Kaze Hikaru Volume 22 by Taeko Watanabe
So much of Kaze Hikaru deals with repressing emotions, since Sei has disguised herself as a boy in order to join the Shinsengumi and Soji has agreed to keep her secret. While Sei and Soji are clearly in love with each other, there’s a long way to go until any actual romance occurs. This volume revolved around so many feelings, as Sei has been newly assigned to Saito’s troop and Saito harbors some suspicions of Sei based on his past friendship with Sei’s brother. Saito has disturbing dreams and isn’t sure what is happening with his involuntary reactions to Sei. Saito finally figures out that Sei is a girl, and his reaction is that he’ll simply maker her quit the Shinsengumi and marry her. When Saito goes to Soji to discuss his plans, Soji encourages the marriage, telling Saito to “Make her happy.” It is interesting how effectively Watanabe explores the points of view of the characters, while Soji cares for Sei the idea of pursuing marriage with her isn’t in his worldview. He’s just going to support her while thinking of her as the man she pretends to be.
Saito’s plan begins to evolve as he sees Sei protect Soji in battle and he realizes that she’s more courageous than most of the men she knows. At the end of this volume, Sei is transferred back to Soji’s troop, where I’m sure Soji’s general feelings of uneasiness and his tendencies to lie to himself will grow even stronger. Kaze Hikaru’s detailed historical setting, clear and attractive art, and compelling story make it one of my favorite Shojo Beat titles. I wish the new volumes came out at a greater rate than once a year, because I think the deliberate pace of the story would reward readers who like to stockpile volumes and read a bunch at a time. I read every volume almost as soon as I get it though!
Happy Marriage?! By Maki Enjoiji
I enjoy reading Happy Marriage?! just because romances set in offices give me a break from all the romances set in high schools that I tend to read just because I am such a shojo manga aficionado. Chiwa continues to work in her new job, but has to deal with one of her former friends still having a crush on her. Hokuto continues to be both busy and remote, and his father is still in the hospital. Chiwa attempts to intervene to bring Hokuto closer to his family, without the results she was expecting. One sour note for me in this volume was Hokuto slapping Chiwa in the middle of an argument. While they fight and work through their issues as always, I’m starting to get a little weary of the relationship dynamic in the book. I’m also a bit more interested in some of the newer Shojo Beat series like Spell of Desire or Black Rose Alice. I’m hoping that the next volume of Happy Marriage is a bit better.