A Bride’s Story, Vol. 3
In an industry filled with super-powered ordinary high school students saving the world, talking polar bears running cafes, and gigantic robots beating the crap out of each other, it’s nice to take a break and get lost in the gentle mood of A Bride’s Story: mongolian-influenced slice-of-life at its beautifully drawn best.
A BRIDE’S STORY, Vol. 3
Genre: Historical, romance, slice-of-life
Format: Hardcover, 208 pp
Pub. Date: March 2012
Publisher: Yen Press (US), Enterbrain (JP)
Premise: Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori’s tale of life on the nineteenth-century Silk Road continues, this time introducing a new would-be bride — Talas. A young widow, Talas opens her home to the researcher Mr. Smith, who has ventured to her town to continue his studies. However, when Talas’s uncle begins to see Smith as an impediment to his plans to wed his son to Talas, the old man’s schemes land the Englishman in prison! Far from friends and even farther from home, Smith’s outlook seems grim…
We take a little bit of a break from Amir and Karluk’s story in the latest volume, and although I love those two, I also enjoyed the various new perspectives that were introduced. A researcher by the name of Henry Smith plays the role of audience surrogate, and through him we get more background on the cultural/historical traditions of the time. Sometimes I think the individual characters get lost in the blur of the descriptions of all their customs, but in these chapters Smith gets more of an active role in the story.
A Bride’s Story widens its scope to include brides from all walks of life– in the first two volumes it was about a wife who is several years older than her husband, and in this one it switches focus to the lady on the cover, Talas. She runs into Smith, a regular bumbling foreigner, and the story explores some different sides of marriage in that era and setting. Namely, the consequences of not finding a husband, and Smith’s conflict when Talas’ mother tells him that the only way to ‘save’ Talas is to marry her. Oh, and Smith gets captured by Russian spies. There’s usually a change of pace from the typical slice-of-life parts which keeps it from getting too peaceful, and you’ll have to read it to find out how that turns out.
Moving on from the story side of things; I feel so cultured reading this. The care that went into its presentation is worthy of the insanely detailed art itself; the translations couldn’t be better and the fact that it comes in hardcover already sets it apart as something very high-quality. No, you’ll never stop hearing about how gorgeous the art is, and seeing the drawing process itself just makes you appreciate how lovely it is. The backgrounds and outfits are meticulous, but there’s also something about the way the eyes are drawn that really stands out to me.
With the release of this third volume, the English translations are now pretty close to catching up with the available volumes in Japan. It’s going to be worth all that patience when I get to revisit the world that Mori has brought to life, and if you haven’t done so already, it’s a series well worth checking out. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching her draw for a while longer…