Otoyomegatari – 56

“A Revisiting”

These short Otoyomegatari chapters (we’ve had three in a row now) are kind of annoying, because a little bit of Mori-sensei’s writing and art only serves to makes you want a lot more. Truthfully, as detailed and stunning as her drawing is I’m surprised Mori even manages to hew as close to a monthly release schedule as she does, but the absence of more material in this case only serves to make the heart grow fonder.

I like the approach Mori takes here, and I’m surprised more series don’t employ it.  She devotes the chapter to the titular revisits with storylines that haven’t gotten much love of late – starting with a character we haven’t seen in what seems like years.  Mr. Smith and Alli are still making their way overland when they’re set upon by bandits on what’s supposed to be a safe trail – bandits who steal everything they have except the horses (which bolted when the bandits started whooping and hollering).  Of course there seems to be a purpose behind this development, which forces Smith and his guide to backtrack to their last stop (surviving without camels would be impossible) – and we know there’s a certain unfinished chapter in Mr. Smith’s life waiting for him back at that village.

The next stop is Amir’s three brothers, who are still trying to find a way to survive the winter as landless nomads.  That means a source of water through the winter months is crucial, which means trying to negotiate the rights to use the well of a local tribe.  Azel does not prove himself especially adept at diplomacy here, it must be said – though I think he’s right that he’s not the sort that would “hand the local geezer his teeth” as his brother suggests.  It’s not hard to feel some sympathy for these guys, but it must be remembered that they did go along with their father’s nefarious attack on Karluk’s village – with reservations or no.

Finally and most delightfully, we get a few pages devoted to Karluk and Amir.  Every time Mori-sensei returns to these two she reminds us that Otoyomegatari is always at its best when they’re the focus of attention.  It’s not necessary for events of great consequence to be happening for the Amir-Karluk material to be riveting – just watching them go through their daily lives is more than enough.  This time around the matter at-hand is the bow that Amir has made for Karluk – which his grandfather gently notes is stiff enough that it would be challenging for a grown man to master it.  Amir is naturally horrified and immediately moves to “fix” it, but Karluk is just as horrified and insists she let him master it as is.  This is a matter of male pride if anything ever was, and Karluk’s pride is always on-edge as a boy married to a girl so much older than he.

Karluk’s grandad also notes that his wife was once a fine archer, but gave it up (though not entirely, as we know full well) to fit in with her new village.  Of course this immediately sets Karluk off to worrying that Amir will feel pressure to do the same, and his worry makes her worry that she’s done something mortifying to merit it.  What’s really wonderful in watching these two is that they’re so solicitous of each others feelings, even if they sometimes lack the experience to know the right thing to say or do about it.  It remains a love story quite unlike any other in manga – and hopefully soon, like no other in anime.

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7 comments

  1. H

    A few months ago I got myself a library card and started checking out various manga and comic books I don’t have the money for right now. That’s when I saw several volumes for this sitting on the shelf. I remembered your posts on it and decided to check it out. I borrowed the first two and was instantly hooked. I fell fast and hard for this story and couldn’t help buying volumes one through six for myself even though I can’t really afford it at the moment. Amir and Karluk have quickly become one of my favorite couples ever! The manga is never better than when focusing on their relationship though I adore the other characters as well. The twins were a delightful contribution to the story and I am totally loving the progression of Pariya’s engagement. I see a lot of myself in her, so I am rooting for her happiness. Mr. Smith’s bittersweet romance was touching and I’m interested to see what future awaits Amir’s brothers. Volume seven is the only tale that I felt was a little out of place in the general scheme of things. I hope that this manga will be made into an anime some day too. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t happened yet. Thank you so much for your posts on this story. I’m really not sure if I would have given the series a chance if I hadn’t remembered your articles, and then I would have missed out on something truly special.

  2. Well, that’s always music to my ears. As to why there hasn’t been an adaptation yet, I think there are several factors. Obviously this wouldn’t figure to be a big seller on disc, for starters. And to do the material any justice it would have to be a pretty expensive production. But if it doesn’t get an anime eventually it would be a major historical aberration – Taisho and Tezuka winners almost always do get adaptations sooner or later.

  3. e

    EFF TO THE YES Amir x Karluk moments and we touch base with mr. Smith too! KYAAAH <3 *hugs screen* *a-hem*
    Aaah they are so adorbs :,) . Also Amir actually had a Pariya moment there :,DD. Keep grinding and training with that super uber bow Karluk, your body will catch up with your kokoro eventually. By the way there's this boy named Chagum am quite sure you would bond just so fine in a x-over sort of way.
    About Smith: hmmm, as much as I sooo wish for him to end up back in Talas/Tarasu's area some day she wasn't their last stop pre-robbery so I would not raise my hopes up too much. We're more likely to get glimpses either of Anis (pray for Persian Cat service!) or of whatever off-screen place they went since if any.
    Azer & his two cousins: hello there 8D oh ye cursed with Enzo's lasting disfavour. That's quite a weight to carry…

  4. T

    To be honest as much as I want this to be an animated series I’m happy with it staying as a manga for now solely because I wanted this story to be completed. I have a strong feeling that Mori-sensei has a bigger story in mind which I’m seriously interested, but I do like the mundane stuff as well.

  5. More than most ongoing series, I think this one is pretty well-suited to a satisfying one-cour adaptation. You simply focus entirely on Amir and Karluk’s thread, and you’ve got a very logical endpoint which would work quite well with minimal tweaking.

  6. X

    I love Otoyomegatari and Mori-sensei’s works in general because of the awesome art, the soaking into history and culture, and of course the characters. In the case of Otoyomegatari, however, I haven’t been able to think of anything but Talas and Mr. Smith since they parted ways. It just felt like there hadn’t been any sort of proper closure on the whole affair, though I realize some would disagree. Of course the eternal romantic in me hopes that they’ll somehow get together but the pragmatist in me also says it’s highly unlikely… I just hope Mori-sensei will give us a bit more of them, even if it’s to provide a proper ending to their story.

  7. Well, he is retracing his steps which I don’t think is a coincidence. I suspect that storyline isn’t dead, at the very least.

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