A Bride’s Story Volume 7
As expected, I greatly enjoyed A Bride’s Story Volume 7, although my recommendation comes with caveats.
Kaoru Mori’s artwork is as lovely and detailed as always, but much of it this time around is dedicated to drawing women at the bathhouse, which means lots of lovingly illustrated naked breasts. Americans who get upset over nudity won’t want to read this volume (but they probably aren’t aware of this series anyway).
There is something refreshing about the variety of bodies she draws… in fact, that’s part of the plot, that two women strike up a friendship because one’s breasts are so large. And the nudity is presented in an artistic, not prurient way.
Anis is the pampered wife of a rich man. She has every luxury, and the two are happy together, except she can’t be seen by anyone but him, so she craves companionship. On the advice of her son’s nurse, she visits the women’s public baths, center of female society, where she makes a friend.
We meet these characters as traveler and scholar Mr. Smith visits with Anis’ husband. The story follows him as a device to present the very different lives of married women in this faraway time and place. This structure also allows for Mori to present a variety of wordless sequences, as we spend time with Anis by herself, sometimes with a cat. It’s gorgeous storytelling in a mostly stand-alone volume.
When a problem arises with Anis’ friend, she works to solve the situation in a way that will seem particularly foreign to the modern reader but reminds us that we’re talking about a very different historical culture. The overall story is a refreshing alternative to the blood and drama of some of the other tales in this series. Mori compares it, in her drawn afterword, to a refreshing lemon ice, a palate cleanser from her “normal beef-stew-flavored drawings in the next volume.” First editions also have a full-color foldout page of the women in the bathhouse. (The publisher provided a review copy.)