Kaze Hikaru Volume 20 by Taeko Watanabe

A new volume of Kaze Hikaru is always refreshing, so I was happy to see what happens next for cross-dressing Kamiya and her adventures in the Shinsengumi. Kamiya and Okita endangered her not very convincing masculine disguise when they were photographed together as a man and a woman. Kamiya wants to destroy the photograph and Okita tells his pupil not to because she looked “so cute.” When Okita looks at the photo he remembers his impulse in having it taken in the first place – that it might be a keepsake for one of them and it would be nice to leave something behind. Okita suddenly realizes that the photo looks like a portrait of a young married couple and he’s suddenly embarrassed. They decide to hide the photo for protection at Yamanami’s grave, but the vice-captain finds it and concludes that Kamiya’s convincing feminine appearance will make him the perfect spy to detect an assassin as a woman! So Kamiya is in the unenviable position so immortalized in the movie Victor Victoria, where she is a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman.

Kamiya sees this mission as a confirmation of her manliness in a way, since she is finally being sent on a mission like a real Shinsengumi. Okita is worried that he won’t be able to protect her when she’s on her mission. Kamiya manages to integrate herself into the group of people that run the inn where the suspected assassin Sakamoto Ryoma is staying, but is the odd man with glasses that hangs out with the family actually a cold-blooded killer? Kamiya is able to observe more of the interpersonal relationships between men and women at the inn, and that causes her to reflect a bit on her own life. The tension grows as Kamiya is unable to signal her backup contact and Okita grows more and more anxious, causing the vice-captain to question his feelings for Kamiya. As always, the romance in this manga is moving forward very slowly, but the rich historical detail and crisp illustrations always make Kaze Hikaru a pleasure to read. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, because if Kamiya and Okita are separated, they are going to have a more difficult time maintaining Kamiya’s secret.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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