Otoyomegatari – 36

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“In Her Garden”

Mori-sensei + cat = win.

I must say that narratively speaking I found this new chapter to be a bit of a snoozer, though I suppose it’s only natural since I have no connection with this new bride.  But the art was so beautiful you can’t help but think that if any mangaka should be allowed to write a boring chapter once in a while, Mori Kaoru is the one.  That cat…  What a cat.

Indeed, we’re returning to the pattern of introducing new brides, using Mr. Smith’s travels as a pretext.  This time it’s a gorgeous young bride and mother, Anis, whose wealthy husband is putting up Mr. Smith and his guide (courtesy of a connection to a friend back in Blighty).  Anis is beautiful, her house is a palace, she has a perfect and healthy baby son and a husband who, despite being rich enough to afford “two or three” wives at least, adores Anis so much that he lavishes his affection on her.  It’s no wonder she’s always smiling.

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So where’s the story here, exactly?  I suppose Mori could be taking the unorthodox step of showing us the life of a bride who’s already got everything she needs and wants, but much more likely is that Anis is smiling through unhappiness (there are subtle hints if dissatisfaction in her demeanor).  Honestly, that could be pretty trite if it’s not handled well – I have limited patience for poor little rich girls and those who don’t appreciate how lucky they are.  But it’s way too early to say for sure just where Otoyomegatari is going with Anis’ story, so I’ll withhold judgment until we get some clarity on that.  Of course I’d rather be spending time with Amir and Karluk, that’s a given – but with this series, changes of narrative venue are part of the deal.

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  1. K

    There's something deeply erotic about this new one. I think in the next chapter we're going to see some seduction…

  2. e

    'In her garden'. Interesting title. And this one is one pretty hortus conclusus
    I might have an inkling of where Mori is going with this bride – and the temptation of considering Anis' situation as a foil to Tarasu's (remember her?) is mighty strong for me atm.
    They're both trapped, but Tarasu is more 'objectively' justified in her emotions and actions- Anis might be conflicted because while she is treated like a princess by a very affectionate husband and materially speaking she is not left wanting (superb cat included) so what else could the lucky b*tch be wishing for, hmm? And yet somehting is troubling her… well I suspect a golden cage case here. Try – and I mean really intensely try – to picture yourself in Anis' place and try live like that. Living the comfortable life but never being allowed to go outside your garden and interact with people unless they are family and servants, never to go places outside, or to do things on your own (you did single that page with this little piece of dialogue and infodump out of this chapter yourself after all). As secluded existence go it can be a perfectly fine happy life. How long would you feel truly satisfied with that though? What do you do if your kokoro wanders wonder about – in the immortal words of Disney's Pocahontas – what 's 'just around the riverbend?' – . <—- Now watch as the next chapter(s) completely destroy my inference XD.
    And art-wise I confess I'm missing some of Mori's TM crosshatching this time around, but I wonder if this is a way to convey how neat and clean and picture-perfect Anis'little world is compared to the other brides' grittier circumstances.

  3. K

    I like that point of view you present!

  4. Yes, I rather suspect she's only a bird in a gilded cage, it's just that we've seen that motif pretty extensively done already. We'll see where Mori goes with it.

  5. e

    @Kaname: thanks. Sort of reassuring to hear when English is not my first language and given my tendency to typos.

    Mind you Enzo, there's already a little but important twist at work here imho: she's not 'only' a bird. And I think unlike the song she does love her husband and her son – although in true old fashioned wealthy class fashion the baby is basically left to the care of the nanny and she does not look like she has been breastfeeding him at all ( it's like mother and son are strangers, the infant does not recognize her – the smell and touch of his mother would not upset him otherwise -, she does not know how to handle him well…) – and 'poor little rich girl' she might be but I'm pretty sure this bird knows how lucky she is and appreciates what she has . She's living the top of womanly dreams in her cutural context after all – I bet the twin girl brides' ideal married life was very similar to what Anis got… and they ended up with the twin sensible hubbies living the frugal life instead. Honestly I think the two youn ladies got the better deal :pppp – . And that's where the problem lies possibly. She has it all apparently, so what's her problem? What else could she be wishing for?
    If she were mistreated it would be easier to root for her from the outside. It would be easier for herself to acknowledge she's troubled – and by what – and speak and act upon it. But I'm suspecting that could imply questioning the culture she has been raised in – and muster the courage to test if her husband can do the same… and be ready for the consequences – .
    I don't think Mori is going to develop this specific bride's story into a gender equality cautionary tale – and a most insidious one as there is love and care into the equation here – with feminist manifesto. Unless it's a very subtle one that is :p. But so far and the more I think about Anis' story the more it's offering plenty of food for thought already. <————- yes, that excalated quickly. I'm aware. And ready to be proven spectacularly wrong by the author herself. Also I'm cutting it here for the moment don't worry Enzo XD.

    I'm so missing Amir and Karluk though. AND Azer.

  6. B

    I started reading this manga after reading this post. It's really good too! A shame that chapters take so long to release. Thanks =)

  7. Thanks, Broki – that's basically the main reason I do this, so it's great to hear.

  8. c

    Since the story follows the journey of Smith and Ali in Southern Caravan Route through Khiva, Iran, Northern Iraq, Syria, Cilicia to Ankara – I can safely assume that Smith is somewhere around Northern Iran by now; and from that, The story of Anis marks a shift from the independent Steppe-Nomads – we'll most likely won't encounter the same sort of women freedom much along the way…

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