A Bride’s Story, Volume 5, is the fifth collection of Kaori Mori’s historical manga. Originally published as Otoyomegatari, Volume 5, this volume was first published in Japan in 2013. The English translation appeared in 2013.
This volume contains three episodes and some additional short pieces. Its primary focus is the culmination of a bold plan, plotted by twin sisters Laila and Leily, to find themselves wealthy, handsome husbands.
Laila and Leily’s endless sequence of zany schemes failed to entrap any loaded hunks into marriage. Their previous escapades have prompted their father to get them married off before one of the twins’ plans went horribly wrong. Thus, the arranged marriage between the sisters and the two sons of their father’s best friend.
Laila and Leily have known Farsami (Saami) and Sarmaan (Sahm) all their lives. Not the alluring potentates the girls wanted … but not the worst match possible. For their part, the two brothers had suspected for some time that it would be their lot to marry the pretty, undisciplined, exuberant sisters. The young men are resigned to their fate.
As so often happens with Laila and Leily’s schemes, the way events play out in reality is very different than the scenarios painted by their lurid imaginations. Yes, the marriage is a day of celebration with the sisters at its focus. However, that does not mean the sisters get to participate. Once the heavy wedding clothes enfold the sisters, their lot is to remain still and silent as everyone else in the village celebrates. It’s all tremendously boring; going hungry is even worse .
It’s not until they are on the threshold of marriage that the implications sink in. Marrying the brothers means leaving their birth families. Alas, for the sisters, regret comes all too late. It is up to their long-suffering husbands to find some way to reconcile their weeping brides to their fates.
The volume also contains some short pieces: a day in the life of Amir and Karluk, the rescue of a foolish boy by a brave, goat-riding granny, and a tragic piece about Amir’s efforts to nurse a wounded eagle back to health.
My reading of late has been fairly grim. This one seemed likely to be upbeat. After all, it features more of Laila and Leily’s madcap adventures. What could possibly go wrong with two girls getting married to two only slightly older boys?
Readers may be assured that despite boredom, hunger, and the belated grasp of certain implications of being married, the wedding goes as well as it could. The clothing is spectacular, the feast lavish, the celebration heartfelt, the husbands considerate of their wives’ feelings, plus the sisters manage to fit in one last zany scheme1. Even the sisters’ sudden alarm at separation cannot spoil the day. That too is customary: all brides have a meltdown when they must leave.
There are occasional hints that life may not go entirely happily after this volume. The two brides, after all, are children by Western standards and their patiently dutiful husbands not much older. In the larger setting, the Russians are clearly up to something. However, future complications are either left to the readers’ imaginations or to future volumes. This particular volume is as upbeat as it could be, under the circumstances.
Mori’s art is always spectacular; it’s even more so in this volume. The sumptuous costumes are depicted in painstaking detail (the wedding clearly represents an impressive display of wealth in a community that cannot have a huge surplus).
I don’t know why I hadn’t followed up on this series for several years. It was and is a joy. The illustrations alone are worth any time and money invested.
1: Short of dosing them with elephant-grade tranquilizers, there is no practical way to deter the sisters from drafting bold schemes to circumvent convention and circumstance. Nevertheless, I have a suspicion that the narrative won’t return to them in future volumes.