Manga Review: A Bride’s Story V 3 & 4 by Kaoru Mori

May Contain Spoilers

In Volumes 3 and 4, the focus of A Bride’s Story shifts to Mr. Smith and the villagers he comes in to contact with on his journey to Ankara. Amir and Karluk make cameo appearances, so we don’t completely lose sight of them. Amir’s family has fallen on hard times because of their failure to steal her back and marry her off to another tribe, and I can’t say I felt too bad for them, even if Amir did.

World politics play a more important role as the conflict with Russia and the suspicion of Europeans in Asia cause some grief for Smith. Before meeting up with his guide, Smith gets tossed in to jail, and his pleas to contact the embassy fall on deaf ears. He’s finally released, but has another complication to confront. He and Talas, a young widow, have come to an agreement, but will her family destroy their future happiness?

I though this was a bit of a depressing installment. Smith sees first-hand how unpleasant life can be for women in Central Asia. Subject to the will and whims of their fathers, women have little voice or control over their own fates. Despite Smith’s intention to marry Talas, her spiteful new step-father has other plans for his new daughter, and there’s nothing either of them can do to change his mind. What a bummer.

Volume 4 was a different beast. Much more lighthearted and fun, Smith is “rescued” by two rambunctious twins, Laila and Leily. The sisters are constantly in trouble, more interested in snaring wealthy husbands than the fish they are tasked to catch. When their father, exhausted from their antics, finally makes an arrangement for each of them, the girls don’t get the husbands they have been wishing for.

Laila and Leily are overly energetic, and while everyone thought they were too young (me included!), their father finally caved. The girls have a lot of growing up to do before they can effectively take care of a household, so their stern mother gives them a crash course in housework. While they complain the whole time, proving their need to grow the heck up.

I enjoyed this volume. It has some very funny moments, and after the twins are resigned to their husbands-to-be, they begin to find things about the boys that make them special. It’s this quiet examination of the characters that I find so endearing about this series. Yeah, Laila and Leily didn’t snag the rich husbands that they dreamed about, but maybe the village boys that they will be marrying are special in their own way.

Once again, the art is stellar in both volumes. I love all of the details, from the clothing, to the food, to the animals and objects that surround the villagers daily lives. I love this series, and I’m thrilled it’s coming out in digital starting in October. Once I power through the library books I borrowed, I will be keeping up with the series digitally

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Volume 3

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…

Volume 4

Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori’s tale of life on the nineteenth-century Silk Road turns westward, following Englishman Mr. Smith on his long journey to Ankara. Passing through a fishing village along the Aral Sea, Smith and his guide encounter a pair of spirited young girls named Laila and Leily–identical twins who are fishing not for sturgeon, but for husbands! Despite their efforts to find two wealthy, healthy, and handsome brothers to wed, Laila and Leily’s plans generally only land them in loads of trouble!d