Kaze Hikaru 6-8 by Taeko Watanabe: A-

kaze6Even though I’ve enjoyed the earlier volumes of Kaze Hikaru, it is these three volumes—which expertly combine romance, humor, character development, and historical events (with exciting bits of foreshadowing)—that have secured my undying love for the series.

We begin in the summer of 1864. The Shinsengumi is waiting for the Bakufu government to take a stand regarding exclusionism and is growing frustrated with the hesitant leadership. Instead of protecting the shogun, they’re being used to round up members of the radical Choshu clan. At one point, we see Vice Captain Hijikata torturing one of these fellows for information. I love that Watanabe-sensei doesn’t shy away from depicting these characters doing unheroic things (although I do weary of Sei objecting every time and showing no deference to authority) while managing to make them sympathetic anyway; it’s not as if Hijikata enjoys torturing someone, but he takes up the role of the hardass villain so that beloved Captain Kondo doesn’t have to.

The intelligence obtained by the torture indicates the Choshu clan will be gathering at an inn called Ikedaya to discuss an attack on Kyoto, which leads into one of the most awesome scenes in the series so far. Sei and Okita head out into battle together, and when he appears to’ve been killed, she is transfigured by fury and turns into quite a competent fighter. Further awesomeness occurs when, after seeing Okita safely to the infirmary, she doesn’t linger by his side but instead leaves him to return to the fray where her brothers are still fighting. It’s wonderful to see Sei so thoroughly exhibiting the qualities of a bushi, and I also love how much the Ikedaya incident will continue to influence the story from here on out.

kaze7One consequence of Sei’s impressive performance at the Ikedaya is that Captain Kondo wants to adopt her as his heir, an honor Sei must decline on account of her gender but without giving either a full explanation or offense. She wonders why Okita, who has essentially been raised by Kondo since the age of nine, isn’t the heir, and it is revealed that Okita has vowed to commit seppuku when Kondo dies. This explains a lot about Okita and his undying devotion to Kondo (further fleshed out in volume eight), and appearance of maintaining a carefree life. He can’t think about things like love, even though it appears at one point that he has begun to see Sei as something other than a child, because his life is not truly his to do with as he wishes. What a great reason for keeping two leads apart!

Meanwhile, two members of the Shinsengumi, Vice Captain Yamanami and Assistant Vice Captain Todo, receive a lot of attention in these volumes. Yamanami wasn’t able to participate in the Ikedaya incident due to illness, so he doesn’t receive the bonus pay that some men get and proceed to spend on whores. They feel sorry for him and lend him some money, and when he goes to the red light district, he meets Akesato, the lady with whom Sei stays three days a month while menstruation is in progress. Yamanami is a simple and kind fellow, and he and Akesato end up falling in love, but he’s reluctant to pursue it because it’d be a betrayal of his friend. Akesato finally admits Sei’s secret, so that makes two members of the Shinsengumi who know it now.

kaze8This development of Yamanami makes sense when, after a huge battle (Kinmon no Hen) ravages the city with fire, he and Todo (the sick members of the group who’ve been left behind to guard headquarters) think to head over to the nearby prison to help with evacuation. When they arrive, they find the magistrate in the act of murdering the prisoners rather than release them and react with hostility to his actions. While they await being sentenced to seppuku for their disrespect, Todo seeks out the source of rumors that the Shinsengumi was responsible for the atrocity and ends up falling in love with a prostitute. I guess no proper ladies want anything to do with these rowdy fellows.

I really don’t have any complaints. The historical moments are positively riveting, and though the slice-of-life aspects are understandably less so, they’re still quite good. I am kind of sad, though, that Okita’s backstory includes a scene where he runs into Sei as a child. What a shojo trope that is; I’m always kind of annoyed wherever it turns up, even when it’s in a great series like this one. And, make no mistake, it is great.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. […] marks to Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture at Read About Comics… Michelle Smith raves about Kaze Hikaru and pans Pride and Prejudice and Zombies at Soliloquy in Blue… Danielle Leigh declares Ooku: […]

Speak Your Mind