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Kaze Hikaru Vol. #26 Manga Review

4 min read
Kondo is too nice and too hopeful in dealing with his mistress, not realizing the strange game of love being played is far stranger than he could have guessed.
Kaze Hikaru Vol. #26

All’s fair in love and revenge.

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

What They Say
Kondo, disillusioned by the weakened state of the shogunate, returns from Hiroshima in despair. Upon his return, he moves in with his mistress Miyuki. Hijikata is on high alert, and he observes the couple very closely. What are Miyuki’s motives, and why is she staying with Kondo?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
It’s funny how a well-told story can make you overlook modern sensibilities and morals in order to root for success in situations that would horrify you. Case in point, this volume of Kaze Hikaru deals with prostitution, mistresses, blood feuds, and class dynamics. These are all topics fraught with moral and ethical quandaries, yet the rules of Japanese society at the time are fine with them.

As a gift to Kondo, and to improve troop morale, his mistresses’ contract is bought out and she’s expected to serve him exclusively going forward. Sei is assigned to support Kondo so she’s stuck bearing witness to the extremely happy reunion sex from the next room. (There’s gotta be nothing worse than being forced to listen to your boss have sex.) Yet it’s quickly clear that all isn’t well in that relationship as Miyuki suddenly distances herself from him. 

The soap opera hijinks ramp up from there with a great deal of suspicion being thrown about. Some don’t want to believe that Miyuki is just using Kondo, but others like Hijikata are so certain of it he’s about to kill the woman for not doing her “duty” to Kondo. Faked illnesses, a sister (who bears a striking resemblance to Sei) and extortion follow. The whole scenario is one big complicated and enthralling mess. Kondo is shown being the good guy by being a total pushover, yet he’s still cool with have mistresses. Samurai were not beholden to being faithful to their official wives, non-surprisingly.

The characters bemoan the unfairness of being knocked down a class and being forced into prostitution to get by, but happily uphold the status quo. Discipline and order above personal desires. It’s still easier for people to assume that Sei and Okita might have a shudo relationship than for her to be a woman in disguise. The idea of Kondo having mistresses to relax is all the way up in the yikes territory. 

That’s not the only complicated situation in this volume. One of the other commanders has an inkling that Sei might be a woman but Saito deflects the inquiry. Suddenly that commander has his own problems to worry about, and the others believe they’ve uncovered a mistress of his own. Yet the reality is far darker, and grimmer, and a good example of how violence begets nothing but violence. While it’s a relief to not have to watch Sei come up with crazy excuses, the suddeness of the conclusion to that issue is a stark reminder that the entire script is beholden to a historical timeline.

This volume includes the usual author afterword comic and translation notes.

In Summary
Some people will do anything for love. This volume takes more than a few cues from telenovelas. Kondo is too nice and too hopeful in dealing with his mistress, not realizing the strange game of love being played is far stranger than he could have guessed. Not to mention cutthroat. While there is hair-pulling and drama, there is also bloodshed and near misses as Sei continues to push her luck in her position in the Shinsengumi, where one wrong move means seppuku. What I really want to know is if Sei and Okita will hook up before history catches up with them?

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

Age Rating: Teen Plus
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: August 7, 2018
MSRP: 9.99