During the Bakumatsu revolution which marked the end of the Tokugawa era and the beginning of the Meiji era,a young girl named Sei Tominaga, seeking to avenge the deaths of her father and brother, disguises herself as a young boy named Seizaburo Kamiya to join the Shinsengumi.
This is honestly one of the top manga on my list (and I've read a LOT). I can't recommend it enough and I hope the rating will increase because it really does deserve a higher one.
But don't pick it up expecting fluffiness and sugary love-doveyness galore. The 'history' part of the manga plays an important role in directing the plot but it's not THAT heavy that it overshadows the relationships that form the core of the story (battles/fighting is kept to a minimum, not like in Rurouni Kenshin). It's a gender bender that stems from something more than just trying to win the heart of
the hot guy who the girl saw on TV or on a billboard.
For those who don't enjoy the story of the Shinsengumi very much, this manga might seem unappealing but the author really does a beautiful job of developing likable, lovable, and interesting characters that are multi-faceted (silly but skilled, gentle but strong, etc). I've really come to care about the three-dimensional characters and I really think that you will too if you give this manga a chance.
The characters are met with the gray aspects of life, make mistakes and grow from them. And they learn from and about each other and it's just a pleasure to see the relationship grow between the two main protagonists as well as between the members of the Shinsengumi. The story is just a great mixture of humor, history, friendship, drama, and romance.
I understand why this series wouldn't be everyone's (especially younger readers') cup of tea since it isn't as 'girly' as, say, Vampire Knights (which I also like). It's storytelling style is subtle and thoughtful, where the comedy isn't as exaggerated as in Skip Beat and the romance less direct than in something like Fruits Basket. The artwork is really great (detailed backgrounds, consistent) but the characters aren't the usual prettiness you find in something by CLAMP (that took some getting used to for me, but now I simply love it! -- and for the most part they are distinguishable from one another unlike in many other manga).
Sorry for the writing such a long review but I really hope you'll give it a read. Please message me with any comments, especially if you're a Kaze Hikaru fan!
I got to say, other than the lack of characters screen time this is one hell of an amazing manga. I give Kaze Hikaru a very high recommendation for those who enjoy the crossdressing/samurai/history genres. The female lead, Tominaga Sei also known as Seizaburo Kamiya in disguise, has a well-rounded personality; even though her stubbornness gets her into alot of trouble. Okita is a handsome swordsman and has a bright disposition who is quite protective of Sei and her secret. All the characters have genuine personalities which make the story, oh, so more enjoyable.
Since I'm a huge history nerd I tend
to go for the stories which are pretty accurate on events. Obviously, Watanabe wanted to add some of her own ideas, but her knowledge on the late Edo period helped her and her readers visualize what really went on during the reign of the Shinsengumi with her own storyline.
Even though it isn't like Vagabond with panels of amazing sword action, it still has its moments. The dialog is pretty comedic at times which helps ease the tension in some situations. The romance isn't over the top so don't expect an epic romance. This is what I really enjoy about this manga, it has a pieces of everything mashed together.
This is my first review, but I hope those who read it try to get some interest from the reviews. I hope you enjoy Kaze Hikaru~
I normally don't write reviews but I'm hoping that Kaze Hikaru will have more recognition.
This shojo manga is not so typical where it centers (and sometimes just) on romance. The main female protagonist is very strong willed, likable, well rounded, and bright character. The character and story development is well thought out and the mangaka goes to a good length to make the setting historically accurate (not in a boring fashion).
The reason I like this manga is because of the depth in the characters and the story. The romance aspect takes time to progress in this story but I find it very cute and
funny. There seems to be endless supplies of shallow love stories with similar plots so it is always a relief to see a shojo manga that transcends that.
One thing that might deter people from reading it is probably the art. The characters are not glamorized as we might be used to in other shojo manga but nonetheless it is well drawn and beautiful in its own way.
Before I picked up Kaze Hikaru, the only japanese history I knew was post WWII, so my first introduction to the Shinsegumi was Kaze Hikura. Only after I read every published chapter did I go on Wikipedia and investigate the historical accounts. My suspicions were confirmed when they lined up perfectly. Kaze Hakaru isn’t romance with a historical setting, its Historical fiction that has some romance.
Most of the characters in Kaze Hikaru are based off accounts of historical figures. She does a good job with making the characters assessable but Watanabe Sensei never lets her characters diverge from facts. This
can mean that characters you like can die in unsatisfying, but historical accurate, ways.
Kaze Hikaru artwork is ascetically pleasing without being distracting
While the story overall is about the Shinsegumi, Sei, as the main character and POV, has her own personal struggles inside the larger events. They are handled realistically, and occasionally hilariously, but they are at the mercy of history, so they never rule the story.
As you can see from what I’ve already written, Kaze Hikaru is about taking the reader back in time to the Tokugawa era. Characterization and plot are forced to line up with history, and in my opinion, it was worth it. Watanabe sensei is able to show us both the glory and the harsh realities of the movement, and she makes us care.
Overall, I give Kaze Hikaru and 8. It tone is half way between a normal Shoujo Manga and the Coen brother’s “True Grit”. Read it if you’re a history buff, avoid it if you’re looking for a sweat romance
One other note. I’m not sure if the story was ever completed. There are 30 volumes released in Japan and 19 released in English by VIZ Media but no completely translated version on the internet. Believe me, I’ve looked.