The two brothers drafted into being the future husbands on the twins from hell, Layla and Leyli, actually have names – Sahman and Farsahmi. Sahm and Sahmi, as if that weren’t confusing enough – Sahm looks to be the older by about a year (I have no idea which twin is older) and on the whole, they actually seem like a decent match for the adorable but impossible twins – quite blasé about their antics and even-tempered enough to balance out the pairings.
Ah, but those pairings – even with arranged marriages, such things are complicated with two sets of siblings. The fathers are so busy arguing about the finances that no one has thought to figure out which boy marries which girl – including the boys and girls. Most of the chapter is taken up with a ridiculously cute pair of “first dates” where Sahm takes Layla for a test drive, and Sahmi Leyli. Trees are climbed, fish are speared and young love blooms by the sea in such a way as only Mori-sensei could draw it. My favorite moment is when Leyli tells Sahmi “I think I might like you quite a whole lot.”
The miracle of all this is that Mori is able to depict a subject so foreign to a modern industrial world – the arranged marriages of youngsters no more than 14 or so – in such a matter-of-fact and charming way. That should come as no surprise given the sensitivity she displayed with the even more edgy main pairing of the series, but it’s still impressive to see her depict the emotions of these kids in such a winning way. There may even be a tacit suggestion on her part that arranged marriages – especially marrying friends – might not be such a bad thing.
Such is the curse of Otoyomegatari that just as we’ve bonded with these four, we’ll be moving on yet again – though Smith does manage to convince his guide that they must stick around for the wedding (the notion of eating something besides fish is the key element). Once the wedding is done, Smith’s party will be moving on – and so, presumably, will we gentle readers. Whether that will be back to Amira and Karluk (hopefully but probably not) or to the next stop of the road remains to be seen.