- Series: Ôoku: The Inner Chambers (Book 13)
- Paperback: 248 pages
- Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; Translation edition (November 21, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1421592150
- ISBN-13: 978-1421592152
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #947,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 13 Paperback – November 21, 2017
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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 2009 Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize for Ôoku, the 2002 Kodansha Manga Award for her series Antique Bakery, and the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence Award for Ôoku. She was also nominated for the 2008 Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist.
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Story: Sachiko is the daughter of the Shogun. Brilliant and beautiful, she is the apple of her father's eye and the heir to the shogunate. But her father's interest in her is indecent and he has the power to ensure that his daughter remains his alone. But coming of age is a young lady who is also smart at reading people. Abe is from a family that has protected the shogunate for centuries and she will, with the help of a noble relegated to brothel service, begin to outmaneuver the Shogun and protect her charge from further abuse. But Sachiko, soon to be Shogun Ieyasu, will bear many scars as a result. While at the same time, she must chart the course for a Japan that can no long be isolationist - and the American black ships must be addressed.
This was a particularly moving volume and of course taking place in an interesting time. The Dutch had long been established in Japan but Britain had just conquered the eternal Qing (the Opium Wars) and Japan had good reason to fear that they, a smaller nation with no navy, would be next. All these historical events are given as sidelines so readers know the context of the actions. But while the political machinations are interesting, Yoshinaga truly shines at the characterizations.
Through 13 volumes and hundreds of figures (the story travels several centuries) there have been so many distinct voices. Even now we have a volume peppered with all that humanity has to offer. There are no bad guys or good guys - just people going by their own motivations. Some are weak, some are greedy, some are idealistic, but all are nuanced and feel very real.
As a perfect complement to the layered story, the illustrations add greatly to the subtlety of points and characters. Yoshinaga's linework is clean and the panels laid out perfectly to underscore so many important scenes. Little tics, surprise, and so many unspoken moments are perfectly represented by evocative illustration work. It all looks like a simple shoujo manga but there is so much more here to be found. It makes it worth the time to really look at the illustration work or you miss something important.
Ooku is one of the best examples of manga being an art form and not a 'comic' to be read and discarded/forgotten. We have master storytelling here that perfectly blends words and pictures. I eagerly look forward to the next volume. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.