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A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 Hardcover – May 31, 2011
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About the Author
Kaoru Mori's previous series, Emma, about a maid and a gentleman in Victorian England, has been lauded by Library Journal and was named to the YALSA Great Graphic Novels list. A Bride's Story has only broadened her fan base in Japan and the U.S. with its elegant style and delicate story.
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Top Customer Reviews
Mori's craftsmanship is amazing. Her work abounds in detail, each panel lovingly crafted. She outdoes her previous work on "Emma" in "Bride's Story". I can't recall any other manga with such glorious attention to form, costuming, and backgrounds. This Yen Press edition does full justice to the quality of her work. Unlike a lot of Manga releases, this is hardcover and in a somewhat larger size, which allows more visible detail. Even though the paper is a little pulpy, the quality of the reproduction is as good as any I've seen.
The story is set in central Asia not too far from the Caspian Sea (possibly in Turkey since the Turkish language is mentioned) in the mid 19th century. The story is a slice-of-life tale about the odd-couple marriage of a 12-year-old town boy to a 20-year-old daughter of a nomadic family. This is not played up in any perverse manner like the age difference might suggest; the boy is wise for his age, and the woman is dedicated, cheerful, and a model wife, content to wait for him to mature. She fits into his extended family quite well, though she's maybe a bit too eager to please. Her steppe upbringing has given her some talents a bit alien to the family's town habitat, though; she's a superb horsewoman, archer, hunter, and wild game cook.
This is a scenario that's not unheard-of in the culture in which it is placed, and Mori handles the story with delicacy and tact. The characters are likeable and mostly respectable. The family structure is not contemporary, but can easily be understood and sympathized with. The story is mostly slow-moving slice-of-life stuff, but it has its moments of conflict and excitement, especially in the conflict between her new and old families. There is a small amount of nudity, but it's reasonable within the context of the story and is not pandering.
The loving care lavished on detail in the drawings of clothing and other handicrafts is stunning. Far fans of great art, the women's clothing itself is worth the purchase price. Ms. Mori is a fanatic for thorough research, and it shows in every page.
This is an excellent story and a true work of art. If you liked "Emma", and if you love history, beautifully detailed artwork, and quirky characterizations, this book is for you. This was licensed by Yen Press quite a while ago, and it certainly was worth the wait. It'll be several months before the volume two release, and I'm expecting more of the same.
I think what I love about Mori's style the most is that she does things slowly. It's frustrating when you want to read the next chapter of the story (it's a monthly serialization in Japan), and so collected volumes come out once or twice a year, if at that. When it's not on hiatus, that is. Anyway, you can feel the slowness of how things were back then in her stories, how life progressed from minute to minute, day to day instead of how it is now with constant connection and digitalization (not that that's a bad thing, but I think you understand what I mean). You can practically taste the food cooked by the characters, the cloth woven by its women, the smoke from the pipes of the men. You can't do that with a lot of author/illustrator combinations right now in the manga market, precisely because they would rather rush (or their publishers would).
Yen Press really did Mori a solid here and put the first printing of this volume into a lovely, glossy hardback edition for North America. Seriously. I liked them before, and now I love them for doing this. Very high-quality ink and pages used, nothing scrimped or cheapened for Mori's work. And to be honest, as this work definitely tops "Emma" in its broadness within a tiny piece of history/land, it really deserves everything Yen Press did to market this first volume. It makes the original Japanese paperback version look crappy.
Amira's story is told in a seemingly traditional fashion, with her being the arranged bride of a young man from another tribe. However, knowing that arranged marriages (even in Japan) really aren't as popular as they used to be, she used it to show how a couple meets and starts to fall for each other - even if the age difference is as big as it is here. You have the traditional suspicious family members on the groom's side, but Amira's honesty and vivacity (along with respect for her elders) quickly charms them into complacency. So complacent that when her father and brothers come back for her, her new family defends her as if she'd been born as one of their own.
Mori obviously did research on the area and the time that she used in this story - you can tell with each pen scratch, ink stroke, and expression with the characters. Not to mention the scenery, which feels like looking at an old black-and-white panoramic picture, an old film. Her work is that beautiful, and refreshing just because of all of these qualities that the manga market in Japan has started to lose within the last ten years or so. She sticks to her guns, knowing that the tortoise will win the race over the rabbit and would rather quality in her story over releasing five or more volumes a year. And I admire her for that.
If you're looking for a relatable, warm historical slice-of-life without too much suffocating romance, choose "A Bride's Story". The next volume should be due out in North America in October or November, though no word on whether or not it too will get the hardback treatment. Let's hope it does.
(posted to librarything, shelfari, goodreads, and [...])
A superb manga not to be missed.