May 24, 2013

Posted by in Books, Writing | 0 Comments

A Bride’s Story – A Review

Otoyomegatari 1It’s a rare occasion when a work of art takes your breath away. But it’s an even more rare event when an artist can affect you in such a way on a regular basis. Otoyomegatari (translated as A Bride’s Story) is just such an experience.

Set in 19th century Mongolia, Otoyomegatari is about a girl named Amir, age 20, who is wed to a boy named Karluk, age 12. Terrible way to introduce a story, right? That’s what I thought, too… until I started reading the manga. Here’s a good summary of the manga from Myanimelist:

“A Bride’s Story tells the tale of a beautiful young bride in nineteenth-century Asia. At the age of twenty, Amir is sent to a neighboring town to be wed. But her surprise at learning her new husband, Karluk, is eight years younger than her is quickly replaced by a deep affection for the boy and his family. Though she hails from just beyond the mountains, Amir’s clan had very different customs, foods, and clothes from what Karluk is used to. As the two of them learn more about each other through their day-to-day lives, the bond of respect and love grows stronger.”

Let me say this right off the bat: Mori Kaoru is the most amazingly gifted mangaka I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Her art is so detailed, it makes me want to cry. At the bottom of this post is a link to a series of videos showing how much detail she puts into every frame of her work. It will blow your mind.

But it’s not just her talent or the detail and effort she puts into the drawings. The beauty of her characters and the wonder of her story makes you yearn for more and more. Despite the oddness of the plot (mostly because we Westerners can’t fathom such an age difference so early, despite how common it was back then.), the story is hardly what you might think it is. Otoyomegatari is simply about a girl adapting to a different culture. She is used as the author’s way of exploring that time period with exquisite detail. She experiences their foods, their customs, their every-day worries, just like the reader is, so it really feels like we’re learning everything along with Amir. And because Kaoru does her research and is so detail-oriented, every page is filled with incredible wonder.

Otoyomegatari 2And the story isn’t just limited to Amir and Karluk. Another incredible talent of Kaoru’s is that she can introduce a dozen characters, and each of them feels unique and fresh. Even if you haven’t seen them in a year, you remember them right away. From an English researcher traveling across the world to rambunctious twin daughters living in a wild land, vivid traits accompany each of them, along with the wide, bright eyes that are Kaoru’s trademark.

I would humbly ask that you give this manga a try. You can read it for free online at many different sites. Currently, it’s only 29 chapters long, since a new chapter is only released every couple of months. (After watching the videos below, you should understand why.) And I guarantee that after you have finished reading the last page available to you, you’ll not only have long forgotten that Amir is 20 and Karluk is 12, but you’ll be dying for the next chapters. I stake my reputation as a novice blogger on it!