I am so happy to talk about this manga. Otoyomegatari roughly means the Young Bride’s Story. I had no idea this existed, but it was recommend to me on Goodreads so I though I would give it a chance, and I was not at all disappointed. This is amazing and wonderful, from the stories to the artwork, I loved all of it!
The story focuses on the arranged marriage of twelve year old Karluk and twenty year old Amir. Amir comes from a distant and semi-nomadic mountain clan. She moves to her husbands home and becomes a part of his family. You learn about the everyday family life as Amir and Karluk become closer. The setting takes place place in 19th century Turkic Central Asia prior to a possible Russian attack. The story also focuses on Mr. Smith, and linguistic anthropologist, who used to live with Karluk’s family but must move back to England (because of Russian/English hostilities). As he travels on the Silk Road through to Persia, you here the stories of everyone he meets all of different cultures and religions. All the little stories in between make you fall in love with every character, and allows you to think about the entire area and the mass struggle. The biggest theme tends to be about love, family, and marriage.
Though the story focuses on cultures that have very distinct ideas of gender behaviors, the author included many characters that do not fit these molds of femininity, and they are not ostracized. There are girls who speak their minds, who are demanding and pushy, but their are also those that are sweet and kind, and some that are submissive. The main character is the most fantastic female character. She is a hunter, and a skilled archer. She can survive in the wild, yet she can be clueless at times too. She wants to please her family and would never disobey an authority figure (like her father), but she is so loyal to her new family that she enters into battle and is willing to take down her father in order to protect her young husband. Then you have the awesome array of male characters. Some that are manly, some more delicate, some cruel to their daughters and wives, and most that adore their families. Amir’s brother and male cousins are some of the most loving characters. Though they must obey the orders of the clan, they still find ways to dutifully protect loved ones without straight out voicing their opinions (and being disrespectful). I wish I could say more, so that all of this could make more sense, but I do not want to spoil the story.
The entire story is intricate and full of historical details. The author put in so much effort to learn about all these cultures from that time and to understand how and why people would react to certain situations. When I first read volume one, I felt like I was reading an anthropological book on central Asian cultures. If you are like me and adore all things cultural, then you will love this manga like no other.
The art is the most amazing part. It is so detailed and designed beautifully. The author put in just as much effort into every element of the art as (s)he does for the elements of the story line. Everything is obsessively complex. The characters are ornately dressed, and the story contains a well established character development. Another wonderful aspect of the art is the vast range in female body types. It has more variety then the average manga, which is always refreshing. There is just one warning. Their is a lot of boob shots through out the story, but the thing is it does not come off as being perverted. It mostly occurs at times where it would culturally happen like in a bathhouse and such. Just please try it out, I highly recommend it.