Filed under: Kaoru Mori, Manga, Otoyomegatari | Tags: art, Kaoru Mori, Manga, Otoyomegatari
I learned of Otoyomegatari yesterday from 2-D Teleidoscope, who briefly riffed about it’s plot and astounding artwork, and particularly caught my interest with the note that the series starred a married couple of a 20 year-old woman married to a 12 year-old boy. No, this isn’t a shocker or smut rag, it’s a slice-of-life story from 18th century nomadic Persia, and it is wonderful.
But there’s not a lot to say about it – the story is a slow, sweet little slice-of-life tale about a bunch of extremely likable characters. The titular wife in question is consistently full of fun surprises such as her tomboyishness, extreme marksmanship, and general dere-dere attitude, and everyone else just teems with jollyness. The only time that a violent conflict occurs (the latest translated chapter, number 8) it is a bloodless one as the opposing sides don’t want to get into a long-standing battle. The manga desperately holds onto it’s light-hearted nature, which is good, because I’d really hate to see it go!
Anyway, the manga is in many ways less like a story the artist really wanted to tell, and more like one she really wanted to draw. Artwork is far more important to this series than the story (not that the story isn’t brilliant) and when you read it, you’ll definitely be awed. The amount of detail in every single image of this manga is unfathomable. Every shot is crisp, beautiful, incredible, and looks like it took a damn eternity to draw, what with all the detail! However, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a little something that helped me appreciate the art even more.
It so happens that there are a series of videos out there that chronicle artist Kaoru Mori‘s process as she creates one of the full-page illustrations. Watching it in action is un. fucking. believable. Even with the time-skips in the video, it is easy to see that the image as a whole takes Mori-sensei less than 2 hours from blank page to completed project. Her speed is ridiculous because she draws with such an utter sureness that could only come through years of perfecting her craft. Mori-sensei literally races down the page with her hand, etching in details faster than the eye can see and creating so assuredly that one would say her imagination goes straight into her hand without second thought. The ability to draw each and every line with such speed and without a single error is near-godlike. There is only even one instance in which she pulls out a ruler, and it is to create the string on the bow that goes behind the character’s back. Everything else just appears like magic onto the page.
Otoyomegatari is a great manga for a number of reasons – personally, it appeals to my strange love for any kind of off-cutler marriage/relationship that actually works well, and is so much fun that it’s hard to fault with anything. However, the true reason to read it is that the artwork is like none you’ll ever see from another manga. Mori-sensei is really in a league of her own.
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