This is certainly uncharted territory for Mori Kaoru in Otoyomegatari, and maybe ever. Our sweet little domestic period piece has become an action thriller, and in far more serious terms than the little skirmish when Amir’s family came to wrest her back from her child groom.
We knew this was coming, but I was surprised by both how quickly it happened and by the sheer ferocity of the action. Amira’a father wasted no time in acting on his ill-considered scheme to use Russian weapons and the help of the treacherous Batan tribe to steal the land from Karluk’s family. It seems his sons are pretty much unanimous in their belief that this plan is a disaster that will lead to the demise of their tribe, and youngest brother Joruk comes to warn Amira to get out of Dodge as quickly as possible. But the shells start raining down before he can even make his own exit, and the battle is on.
This is, quite simply, a mess. I was surprised to see that Karluk’s family was armed with cannons of their own, and they do have the intelligence Joruk provided to Amira at least. But the enemy has the high ground, and I suspect with 80 cannon vastly superior armament. Even knowing this was coming it’s pretty shocking stuff to read – this is such a fantastically warm and lovely series (even in the beginning of this chapter there’s an adorable scene of Amira cutting Karluk’s hair) and now, all at once, the potential for pain and death is raining down on the people we’ve come to know and love so well.
I’m certainly curious to see where Mori-sensei is going with this – the notion of one of the main characters being killed off is almost too terrible to even consider. At the very least I think life for Amira and Karluk and his family is going to change forever – and maybe that’s her larger purpose here. At best they’ll lose much of their material property, but even more, this could be the start of Otoyomegatari chronicling the attack on their way of life by encroaching modernity. That would be a very different kind of series than the one we’ve seen so far, but I trust in Mori’s ability to tell it brilliantly if that’s the direction she chooses to go.