“Bride-to-be Bread/The Umar Investigation”
Plus 51.5, “A Side Story”…
After a bit of a hiatus, I’m finally tracking back to a few items in the backlog this week, including manga. And we start with Otoyomegatari, where the focus has very much returned to the series’ roots both geographically and spiritually. The young bride in question through most of these chapters is Pariya, but there’s a fairly sizeable detour to Karluk and Amir in there too.
One thing that really strikes me in watching the Umar/Pariya story play out is that he’s an especially good match for her. In fact, it’s a tendency in Mori-sensei’s writing and certainly in this series for the female partner to be the fiery and volatile one, and the male to be the calming and methodical. But I think that’s at its most stark with these two. Let’s face it, Pariya is a mess – she’s basically batshit nuts with self-doubt and anxiety disorder. Umar is not only fine with this, but he’s also ultra-responsible and seemingly implacable. And he’ll need all of it once he’s married to her (though his life will never be boring).
Meanwhile, Karluk is still kind of obsessing over the fact that he’s not enough of a man for Amir – certainly understandable given that he’s twelve (thirteen now, maybe?) and she’s an exceptionally formidable woman. Obviously he can’t openly kvetch about the aspect of the physical gap between them that’s really bothering him, and while that’s presumably going to resolve itself quite soon now, Karluk needs to displace some of that anxiety somewhere. So learning how to bow-hunt – and agonizing over how hard it is to keep up with Amir’s instruction – makes a good outlet.
There are lots of welcome little touches in these chapters – it’s nice to spend time with rarely-seen characters like Pariya’s father and Karluk’s older brother. Pariya’s constant state of agitation continues to be amusing, and at this point it hardly seems necessary to sing the praises of any material focused on Amir and Karluk. This is Otoyomegatari at its most natural – the kind of content I hope the anime focuses on when (I refuse to say) it finally gets here.