I know no one is going to accuse these last few chapters of Otoyomegatari of being monumental or anything, but I defy you to read them without cracking a smile or two. Yes, they’re trifles – but there’s probably no mangaka I would rather have serve up a trifle than Mori Kaoru.
I’m still of a mind that this courtship with Umar and Pariya would be best served to take a break from the narrative, because it’s gotten pretty samey. But a chapter like this is still fun, and this one definitely belonged to Umar. He garnered a new level of respect from me as a character, actually, displaying a cheeky side that we’d only seen a hint of before. Case in point – carving the face in the apple. I mean, the whole thing with the two of them throwing food at each other was charming as hell anyway – but my reaction to that apple was exactly the same as Pariya’s.
I mean, look at things from their perspective. You’re fourteen, you’ve just been engaged to each other, than told you’re going to have to wait a while and to keep things on the level. Can’t be easy to do that, so their interactions are an amusing mix of tension, flirting and childish mischief. I don’t know that there’s another mangaka who could depict that as well as Mori can, which is why this is still working as well as it is.
As for plot, what little this chapter brings to the table is the husband of the woman the kids helped coming to look for his wife’s saviors in order to reward them. He (well, she) naturally enough took them to be brother and sister given how familiar they seemed, which is a reminder of the social niceties at work in this culture. Umar has another fine moment here in his reaction to his father’s semi-accusation that he and Pariya had behaved improperly (which of course they had) – a classic schoolboy sheepishness that leaves no doubt he ‘s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar (figuratively of course).
My takeon all this? Let the poor kids get married already. It’s better for them and it’s better for us. And I suspect Umar doesn’t care a whole lot whether Pariya has her embroideries done…