A Bride’s Story, vols 5 and 6, by Kaoru Mori (joint review)
Posted June 21, 2015on:
With much thanks to Orbit and Yen Press for providing review copies of A Bride’s Story, our joint review series continues! And by joint review series, I mean who better to review a series about getting married than two love fools (that would be my husband and I), and by continues, I mean check out our review of volumes 1 and 2 here, and volumes 3 and 4 here.
Quick sum up for those of you just joining the fun: A Bride’s Story is a gorgeous manga series by Kaoru Mori (creator of Emma and Shirley). The story takes place in Central Asia in the early 1900s, and follows young women who have either just gotten married, are about to get married, or need/want to get married. The artwork is amazing, the story is compelling the characters have depth, and there’s plenty going on behind the scenes too. The title of the series directly translates to “Brides’ Stories”, but to avoid confusion, i’ll be referring to it as the translated title “A Bride’s Story“, so you know exactly what you’re looking for at the bookstore. 😉
As we’ve done before with this series, the review is a discussion between my husband Michael and myself. We both wanted to focus on different things that caught our attention, so our review is basically us peppering each other with questions. Let’s get to it!
Michael: So this time we are reviewing two very different volumes. Volume 5 is the twin’s wedding and associated hijinks, while volume 6 is back to Amir and Karluk and a more dramatic, thoughtful story.
Andrea: Yeah, volumes 5 and 6 don’t really go together, because they are so different! Poor planning on my part! The twins wedding does have some laugh out loud moments, but I was really happy to get back to Amir, because she’s my favorite character. Not only is she awesome, but she’s got the best clothes!
What are your thoughts on how how Kaoru Mori jumps around from character to character? Do you wish she’d spend more time with characters? Less time?
Michael: I guess my feelings don’t matter here, Mori-sensei always switches characters in her manga all the way back to Shirley. I enjoy the new brides so I do not mind meeting them but, I would like more time with Amir & Karluk.
Do you think that the twin’s wedding was worth waiting for after volume 4’s build up? Do you feel that they went too far with some of their wedding stunts or was that what any adventurous person would do?
Andrea: Oh totally worth waiting for! I liked all the build up, I really loved that scene at the end of volume 4 where each sister has an opportunity to get to know her betrothed a little better. It was a very endearing scene, and the wedding in volume 5 wouldn’t have been as heartwarming without that scene. I hope Mori revisits the girls again in future volumes, I’d love to see them again when they are five years older. Maybe they’ll have grown out of being such trouble makers?
Oh wait, you asked if I thought they went too far with their stunts. I don’t think they did, only because of how their parents reacted. If they’d really been in trouble, the families would have reacted differently.
What do you think their lives will be like a few years down the road?
Michael: I think the twins biggest change is going to be learning to be a partner to their spouse and not each other.
Speaking of weddings, how about all of the gorgeous food porn and clothing porn? It was kind of like watching Anthony Bourdain.
Andrea: The clothes! The embroidery! The food! And you knew to mention my favorite travel foodie person in your question! Brownie points to you! You know what these manga volumes need? Recipes. Like the recipes that are sometimes in cozy mysteries. I want to know if their dishes are at all similar to some of the Turkish style dishes we make.
You read a lot more manga than I do these days. Do any of the other manga-ka (manga writers and artists) you follow come close to the level of detail that Kaoru Mori put in A Bride’s Story?
Michael: The only two authors I have read that even approach this level of detail are Ai Yazawa (Nana), and Ueshiba Richii (Mysterious Girlfriend X).
At the end of volume 5 we were given a short story with a hawk which I really enjoyed as it allowed us to see more of Karluk’s family’s emotions and thoughts. Did the story fit for you?
Andrea: Very much so. I really enjoy these little asides. I loved that side story right in the beginning with the boy and the wood carver, and the hawk story, while completely different, felt similar to me. Karluk is getting older, I think it’s appropriate that he become more of a main character. As we’ll see….
Michael: Volume 6 starts with Karluk becoming taller, and wanting to be treated as an adult by his wife. This is not a problem we deal with much in our modern world (except for me as I am childish) where people obsess over the age of their partner, but in an era where marriages were meant to bring clans, families and tribes closer, and to make sure that both the husband and wife were properly cared for this is an interesting issue. How do you see this chapter as a (modern) woman and do you agree that this chapter was the perfect build up for the main story of volume 6?
Andrea: LOL, you’re not childish! (ok, sometimes you are). I don’t obsess over the age of my partner (except to call you an old fart), but I do find this particular story fascinating, because it flips the expected historical trope of younger wife/older husband. I just saw this chapter as a nice way to see how their relationship has progressed, and that Karluk has become more mature. We really needed these chapters, otherwise Karluk’s involvement in what happens in volume six wouldn’t really make much sense.
And speaking of volume six? I need to have a fan girl moment. Remember Amir’s brother, Azel? We met him way back when, he was a total jerk. Well, he spends a chunk of volume six being shirtless and crazy hot. Azel is my book boyfriend (but let’s not tell my husband, ok?)
And then everything hits the fan. Everything with Amir’s father, and grazing rights, and invaders, and suddenly this story got very serious.
Michael: The main story. Not giving anything away but this was some of Kaoru Mori’s darkest writing and it is essentially one long, continuous story with serious consequences, both physical and emotional. We still live in a society where the woman joins the mans family on marriage, but today we have phones, internet, snail mail etc to keep in touch and cars and plane tickets to see our birth family. In a period before the 20th century the woman was expected to join her husbands family in all ways. What will she feel when your new family is turned against her old family? Can she still support her old family? But if she did support her old family would she still be able to live with her new family that she obviously doesn’t see as hers? These are questions people don’t tend to think about today but I find fascinating.
Andrea: Can we tackle some of those questions from both Amir’s point of view and from Laila and Leily’s point of view. Because I think they each see “joining a different family” as something very different. With Laila and Leily, they have a very good relationship with their parents, and they both burst into tears when they realize they are now part of someone else’s family. Doesn’t matter that their new husbands remind them they can just walk down the road to see their parents anytime they want. I think those sisters will really struggle with the change. But Amir, on the other hand,I get the feeling she was happy to leave her father and brothers behind, and she’s just thankful that her new family treats her well. Becoming a part Karluk’s clan is a positive change for her. You can see the struggle in her face when she’s told she has to obey her father. Why should she? Obeying her father is what she’s expected to do, but she knows it won’t being her anything but unhappiness.
Maybe that’s why Mori chose to include the happy and humorous story of Laila and Leily? To show how some young women really did struggle with adjusting to a new family?
I didn’t really answer your questions, did I. Other than yes, this is fascinating to talk about!
We do need to remember that Amir isn’t technically a part of her new clan until she has a child. And well, for obvious reasons that isn’t going to happen for at least a few more years, maybe a little bit longer. Do you think her lack of children will cause more awkwardness for her?
Michael: Oh, certainly; until the 20th century even somewhere like the United States brides could be divorced for failure to conceive. If Amir does not conceive and with her family attacking their town, people could view her family and her as bad seed, contrary people.
I did want to say that I love this series and am eagerly awaiting the English release of volume 7.
Andrea: to be continued!