Ah, the words every young bride surely dreams of saying on their wedding day: “Hey Mom, can we go see the sheep guts, too?”
Mori-sensei is taking the term “slice-of-life” quite literally this time - . The long-awaited wedding day of Laila and Leyli has finally arrived, and Mori takes great pains to show us the preparations in exhausting detail. If you’re looking for emotional heft, this isn’t the chapter for you – though we did get some mother-daughter bonding in Chapter 22.
As usual, part of the magic of Otoyomegatari is that Mori-san is able to address edgy topics without seeming to be dancing on the edge. A couple of 13 year-old girls getting married is surely qualifies as outside modern convention in Japan and The West (though at least these couples are roughly of an age) and it could be dodgy in lesser hands, but through a combination of tasteful restraint and simply ignoring the issue Mori plows straight ahead. She’s here to do a job – show us what the lives of these people were like – and marriages like this are par for the course.
Really, Laila and Leyli resemble naughty little girls more than brides. Their poor mother has her hands full getting the tomboys bathed, dressed, and from succumbing to the temptations of sheep guts and white stallions. Most of the focus of this chapter, in fact, is on everybody else – the relatives, , the men slaughtering them, and the guests – including Mr. Smith and his guide, of course, and also an Oji-san who happens to have been passing through and doesn’t even know the families. It doesn’t matter – in this country the more folks come to celebrate the marriage the better, so just sit back and enjoy the feast (which goes on for a week!).
Just as we were getting to the end of the chapter, I was thinking to myself that in order to paint a full picture of the event Mori really should have showed us what the boys were going through to prepare (the talk, I wonder?), the title of the manga notwithstanding. And lo and behold, the teaser for Chapter 25 tells us it’s a look at the Young Grooms’ wedding day preparations – so stay tuned for that.
You may have noticed that there was a brief omake, “Chapter 23.5” featuring the Brides’ Grandma rescuing a little boy stranded on a cliff by riding a ram up a steep trail. While it was a little too brief to merit a dedicated post it’s definitely worth reading.