By Leroy Douresseaux
Jan 25, 2009 - 12:07
|Kaze Hikaru 12 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
Japan in the 1860s is a time of tremendous social upheaval. Tominaga Sei, the daughter of a samurai, disguises herself as a boy to avenge her Bakufu bushi (samurai) father and brothers. She takes the name Kamiya Seizaburo and joins the Shinsengumi, a band of warriors formed to protect the Shogunate system. Aspiring to be a true bushi, Kamiya trains under Okita Soji, the young man she loves and the only person in the Shinsengumi who knows Kamiya’s true identity.
Kaze Hikaru, Vol. 12 finds the troop still deep in grief over the death (by seppuku) of Vice Captain Yamanami Keisuke. Just as emotions begin to settle, new sources of anxiety arise – for both the Shinsengumi and for its individual members. Vice-Captain Hijikata Toshizo announces that the troop is moving the headquarters – in 2 days! Then, Sae, Soji’s former love interest, arrives in Kyoto and insists on seeing him, but he’s determined to avoid her. Sae’s visit occurs at the worst time for Kamiya, who is fraught with worry about the status of her relationship with Soji.
THE LOWDOWN: The death of a beloved character has indeed cast a pall over Kaze Hikaru; not just in this manga’s fictional world, but also over the narrative for us readers. In the wake of Yamanami’s shocking demise, the narrative drifts as the lives of the primary players drift. This isn’t the best volume for new readers, as it doesn’t capture the suspense, romance, drama, and comedy that characterize Kaze Hikaru, although the tearjerker quality that makes it such a poignant read is in evidence.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of Japanese historical fiction and drama will absolutely love Kaze Hikaru, even if this isn’t one of the better volumes.