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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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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.
The story: Twenty year old Amir has been sent to marry a boy eight years her junior (Karluk). This she has dutifully done, and these first five chapters dwell largely on how she and her new family are acclimating to this. Chapter four gives us a little insight on, what I'm sure will become, a future trial for the new couple (and their new family) to try and overcome. All in all, the first five chapters might be a bit slow in pace for `throttle jockeys' but the story progresses and is told well.
The artwork: I've long been a fan of series like Oh (Ah) My Goddess for the sole reason that the artwork is so spectacular (other than Fujishimasan can't draw the frontal view of an ear to save his life). A Bride's Story puts most of the other manga that I've lavished so much time (and money) on, on notice. And what notice? The bar has officially been raised. Closeup panels are almost bursting with detail, and even though a bit of that detail slips in some of the `pull back panels' the overall experience is undeniably first rate. Even if the story was terrible (which it isn't) the artwork would carry this title a long way.
The book: I have to enthusiastically agree with another reviewer here and say that Yen Press did real justice to this title by releasing the first volume in a quality hard back. The pages are good stock, and well bound. The wrap around dust cover is very attractive, and overall the book is just a pleasure to dive in to. The total package has left me hoping that the entire run is done in the same way.
The cost: Some others might make a complaint here, but I'm not going to. A $16.99 retail cost might seem a bit high, but with much lower quality paperback manga going for at least $9.99 the extra seven has produced a very high quality product. As of this writing, Amazon is selling A Bride's Story Vol. 1 for $11.55 and the paperback of Oh My Goddess! Vol. 38 for $8.79. For a difference of less than what a Starbuck's coffee costs, I'll take it any day of the week.
If you haven't taken the time to read this rare manga treasure, do. As long as you have realistic expectations about the story itself, you won't be disappointed.