By Kaoru Mori. Released in Japan as “Otoyomegatari” by Enterbrain, serialization ongoing in the magazine fellows!. Released in North America by Yen Press.
I reviewed the two previous volumes of this series as Bookshelf Briefs, but continued to have the same issues I had with Volume 1. The quality was excellent, but I had trouble connecting with many of the characters due to Kaoru Mori’s standard operating procedure of placid people with vaguely repressed emotion. This was not helped by the release of her Something And Anything collection, which showed she could write loudmouths and comedy as well as the rest of them. And so, seeing this new volume was coming out and had a slightly more upbeat cover on it, I wondered if it would get me more involved emotionally.
Oh yes. Hyperactive tribe of loudmouths for the win! Actually, we do start off in Amir’s area, with ominous foreshadowing about her family’s clan, as well as a cute little story where the tribe’s resident tsundere, Pariya, finally meets a guy who may not be terrified of her. But the bulk of the story continues to follow Dr. Smith as he heads towards the West slowly (and thankfully does not run into the well-written but depressing angst that Vol. 3 gave us). Here he meets the twins of the title, who are rambunctious hellcats who can’t sit still and who are so much of a pair that a suitor for them would almost have to involve a pair of brothers so they aren’t separated. The bulk of this volume is dedicated to their trying to catch themselves a man, and their family’s eventual success at this task.
As I noted, this entire tribe seems a lot more lively than Amir’s. It’s not just the twins – their parents may be more mature, but they’re just as over-the-top. Indeed, the mother’s reaction to her children being unable to sit still for even two seconds is comedy gold. And for all that it looks as if the twins are trying totally stupid things to get themselves noticed and married off, when their mother and aunt talk about how they both got married, the stories are based off of coincidence and luck. This does not help to provide a good influence. And of course the couples contrast nicely, as each girl is matched up with a quieter, more cynical young man (childhood friends, of course) and the two couples learn how to take their own path and be slightly different. It’s only slight, too – I liked how it’s shown the two twins really are nearly alike, even in personality, and only differ in subtle ways that have to be picked up on.
Not all is sweetness and light, thought. I already noted the ominous first chapter with Amir’s tribe, but there’s a constant reminder here at how many folks die young – particularly women in childbirth. Pariya’s suitor notes her attitude, and his father says that the girls with ‘too much energy’ are the best. Likewise, the twins’ mother gives them one last request – stay healthy, above everything else. This is very much a series from another time, and it gives a poignancy to all these matchmakings.
Vol. 5 only came out in Japan recently, I think, so it may be a while before it hits here. In the meantime, we have a wedding to attend. Let’s hope this one is filled with more unambiguous joy than the others we’ve had so far. Though I have a feeling that, even as this series focuses on ‘different’ brides every arc, that we’ll soon be wandering back to Amir’s village.