By the mangaka of Emma 1. A 20-year-old bride is married off to a 12-year-old groom; they belong to different seminomadic families on the Central Asian steppes. (Well, technically her family is the only seminomadic one; his settled down a few generations ago.) There seems to be some over all plot coming up relating to Amir's family wanting her back, but, as in Emma
, the charm is less the plot than the intricate and loving detail lavished on domestic activities and the patient exploration of relationships. Amir's new family has a host of grandparents and children (several of whom I can tell apart by the end of volume 1) and also a random anthropologist who is studying them. The family tolerates him with bemused exasperation.
Domestic tasks here include hunting rabbits and foxes and herding sheep, as well as carving materials for houses. Mori proves just as adept at the intensity of the hunt as she was to dedication to dusting. As ever, she is in love with the clothes, clearly as exotic to her as English Victorian garb. I do wonder if Amir would wear those outfits for daily life, rather than for the wedding/meeting her new family; you'd think the jewelry might interfere with hunting.
At twenty, Amir is considered old for a new bride, but Karluk (responsible, kindly, the heir to the family because the tribe practices ultimogeniture) reassures her that he doesn't mind at all. Her protectiveness and tactful instruction sometimes read more like an older sister than like a bride, and at her attempts at snuggling her young husband feels like a lamb pressed into its mother's side.
This hasn't won my heart as much as Emma
yet, but I'm willing to give it time to build. I am holding back a little because of the age difference squickiness, but so far I am okay with how it's been handled. The couple seems genuinely fond of each other and are kind to each other; Amir's attempted seductions of Karluk fumble and fail, and could plausibly come out of her desire to truly belong to her new family rather than erotic desire, which -- come on, he's twelve! I realize it would be historically accurate, but I still can't deal with it treated as a happy romance in a contemporary work. If Mori really wants to do a romance here, I hope there's a time skip.
Nicely produced hardcover which I got for a typical manga price online, which is good, because I may like it but I still don't love it 17 bucks worth.
Also: need to include BADASS GRANDMA DISAPPROVES OF YOUR SHENANIGANS in final write-up.