This post is a bit different from my usual ones. Instead of writing about teaching tips, assessment, or classroom management, I would like to tell you about a story I stumbled upon. The story I have fallen in-love with is a story called Otoyomegatari (A Young Bride’s Tale). The writer/artist is a Japanese woman named Kaoru Mori.
This story is set in Central Asia in the 19th century. It follows several groups of people who live in the area. The setting itself is enough to make it stand out from other comics I’ve read (I mean, honestly, how many other stories do you know of that are set in Central Asia during the 1800s?).
While the specific place is not mentioned, if you’re familiar with that area these people are most likely in what is now present-day Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, or Tajikistan. They do mention an area close to Russia, and Ankara in Turkey.
I have always been a fan of comics and graphic novels, both American and Japanese, Korean, or from other countries. There are so many interesting, sad, joyful, simple, and complex stories to find. I think comics are underrated as a medium to inspire reading, but I’ve read some stories and met characters that are very complex and rival literary classics such as Crime and Punishment, or Journey to the Center of the Earth.
The next thing that I love is the art! Otoyomegatari really captures you with the detail contained in each frame. I don’t recall reading a comic as detailed as this one (though I know there are others out there). From the following photos, you can tell that the artist really did her research in making each article of clothing, the terrain, the look of the characters, and how they interact. The warm and friendly interaction between family members, how they treat guests, to how they defend and protect their own – all of that makes you feel as if you really are in that area of the world.
You follow a young couple, Karluk and Amira, and their family, as well as a western English traveler named Mr. Smith. As he travels further west, you are introduced to a few more characters, but overall the total count is quite manageable. Each person wrestles with his or her own situation, sometimes involving their entire clan, and other times just one or two people.
I don’t want to give any spoilers away, haha! I highly recommend this story if you are in the mood for an unexpectedly captivating and heartwarming tale!