Hi everyone! A treat today! Double post, and with this, something definitely new, and interesting! Shelli is on vacation so we weren’t sure if she would be able to get her post so me, so I went to twitter to ask for help, and Ms. Heidenkind immediately stepped up. I haven’t read manga in a long time, but I know it’s even more popular now. I’d also never heard of this series, and as you see, it’s gorgeous. So everyone, give Heidenkind a very warm welcome!
A sekret: I am a bit obsessed with Mongolia. I have wanted to go there ever since I wrote a report about it back in high school. So I was super-excited when I heard that Kaoru Mori, who wrote and illustrated the fabulous Emma (review here), was working on a manga series set in 19th-century Mongolia.
If you’re unfamiliar with manga, it’s basically a type of comic book that comes from Japan. If you enjoy any kind of genre fiction, there’s probably a type of manga out there for you–the categories are highly specialized. I started with vampire romance mangas like Midnight Secretary and Vampire Knight, both of which are extremely unputdownable and full of win. I think most of the appeal of these books is their exoticism, and the fact that by US standards they’re pretty subversive. A bit like soap operas, mangas can go on forever and usually have tons of characters, and A Bride’s Story isn’t any different.
A Bride’s Story centers around Amir, who at twenty is extremely long in the tooth to be getting married. Her husband, Karluk, is only twelve. Awkward! Actually that’s less than the age difference between me and my bother, but it’s still kinda skeezy. But obviously that’s just my modern bias. And if you think there’s no sexual tension going on in these books, well… you’d be wrong, although Karluk does pull a Louis XVI despite Amir’s wiles.
It’s small wonder that Amir hasn’t been married before now, because she’s a little odd. And not just in a, “You’re not from around here, are you?” sort of way; also in a, “Why are you watching me sleep like that?!” way. For realz, I think she might be a little unbalanced. There were times when I felt like I was reading Fatal Attraction: Mongolian Edition.
Amir is watching you. Always watching.
But there are tons of other characters, of course, including a bad-ass grandma, an anthropologist from England, Amir’s friend, Pariya, who always looks angry; a street-smart guide; Amir’s evil male relatives; a pretty nomad woman who lives with her mother-in-law; and the rest of Karluk’s family. The only secondary character who’s been explored with much depth so far is the anthropologist, Mr. Smith, but I’m sure as the series goes on other characters’ stories will be fleshed out.
The art in A Bride’s Story is also gorgeous, full of tons of detail, yet still easy to read. Mori isn’t one of those manga artists who only has 3 faces in her repertoire (coughBrideoftheWaterGodcough), and each character is completely individualized and recognizable. As with Emma, it’s clear Mori has done tons of research into this setting, and I can always appreciate thorough research.
I’m not as into A Bride’s Story as I was into Emma–not yet, anyway; sometimes it takes a few volumes for me to really get into the story–but I do think these volumes are a promising start to the series. I love being transported to Mongolia, and a few of the characters are really interesting, so I’ll definitely be continuing series.
Thanks for guesting with us, Heidenkind, and also for sharing about A Bride’s Story – and manga in general!