It says something about what a skilled writer Kaoru Mori is that she could write a chapter like this one, and have it be one of the best of the series. I doubt many authors would have even tried.
To call this chapter a simple one is an understatement. Prefaced with the apology “We weren’t prepared for the twins’ wedding”, Mori-sensei gives us 23 panels from a typical day for Amira and Karluk. Mori-sensei, please don’t apologize – it was absolutely wonderful. I’m biased because I unreservedly love this couple – scenes like this one just turn me into a puddle of happy ectoplasm – but the sheer beauty of her art combined with the piercing honesty of her writing makes simple stuff like this truly profound.
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating – Mori deserves some kind of award for the way she’s taken what’s a potentially awkward premise and turned it into something sweet, heartwarming and oddly romantic. She doesn’t ignore the age difference between her protagonists, but she strikes an absolutely perfect balance in the way she addresses it. You can really tell when a mangaka feels affection for her characters and it’s an attractive quality, but it needs to be tempered with the human frailty she imbues them with.
I like all the directions that Mori has taken the series, but this chapter was a very special treat for me, as we’ve been away from the main storyline a little too long for my tastes. The plot-driven chapters have their own charm, but watching Karluk and Amira go about their daily lives is Otoyomegatari at its very best for me. There are very few words in this chapter, but Mori chooses them well – and manages to tell a complete and involving story mostly with her memorable pictures. There are manga artists, bur Mori is truly a manga artist.
I’m excited to see what the future holds – starting with the twins, then for Mr. Smith, but most especially for Amira and Karluk. I wonder how Mori-sensei will present the moment when their relationship changes as it inevitably will – with taste and consummate style, do doubt. I think about the future of Otoyomegatari itself, too. This would make a wonderful entry for NoitaminA, wouldn’t it?