A Bride’s Story, Vol. 10

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

After two volumes of focus on Pariya, returning to our home base couple feels very peaceful and reassuring, even if they’re not together a lot of the time. As with the previous volumes, Amir and Karluk’s story is about waiting for Karluk to get older and more mature, and the fact that they love each other regardless. Karluk is a typical teenage boy, even on the Silk Road, and therefore constantly worries that he’s not manly enough and that Amir is somehow unhappy. This is fairly ridiculous, not only because Karluk is nice and sweet and doing his best, but also because Amir is a saint who can do no wrong. (I’ve come to really love A Bride’s Story, but Amir still needs a few more flaws.) But Karkuk doesn’t see this, and so there’s only one thing for a boy on the verge of manhood to do… hunt wild animals! Good thing too, as in this day and in this place, hunting animals for food is a life or death situation.

This also allows Karluk to bond with his brother-in-law, and realize that Amir’s tribe is really in dire straits… they are poor and have very little future available to them. This is presented very matter of factly, and Karluk (and the reader) can’t really do much about it except stare into the middle distance. But at least they’re training Karluk as a hunter, and we get some gorgeous shots of the landscape and foxes, antelope, etc. that roam wild and free but also provide food and clothing for our heroes. Amir shows up every once in a while as well, though Karluk tries to make the visits less frequent, because he’s hoping this will make them long for each other even more. (Amir doesn’t quite get this, of course, because she’s fully accepted her feelings for Karluk already.) He’s a good kid, and I wonder how long it will be before they take that next step.

After their story, we are back to Mr. Smith and his guide, who are finally making their way to Ankara, where he meets up with a good friend he knew from school (and I think his name is Henry? God knows, everyone keeps calling him Smith regardless). That’s not all that follows him, however… Talas, the girl he had the not-quite-romance with several volumes ago, has gotten married but still longs for her true love, and so her husband (whose sainthood here rivals Amir) takes her to Ankara to find Mr. Smith, because he wants her to be happy. I’m not really sure I enjoyed this part as much as the author wanted me to. The story of Smith and Talas was a nice bittersweet tale of a love that wasn’t meant to be, and seeing it revived here feels a bit like a cop out. I suspect their story will take up much of the next volume.

A Bride’s Story has a few weaknesses that my head just can’t get away from, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the series and its characters. And its art, which is fantastic. Still recommended.

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.

A Bride’s Story, Vol. 8

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.

As you might have guessed from the cover, Pariya is the main focus of this volume, though we do see a brief wrapup of the ‘two wives’ arc from the previous book. We’ve been building up to this storyline for a while, Pariya being the most obvious next bride in line (at least, back at our home base of Amir’s village). But this is definitely going to be a story that will take longer than just one volume, as Pariya’s issues are not ones that are easily solved. I’ve called her the tsundere of A Bride’s Story, but the label doesn’t quite fit her well (indeed, you can argue that most tsunderes don’t fit the label all that well). Pariya is highly emotional, has difficulty focusing, and most importantly, has a low self-image of herself due to everyone’s expectations of what a good wife should be.


I’ll be honest, it’s very clear that Mori loves drawing Pariya’s faces, especially when she’s frustrated, humiliated, or otherwise blushing her head off. And I love it, even as I sympathize with her. She feels like a modern girl trapped in the late 19th century, and things aren’t helped by the events that begin her arc in this volume: their house burns to the ground, taking with it most of the cloth that had been saved up for her dowry. The family panics; they don’t few Pariya as someone who’s easily married off to begin with, and now without something to give to her potential husband’s family, it’s going to take even more years to make things happen. Pariya, of course, is painfully aware of this, and because she actually DOES like her latest suitor, she’s determined to do something about it, even if it involves… grr… actual needlework.

The scenes of Pariya’s slow, steady progression with the needle, as she drives herself forward by imagining the caustic words of the village elder, who she is literally hallucinating behind her. The good news is that her hard work IS rewarded, and the others are there to show her the joy that can be taken in it – seeing Pariya with a happy blush as opposed to frustrated is also a reward to the reader. That said, the last chapter is darker, as Pariya imagines her future husband dumping her at the altar because of her personality, and then, thanks to her overenthusiastic physical labor during the cleaning of the streams they use for water, she is terrified that he’s scared of the “real” her. (My guess is it’s probably the opposite, but we’ll have to wait till next time to figure that out.)

Pariya is also not helped by having Amir as the perfect example of a superwoman – not only does she have the temperament of a good bride, she also rides horses, hunts big game, can prepare an instant picnic, is good at making friends… she’s the impossible standard that Pariya can’t hold herself up to. No wonder Karluk is trying to improve himself so that he can stand beside her as a good husband. Whether you like Pariya or Amir, though, this is a typically excellent volume of A Bride’s Story.