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Manga / Kaze Hikaru

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Kaze Hikaru (風光る) is a historical shojo manga by Taeko Watanabe, set during the time of the Meiji Revolution in the 1860s.

Cross-dressing heroine Tominaga Sei shaves the top of her head in a boy's hairstyle, takes on the name "Kamiya Seizaburo," and joins The Shinsengumi (a shogunate police force) in order to avenge her family’s death at the hands of anti-shogunate rebels. After her family’s murderer is killed, she stays with the Shinsengumi out of a sense of loyalty and duty, and because of her budding feelings for Shinsengumi Captain Okita Soji.

The series was published for twenty-two years in Shokugan's Flowers magazine and was collected into 45 volumes before the end of its run in 2020. Kaze Hikaru is being published in English by Viz under the Shojo Beat banner.


This series has examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Truth in Television for the era, in which almost every marriage was arranged. Harada and Masa are a notable Aversion. Kondo and both of Okita's older sisters are in arranged marriages while Hijikata breaks off his own planned engagement over the course of the story and Kondo and Hijikata attempt to arrange one for Soji, only for Soji to screw it up spectacularly.
  • Attempted Rape: Sei has been threatened with rape many, many times, whether it's as herself or as "Seizaburo." Additionally, both Hijikata Toshizo and Nakamura Goro have had to fend off attempted rapists in their backstories. Hijikata's act of kicking the rapist in the balls and walking home to Hino overnight is considered a "heroic story" by both Kondo and Soji.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Between Hijikata and Ito of all people. Although, because of that, it's both played for laughs and subverted, considering that while Ito has been infatuated with Hijikata from the get-go, Hijikata hates Ito's guts. The reason why this even occurs is because at the time, Ito could've easily swayed Todo to turn against the Shinsengumi, but chose not to, and rather than wanting to owe Ito for it later, Hijikata (angrily) planted a big one on his smacker.
  • Bungled Suicide:
    • Sanosuke Harada, who is proud of the scar he bears from a failed attempt at seppuku that he performed completely on a whim.
    • Okita's first love, who attempted to kill herself after Okita turned her down in favor of focusing on sword training.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ito, in spades. Even Utsumi, his right-hand-man and long-time acquaintance, more than once has voiced aloud his amazement that such a dignified, charismatic, discerning advisor-scholar persona and fearsome manipulator who plots the destruction of Shinsengumi can inhabit the same body as the goof who shamelessly harasses and chases after Hijikata. And eventually, he's even learned to play up his quirks to distract or outright side-step Hijikata's suspicions regarding his sneaky business.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The mangaka does a rather admirable job at giving just about everyone unique and recognizable features, even the bit-part characters. Quite a feat for a story where everyone has black hair in similar hairstyles.
    • It should be noted that as a historical piece, the mangaka based many of the more well-known named individual's designs on existing photos and/or descriptions of their real-life counterparts.
  • Celibate Hero:
    • Sei's situation requires this of her. To Sei's chagrin, she has earned herself the reputation of being a lady-killer due to her spending 3 days of each month at the brothels when she gets her period, which of course causes her fellow soldiers to jump to the one possible conclusion...
    • Okita swore off forming romantic or sexual relationships at a young age, at first only because he felt they would distract him from his sword training, but then later because a girl who liked him (and who he was personally fond of) attempted suicide after he rejected her and the incident horribly traumatized him from interacting with women. His falling for Sei manages to break him out of this mindset, although he remains sexually celibate.
  • Cherry Blossoms: They come up from time to time in various ways.
  • Clueless Chick Magnet: The number of girls that fall for Okita is impressive; the times he fails to notice it even more so.
    • Sei has ironically become this. Due to her "cute boyish looks" she attracts both women and men, though she's at least mildly more aware that she has admirers, if only because hers are more forward with it. Still, it came as a shock when she learned virtually everyone in the first troop had fallen for her as a man.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: It's not hard to forget, but that idiot named Okita who loves sweets, adores children, and spends most of his time with a goofy smile on his face is one of the most feared and ruthless members of the Shinsengumi and could kill you in less time than it takes to blink and without a hint of remorse.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: Sei meets her father for the first time after he fails to return home in time to spend his wife's last moments with her. Sei claims that while she respected him as a great physician, she never really thought of him as her father to the day of his death. It takes a talk with Doctor Matsumoto, who personally knew her father, to get her to really appreciate him as a parent.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Saito, but his snark is almost entirely in his head.
  • Depraved Bisexual:
    • Ito is married, but he outrageously chases after pretty men AND women (in his own words, he's a lover of beautiful things) and the later volumes show him more than willing to use his sexuality to manipulate others for his plans.
    • Ukinosuke, the prodigal son of a wealthy merchant who is actually Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu, one of the heirs to the Shogunate whittles away his time at brothels and paying for high ranking courtesans. When Kamiya is sent to make arrangements with Ukinosuke to 'borrow' a courtesan he has booked, Ukinosuke immediately turns his attentions to 'Seizaburo' without batting an eye. Ukinosuke repeatedly makes lewd, flirtatious passes at Kamiya at every meeting of theirs thereafter, including attempting to proposition Kamiya into spending the night with him twice.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Hijikata is blessed with multiple admirers throughout the series.
  • Everyone Can See It: Most people in the story are under the impression that Okita and "Seizaburo" are already in a relationship. A good majority of them are also actively supportive of it, even the ones who themselves pine after "Seizaburo".
  • Everyone Has Lots of Sex: well, not everyone, but a lot of the men are depicted as frequenting brothels or wanting to have sex, and a fair number of characters actually are prostitutes and therefore this is part of their job description. The manga is also very liberal with dirty references and jokes to the point of being a borderline Sex Comedy in certain parts.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Or at least most of the men are (historically, this is Truth in Television).
    • While Sei's definitely and steadfastly in love with Okita, living around men long enough has caused Sei to become more appreciative of women's beauty, even being visibly caught off guard by it at times. She specifically appeared to develop a crush on the courtesan, Miyuki-dayu.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: The Bungled Suicide of a girl after Soji turned her down in favor of concentrating on his swordsmanship is a major contributor to Soji's almost ridiculous obliviousness to love.
  • Foregone Conclusion: According to history, a vast majority of the cast is going to die within the next few years of the time period.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: Harada meets a girl named Masa, proposes to her, and marries her within the span of about a week. At the time this was actually considered quite generous as many couples of the era would meet their spouses the day of their wedding.
  • The Gadfly: Ukinosuke, the son of a merchant who is actually a shogunate heir and eventually the last Shogun of Japan in combination with a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass persona, takes immense delight in heckling both people who annoy him and those he's fond of. To Kamiya's chagrin, he develops a particular joy in getting a rise out of her.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Several characters, but especially Hijikata whose Jerkass behavior can reach Noble Demon levels.
  • Grand Finale: The final published chapter is reported to be over 100 pages long, wrapping up the conflict and most character arcs in the series.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Kondo and Hijikata big time, to the point they've on several occasions referred to themselves as "husband" and "wife", and "father" and "mother" of the Shinsengumi respectively. Hijitaka has all but admitted that the reason he's decided to remain a bachelor for life is because of the Shinsengumi, which only happened because Hijitaka followed Kondo in the dream to become Bushi. The narrative states outright that the feelings they have towards each other are 'greater than that of husband and wife', but a barrier lies in the fact that both of them are physically attracted to women and Hijikata is so strongly repulsed at the idea of men being sexual with other men that the mere suggestion of such a relationship makes him break out in hives.
    • Also, Soda and Yamaguchi can be interpreted as this. The "heterosexual" part is debatable since they both are attracted to Sei who they genuinely believe to be male, but they don't appear to be interested in each other in that sense, yet are almost never seen without one another.
  • Happily Adopted: Historically, many individuals in Japan, particularly males who weren't the first-born son, were "adopted" in some manner into another family in order to get a chance to advance in life since they weren't the direct heirs to their own families. This is the case for several characters that pop up in the story.
    • Okita's brother-in-law Rintaro was "adopted" when he married Okita's sister, taking on the family name Okita.
    • Kondo was adopted at age 16 into a family that ran the Shieikan dojo, which is where many core members of the eventual Shinsengumi had come to train.
    • While Okita wasn't really adopted, he was raised from the age of 9 at the aforementioned Shieikan dojo because his family could no longer afford to care for him. Okita at first felt he'd been abandoned but eventually grew to love his new life.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • To Okita, when Sae attempted suicide.
    • To Sei, when her father and brother were murdered.
  • Historical Domain Character: The political figures that appear in the story and pretty much every member of the Shinsengumi with the exception of Sei. A few other named notables also are historical domain characters, such as the doctor Matsumoto Ryojun and Sakamoto Ryoma.
  • Historical Fiction: With extreme attention to historical accuracy.
  • Historical In-Joke: Tons, like Sei's involvement in Ikedaya and Hijikata's haiku.
  • Honor Before Reason: The way of life for 85% of the cast.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Saito thought he wasn't interested in shudo at all, but he develops a crush on Sei thinking she's a boy, and quickly starts rationalizing this kind of argument with himself over said crush. Then he finds out she's actually a girl, and it ends up amplifying his feelings more and he ends up considering marrying her, but he drops it realizing that she's happiest with Soji.
  • Important Haircut: In order to come off more convincingly as a man when joining the Shinsengumi, Sei shaves the top of her head, something which was viewed like a punishment if it happened to a girl during the time. Okita takes it as proof of her resolve.
    • Historically, Japanese males during the time period would shave their bangs upon undergoing the coming-of-age ceremony known as "Genpuku". Okita refused to have his head shaved after his genpuku, however.
    • Sei runs into a bit of trouble when Kondo and Hijikata ask if she would like to go through the ceremony, because if she were actually male she'd have no reason to refuse, but having the bangs allows her to dress up and connect back to her identity as a girl.
  • Incest Subtext: In flashbacks, Councilor Ito is shown with a very close relationship with his younger brother.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Hijikata, no matter how vehemently he denies it.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": The Shinsengumi, basically. Kondo's dream is to guard the Shogun by his side, and everyone in the organization is dedicated to supporting that dream.
  • Lad-ette: Sei. She drinks with them, she fights with them, she even has her own "woman." She is Bushi!
  • Last-Name Basis: Most Shinsengumi members are primarily called by their family name. Heck, for some minor characters, the only name we are given for them is their family name! Even Sei is far, far, more often called "Kamiya" rather than "Seizaburo", and only very occasionally ever given the chance to be called Sei.
    • On the flipside, many civilian characters only have a given name, as it is explained that during the time period you had to be of a certain class to be granted the use of a family name.
  • Love Martyr: Sei is stubbornly in love with Okita regardless of all the sacrifice, suffering, and emotional baggage that goes with it.
  • Marry for Love: Harada Sanosuke and Sugawara Masa fall in love and decide to marry within a few days of meeting each other. They almost can't marry because Masa comes from a merchant family, but her brother is high-ranking enough that it's narrowly allowed.
  • The Medic: Sei, due to being the daughter of a doctor and having helped him out at his clinic, is sometimes called upon to care her fellow troop members since she has basic knowledge on how to treat illness and injury. Later though the manga brings in Doctor Matsumoto, who is an actual trained physician, to look after the Shinsengumi.
  • Mood Whiplash: the series varies between hilarious Romantic Comedy and rather blood-soaked Serious Historical Fiction.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Sei's ideals are seriously challenged when she meets the men of the Shinsengumi.
  • No Periods, Period: Deliberately averted by the mangaka, who makes it clear she wanted Sei's situation to be portrayed as realistically as possible, which means Sei has to think of creative ways to deal with her period without it becoming noticed, and regularly gets it in-story.
  • Not So Different: It takes Sei awhile to admit the similarities between herself and Hijikata, Okita and her father, and that her enemies including the man who killed her family may have their own codes of honor.
  • Oblivious to Love: Okita; even the other characters notice it ("Is this idiot serious?")
  • Pet the Dog: Many times coming from Hijikata, who enforces a reputation of being a hard-nosed jerk, but in reality is a decent and idealistic guy. Examples include:
    • genuinely and graciously accepting a sword made for him by a sword smith who fell in love with him, despite Hijikata's outrageous homophobia.
    • suggesting a way for Kamiya to deter some of her romantic followers
    • trying to use a loophole in the inter-cass marriage system to allow Harada and his eventual wife to get married.
  • Playing Sick: A variation of this trope happens when Sei and Doctor Matsumoto collaborate to fake her having a medical condition so she can avoid unwanted attention and continue to be part of the Shinsengumi. Particularly important for when she finally hits an age where it would become mightily suspicious for a boy's voice to not have changed yet or for their physique to remain so lithe.
  • Raging Stiffie: nothing is actually shown, but there are at least two occasions where different male characters are pointed out as getting visibly aroused and its played for laughs at his expense.
  • Recursive Crossdressing: Sei gets to do this at one point, when she's asked to do an infiltration job dressed as a girl.
  • Revenge: Sei's reason for joining the Shinsengumi is to avenge the deaths of her father and brother.
  • Secret Keeper: Okita finds out Sei's a girl early on and chooses to look the other way. Other individuals that come to be privy to Sei's true gender are: Akesato, a Shimabara courtesan who once was in a relationship with Sei's brother Yuma. Yamanami, who finds out through Akesato. And Doctor Matsumoto, who was a colleague of Sei's father. Saito is the latest addition, who deduced Seizaburou's true identity through her slip of tongue about a secret which was supposed to be only between her brother, Yuma, and "Sei", which Saito knew about due to being Yuma's friend.
  • Seppuku: Yamanami Keisuke; another character is executed after refusing to commit seppuku.
  • Shipper on Deck: Everyone in the first troop is secretly rooting for Sei's relationship with Okita. There are many other characters who also support it.
    • Many members of the Shinsengumi also are very teasing and supporting of the platonic but extremely strong relationship between Kondo and Hijikata.
  • Sick Episode: Kaze Hikaru is peppered with these from time to time, often either to document periods when a character's historical counterpart fell ill, to demonstrate medical practices from the time period, or both.
    • In order to explain why Okita collapsed during the Ikedaya Affair without having the reason be Tuberculosis, which is the commonly thought but unlikely historically accurate reason for it, the mangaka had him fall victim to heat stroke which Sei had to treat him for. Okita also became bedridden a few times during his backstory after having a number of scuffles with Hijikata, one of which resulted in him breaking his arm.
    • Yamanami falls ill after he learns Sei is a girl, as he couldn't tolerate the stress and worry it caused him. He even starts deliberately faking illness in order to keep Sei out of the battlefield.
    • Sei herself gets a fever after badly injuring her leg, which forces her to take several days off.
    • Hijikata historically came down with a case of Tuberculosis in his early 20's, and the manga depicts his time battling with the illness.
    • A more Wham Episode and serious example is Tokugawa Iemochi's tragic and eventually fatal battle with beriberi, which is not only painful to watch as the doctors fail to give him the proper treatment, but also has dire consequences for Japan in the years following.
  • So Beautiful It's a Curse: For Sei and Hijikata, to an extent. Both are often being hit on by other men and some of their admirers take it too far.
  • Subordinate Excuse: The biggest reason Sei is intent on staying with the Shinsengumi is so she can stay by Okita's side.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Sei; the main premise of the manga.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: An unusual form of this phenomenon: The vast majority of Sei's many admirers embrace the samurai tradition of ''shudo'', and are perfectly happy to chase after a pretty boy. Saito is a more straight example who initially agonized over the feelings he developed because he didn't think he was the type to be interested in shudo.
    • Hijikata also is shown to experience this as well, to a lesser extent at first. He isn't actively attracted to Kamiya, but Hijikata notes he's not as uncomfortable being touchy-feely with "him" compared to other men because Kamiya's figure is "so womanly". Although, as the series progresses, Hijikata grows increasingly uncomfortable with his 'comfort' in being in close quarters with Kamiya, beginning to frequently question the nature of Kamiya's 'condition' (and subsequently feeling guilt for it).
  • Those Two Guys: Soda and Yamaguchi of the first troop, who are resident "Kamiya Seizaburo" fanboys and Okita/Kamiya shippers. They are thus far the only troop members without any specific connection to major or special officers to be granted names and many recurring appearances without ever having a story that specifically focused on them.
  • Title Drop: The term "Kaze-Hikaru" comes from a Haiku that was written by the real-life Hijikata. We get to see him write it in the story.
    "Kaze hikaru
    Makoto no hata ni
    Hana goro mo"
  • Tsundere: Hijikata is a heavy-on-the-tsun Type A. He easily blushes to his ears if he shows any sort of fondness or admiration for someone, or if someone sees through his Noble Demon mask. He covers this up with his trademark aggressive anger, which works on everyone except those closest to him.
    • Doctor Matsumoto and Sei also show this trait, albeit in a considerably milder fashion.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: Yukiya, whom Saito at first thinks is a girl who highly resembles "Kamiya", only to find out he's actually a male prostitute.
  • Unstoppable Rage: When Okita's downed at the Ikedaya affair and Sei assumes he's been killed, her despair and fury transforms her into a fearsome force that none of her opponents could match. The episode ends up giving her the nickname of "Ashura" a.k.a. "God of War" from enemy and comrade alike.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Okita and Saito, Type 1. Saito often insults Okita, either in his head or aloud, mostly for being an oblivious idiot. But even so, it's clear that they're very good friends with a lot of trust and respect between them.
  • Warrior Poet: Quite a few major characters. Particularly standout examples include:
    • Ito, who prides himself for being both a master of the sword and of the academics,
    • Yamanami, who is also a well-learned and philosophical individual,
    • and Kondo, who despite his farmer roots studies as much as he can and has a strong desire for truth and to protect Japan.
    • And then there's Hijikata, who tries his darnedest to hide the fact that under his merciless personality is a man who's favorite hobby is to write Haiku.
  • Why Did It Have To Be Gays?: Hijikata is a raging homophobe, and his extreme discomfort with the notion of same-sex relationships is often played for laughs. The story goes is that a male sales clerk once tried to come onto him, which left him permanently traumatized. Unfortunately for Hijikata, his looks have made him the object of affection of several men over the course of the story.


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