Creator: Taeko Watanabe
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Teen
Genre: Drama
RRP: $8.99
Kaze Hikaru v7
Reviewed by Ryan Lewis

Kaze Hikaru tells the story of young Sei who disguises herself as a boy in order to join the Shinsengumi (a group of warriors protecting the Shogun). Her purpose is to avenge her father and brother�s deaths. After succeeding at this, she stays in the Shinsengumi after falling in love with her teacher/sempai, Soji. Volume 7 opens after the Shinsengumi have won a large battle. The town blames them for instigating the fight, and the townspeople�s attitudes are quite cold. Yamanami visits Sei�s geisha �friend,� Akesato, and falls in love. The volume ends with some intense action with devastating effects to the entire town.

Picking up this title, I was bracing myself for the worst. Being a Shojo Beat title, I didn�t know what to expect. Those that I�ve read before have run the gamut of being fairly good to unreadable. By the cover alone, I suspected Kaze Hikaru would be a lower grade title. This isn�t true at all. Kaze Hikaru reads like a samurai TV drama, which is distinct from a samurai film. The emphasis in Kaze Hikaru is on the drama, the characters. Large action sequences are mostly skipped over and dealt with by means of narration. Despite this, there are some moments of action that are rendered exquisitely.

The artwork is a strange mix between tight lines, similar to most mainstream styles, and sketchiness, used during character close-ups. Sometimes the artwork feels a little stiff and void of personality. Initially flipping through the book, I was put off by the artwork, thinking it was much too formulaic. Watanabe uses many shojo clich�s in her artwork, but they aren�t overused and don�t interfere with telling the story.

A pleasant drama series set in historical Japan, Kaze Hikaru is a unique title. Although the chapters sometimes drag, the overall story is quite engaging. Give the title a chance if you�re looking for a complex plot and sympathetic characters.

13 November 2007
Kaze Hikaru v7

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