I had a thought recently, when the 251st Nisio Isin adaptation was announced. What a wonderful thing it would be if Otoyomegatari got an adaptation, and a bunch of Nisoisin fans watched the premiere thinking it was one of his, and were perplexed and infuriated.
Well, a man can dream…
I really do think that Otoyomegatari, wonderful as it is generally, is best when it’s simplest. My favorite chapter was one without dialogue, and half the normal length – it was just shots of Amir and Karluk in their daily lives with a bit of third-person narration. Part of that is because Mori-sensei’s art is so sublime that it shines brightest with nothing to block the view, but it’s also in-part because she’s at her best as a storyteller in the most elemental, wistful settings (in my opinion, anyway), and ones that focus on her core characters.
“To Work” is one of those simple chapters, a look at Pariya as she struggles with rebuilding her dowry of prepared fabrics – something every young bride is expected to bring with her upon marriage. That’s a major problem for a couple of reasons, the first being that most of her modest collection was destroyed during the skirmish with Amir’s family. The second, of course, is that she’s hardly born to the job of weaving and sewing – entirely lacking in both patience and self-confidence.
Pariya’s grandmother estimates it might take four years for her to rebuild her dowry, which would place her age at the high end of when a bride is expected to marry (it’s no coincidence that it’s Amir who reassures her about that). This is a vulnerable side of Pariya, which makes a nice change – for all her tsunsun bluster, she genuinely does want to get married. And so with the help of the women in the village (especially Granny and Amir) she sets about the monumental task ahead by starting small – a pouch for a comb – albeit with an ambitious pattern and color scheme.
This is really witty, warm interior stuff here, right in Mori’s wheelhouse. I loved the little intercut to Karluk’s reaction at what Pariya has done to his horse’s braids, and Pariya’s fantasies about how impressed her ideal boy and his family will be by her efforts. Mori-sensei is such a phenomenal artist (the best in manga today I would argue, along with Inoue Takehiko and Ashnano Hitoshi) that she can turn most anything into a dazzling display – babies, Persian cats, moonscapes – and the elaborate patterns on fabric or leather she draws here are no exception. In short, this chapter is basically Otoyomegatari in a nutshell, and one fans of the series should relish.