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Manga Review: Harukaze Bitter Bop Vol. 1 by Court Betten

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Harukaze Bitter Bop is a fantastic new series with lots of action and a ton of humor, centered around a mix of quirky characters.

Chiyoharu used to be a troublemaker at his school, but now he’s the school outcast. When a fire set by him and his closest friends got out of control, everyone was expelled but him. Ever since then, he has been beating himself up over the incident and is determined to make it up to his expelled friends. But he hasn’t seen them since the fire and isn’t sure that they want to see him.

One morning on his way to school, Chiyoharu witnesses a strange man jumping in front of a speeding train. But the strange man walks away from an accident that would kill a normal human being, which is how Chiyohuaru meets Souza of the North Wind.

Souza is suffering from amnesia; the only thing he remembers is his name. He had hoped that jumping in front of the train would knock some memories loose – but no such luck. He does, however, think that Chiyohuaru seems familiar and is determined to stick with him until he can figure out why. On this fateful day, Chiyohuaru also meets Kaede, a female high school detective, who thinks that Souza is the bee’s knees and refuses to let any other woman have him.

Together this rag-tag, quirky group gets into trouble and out of it, while trying to figure out who Souza really is. Why is he able to call up the wind? Is Kaede really a detective? And will Chiyohuaru make up for his past mistakes?

The art for this one is fantastic; I love it. Court Betten is very talented, and the characters are beautifully rendered and expressive. It isn’t over the top with detail, but there is something about each panel that comes across as very clean and crisp.

Harukaze Bitter Bop volume one is the first in a four-volume series, with the second one set for a release of May 2008. This series has a lot of potential, and I can’t wait to read the next volume.

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