A Bride’s Story Volume 6
It’s an anniversary for Amir and Karluk, the couple married in the first volume of A Bride’s Story. He’s only 12 years old, and he’s proud to still be growing taller. That leads to the need for new clothes, which drives the couple to a family council, as they struggle with how much he wants to be treated like a man and how much he still needs to be taken care of. The couple’s feelings clash, but at the root, they care deeply for each other.
That’s just a prologue to the main tale here, which involves preparations for war. The life of a nomad is difficult, and in an early chapter, author Kaoru Mori illustrates how so by showing us a gorgeous young man watching over a herd of horses as he struggles to find them enough grazing land. It’s a mood piece, as he rescues a foal and discusses the situation with relatives, but it provides important context for the upcoming events.
Those events turn on Amir, as her relatives (and tribe leaders) want to retrieve her from her current marriage and give her to a different band, one more advantageous to her tribe. To them, she’s only a pawn, an object to trade. But since she refused to come with them previously, instead throwing her lot in with her new family, they now plan to take her by force … and wipe out the village to take their land.
Mori’s amazingly beautiful, detailed drawings are the immediate appeal of the series, since they are noticeable as soon as a reader opens the covers. (Particularly when it comes to the embroidered costumes and textiles that demonstrate wealth in a nomadic culture.) However, that attention to detail extends to the storytelling, as Mori shows the small elements of the migratory society they’re part of and paces her accounts in a more leisurely fashion suitable to the more seasonal, long-lasting way of life she portrays. She’s particularly skilled with facial expressions, which tell the story as much as her text.
There’s an intriguing subtext to contemplate in the battle, as one of the three tribes has acquired a stock of weapons, including rifles and cannons. Their reliance on technology that anyone can operate is subtly contrasted with practiced skill of the more traditional warriors. Brute force only takes one so far, particularly when one relies on it too much. It’s also marred by its use by a leader with no ethics or scruples. The smarter, old-fashioned fighters pay more attention to the small signs around them and as a result are able to outwit the more modern bullies. Plus, from an author’s point of view, it’s more exciting to feature classic, individual heroes.
Unfortunately, this is the last book for a while, since we’ve now caught up with what’s been published in Japan. However, since they have previously been released yearly, there’s hope for a new volume in 2015. Mori provides a short comic at the end about making the story, where she bemoans drawing so many horses in the battle and talks about plans to show more of Smith (a favorite character) in the next book. (The publisher provided a review copy.)