Otoyomegatari – 35

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Every time NoitaminA announces a new series that isn’t Otoyomegatari, I grieve a little – especially when it’s a manga adaptation.  I’m prepared for the obvious possibility that this series will never be adapted – there are major difficulties any producer would have to face, plus the near-certainty that it wouldn’t sell on Blu-ray.  But I’ll never totally give up hope on it, and I can’t help but think that the current arc is the most “telegenic” of any so far.  In happier news, Otoyomegatari was announced as one of the finalists for the Manga Taisho Award today, for the third time.  Hopefully this is the year it finally wins.

The conclusion of this story was handled with Mori-sensei’s usual aplomb, plus a surprise for shock value.  She’s definitely raised her game here in terms of a traditional conflict/resolution narrative, though for me nothing beats Otoyomegatari’s slice-of-life side.  Mori pulled no punches here – the stakes were as high as they come, the price paid by some was the ultimate price, and the action was fierce and even a bit graphically violent.  It’s a long way from Karluk and Amir arm-wrestling to here, but I’m glad Mori showed she could pull an arc like this off so splendidly.

While the tide of the battle was pretty well settled by the end of the last chapter, it’s the arrival of the provincial police that proves the official conclusion of the hostilities.  And it’s the intervention of the village women that allows Azel’s life to be spared for now (he surely wouldn’t have lasted long in the hands of the provincials), though in defense of the men they weren’t overlooking the entire battle from on-high – they were on the ground, getting shot at, and you can’t really blame them for not being able to tell one invader from another in the chaos.

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Azel, for his part, not unexpectedly refuses to sell out his family when he’s interrogated.  His culpability in all this is the most difficult question here.  By the customs of the time and place he did exactly what he was required to do, and by ultimately acting to protect Amir and Karluk even more – yet he was a participant in an invasion in which many innocents in Karluk’s village were killed.  It’ll be interesting to see where Azel lands up when the dust settles – it could be jail, the chopping block, back with the remnants of his own tribe or even with Amir’s adopted one.

There was plenty of drama elsewhere, too.  Karluk was so amped up from the adrenaline of the moment that he didn’t even notice he’d been wounded until Amir put her arm around him and found her hand covered in blood.  So much, in fact, that Karluk passed out.  I’m always moved to see the extreme reactions of Amir whenever she feels Karluk is in danger, and Karluk’s outrageous amount of valour despite his small stature.  Their growing love is the emotional heart of the series.

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The climax of the chapter surely comes at the hands of his Grandmother – who rides out into the desert and puts an arrow through the heart of Amir’s father, who even as he’s stumbling wounded is spitting his venomous promises of revenge against Amir and her new family.  Karluk’s Obaa-san is a hard, hard woman – but it took a hard woman to do what she did here, in the interests of putting an end to this bloody affair once and for all.  She doesn’t tell Amir what really happened, only that the old man is dead – and there’s no sign that Amir suspects the truth.  It’s surely better that way.

This is the end of the arc, and the final page tells of a new one with a change of venue starting next month.  Selfishly I hope it’s a short one, because I like this story best when it focuses on Amir and Karluk, but Mori has certainly given herself plenty of options.

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  1. M

    "Every time NoitaminA announces a new series that isn't Otoyomegatari, I grieve a little – especially when it's a manga adaptation."

    As great as this series seems to be, I fail to see the point in making a picture perfect anime adaptation of it. It would be difficult to top the intricate artwork and elevate the material beyond the original I would think. But hey, all for a go.

    Ping Pong is certainly a quirkier choice and likely would never get much attention outside of NoitaminA (under Masaaki Yuasa no less), so good for them. The fact that the manga is finished is also a good sign for that nasty 11 episode run.

  2. T

    I love this manga but i don't think there is enough chapters for an anime adaptation. If this ever becomes an anime I would hate the ending to be open ended. Also Aside from Azel his cousin had no problem speaking the truth that he didn't want to be associated to the stupidity of the old men from his tribe. If anything I feel he is going to reveal what happened. I guess this could also bring the issue that no matter how much you were taught to respect your elders and protect your family there is a limitation on how far stupidity can be tolerated.
    I have no idea where this series is going to go from here and its exciting to not know ^_^ thank enzo for covering this!!

  3. There's plenty of manga here, even for a two-cour. These are monthly (actually slightly less) chapters, all 30-35 pages… 35 chapters could easily get you to two cours, but I suspect an adaptation would only get one anyway.

    There's the idea that it's better to wait til the manga is finished altogether of course – but how often do we see that happen?

  4. M

    Even if this did get a "much deserved" adaptation, why does it need to occupy a slot on NoitaminA? Surely Otoyomegatari is well regarded enough that it could find an audience outside that block. Heck, Madhouse darlings might even snatch it up. But the same could be said for Gin no Saji and all those other award winning manga. NoitaminA is better suited to deploy obscure series that most people wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

  5. c

    Hmmm, Maxulous, You seem confident in your optimistic view that Otoyomegatari is that well-regarded and not that obscure?

    It's Interesting that It is ultlimately the story of the strength of women's will. The resolutions all revolves around them.

  6. M

    Third nod for the Manga Taisho Award in a row (previous winners Chihayafuru and Silver Spoon – both now anime). Ranking high on weekly manga sales charts and listed on New York Time's best sellers last September beneath Attack on Titan. You're damn right I am.

  7. c

    I understand how you feel Enzo…I often imagine and daydreams how glorious Otoyomegatari would be if animated (with some Kingdom of Heaven score as BGM in my head – different culture, yes I know, I just love the score and that just plays when I imagined it)

    For a worthy adaptation, It is better to wait until the manga finishes, or at least this arc ended. Its already 6 Volumes, yes? Usually 4 Volumes are roughly the amount of material needed for a Cour – The fact that it is not 8 Vol for 2 Cours provides some room for an relaxed slice-of-life storytelling. I think a Split-Cour to preserve the animation(something vital for Otoyomegatari).

  8. Waiting till the manga finishes just doesn't happen too often. Why not keep expectations realistic is all I'm saying.

    And this arc is ended, by the way, with this chapter.

  9. Z

    Vinland Saga please.

  10. e

    7 effing Seeds please.

  11. n

    I vote for 7 SEEDS… and Vinland Saga.

  12. e

    I think Azer will go back to the Halgal clan eventually. Daddy dearest is deader than dead at last (good job there grandma. I actually cheered) and he is the appointed successor. Furthermore while his rescue of Amir and Karluk with the related consequences last chapter implied he was ready to die for them (therefore leaving his tribe to its chiefless destiny in the middle of a major crisis. He acted 'selfishly' towards his clan and followed his heart) the call of duty now that those two are secure is still strong.
    Also if you reread the last five chapters or so you can see he values freedom. And that he voiced out loud to his cousins after the meeting with the Batang he wont'y live or die by the will of others (he also voiced he would have slit the Batang's throats then and there. He quite kept such promise. Well techinically he pierced the boss throat with an arrow :p ). Plus the horses vs sheep watching as a lifestyle in a previous chapter – the one with glorious manservice XD – . Now if he chooses to go back to the Halgal – as for above sheeps are not horses and they are rival species pasture-wise – he's gonna be chief and that means he will have both the power and position to reshape the clan's modus operandi.

    Amir and Karluk manage to turn me into such a goooey pile of awww it's not even funny. But hey what about Smith? And in my heart of hearts Id love to see Tarasu's own bride story to end happily…

    I'm of two minds about an anime adaptation. Her previous work didnt fare too well onscreen for – visually and also in terms of plot alterations – . However if done well Otoyomegatari could be spectacular, a gem for the ages. BUT for me done well would mean Moribito levels of anime craftmanship and uh-uh good luck with that.
    In any case I'm rooting for the Taisho award. Third time is the charm as they say.

  13. Actually, the best fit for an anime adaptation would be a Ghibli film, if you ask me. Their art style is a good match, and they could give it the treatment it deserves.

  14. e

    If they flesh up (out?) the Ghibli body template and tweak the eyes that could be a good match in term of chara design.
    And I suppose they could make a good movie-length friendly script by selecting just one plotiline (a.k.a. the Amir and Karluck parts with this chapter as possible stopping point ), yes? ;p

  15. Yes, that's what I was thinking. Ghibli isn't bound by the ludicrous American conceit that animated films have to be 90 minutes, and I think you could do a very effective treatment of Otoyomegatari in 2-2.5 hours, using one major arc or maybe a couple of smaller ones. Would it be comprehensive? No – but it could be a marvelous retelling.

  16. e

    *sigh* Aye.
    Those spaces of land and soul on screen. With Takahata as director (ok I'm dreaming :,) )

  17. M

    Never say never, but that's quite an off-base suggestion. For one, I don't see the styles as all that similar. The only manga-to-Ghibli film adaptation I can think of (outside Nausicaä) would be Poppy Hill by Goro Miyazaki. You'd be hard pressed to recognize it from the style. The studio seem more drawn (and rightly so) to material that allows them to flex imagination and own the visual input – probably why they have spent more time/money on bringing novels/folktales to life. Bleeding into the manga market could diminish their distinctive flair from the current manga/LN aDERPtation machine and smite their imagination. Personally, I'd rather they strayed as far from manga that isn't their own as possible.

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