Being a fan of Otoyomegatari has always required a measure of patience. Even in its headiest days we’d get about 6-8 chapters per year. But things have slowed considerably, at first perhaps because of the change in magazine, but now I can only assume due to Mori-sensei’s personal circumstances. This is only the third new chapter since October of 2022. I’ve always taken the same view with this series as with Vagabond or Hunter X Hunter – it’s obvious that so much more goes into a chapter than a typical manga, and you could give anyone else a hundred years and they’d never be able to do what their authors do. But one’s connection to the story does tend to fray a bit with so little new material.
This is compounded by the fact that Mori bounces from plot to plot, so we may not see major characters for many chapters at a time. Like Amir and Karluk? We’re going on two years now without a glimpse. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with Smith and Talas’ storyline, and this chapters we’re getting are certainly good ones. It’s interesting to see Mori back in the realm of Victorian England, obviously a comfortable setting for her. And worlds are colliding here to be sure, with Henry bringing a part of that other world back to the stuffy and racist quarters of the British aristocracy.
Henry’s mother just isn’t having it. She refers to the people of the lands her son visited as savages, and frets that Talas may have brought all sorts of diseases back with her. It would be nice to imagine her attitude is anything unusual, but it most certainly was not. Mr. Smith’s pal Hawkins drops by to try and smooth things over, and bemoans that Henry was unable or unwilling to take a subtler and more deceitful approach to winning his mother over. You get the feeling Henry’s father would have been fine with his son marrying a foreign woman – he doesn’t stand to inherit the family name and legacy, and he’s clearly resigned to the fact that his younger son is an eccentric. But if Mom is unwilling to budge, the situation is at an impasse.
It’s a good thing Hawkins did intercede, as Mrs. Smith is unwilling even to allow this savage woman to stay in any of the family homes. Hawkins offers a little-used hunting lodge, and the couple set off, traversing the English countryside by carriage. Sheep abound and Talas is fascinated by English sheep (larger and more docile than she’s used to). You can see in Henry’s face that he’s falling in love with Talas all over again as he watches her gentle interactions with the animals, which is a really beautiful bit of writing (and drawing) by Mori-sensei. Eventually he has the idea to see if Hawkins will let them keep a few sheep as their own, allowing Talas to try her hand at making clothes from English wool. I sense this isn’t the last we hear about that development.
With that, once more we wait. For how long is anybody’s guess, but I certainly won’t get my hopes up for another chapter before the summer. I’m grateful for what I get, because A Bride’s Story is truly out there where the buses don’t run – it’s worth the wait, however long it is. That doesn’t mean I can’t wish it was shorter, though.