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Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 1 Paperback – August 18, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
This is NOT YAOI, and really not even a BL/shounen-ai, though there are some mild BL scenes (e.g., one of the main male characters is kissing another young man, there's an attempted man/man rape scene, and implied male same-sex relationship between some of the Inner Chambers' inhabitants (though nothing is shown on that)). Surprisingly, no lesbian pairings are shown or even implied, which I find somewhat unrealistic: with the population being 75% female, I think such relationships are to be expected. I hope it might be shown in further volumes.Read more ›
Ooku impressed me with the mature, beautiful and neat art style. The story was really interesting, mixing history and gender discussions, the main character, Mizuno, is kind and ambitious, although a little naïve, and I felt very interest to know if he would succeed in his career at the inner chamber. For that who do not know, the inner chamber is the shogun seraglio, in a Japan where most of the man, specially the young, died in reason of a strange disease, the red pox. Women took the power and men are an expensive delicacy and necessary source of seed. Mizuno used to bed with women who wanted child for free. Only the most powerful and rich families can afford a husband, and only the shogun can have so many.
I don't know if Yoshinaga will mix real Japanese history in her series, like the contact with other countries. Does the disease affected other places or is a Japanese plague? I can hardly wait for the next volume. Ah, one problem for me, VIZ was very careful and the text is almost in archaic English. It's difficult for a foreigner - I'm Brazilian - to read it as fast as if it was in current English, but this choice give to Ooku a more elegant face. Really nice peace of work.
I was wrong. Ooku *does* have gorgeous art--which, remarkably, objectifies neither male nor female characters(including in non-explicit sexual situations). But it also has wonderful restraint and evenhandedness in telling its story of an alternate-history Japan where men and women have exchanged most social roles.
To begin with, Yoshinaga offers a plausible reason for the swap--a sex-linked plague has wiped out more than 3/4 of Japan's men, leaving sons rare and carefully protected and women to fill in the roles men once occupied. No magic, no "Y: The Last Man" mystical pseudoscience, nothing complicated. Just sickness. (And it's limited only to the Japanese islands, which adds an extra depth--the rest of the world continues on with its real-world gender balance, a contrast to woman-ruled and -worked Japan.)
Yoshinaga also inverts men's and women's roles with respect for both genders. She doesn't just make women "act like" men or men "act like" women--she doesn't do what a lot of genderswap fiction I've read does, which is tell a story that reads just like a real-world-gender-balance story, except the visuals for the men and women have been swapped. Men happen to look like women, and women happen to look like men. Instead, Yoshinaga has her women act like *women* in power and her men act like men in less privileged roles. Her women aren't mustachioed or muscley or brutish (to show how "man-like" they are)--they still look and act very much like women. Neither are her men overly feminized.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I came across this series while looking online for a story about strong women for my daughter (young adult). Read morePublished 12 months ago by Runa Annwn
Very interesting read. Fumi Yoshinaga is a brilliant story teller, her words kept me glued to this book from the time I picked it up,up until I finished the book. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Leah
It was a sealed book, which worried me. I hope the art isn't bad. No, the art is quite nice. Set around an Edo period and taking place completely in Japan, the story opens from a... Read morePublished on March 20, 2013 by Nom de Plume
This is a very, very good manga series.
I'm an avid comic reader and sometime manga reader. Read more
I've been a fan of manga for most of my life, and have read various different series of all genres. But of all of them, Ôoku: The Inner Chambers is the best in quality and in... Read morePublished on January 16, 2012 by Ton Yanzik
This book won the James Tiptree Award for exploration of gender issues. The first graphic novel to win the prize. Read morePublished on September 13, 2011 by Grace O
The characters speak with a kind of Shakespearean inflection. It is ridiculous that people in Medieval Japan would be using Early Modern English.Published on June 24, 2011 by Evzenie Reitmayerova
Ooku tells a brilliant story set to the backdrop of a diseased Feudal Japan. It has beautiful artwork and lifelike characters and my favorite has to be Yoshimune, the strong female... Read morePublished on August 21, 2010 by Chase Gray