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Harukaze Bitter Bop: Volume 1    by Court Betten order for
Harukaze Bitter Bop
by Court Betten
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Court Betten's Harukaze Bitter Bop is a unique amalgamation of crazy detective and fantasy battle story set against a semi-realistic high school comedy/drama.

Chiyoharu is having major buddy trouble. After his gang of friends set a fire at school, Chiyoharu is the only one who was not expelled. Because of this, his old friends are not too happy with him and the rest of his classmates want nothing to do with him. Luckily for Chiyoharu, he is about to meet some very special friends. Walking home from school one day, he witnesses a big, muscle-bound guy throw himself in front of a train. While Chiyoharu is trying to help, along comes Special Female High School Student Detective Kaede who immediately accuses Chiyoharu of killing the guy.

Things take a major turn then the presumably dead man stands up and introduces himself as Souza of the North Wind, an amnesia victim. Kaede immediately falls in love with Souza and vows to help him recover his memory while the big guy moves in with Chiyoharu. At first, Chiyoharu is perturbed by the new living arrangements, but Souza proves to be a good bodyguard. Things begin to calm down and Chiyoharu even makes up with his old friends. However, things can never be totally normal for Chiyoharu as it seems that some repressed memory may hold the key to Souza's identity.

Harukaze Bitter Bop is a crazy story that at some points seems totally normal - which is part of what makes it different and enjoyable. There is nothing special about Betten's art, but his dialogue is quirky and full of parodies of Dragon Ball and Kinnikuman (M.U.S.C.L.E.). (While reading, I could tell the manga was poking fun at something, but as I am not a fan of either of the manga/anime being parodied, I was grateful for the Tokyopop editor's explanation at the end of the volume.) Volume One ends with a good cliff-hanger, which will leave fans eager to see what happens next. However, since Harukaze Bitter Bop is rather quirky, it will not be for every manga fan.

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