By Leroy Douresseaux
Jul 27, 2013 - 16:52
|Kaze Hikaru Volume 21 cover image is courtesy of barnesandnoble.com.|
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
The 1860s is a time of violent social upheaval, as Japan enters a new era. Samurai from all walks of life travel to Kyoto in hopes of joining the Shinsengumi, a band of warriors dedicated to the Shogunate system. In order to avenge her father and brother, Tominaga Sei disguises herself as a boy, takes the name “Kamiya Seizaburo,” and joins the Shinsengumi. Aspiring to be a true bushi (samurai or warrior), 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. 21 opens with the fallout from Sei’s investigation of Sakamoto Ryoma. Vice Captain Hijikata Toshizo attacks Okita over his part in it, and then, reassigns Sei from First Troop to Third Troop – away from Okita. Okita then attempts to distance himself from Sei when he discovers Sei’s feelings.
Now, Sei believes that as Kamiya, she can no serve as bushi alongside Okita. She leaves the Shinsengumi to visit Suigetsuni, a nun who knew Sei in her former life as a girl and a child of a doctor. There, Sei plans to renounce the world and enter the convent.
THE LOWDOWN: As I’ve said in earlier reviews, one of the things that I really like about the Kaze Hikaru manga is the series’ beautiful art. The beautiful art, however, is the storytelling medium for what can be a moving and emotional tale of friendship, male bonding, and loyalty.
Kaze Hikaru Volume 21 is one of the better volumes of the series. Because the story involves the central romantic relationship in this narrative, as well as some flashbacks concerning the lead character, Vol. 21 is a good jumping-on point for new readers. This volume encapsulates so much about Sei and Okita and their relationship that it could be a stand-alone graphic novel. This time, series creator Taeko Watanabe offers an especially good episode of her very human drama.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of historical romance and Japanese historical fiction will like the Shojo Beat title, Kaze Hikaru.
Rating: A /10