Fly Characters
Yashiro Tarusuke Shingaki (新垣樽助)
Yashiro is the dark and sinister boss of a powerful yakuza organization. He can be moody, manipulative, and quite malicious. Recently, Yashiro has developed a keen sexual interest in his bodyguard Doumeki.
Doumeki Wataru Hatano (羽多野渉)
Doumeki is Yashiro's new bodyguard, who is entirely devoted to his yakuza boss. A former police officer, Doumeki is a stoic man who speaks very little and rarely shows any emotions.
Hiroki Yasumoto (安元洋貴)
Yūki Ono (小野友樹)
Megumi Satou (佐藤惠)
Tōru Ōkawa (大川透)
Kenta Miyake (三宅健太)
Okitsu Kazuyuki (興津和幸)
Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather Review
Anime Review Score: 8.3
Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather is not a movie for everyone. This is a provocative anime and I liked that it challenged me psychologically. However, the taboo themes and explicit displays will feel too intense for many people, who might be more used to the lighter aspects of BL.
It helped that I was in the right emotional head space when watching this. However, I can also imagine the movie feeling too dark and heavy for me at another time on a different day.
You'll notice most of this review might read like one big character analysis of Yashiro. I write about him a lot because he’s a big part of what makes this movie so interesting. In addition to Yashiro’s brilliant characterization, the movie does a great job at creating a stylish ambiance that really sets the mood. Some of the visuals are daunting and I personally find the art style to be gorgeous.
How is the story?
This movie explores the lasting effects of psychological trauma in our two main characters. Doumeki's emotional baggage is addressed early on, but it is Yashiro's pain that really fuels the story. Beneath his bravado and his excessive sex life lies a man so broken that he's incapable of functioning or thinking normally. His views on love, happiness, relationships, and emotional stability are all skewed.
The story was like a slow psychological horror exploring into Yashiro's damaged psyche and the ugliness around him. I felt a heavy burden as the story progressed. The extremely touchy topics made some parts of the movie uncomfortable to watch, but it was also emotionally gripping and I couldn't look away.
If I thought the movie was already this gloomy, I can hardly imagine how much darker and bleaker the manga must be.
How is the romance?
Yashiro and Doumeki
I don't know if calling it a romance is the right word, but the relationship between Yashiro and Doumeki was compelling in a twisted way.
On one level, there's the imbalanced power dynamic between a boss and his underling. On another level, there's the emotional trauma affecting Doumeki's sexual potency. On a third level, there's Yashiro using sex to compensate for any emotional voids, even if the sex was futile and could never have a climax. On one more level, it's about Yashiro deflecting Doumeki's feelings and pushing their relationship away to keep himself emotionally unavailable. Phew, and I feel like I just barely scratched the surface with the two of them.
The film might feel like it gets overpowered by the sex scenes, but they also depict Yashiro's desperate attempts to fill the emotional emptiness in his life. The only way he knows how to feel confident is through his promiscuity. Doumeki tries his best to break through these emotional barriers, but it can be tough because he's recovering from his own personal trauma. Their relationship is both sad and compelling since they have so many psychological obstacles between them.
Yashiro and Kageyama
Yashiro's relationship with Kageyama doesn't get much focus, because there's hardly a romance between them. It's more of an one-sided love that doesn't get reciprocated. Even calling it love seems inaccurate. His devotion towards Kageyama is mostly because he was the only one to show Yashiro kindness in his youth. Yashiro misconstrues this as love, whereas the actual feelings Kageyama has for him is pity.
The real insult is that Kageyama starts having a relationship with another guy who isn't Yashiro. So, it isn't his sexuality that poses as the obstacle in their non-starter romance. It's simply because Kageyama doesn't want Yashiro that way, and he will never want to be with him romantically. It's not me, it's totally you.
Are they even friends? I'm not sure if there's enough to classify this as a genuine friendship between the two of them. It seems more like a relationship of convenience between two people who have outgrown each other, but just can't let go of the past.
How is the art?
This anime is very stylish with a distinct atmosphere, which you'll pick up on right away. Some of the key scenes are composed beautifully, making good use of colour and light to create an artistic ambiance. I also like the way the characters are drawn: burly masculine bodies, sharp angular jaws, small suspicious eyes, and faint pastel colours.
It was actually the artwork on the poster that drew me to this movie in the first place. This is the exact type of visual style that I dig in anime.
Who's the best character?
Definitely Yashiro. Love him or hate him, he's easily the most complex character with layers and layers of meaty psychological trauma. I never really hated Yashiro, because he was always darkly amusing even at his worst, but I did fail to understand him. His character is so beyond damaged that the decisions he make and the actions he take are seemingly impossible to grasp.
It will take weeks, thousands of words, and maybe a couple of therapists to unpack all the messed up crap in Yashiro's life.
Is there any fanservice?
Oh boy, does it ever. Get ready because you're in for a wild ride. There were copious amounts of nudity and sex in this explicit 18+ yaoi movie. We don't see any full frontal shots, but we basically see everything else. 🍑🍆💦
Every other minute, Yashiro is DTF and he's either taking off his pants or unbuckling somebody else's. In fact, it might be rarer to find a scene in Twittering Birds Never Fly that doesn't feature a naked character in the middle of having sexual intercourse.
Are there any triggers?
Oh god, yes. Lots of rape, violence, gore, abuse, and other taboo adult themes. The full extensive list of what's triggering in this movie goes on and on. Most of it has to do with the sex, which could be masochistic or non-consensual or both. Be warned this 18+ yaoi anime is not for the faint of hearts.
What's the best part?
I like the sombre tone and the bleak atmosphere of the anime. The visuals play a big part, but it's also the combination of the storylines, the characters, and the dialogue. These elements come together to create a distinct movie with lots of grit and style.
What would you change?
The minor characters
I'd provide a little more clarity on some of the characters. I'm sure the fans of the original manga won't have this problem, but I had a tough time distinguishing the minor characters because they looked and behaved so similarly. I couldn't tell whether the bad guy in this scene was the same as the last one or if he was another new one that just got introduced. Who are all these people?
How is the ending?
The minor characters
This movie ends on a suitably sad, grim, and bleak note. Considering there are two more movie sequels in the works, I'm guessing Yashiro probably lives to see another day? Nonetheless, Yashiro getting shot in the middle of broad daylight somehow feels like perfect way to cap off this dark and disturbing film.
Admittedly, Twittering Birds Never Fly: The Clouds Gather won’t appeal to everyone, who may find the story too slow, the sex scenes too blunt, or the subject matters too heavy. If you are in the mood to watch something a little twisted, this brooding anime offers a lot of psychological complexity for you to sink your teeth into.