Otoyomegatari – 38/39

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“The Men’s Bath/Nice to Meet You”

Whatever your tastes, I imagine Mori Kaoru supplied some kind of service in these chapters of Otoyomegatari.  Manservice, cat service, the usual service (hubba, hubba), food service…  The woman sure knows her way around ink and paper.

The Men’s Bath” isn’t really a full chapter, more along the lines of a numbered omake, so Mori-sensei can’t be accused of providing equal time, but it is a funny little diversion.  Most of the fun comes at the expense of Mr. Smith, who’s quite unprepared for the somewhat… savage nature of the proverbial Turkish bath.  I was put in mind of seeing the legendary travel writer Rick Steves visit one, and one got the sense that they haven’t changed all that much in the last century or so.

The bulk of the story continues to focus on Anis, who’s attraction to the women’s bath and a particular woman she saw there is growing all the time.  She’s still lonely at home (the look that magnificent huge Persian cat gives her when her hug goes on a little too long is one of the all-time great feline expressions in manga), and her husband is growing increasingly uneasy about her ever-more frequent bathhouse visits.

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It’ll be interesting to see where Mori-sensei takes this story.  Anis’ husband seems like a genuinely decent man who loves his wife, but the bird in a gilded cage motif is growing more pronounced with each panel.  And it’s obvious that Anis’ feelings about the woman who “reminds me of a cat” amount to much more than wanting to be friends.  That woman’s name turns out to be Shirin, and she’s a wife and mother who’s family business is the dyeing shop near the village gate.  She’s an infrequent visitor to the baths for reasons of finance (they’re a bit pricey, it seems) and is endowed in such a way that even Anis can’t help but stare and say “they’re quite impressive”.  Given the exchange that follows, where Anis notes that her own breasts didn’t grow after the birth of her son, it seems likely that this physical difference is more than a matter of Mori drawing something beautiful as she can, but a symbolically important, er, development.

In the end Anis and Shirin agree to meet at the baths every day after it rains, and this relationship seems certain to be the center of this arc for as long as it lasts.  I still don’t find it as compelling as prior arcs, to be honest, and I’d still much rather be spending time with Amira and Karluk.  But there’s no denying that this story is providing Mori an opportunity to deliver some of her most staggeringly beautiful artwork yet, and that can’t be anything but a very good thing.

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  1. R

    Ugh Mori-sensei's art is one of those things that can physically hurt my soul over how beautiful and detailed and fluid it is. It just doesn't seem fair that she can keep up that level for so long (even if the one month waits are torture)

    It's actually a personal rule of mine that I'm not allowed to read any other manga for at least a day after Otoyomegatari since I invariably start comparing the artwork, which just isn't fair when Mori-sensei is on one side of the ring

  2. w

    Mori's definitely among the best, but there are many other astoundingly good manga artists. They are sadly few and far between though.

  3. R

    Oh I don't deny that. However most of the weekly series I'm following don't even come close. And obviously different genre lend itself to different types of art styles, so like while I can't read any shoujo directly after Mori-sensei without bemoaning something about the art, I'm usually alright with shounen or something.

    It's like the same reason I just close the browser and roll around on my couch for a while after I read One-Punch Man. Murata-sensei's just so overwhelmingly good at action and large scale epic (and crazy details when he draw in color like RENDERING THE REFFLECTION OF THE ENTIRE DAMN CITY IN THE SUNSET ONTO A MECHA'S METAL PLATING AFDSFJKJ) that I kind of just lose the will to look at anyone else's art for a while.

  4. w

    I think it's downright impossible for a weekly series to produce artwork close to what we see here. Far too big a time constraint. The best I've seen in a weekly manga is probably Fairy Tail, and Hiro Mashima's already considered sort of a freak of nature because of his drawing speed there.

    Also agreed about genre lending itself better to different art styles, though I always think it's interesting to see artists branch out like Mori did with the battle a few chapters ago. And oh my god One Punch Man! So many epic double spreads.

    The one I always end up going back to is YKK. Just immersing myself in its scenery puts me at peace. The art is just so.. calming.

  5. e

    Architecture service with two dishes of chicken&veggies please *ç*. And DAT CAT. And Shirin's hair.
    She's really running with the baths as a chance to display the female form in different positions and angles. Not that I complain. It reminded me a lot of Ingres' paintings in the same setting… but with a wealth of hourglasss pinups – and one slender new acquainteces-starved Anis bird – rather than his pear-shaped beauties.

    Now if we could dig a bit more into Anis' husband's mind… it feels like he either never really considered his wife could wish for some company and activity outside their home while he does all the travelling and meeting or the thought is making him uncomfortable. Excessive sheltering no matter how affectionate or lavish has its own set of pitfalls…
    A brief pang at the 'Mr. Smith are you planning on marriage' bit and his ellipses. Oh Tarasu will we ever see you again, what has become of you? ;_;

  6. K

    My face was blushed!

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