“What Comes Next”
When I read Otoyomegatari, I’m sometimes torn about its prospects for adaptation. I read an especially striking sequence of panels and wonder how it is that anime could have neglected to adapt something this sublime already. But then I think – could anyone really do it justice? Mochizuki Tomomi no less couldn’t do it with Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou – which is one of the very few manga ever that I would rate even more highly than Otoyomegatari.
I’d sure take my chances though, I’ll tell you that (but please, no SHAFT).
This was a classic chapter, with Mori-sensei showing off all her considerable chops both as a storyteller and an artist (which are of course intricately linked). The word that comes to mind is “effortless” – she really makes it look so easy. This series and Vagabond are the only currently running manga which sometimes flat-out stun me with a piece of art at times, and Mori’s character interactions just breeze along so naturally that it feels as if you’re wiling away the day with these people. You know them like family after a while – and family is a concept that takes on incalculable importance in this time and place.
The village is just finishing its rebuild after the disastrous attack by Amir’s father, but Umar and Pariya continue to be the focus, and as Umar grows as a full-fledged (and interesting) personality in his own right their relationship becomes more engaging. Pariya and Amir have apparently been making Taqiya (skullcaps) for their boys, which we see presented – though sadly only in a wordless intercut with Amir and Karluk. It’s another moment of blossoming intimacy between Pariya and Umar, for whom the wedding date clearly can’t come soon enough.
A joyous moment indeed is it when Mori decides to grace us with cat porn, as she draws cats (like most other things) better than any other mangaka. A litter of kittens this time, one of which takes a shining to Pariya (that kneading thing is something any cat person knows well). This is another sign of Pariya starting to let her guard down, the influence both of being in a relationship with Umar and of Umar himself (his easygoing and cheeky nature) clearly working thei magic on her.
Umar is a boy of big dreams, clearly (and not just of sick wheelage), and the fact that he’s willing to confide them to Pariya is an important sign of his commitment to their emotional bond. He’d like to open a traveler’s inn, a caravan stop, like the one his father ran before his health started failing. It’s from listening to those travelers that Umar gained his surprisingly diverse knowledge and propensity to dream of the wide world, and given Pariya’s mad skills at the hearth this seems like a good fit for the two of them.
Of course, Umar and Pariya really aren’t supposed to be spending all this time alone (and unsupervised) together talking about dreams or anything else, but fortunately they have an ally in Grandma (who can parse words as well as any man). I really hope that wedding is soon, because I’m not sure how long those two are going to be able to keep it together, and you never know who might walk in on them at the wrong moment…