Thursday, September 22, 2011

Manga Review: A Bride's Story Volume 1

Title:  A Bride's Story, Volume 1
Author:  Kaoru Mori
Genre:  Manga/Graphic Novel
Pages:  192
Publisher:  Yen Press
Summary:  Amir is twenty years old when she marries her husband, a boy named Karluk from a neighboring village.  Adjusting to life in a new household can be trying for any young bride, but Amir's husband is eight years her junior!  Amir was a strong, sophisticated hunter and horsewoman in her village, but though their villages were next to each other, their customs are very different.  As Amir introduces Karluk to the foods and pastimes that were popular among her comrades back home, the warmth she feels for her young husband grows.

The Dish:  The idea of marrying someone who is eight years your junior... seems like a lot to take in especially when you're moving away from all that you have known in your life.  However, considering the time and setting of the story, it was considered the norm for girls to be married at age fourteen or fifteen.  By those standards, the main character, Amir, is considered old at twenty years. 

While the story is about Amir joining the family of her young husband, most of the focus is on Karluk's family members and their day-to-day lives.  There is an immense change with the arrival of this new girl, but they take Amir's differences in stride without necessarily scolding her.  While there was definitely an air of surprise, both from Amir upon meeting her husband and from Karluk's family, the warmth that grows between Amir and the family definitely shows. 

As a character, Amir doesn't seem to say as much as Karluk's family, but I really like her.  She is a brave young woman not only because of leaving her village and family behind to join Karluk's family, since that is proper during the time period, but mostly because she is considered an "old maiden."  Within this time, there were little options for older girls when it came to marriage, and for Amir to settle for a husband that is eight years younger, that shows a lot of her courage and lack of hubris.  Karluk is a kind boy who does accept his older wife, but there is a slight sense of hesitance on his part.  He does show concern for Amir when she goes on a rather lengthy rabbit-hunting excursion, but he is also amazed at what skills his wife possesses.  Perhaps his hesitance is due in part to intimidation not only because Amir is an older woman but because of her skills.  I look forward to seeing how their relationship grows in the next volume.

In the way of visuals, Mori's art can be described in one word: gorgeous.  Not all manga artists choose to go with a more detailed style, so it's refreshing to see one creating whole worlds in their story.  The settings are breathtaking and very realistic, and the people are diverse both in facial features as well as attire.  Mori often used a series of wordless panels to convey parts of the story, doing so flawlessly without breaking the overall volume.  Overall, A Bride's Story Volume 1 was a beautiful and warm introduction to our main characters, and I will be on the lookout for Volume 2, which is scheduled to be released in the US on October 25th.


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