A Bride’s Story, Vol. 9

By Kaoru Mori. Released in Japan as “Otoyomegatari” by Enterbrain, serialization ongoing in the magazine fellows!. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by William Flanagan.

Pariya gets a second cover in a row, which makes perfect sense because this book is still all about her attempts to recover from the fire that devastated her dowry, try to get closer to her possible fiance, and make readers think of her as someone other than “the tsundere somehow trapped in the nineteenth century. That she succeeds admirably is a tribute to Kaoru Mori’s writing, which continues to be excellent. In particular, Mori has a talent for wedding her story and art in a way that few manga artists these days do, something that is especially gratifying given that Pariya’s specialty is that her emotions are showing all over her face. Which makes it even more amusing that everyone seems to be misreading her, particularly Umar, her intended.

The dowry continues to be the big issue. The devastating fire from last volume really sent Pariya back to square one, which is very concerning for her family because, well, Pariya is seen as someone not all that easy to marry off. She’s loud, she’s abrasive, and she seems to spend her days in a state of perpetual rage. The well-seasoned manga reader, of course, knows that the anger is to hide her shyness and embarrassment, but I like the fact that most of the village does NOT get this immediately, not even Umar, and Pariya really has to work hard to make herself clear. There’s no revelatory moment where people work out “this is how she is”, just a series of chapters that show Pariya gritting her teeth and watching others to see if she can work out what this strange Earth concept called conversation is. A good chunk of the volume has her and Umar go on a day journey to get supplies, which ends up getting extended when they stop to help an ill woman, then suffer a broken axle. But it also helps Umar see how awesome Pariya can really be.

The rest of the cast get something to do, though obviously except for Amir and Karluk it’s a very brief something to do. There’s a series of 4-koma at the start that check in on the rest of the cast we’ve seen to date, who are mostly getting on well, aside from Mr. Smith, who’s having bandit trouble, and the girl who he had a brief liaison with, who is still alone. As for Amir, her perfection has a tendency to become her character at times (I had trouble warming up to her), but we see a few flaws here, as she makes a bow so that her husband can learn archery, but makes it for the strength of a full-grown male, not the young boy that he still is. Karluk, of course, is determined to get the arm strength to learn it anyway. These two are cute, and I’m OK with having them be the return point for the series in general.

We apparently kick off a new arc next time, which will no doubt be next year, as A Bride’s Story does not come out all that frequently. When it does, though, the reader is always in for a treat. Curl up in a comfy chair and immerse yourself in this volume.

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