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Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 12 Paperback – November 15, 2016
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About the Author
Fumi Yoshinaga is a Tokyo-born manga creator who debuted in 1994 with Tsuki to Sandaru (The Moon and the Sandals). Yoshinaga has won numerous awards, including the 29 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize for Ôoku, the 22 Kodansha Manga Award for her series Antique Bakery, and the 26 Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence Award for Ôoku. She was also nominated for the 28 Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist.
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Top Customer Reviews
The challenges are manifest:
* an ineffective leader whose actions are controlled by his murderous mother
* public confusion over the risks and rewards of inoculation
* how to succeed without raising the ire of powerful leaders
* a distracting concubine who appears to have lost her mind after her child died
* how to benefit from the knowledge of other languages and cultures
* the conflict between hereditary positions and staffing those who actually have the knowledge needed for accomplishments
It all ties together in complex, satisfying ways. For something set so very long ago, in another culture, it’s very relevant to see the importance of the vaccine and the torment felt by those who lose children to such a terrifying disease. The fear of a country trying to hide its weakness from the international community by demanding tight borders also struck a chord. I don’t know much about Japanese history, but even I know, with the giant ship on the last page, that’s about to change. (Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
Ooku volume 5 keeps to the high standards of the rest of the series, which if you don't have, I recommend buying now. Only instead of the story of tragic lovers, as in an earlier volume, or a hard women, keeping the empire together (another volume) here is an examination of how a shogun like so many world leaders, can change over time. Pressured on one side not to adopt but create her own heir, past the point of reason, and swayed not by her own mental illness but the sudden madness of one close to her, our female Shogun makes laws and atmosphere in the Ooku which is soon reflected in the rest of Japan.
We follow the female Shojun and the male High Court official, who both start as those who care about the empire, while one may care a bit more about personal gain. But as time continues, and one of the two forgets the Japanese people and empire, and is bored, and so the things that boredom leads to leaves the other to try and pick up the slack.
Ooku is unique in that is it telling a history, both the good leaders and the poor ones, but all interesting, and all had their own reasons for acting. But we finish this volume hoping that history can be turned around, not so much that men take over but that the Shogun, or the Emperor cares about the people again, and that corruption and slack become part of the past, not the present ruler.
Any thought that this is a dry read, is only because I don't want to reveal plot points and back conspiracies. This is a great work, one which I read as soon as it comes out and I have no regrets in doing so, I only wish Viz added even more titles to the Signiture Line as their selection seems to be spot on.
Story: Ienari is under the iron dominance of his mother yet he plans a small rebellion of his own. He enlists the aid of doctor ryojun in secret to renew the work to end the red face pox. But Ienari's mother has plans of her own and it doesn't involve a son who develops a political agenda outside of hers. Double crosses, twists, and surprises abound as a new attempt is made to end the pox that has killed so many of the male population. And then strange black ships appear on the horizon....
This feels so real - as if it could actually have taken place. The strengths and weaknesses of the characters as well as the politcal and social machinations are spot on. It's always a real nailbiter to see who will succeed and who will fail - with failure often meaning death.
I also greatly appreciate that this is a generations story. Where the forebearers are strong, often the progeny end up very weak and ineffectual - so very much like real life. This story always hits such a note of accuracy in its nuances; life is never black and white and no one is good or evil. Typically, just selfish or not.
I have greatly enjoyed Ooku and look forward to where it will go now that the Americans and Commodore Perry have arrived on Japanese shores. It's so amazing how the story and the actual history are combined into something so fascinating. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.