Liz's Reviews > A Bride's Story, Vol. 1

A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori
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's review
Apr 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: awesomesauce, good-writing, manga, must-read, omgwtfbbqwhyhaventyoureadthis, translation-fail, incredible-artwork, young-adult
Read on April 24, 2012

Oh. My. God. Just...OMFG. The artwork in this is...I have no words. Nothing good enough, anyway. Sumptuous, I think, is the closest I can come. Breathtaking, magnificent, awe-inspiring, they all work, but it's really something you have to see to believe. That's a phrase used a great deal, "You have to see it to believe it!" But in this case I think it's very true. The detail put into the art is simply unbelievable. The mangaka states she was fascinated with the culture of the 19th century silk road, and you can see the sheer depth of both her love for this period and the amount of research she put into it.

The thing is, it's not just the detail artwork, although that will blow you away, it's also the story itself. We're introduced to a time and culture that's absolutely alien to most Westerners (and many Easterners, I'd imagine, as well). The main character, Amira, is from a different tribe and just as much of a stranger as we are, so we learn along with her (and learn about her and her culture at the same time). A single panel can show so much, from bread making to table settings, to a scene showing this extended family each doing something different as they talk together, going about diverse daily routines that are so completely divorced from anything we as modern, first worlders do.

This is very much a slice of life type story at first, showing how the bride and groom in an arranged marriage try to learn about and adapt to each other, as well as the bride's attempts to be helpful to her new family, to fit in even as she stands out. It's a learning experience for everyone involved, including the reader.

A bit of drama and suspense does come later on when Amira's family (read: the men, because that's how things are; women are property of the men in their families) decides that they need her more as a bride to secure an alliance with another tribe and attempt to take her back. Amira's new family objects to this. The elder grandmother of the family, Balkirsh, does so vehemently. The situation is temporarily resolved, but that's the key word, temporarily, and that leaves an "edge of the seat" feeling lingering throughout. Great storytelling.

I wanted to give this five stars. No, I mean I seriously wanted to give this five stars. I haven't come across a manga like this in...ever, really, and I can't say enough good things about it. I can, however, point out the three things that took away that last star.

As I'm coming to find with most translated works, there's translation fail going on here. There are the usual issues such as turns of phrase and honorifics, which can be argued is just being nitpicky. However, there's the main character's name. Why on earth would they call her Amir when it's really Amira? That just makes no sense. What was the point of defeminizing a perfectly good woman's name? And there are the silly little changes, like changing Tileke's love of falcons to hawks. Why, exactly?

Then there's the foreigner living with the family, Henry Smith. Who is this guy? Even after reading the manga three times I still had no idea. There's no information given about him, nothing to explain who he is or what he's doing there. There's this one strange person in the background sticking out and being utterly confusing. I had to go online to find out about him and his purpose. A major, and unusual fail in the story telling.

Lastly, and as much as I really and truly hate to say it, there is a problem with the artwork. Not the detail work, oh hell no! That is superb. The problem is the characters' faces. There's a sameness going on with everyone who isn't into old age. Most of the young women look the same, with only their clothing to distinguish them, as do the young men, with only hairstyles and clothes to tell them apart. And then there are the children, who all look alike, specifically Tileke. Is there a panel where this little girl doesn't look wide-eyed and open-mouthed with extreme emotion? It's the exact same expression on her every single time, and it really gets old fast.

With all three of those combined I just couldn't justify five stars, and that's a huge disappointment. The detail artwork and the main story really do deserve high praise.

I'm certainly recommending this to everyone I know (as well as random strangers who look like they might have even the vaguest interest in manga and/or YA books). It's also one of the few books that I knew, not even half way through, that I'd be buying the instant I got my next paycheck. Flaws aside, it's just that good.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Katherine (new)

Katherine After reading your review I decided to order this book.

new_user I kept seeing everyone writing "Amir" in reviews instead of "Amira" and I thought, is this because everyone's consulting Wiki? I didn't realize it was changed in the English-language version. I have no idea why they would change that. It's baffling, since Amira's family would never give her a masculine name, just like you don't see a lot of women in the US strolling around named John. It comes across as sloppy translation work.

message 3: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah FYI, her name given in katakana is アミル, which is literally "amiru." If the author had intended her name to be Amira, it would have been written アミラ instead. It's the unauthorized fan-translations who started calling her Amira.

new_user So it was the author who got it wrong? Because Amira is definitely the proper word.

message 5: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah I couldn't say whether Mori made a mistake or a deliberate choice. I'm only pointing out that it's not an arbitrary change on the translator's part.

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