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Manga / A Bride's Story
aka: Otoyomegatari

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A Bride's Story (Otoyomegatari) is a seinen manga and yet another period romance from Kaoru Mori. This time the setting is Great Game-era Central Asia, at the time of The Crimean War in the mid-19th century.

Set on The Silk Road that connected Asia with Europe before modern times, it is the Slice of Life story of Amir, a nomadic tribeswoman skilled in archery and horsemanship, who is sent to marry Karluk, a boy from another village who is eight years younger than her. Despite their age difference, the newlyweds like each other very much and follow a patient path leading towards grown-up love. But all is not well: the Russians are expanding south, political unrest is brewing, and Amir's family now want to take her back. The narrative follows not just Karluk and Amir as they navigate these challenges, but also various characters around them who are engaged in trying to better their lives or end up finding their special someone.


As with all of Mori's works, the art and attention to detail is extensive, although Mori can put more effort into this particular work with less pressure, since it is a bimonthly publication.

Published in English by Yen Press in larger-than-usual hardcover volumes to show off Mori's artwork.

This manga provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Barring her age, Amir is pretty much the perfect bride. Good at sewing, cooking, hunting, kind and patient etc. There's a funny moment when Pariya thinks of Amir and gets angry because she's struggling to learn to embroider while Amir is good at everything. Later on, when Pariya tries to think of an impossibly perfect human being, guess which face springs into her mind?
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Karluk's sister, Seleke, is only a handful of years older than Amir but already has four children, the eldest of whom is about nine. On the one hand, it wasn't uncommon in her culture for girls to marry and become pregnant in their early teens. On the other hand, Seleke does not look like she's had four children.
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  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: A minor one, lampshaded in the afterword of Volume 2; getting a lot of bricks dumped over your head will still kill you, even if the bricks are only made from mud and sun-dried (not fired in a kiln).
  • Accidental Marriage: Trouble twins Laila and Leili try their damnedest to invoke this by running into chosen people, wearing their headscarves loose (because touching a woman's bare head would be scandalous unless you're her husband... or marry her right away).
  • Action Girl:
    • Amir has hunting and survival skills that can be turned to combat, and she's physically courageous as well as fiercely protective of her new family. It's actually stated that this was part of a normal education for girls where she's from. Chapter 33 drives the point firmly home when she takes out her own father, the enemy commander, single-handed.
    • Karluk's grandmother Balkirsh is an expert archer, and while she mostly stopped using her bow after she got married, she's still got the touch, as well as nerves of steel. When Amir's brothers come to take her away, she threatens them away with a warning shot. She also uses her talent for riding a goat to rescue a small child from a steep cliff.
  • Accidental Hero: As part of his cover to avoid being accosted on his travels, Smith pretends to be a doctor and helps a man with his dislocated shoulder. Come morning, and everyone is convinced he's a miraculous doctor and have formed a huge crowd outside his door.
  • A-Cup Angst: Anis, a delicate beauty with a smooth chest, starts to feel insecure after the women at the bathhouse compare her to the much more buxom Sherine and imply her husband would like her better if she filled out. When she talks about it with her husband, he tells her in no uncertain terms that he likes her the way she is.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • Amir and Karluk have an eight year age gap between them. Not to mention Karluk is only twelve when they get married. Their relationship starts off as an Arranged Marriage, but they end up genuinely falling in love.
    • It turns out that Talas' fifth husband, the youngest son of his family, was still a child when she married him, similar to Amir and Karluk's situation. However, he died soon after, and him dying when his whole future was still ahead of him was what hurt Talas the most.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Azel to Amir. And, like her, he's a gorgeous badass archer to boot.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Both Anis and Sherine are faithful to their spouses, but at some point it becomes rather obvious that their feelings for each other are more romantic than platonic, which becomes even more blatant after they start living together (with one servant commenting that someone else in position of Anis husband might've been jealous about sister-wives relationship). Given the sociohistorical context - private and public segregation of sexes, as well as commonality of marriage - it's very difficult to tell what these two women preferences are.
  • Anti-Villain: Amir's brother and cousins who are trying to take her back. Azel seems to be conflicted about it and did let her go once, giving her the chance to escape. And Joruk doesn't seem too interested in going through with it. After Amir's new family tells them to get lost, Joruk wants to throw in the towel and give up. He even comes alone later to warn Amir that their father has aligned himself with another family to take her new clan's land by force.
  • Arranged Marriage: The story begins with one between Amir and Karluk. They get along very well despite the fact that she's from another culture, and of course the eight year age gap. By setting default, you can safely assume every couple you see are in arranged marriages; some story arcs actually revolve around how even those marrying for love need to get their respective families to arrange the marriage.
  • Author Appeal: Obscure setting? Check. Gorgeously intricate clothing? Check. Obsessive attention to historical detail? Check. Intelligent, beautiful, and unusual female lead? Check. This is very much a Kaoru Mori manga. Mori herself stated that she's had a fascination with the period subject (pre-Russian Silk Road) since high school.
    Mori: The Silk Road region of Central Asia is all about hot-spring baths! And it isn't just because I wanted to draw people in the nude!
  • Author Avatar: As with her previous stories, she portrays herself in the afterword as a messy haired caricature with bad manners (often screaming). She's also always eating something.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Karluk stabs and pushes back out a Halgal man that had climbed in through a window to take Amir in Chapter 8.
    • Amir returns the favour in Chapter 33, saving Karluk by shooting her father's horse, knocking his sword from his hand, and pinning him to the ground with it.
    • Biamat and Joruk come riding back in Chapter 34 to sweep Azel, Amir, and Karluk away from the horde of Badan that had surrounded them.
  • Big Eater:
    • The twins spend virtually their entire wedding day stuffing their secret, because the bride isn't actually allowed to eat anything during the ceremony.
    • Joruk often complains about being hungry and pilfers food whenever he can.
    • There's also Smith's guide, Ali. The one thing that's guaranteed to make him cease complaining is the prospect of food.
    • Anis's new friend, Sherine, clears a loaded plate, including a whole chicken, in the time Anis looks away and looks back. She also likes to eat whole watermelons by herself. After she becomes the second wife of Sherine's husband and comes to live with them there's an entire page dedicated to her gorging herself on one plate of food after another (after she ate another entire watermelon earlier that afternoon as a "snack") while Anis looks on in awe. Anis apparently enjoys watching her eat so much she even gives Sharine one of her own plates (Anis is NOT a big eater) and encourages her to eat more while she stares at Sherine with hearts fluttering around her. Sherine manages to remain gorgeous despite her eating habits as all of it goes to her chest.
  • Bishōnen: Azel and Joruk, Amir's elder brother and cousin respectively. Karluk looks to be becoming one.
  • Black Widow: Subverted. Talas is a serial widow for five brothers, but she did love some of them and had no part in their deaths. Also she or her family gained no extra dowries for the "bonus" marriages.
  • Boom, Headshot!: A comedic variant where one of the twins' harebrained schemes involved taking out a passer-by with a headshot… using a fish. They threw it hard enough to knock him out cold.
  • Buxom Is Better:
    • Sahmi has developed a reputation for preferring women with large boobs, which embarrasses him every time one of the twins brings it up.
    • Sherine has the biggest breasts in the series by a mile, something the flat-chested Anis finds remarkable.
  • Cheerful Child: Again, most of Karluk's nieces and nephews.
  • Christmas Cake:
    • Invoked and Discussed. Some characters mention Amir being old for a bride (she's married at 20, but her family started looking for a husband for her from the time she was 13), especially considering the eight-year age gap between her and Karluk.
    • Pariya is terrified at becoming one. So she becomes very nervous around her husband-to-be, trying to show him what she believes is the perfect wife. Luckily, he prefers her more gruff and relaxed personality.
  • Close-Knit Community: The town where Karluk comes from.
  • Completely Missing the Point:
    • After Amir hunts down a fox, Karluk admits he worries she may one day run into a wolf. Her response?
      Amir: Oh, for wolves you need more people, to get all of them at a shot! You can't hunt them alone!
      Karluk: .....
    • In the first chapter, Amir receives some cloth from her mother-in-law Sanira, which she uses to make a rabbit fur-trimmed vest for Karluk. Sanira says that she'd thought it'd be nice material for Amir to make something for herself. Amir thinks this means that Sanira thinks her current clothes are too dirty to wear, so she immediately strips down and runs off to do laundry.
  • Cool Big Sis: Amir to Pariya and Karluk's niece and nephews.
  • Cool Old Lady: Karluk's grandmother, Balkirsh, who drives off hostile visitors with a bow and rides a goat up a cliff to rescue a child. After the latter side-story, she's explicitly dubbed the coolest and strongest woman in the manga!note 
  • Coordinated Clothes: Azel and Baimat wear clothes and hats with similar design and patterns (also seen on Amir's clothes). Of the Halgal cousins, only Joruk wears a turban and an unpatterned vest. We get an explanation in the author's corner of volume 9. Azel and Baimat (and of course Amir) hail from the father's side of the family, thus their clothes bear similar crests. Joruk on the other hand is a cousin from the mother's side.
  • Costume Porn: Especially the embroidery. Dear God, the embroidery. This series may as well be called Costume Porn: The Manga.
  • Courtly Love: Amir and Karluk, out of the very simple necessity of Karluk being twelve. Also Smith and Talas, since he is a English gentleman and she a widow from a completely different culture.
  • Cultural Posturing: Possibly crossed with Mugging the Monster. At least some of the nomads seem to see the Russian newcomers not as people from a huge nation with hundreds of thousands of soldiers but as little more than savages from the borderlands or another tribe that can be repelled by at best a couple hundred fighters with a few cannons. Yeah, about that…
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Talas' stepfather-in-law won't allow Smith to even see her.
  • Death by Despair: Talas' father-in-law, after all five of his sons died without producing offspring.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • It's Central Asia a couple of centuries back. Of course it doesn't have modern First World values. Especially in the case of how important marriage is, or how at the time women, and even men who still live with their parents, had very little input on who they would marry. One example is Amir and Karluk's marriage - Karluk is only 12 years old, but in that time period, he would be considered of age. By modern standards, their union would be much more equivalent to a 20 year old man marrying a woman in her thirties. Although the author explained in her endnotes to volume one that the actual average marrying couple in the region realistically would have been fifteen to sixteen years of age, and admits that she decided to have such a wide age gap between the two main leads for dramatic purposes.
    • While Amir married Karluk, who truly loves her and lives in one of the nicest communities in the area, women from other families and tribes aren't as fortunate. In particular, it's revealed that Amir's female relatives were abused to death by their spouse's family, and Talas' father-in-law attempts to have her marry off quickly, all the while ignoring her feelings; though Karluk and the others were sympathetic, they agreed that Talas has no choice but to obey him.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: In chapter 2, Seleke orders Rostem to do his chores before eating dinner, which would take him until quite late. Amir sneaks him some food and helps with the chores, saying she'd only do it this one time. When Rostem slacks off again, she sticks by that "just once" and Seleke panics at the thought of Rostem going hungry.
  • Determinator:
    • Azel when it comes to "keep fighting no matter how hopeless the odds" martial prowess.
    • When it comes to "not letting anything stand between your True Love and you", Chapter 71 could be called "How much of a Determinator Talas can secretly get to be: the chapter".
  • Double In-Law Marriage: Invoked by the twins' father, who wants to get them both off his hands at the same time, and therefore marries them to a pair of brothers.
  • Dowry Dilemma: Crops up occasionally, such when a family has trouble marrying off their twin daughters because both are known troublemakers and the dowry needs to be accordingly large.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Laila and Leili's mother transforms into this when she's giving the twins a crash course in bridehood, beating them with chickens, making them do push-ups with their younger siblings sitting on their backs, making them run while carrying weights as she rides along behind them on a cart lashing at them with a whip and, of course, constantly shouting at them.
    Mother: Cooking, cleaning, child rearing, and all the other responsibilities of the homemaker... not only that, but guts as well! I'm going to beat it all into you!
    The girls stare at her blankly.
    Mother: I CAN'T HEAR YOU!!
    Twins: YES, MA'AM!
  • Elopement: Talas intends to do this with Smith, the twist is her arranged husband goes with her to see her through it.
  • End of an Age: It's not very obvious, but there are hints here and there of the modern world – represented by the Russians and even Mr. Smith – encroaching ever more into the local way of life. Other examples include the growing presence of bolt-action rifles, settlers and Russian-influenced fashions. Justified, due to the story taking place in the mid-19th century, not too long before the Russians conquer the area.
  • Eye Patch Of Power: Amir's grim and formidable father, the clan chief, wears a highly decorative cloth band over his missing eye.
  • Exact Words: Balkirsh can honestly swear she hasn't seen Umar and Pariya that morning. It's not as if they asked her if she had heard them chatting on the rooftop, right above her head.
  • First Kiss: Karluk shares it with Amir. Pariya gets hers several books later with Umar.
  • Flower Motifs: The first and next time we see Anis and Sherine in the main story, there are several times the pages including them are overtaken by flowers and greenery.
  • Food Porn:
    • In Chapter 16, Mori applies her prodigious talents to all manner of food in the market, and the characters literally spend the entire chapter looking for the best food and then finally eating it in an impromptu feast. You probably should not read it while hungry.
    • Chapter 4 gives us verbal Food Porn, when Joruk gets carried away, describing what kind of meal he wants to be greeted with:
      "I want some mutton. Slices fresh off the grill, piled high on a plate. The really juicy kind! Some fried rice might work, too... pour soup all over it and shovel it in! Oh, that stuff's good!"
  • Foregone Conclusion: Not with the story itself, but the setting. In less than 12 yearsnote  the Russians will have moved in, set up puppet-states (Khiva, Bukhara, etc.) or annexed the area, and started a long period of Russification and economic development. The nomads will be made to contribute taxes or be forcibly relocated somewhere much less pleasant if they rebel.

    This is already foreshadowed from Chapter 30 onward, when Amir's tribe ally themselves with the Russian-aligned Badan tribe in order to raze Karluk's town, seize their land and get Amir back. Due to their links with the Russians, the Badan have ample Russian weaponry, which they promise to place at the Halgals' disposal. In the ensuing battle, the Badan betray the Halgals, seeking to seize the town and get rid of their "allies" at the same time. No doubt the Badan are doing the Russians' dirty work for them. Even though Karluk's hometown prevails, it, and the whole region, will eventually bend the knee to the Tsar, and Stalin after him.

    The end comment of the magazine version of Chapter 62 further hints at the troubling times ahead for the region:
    "Students of history may be aware of certain events that Karluk would indeed do well to prepare for. It seems it may be less a matter of if, but when, Dear Reader..."
  • Gilded Cage: Anis evidently feels this way about her luxurious home, since her husband is often absent, her baby is being raised by another woman, and she's not allowed to leave or even interact with people other than family. This feeling is gone when Anis has her husband take Sherine as a second wife; she genuinely enjoys her home and her lush garden with Sherine to share it with, they spend time together as a family, and she gains a new appreciation for her husband and how he cares about her happiness.
  • Going Native: Amir, a nomadicnote  tribeswoman starts the story by settling down with Karluk's sedentarynote  family in a mercantile community. Later, Karluk returns the favour by going out to live with her family and learning their ways.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: It's a Kaoru Mori manga; this is par for the course.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Sanira already has a few grandchildren, but is still very beautiful. Heck, her husband even notes how good she looks for her age.
  • Happily Ever After: The conclusion to the twins' marriage arc. Anis and Sherine get a whole chapter dedicated to their happy ending.
  • He Is All Grown Up: Chapter 28 has Amir slowly coming to this realization, with an intercut of other women discussing how Karluk's all grown up to accentuate the moment of realization in the last page. Note however that his emotional maturity is a ways ahead of his physical maturity.
  • Hot Springs Episode: Much of Anis' story concerns her frequent trips to the womens' bathhouse to meet with Sherine, with lots of nudity, relaxation, and female bonding included.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl:
    • Laila and Leili's parents. While their mother is regular sized, their father is a towering, powerfully built man easily twice her size. His size/strength explicitly played part in a Rescue Romance that won his wife's affection.
    • Inverted with Amir and Karluk. She's fully-grown, but he's only twelve and has quite a lot of growing left to do.
  • I Gave My Word: Smuggling a meal to a boy being punished is one thing, but doing so after she told him that she can't do it again is quite another.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Amir, who has no qualms about occasionally going about the house in her underwear or lounging naked in the bath for ages.
  • Intimate Healing: During a cold night in a yurt, Amir surprises Karluk by taking off her clothes and telling him to do the same so they can keep warm together under the blankets. Though being in such intimate contact with Amir makes it hard for him to relax at first, her embrace feels so safe and warm to him that he's soon able to drift off to sleep.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Talas' sixth husband, who took her on an offscreen trip across much of Central Asia (even though a later chapter does show the travel, their sudden aparition was a surprise for the reader) following the trail of her real True Love (Smith) so they could be together, then actually discussed the trope, almost by name, saying he was doing it partly in memory of his own first wife, and because the world is cruel and any man should want to give a woman her happiness. One of the rare cases where a straight usage of this trope comes off as awesome instead of tearjerking.
    • Played with regarding Anis, her husband, and her widowed friend Shirin. Anis arranges for her husband and Shirin to marry. In this case it's not clear which one is the "I". Anis (for willing to share her husband), the husband (he barely knows Shirin and only marries Anis' friend to make Anis happy), or both?
  • The Jailbait Wait: Voluntarily, rather than legally. By his culture's standards, twelve-year-old Karluk is old enough for marriage and everything that entails. His grandmother is able to bluff to Amir's relatives that Amir is already pregnant with Karluk's child, and while admitting it isn't true, she says it's going to happen sooner or later anyway. Even so, Karluk and Amir both recognize it's better to wait until he's older. So far they're only kissing, holding hands, and sleeping as a couple. Chapter 23 still has Amir wishing that he'd grow up faster, as it's strongly implied that she wants to get a lot more intimate with him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Mr. Smith's guide, Ali, who is very blunt to the point of rudeness, but is a nonetheless hard-working young man who wants to earn enough money so he can get married.
  • Language Barrier: Talas experiences this when she and Smith arrive in Persia, as it turns out that her Persian is rudimentary, at best. This makes it more difficult for Anis and Sherine to communicate with her, though all three of them do manage.
  • Likes Older Women: Despite this being a culture in which a girl of 20 like Amir is considered old for a bride, Karluk states that her age doesn't bother him one bit, and in fact he wouldn't have her any other way.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: As is fitting for the setting, it's said that most women never cut their hair even once in their lifetime.
  • Meddling Parents: Talas' mother-in-law does everything she can to convince her to remarry, even though she's already accepted her lonely fate. Later the man Talas' mother-in-law marries in order to try and assure Talas finds a bridegroom too. He's even more meddlesome, being absolutely against hearing anything about Talas' own arrangements. Of course this is all justified seeing how going against your parents and especially the male head of your family was unthinkable for women in that time and place.
  • Meet Cute: The twins Laila and Leili planned to do this on would-be suitors with their head coverings loosened. In their culture, touching a woman's uncovered head is seen as very intimate and was only allowed for those intending to marry, though it never goes right. Their inspiration for the plan was an older relative who actually managed to pull it off.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Hey, remember Amir's brother, Azel? He's kinda hot, right? Now, let's get him soaking wet and watch him strip. Oh, so you enjoyed that last part? Well, I guess it wouldn't be too much trouble for him to take his shirt off again. And let's give him a few bruises and bandages, why not?
  • Never Mess with Granny: Karluk's grandmother Balkirsh fires an arrow at Azel as a warning shot when he comes to retrieve Amir and successfully bluffs him out of the village. In a side story she rides up a mountain on a goat to rescue a little boy. At the end of the chapter she is deemed the strongest and coolest woman in the whole manga. She even kills Azel's father personally, even though he's Amir's father too.
  • Nice Hat: A lot of the adults have hats and headdresses, many ornate and detailed. Balkirsh's is the largest.
  • Not So Similar: Very subtly developed between Laila and Leili, who initially seem to be Single-Minded Twins. Because they've lived their entire lives together and are never apart, they seem to be completely identical, and when they get engaged to marry the brothers Sarmaan and Farsami the boys say it doesn't even matter which girl each of them marries because they're the same anyway and the girls themselves can't even come up with any way in which they're different. However when the girls go on trial dates with their intended the differences become quite apparent: Laila (who goes with Sarm) is the dominant, bossy one who wants a husband who will do what she says, while Leily (who dates Sami) is the more passive follower who is more of a dreamer and wants a husband that will romance her. Fortunately the boys match them perfectly.
  • Obviously Evil: The Badan to everyone but the Halgal elders. Somehow Azel and his cousins are the only ones who aren't surprised when the Badan turn on the Halgal.
  • Old-School Chivalry: Surprisingly for the setting, Talas' sixth husband, who, through all their travels through much of Asia in search of her real True Love, did sleep in the same tent to protect her person and reputation, but with a fabric wall to respect her privacy, never trying to impose upon her no matter if doing so would have been considered his right in their age and country.
  • One-Man Army: Azel on horseback. Seriously, anyone approaching him with hostile intentions while he's riding would fare better if they just slit their throats. Subverted when he's on foot though he's still hard to take down.
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: Smith has them about 99% of the time in the first two books, fittingly as he then only plays the part of a foreigner expo-magnet as a nerdy researcher. Dropped for some select scenes in the third book when he gets a more emotional plot of his own.
  • Opposites Attract: Anis and Sherine in a way that could be platonic or romantic, depending on how you look at it. Sherine is quiet and stoic while Anis is blithe and innocent. They look very different and come from different stations. Each one seems hooked on the other because they'd never met anyone like that before: Anis can't resist how Sherine is aloof, yet teasing like her cat, while Sherine is moved by how Anis comes running to her like a lost child to its mother every time she sees her at the baths.
  • Our Nudity Is Different:
    • When Mr. Smith sees Talas with her headscarf off, she blushes and tries to cover herself and apologizes for the "shocking display".
    • Anis and Sherine are surprised to hear that Talas and all the other women of her people go outside without covering their faces.
  • Parenting the Husband: Subverted. Amir thinks this is her role in regards to Karluk and seems fine with it, but he grows weary of it pretty soon and eventually gets the point across that she doesn't have to babysit him. The way he does it also has a side effect of Amir falling head over heels for him.
  • The Patriarch: Karluk's grandfather Mahatbek, though being elderly he doesn't get around much and prefers to sit peacefully. Karluk's father, Akunbek, serves as one of the village elders.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Thus far there seem to be nothing but these, although one could argue that the culture norm probably encourages unhappily arranged couples to "learn to like it" or at least keep it to themselves. However, some couples are happier than others, and Amir and Karluk are one of those.
  • Pet the Dog: The normally brusque and aloof Azel tenderly wiping Amir's tears in Chapter 35.
  • Phenotype Stereotype: Mr. Smith and the English woman sent to deliver him letters in Chapter 10 are both blond. The fact that they were both English also led some locals to believe they at least knew each other.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The day-to-day clothes are bad enough, but the wedding gowns are on another level.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Karluk's niece and nephews, Smith, and Joruk.
  • Polyamory: Anis's husband takes Sherine as second wife on his first wife's insistence. The husband takes her in more as an act of charity for a widow and her aged parents-in-law than out of attraction, though.
  • Public Bathhouse Scene: Much of Anis and Sherine's story takes place in the local women's baths, one of the few places women can gather outside the home. The men's bath is also shown, with Smith receiving a vigorous massage that involves popping every limb out of its socket.
  • Reality Ensues: In book three, Smith and Talas's sudden engagement seems to be going along the usual romantic rails, until Chapter 17. The entire chapter makes it abundantly clear how unrealistic it actually was due to the cultural differences and family ties. This turns out to be a defied trope in Chapter 72, thanks to Talas's determination and the unexpected help from her sixth husband.
  • Relationship Upgrade: While Karluk and Amir are already married at the start of the story, it isn't until Karluk's Big Damn Heroes moment in Chapter 8 that Amir moves away from being more of a Cool Big Sis to Karluk and starts to see him romantically and act like a smitten young woman (and awkwardly so).
  • Rescue Romance:
    • Laila and Leili's mother apparently met and fell for their father after he rescued her from stormy waters by lifting her and her boat and carrying it all the way to land. As mentioned in Relationship Upgrade, this applies for Amir and Karluk as well as she only begins to view him romantically after he rescues her from her father.
    • Laila and Leili also try to invoke it themselves… by knocking someone into the water so they can rescue him. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Anis and Sherine, with heavy emphasis on romantic; playing their first meeting like Love at First Sight is just the tip of the iceberg, and it reaches Threesome Subtext after Sherine marries Anis's husband at Anis's request.
  • Rotating Protagonist: After the second volume, the story switches from Karluk and Amir to Mr. Smith on his journey to Ankara to receive an item prepared for him. Later the focus goes back to Karluk and Amir for a while, before shifting again to Mr. Smith's arrival in Persia and introducing the wife of his host, Anis. Then we return to Amir and Karluk's village, this time to concentrate on Pariya. Again we switch back to Mr. Smith, his arrival to Ankara and his reunion with Talas
  • Sacred Hospitality: Fitting for the period. At one point when a messenger delivers letters to Smith, many of the villagers fight over who he gets to stay with until Akunbek declares him as his guest.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Anis' husband. Other husbands like Karluk and Saahman and Farsahmi get more development and screentime. Besides brief scenes showing Mr. Smith around, he's only shown interacting with Anis and Sherine, he doesn't even get a name and in the end his sole role is making it possible for Anis and Sherine to be together.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Karluk is much calmer than Amir is. Laila and Leili are as Hot-Blooded as their husbands Saahman and Farsahmi are not.
  • Scenery Porn: Just as you'd expect from Kaoru Mori, all kinds of landscapes from Asian steppes are illustrated in lavish detail.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: The twins and their respective grooms have mutual moments of this in Chapter 25 when they see each other in their marriage getup.
  • Shirtless Scene: Azel spends most of Chapter 29 wandering around shirtless after saving a foal from a river. Completely relevant to the plot, of course…
  • Shoot the Dog: After it becomes clear that the hawk Amir has been nursing back to health will be unable to fly again, Amir and eventually Karluk conclude that this is the best course of action. They figure a life without flight, stuck in a cage fed by hand is no life for a hawk. Karluk offers to do the deed, to spare Amir the pain of having to kill the animal she's been caring for.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The Muslim rites of animal slaughter are shown accurately at the twins' wedding in chapter 24.
    • While Mori made the common mistake of depicting the Japanese hold of the bowstring in chapter 1, she was told about it, learned the correct, different Central Asian hold, and specifically depicted it in chapter 62.
    • Talas selling her jewelry in chapter 72 was actually the reason women of that time and place always carried them on their person to begin with: it was their property to subsist on, even in the case of leaving their husbands.
  • Single-Minded Twins: Laila and Leili start out as this (it's even lampshaded), however they eventually realise that when it comes to marriage they are attracted to different things in their potential grooms, and this also reveals different aspects of their own personalities.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Laila and Leili eventually get bored of sitting silently under their veils at their wedding, so they swap places with some pillows while their mother isn't looking and go play with their grooms for a while. Their mother is very angry when she investigates why they're so quiet.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Amira or Amir? The official English translation went with Amir (which is based on the kana actually used by Mori) yet her name is spelled Amira in other official translations, like Spanish (which is based in "Amira" being the actual, real-world female name). Fans still debate the issue. That Mori has made "interesting" official spellings of non-Japanese names in other works of hers didn't help, either. This applies to a lot of the names due to the huge disconnect between Japanese and Turkic languages.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Mr. Smith notes the astounding amount of time local women dedicate to weaving/sewing. Also see Tomboy.
  • Tomboy: A number of examples:
    • Amir comes from a nomadic tribe and is used to riding horses, hunting, and using a bow and arrows. Especially shooting game while on horseback. This makes her quite a tomboy when compared to the culture of her new tribe, which gave up the nomadic life and settled down a few generations back. Otherwise, she's not that tomboyish, unlike…
    • Pariya, who's not interested in needlework or marriage (she prefers baking and archery instead), and has a rougher personality than most other women shown. She speaks her mind without rounding the corners and is considered too "cheeky" for most groom candidates.
    • The twins Laila and Leili could count as this as well. They swim, dive, fish, and climb trees on their own. They're physically strong enough to knock a man unconscious with a projectile. And they were quite averse to their mother's lessons on domestic chores and crafts.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Laila and Leili.
  • There Is No Rule Six: The twin's mother has this to say about raising children:
    Rule One: Physical strength! Rule Two: Physical strength! There are no rules three or four, but rule five is physical strength! If the time comes and you can't run at full speed while carrying two or three children, then that's as bad as sacrificing those children to the wolves!
  • Training from Hell: Laila and Leili get put through rigorous training by their mother so that they can be prepared for their wifely (and later motherly duties) in less than a month. This includes teaching them how to cook and clean with efficiency, medicine and health, strength training, sewing and berating them with chickens when they mess up.
  • Trickster Twins: Laila and Leili are the epitome of this, though their tricks are rarely successful.
  • Tsundere: Pariya, since she is naturally awkward and used to being disliked by everyone for her outspokenness, blushes furiously when she meets a suitor, but then starts shouting at him the next minute.
  • Twin Banter: Laila and Leili again. It actually serves as a real shock to them when they have a differing opinion.
  • Unmoving Plaid:
    • Averted. Not only does Mori draw the patterns on their dresses, she draws it slightly differently between different panels. note 
    • There are straight examples, however. The patterns on Saahman's and Farsahmi's clothes in Chapter 21, for example, are the same size in every frame, even if perspective and distance should make them appear smaller. These are mostly done for simpler patterns, however, as the more complex ones are the ones that get more lavish attention.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Several cases, the first being between Amir and Karluk (the latter doesn't feel ready to consummate the marriage yet), and a second with Mr. Smith and Talas. Anis and Sherine's relationship can be seen this way as well.
  • The Unsmile: Pariya to make a good impression with Umar by putting on what she hopes looks like a cheerful smile, but it ends up looking really forced and creepy.
  • Victorious Childhood Friend: Laila and Leili end up engaged to their childhood friends Saahman and Farsahmi, respectively. Played with in that both pairs of siblings are at first unenthusiastic about it as they feel like they're just settling for each other at the behest of their parents. After they go on dates to get to know their respective fiancés, however, both sisters come to like what charm the boys hide behind their usual bored expressions, and each becomes convinced that they got the better catch.
  • When He Smiles: The ecstatic smiles on Saahman's and Farsahmi's faces (which normally show either sarcasm or exasperation), at the end of their marriage reception in Chapter 26 actually stun the normally loud twins, now their wives, into silence.
  • Wife Husbandry: Or more accurately, Husband Husbandry. Karluk is twelve when he marries Amir, and she does guide him a bit into the more romantic aspects of marriage, although most of the time it seems she is willing to wait until he grows up.
  • Wise Beyond His Years: To modern sensibilities, twelve year old Karluk comes off as surprisingly mature for his age. In the setting, though, he's considered an adult and expected to act as such.
  • Womanchild: Amir, though it's more that she's innocent (and occasionally oblivious) rather than immature.
  • You All Share My Story: The "Young Bride" differs with every story arc. It started with Amir, then Talas, then Laila and Leili, then Anis, and then Pariya.

Alternative Title(s): Otoyomegatari


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