As Japan enters a new era in the 1860s, it is a time of violent social upheaval. Samurai from all walks of life travel to Kyoto in hopes of joining the Shinsengumi, a band of warriors dedicated to the Shogunate bakufu system. In order to avenge her father and brother, Tominaga Sei disguises herself as a boy. She 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.
As Kaze Hikaru, Vol. 27 opens, the chaos of the Bakumatsu period escalates. In the midst of this volatile climate, the Shinsengumi is also experiencing high melodrama. Shinsengumi councilor Ito Kashitaro is openly flirting with Hijikata Toshizo, vice-captain of the Shinsengumi. Councilor Ito is becoming so aggressive that he is literally, physically making Hijikata sick. So Captain Kondo Isami asks/orders Kamiya to be Hijikata's “kosho” (a Shinsengumi captain's personal assistant).
Will Kamiya being present really stop Ito's advances? And what is Ito really up to? A damaged precious photograph and a nighttime meeting will reveal all!
[This volume also contains “Kaze Hikaru Diary R” Part 18.]
THE LOWDOWN: Once a year or so, the Kaze Hikaru manga returns in a new graphic novel collection from VIZ Media. I believe that this series is always worth the wait, whether it is a full-year wait or only half-a-year or so.
Kaze Hikaru Graphic Novel Volume 27 presents to the reader some political intrigue and a tense stand-off with the threat of swords being drawn. However, much of this volume focuses on the the dynamic between Hijikata Toshizo and Councilor Ito with Kamiya-kun caught in the middle.
Translator and adaptation author Tetsuichiro Miyaki captures the intimacy that creator Taeko Watanabe gives this volume, as well as the tension and conflict between various individuals and between various parties. Rina Mapa's delicate lettering is perfect for this story; even the sound effects are tender in a way that convey the beauty and dramatic spirit of Kaze Hikaru.
I READS YOU REVIEW: Fans of historical romance and of Japanese historical fiction will like the Shojo Beat title, Kaze Hikaru.