This volume starts out with a two-part story. What’s the story about, I hear you ask? It’s about what the cast of this series does when they have some spare time. Mr. Smith goes for a walk. Amir sings. Karluk goes to look at some horses. Leila and Lily complain to their husbands. It’s 40-plus pages of stuff like this and it sets the tone for the rest of the volume. Which is to say that vol. 12 is full of fluff.
I’m not saying that every volume of this series needs to have a compelling through-line to it. Yet, when we’re only getting one new volume of this series in a given year, I was kind of hoping for something a bit more substantial than what we get here. A good deal of it does revolve around Smith and his camera, as everyone they meet wants to have him take their picture. This includes Sherine and Anis who become friends with his not-quite-wife Talas. We get to see more of what the former two are up to as well, as they’d like to teach their fellow wives to read and write. It’s a noble goal, but one that is barely developed here at all.
At least vol. 12 looks as pretty as the series always has under mangaka Kaoru Mori’s pen. The highlight for me was a brief eight-page chapter where we get to see Pariya’s rambunctious cat do lots of kitty-like things. This chapter made my day as a cat person, and I would’ve loved to have the rest of the volume just be about seeing what this cat gets up to on an average day. Based on what we see the humans get up to here, I’m fairly certain the results would’ve been just a little more entertaining. Because cats.