As much as I love Otoyomegatari, I think it represents one of the real problems of a monthly manga.
I enjoy the new characters Mori Kaoru continues to introduce to this story, and Laila and Leyli are certainly a hoot. But when we get to see these characters so rarely, I’d really rather the focus stay on the core group – at least until their story is at a good place to leave it. I miss Karluk and Amira, who were really the heart of Otoyomegatari for me, and if this were a weekly anime or manga, that’d be OK – because I know they’d be back soon enough. But that’s not the case with a monthly.
I suppose what we’re seeing is Mori-sensei really intended this as “Young Brides Story” rather than “Young Bride’s Story”. And she’s a magnificent talent, so I defer to her on this one. Whatever she draws, it’s startlingly beautiful – and that applies to the two new young brides to be who’ve been the center of the last couple of chapters ever since they saved Henry Smith from drowning. But boy, are these two ever a handful – I don’t know who I feel sorrier for, their father or the two brothers whose father picked out the twins as their future brides.
What really sets Laila and Leyli apart is that they turn Otoyomegatari into a slapstick with every frame they’re in. I can’t help but be reminded of Monty Python’s “Fish Slapping Dance” when they knock a passerby unconscious with a sturgeon, and their put-upon father’s preferred mode of discipline is to bonk them on the heads as if he were Moe and they were Curly and Larry. They’re insufferable, incorrigible and tireless – their harebrained schemes to find husbands get weirder and weirder, with ever-increasing consequences for innocent bystanders (and their heads). It’s damn funny for the most part, but does feel a little out of synch with the more gentle humor of the earlier arcs.
Where does the story go from here? Well, those two poor boys appear to be headed for a cruel fate indeed if their squabbling fathers can ever figure out the dowry issue. If anything, there’s hope in that they’ve known the twins since they were babies, so perhaps they’ll give as good as they get. I would think this arc will conclude in the next three of four chapters, but from there? Do we follow Mr. Smith as he heads for the big city, encountering new young brides on the way, or return to Amira and Karluk?