Thursday, December 29, 2011

Manga Review: A Bride's Story (volume one)

I'm months behind all the cool kids with this review but I only got this book/got around to reading it back in November so there's not much help for it. Initially I was a bit hesitant about the book. a seven or eight year age difference in a relationship is a bit large (and I have read a story where the genders were reversed), but after seeing all the good reviews for it and flipping through the book at the local bookstore I was won over. It was the artwork that won me over, I had a few friends flipping through the book and they couldn't stop oggling all the details either, but thankfully this book isn't just a collection of pretty pictures.

A Bride's Story by Kaoru Mori

Summary: 19 year old Amir and 12 year old Karluk were married through an arranged marriage that was meant to bring their families closer to together and so far life seems to be going well. Amir is still adjusting to her new family but so far things are going smoothly, until some of her family decide that they want her back to marry off to another man that is.

The Good: This story could have gone terribly, horribly wrong with such a large difference in the couple's ages but it's handled well.  Amir acts more like a (normal) older sister (not like the oversexualized sister trope that is so common today) which works and in just a few years Karluk would be old enough by our standards to date so I'm not worried about what will happen to their relationship. The story is also filled with the same rich world building that Emma had which makes it a very satisfying slice of life series.

The Bad: There does seem to be a central plot under way, in the form of Amir's family, and I am worried at how well the story will pull that off not because of Mori's writing but at the pace that these books come out. I really feel that this story doesn't necessarily need a central plot to keep the story together, a central theme yes but not a plot, so I do worry a bit for the future of the story. 

The Art: I believe that only a single volume of Bride's Story comes out in Japan every year and, having seen videos of Kaoru Mori working on the artwork, or even looking at the book itself it's easy to see why. Every panel is filled with intricately done details, all hand inking without a screentone in sight (much like her other work Emma) and the whole book is rather lovely to look at. Because of the great art I would actually suggest reading this book in chunks or chapters instead of all the way through in one go, you really need to slow down and spend extra time on each page to really take in the art.

I always feel like I write shorter entries for slice of life stories but, without a big plot to pick at and there is never a ton of character development in just the first volume, I feel like I've stated all my thoughts and plenty of other people out there have already rhapsodized about this work enough. The artwork is by far my favorite part of the series though, I was reading this volume when I had a few days of annoying headaches and it was nice to have something where I could just stare at the pages and not have to think, gorgeous gorgeous work.  

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