Sumomomo, Momomo Vol 1 by Shinobu Ohtaka Manga Review

Title: Sumomomo, Momomo – The Strongest Bride on Earth Vol 1

Author: Shinobu Ohtaka

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 9780759530041

May Contain Spoilers

I tried really hard to dislike this book.  I mean, it has so many elements that I dislike.  There’s Momoko, a young martial artist and the only child of the Kuzuryuu clan, who isn’t strong enough to master the clan skills because she’s a woman.  Now, there’s a story line that doesn’t sit so well with me.  That she just accepts her father calling her inferior, and that she journeys off to Tokyo to marry a total stranger, is another thing that I just don’t like.  She trades in her tough fighting skills for mad cleaning, cooking, and waiting hand and foot on her intended skills.  Nah, that’s usually not my cup of tea.

Her would be groom, Koushi, has traded in his fighting aspirations long ago, deciding instead that book smarts suit him far better than battle smarts.  His father, the head of the Inuzuka clan, isn’t at all impressed that his son has turned into a pansy and spends his days reading.  That is not the life for a true man!  Contemptuous of Koushi’s sissified ways, his father is thrilled when Momoko appears.  Though he warns her that Koushi isn’t a worthy partner, she has already set her hopes and the survival of her clan on becoming Koushi’s bride.  She doesn’t believe that Koushi is a coward, and she’s already to bear him an heir.  Too bad Koushi doesn’t want anything to do with her.

When I stopped taking anything seriously and just allowed myself to be caught up in the comedy of the book, I found it enjoyable and highly entertaining.  But  whenever the fan service reared its ugly head, I was jarred out of the story.  Momoko looks about ten, and when she is aggressively chasing after Koushi so they can hurry up and make a baby, things got obnoxious and hard for me to like.  Koushi spends more time getting beat up, thankfully, and the distasteful scenes don’t take up a lot of page time. 

I love Momoko’s formal manner of speech, and the way her fighting prowess contradicts her small stature.  She is determined to win over Koushi and ensure the survival of her clan.  Koushi only wants to be left alone so he can pursue the path he has set for himself; he wants to be a lawyer.  After a traumatic childhood incident, he has turned his back on martial arts, and he avoids confrontations at all costs.  So what if people mock him for being a coward.  He justifies all of his meek behavior, doing everything possible to keep all conflict out of his life.  He thinks he’s content with the status quo, but when Momoko comes along, everything changes.  She is like a tsunami crashing into his weak, defenseless life.  He never had a chance to protect himself against her gung-ho, anything is possible nature , though he gives it a good try.

Though the fan service is a definite turn off for me, I enjoyed the characters.  I am curious to see how much Koushi changes after being exposed to Momoko for an extended period of time.  He was starting to get a backbone by the end of the first installment – by the end of the series, will he become strong enough to make an acceptable groom for the strongest bride on earth?

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by Yen Press