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Kaze Hikaru Vol. #23 Manga Review

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Kaze Hikaru Vol. #23
Kaze Hikaru Vol. #23

Sei is out of harm’s way, but Kondo is heading straight into danger.

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Taeko Watanabe
Translation/Adaptation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki

What They Say
Sei, who has disguised herself as a man in order to fight with the Shinsengumi, is badly injured in a surprise attack. Her secret love, Soji, is haunted by the incident and Sei’s role in saving his life. As he starts to fall hard for Sei, his behavior becomes so unreasonable that Saito says he is unfit to serve as vice captain! Meanwhile, Captain Kondo returns from a disappointing trip to Hiroshima while some of his closest colleagues conspire against him…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s that time of year again, when we’re graced with a rare volume of Kaze Hikaru. The slow release schedule is a direct result of the troubles of selling josei manga in the States and the struggling sales here. In Japan, even with the slow release pace, they’re up to volume #37. Weep with me.

After the previous events, where Sei was struck and wounded defending Soji, Sei is out of commission. She took a nasty hit to the back of her shoulder and looses a lot of blood. Doc Hogen keeps messing around with Soji, telling him that Sei might not live and that he should prepare for the worst before switching his tune to tell him to marry her. Even Saito gets Soji riled up about the whole incident, and Soji keeps blaming himself. Sei, however, did exactly what she wanted and certainly blames Soji for nothing. It’s just fun watching everyone mess with Soji’s love-struck head. They spend the rest of the volume being awkwardly cute with each other as Soji slowly comes to accept Sei’s determination while getting used to the idea of being in love. It comes down to Sei asking Soji to tend to her wound, and Soji realizing what Saito was getting at with his comments about him not being fit to serve. (He was implying Soji was too dense!)

For once Sei and Soji are not the main event. Kondo is off on a mission for the Bakufu and finds that the enemy is closer than he thought. Councilor Ito plots and plans behind his back and eventually sets him up to take a fatal fall. Hijikata is aware of the plotting, informed by his own spy, and frets because he’s too far away to act. In the end it’s only through Kondo’s quick action and his charming personality that he’s able to escape harm. However his mission to gain access to the traitorous Choshu and Iwakani fails, and leaves everyone wondering how to deal with Ito. Do they kill him or keep their enemy close?

Ito himself is an interesting enemy for the group to have. His skeevy advances on the attractive men of the cast make him close to being an ugly stereotype, until we dig a little further into his motivations. Yeah, he’s loose when it comes to who he’d like to get into bed with him. However he genuinely believes that the shinsengumi is being dealt a bad hand by their masters and that their allegiances should be refocused. To that end he’ll kill whomever he needs in order to see that through.

The extras are similar to prior volumes, with translation notes and author editorial comic. I’m always impressed with this historical fiction’s dedication to details.  Her editorial comic in this volume delves into the use of the Japanese word for surgeon and she goes into what a surgeon in 1866 Japan would have done on the job. I love the mild freak out the author had trying to see if she made a mistake with terminology.

In Summary
Another year has passed, another single volume of the low selling but much beloved Kaze Hikaru. This volume is politic-heavy, but not without the personal drama which keeps us glued to the story of Sei and her quest to be a model bushi. Soji has pretty much accepted the fact that he’s smitten with his injured comrade in arms and struggles to let her live her life, even if it puts her in harms way. Meanwhile, things are heating up in the background with sides being drawn up and alliances being strained as councilor Ito plots to bend the Shinsengumi to his path of thinking. We end this volume in 1866, and the good times can’t last forever. The conflict is only going to ramp up from here, but there’s still plenty of time for Sei to bloom further.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: August 4th, 2015
MSRP: $9.99