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Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 11 (Ooku: The Inner Chambers) Paperback – November 17, 2015
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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 Ant
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Top Customer Reviews
After 150 years, there’s finally a male shogun ruling the country, placed there by his strong-willed, murderous mother. Meanwhile, the doctors trained by part-Westerner Aonuma have dispersed after their teacher was killed. The vaccine they developed against the male-killing redface pox has died out as a result.
This is a classic story. It’s deeply gripping as the reader fears for those under the control of someone unconcerned with how she wields her power, yet unable to do anything but watch as events play out. It’s epic, as the monstrous nature of the controlling woman becomes visible, and hard to believe that someone could be so single-minded. Yet there’s hope, as the parallel story of the displaced doctors shows their continuing search for a more permanent cure. (The publisher provided a review copy. Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
Story: Just as the Hollander physician Aonuma had begun to find a preventative inoculation to the Red Pox that had decimated Japan's male population, Senior Councillor Matsudaira Sadanobu came into power and outlawed Hollander studies. Aonuma's disciples fled after his beheading and live quiet lives of country doctors. Years later, the first male Shogun, Ienari, has taken the throne but he is firmly under the control of his mother, Lord Harusada. Although Ienari has a good heart, his mother is quite a very different animal. Subtle and devisive, even her son fails to recognize her her vicious depths. Ienari wants to bring the Hollander medicine back into study and save other boys like himself - something his mother won't allow. But when Ienari starts to have sons himself - sons that are very expendable to his mother - the Shogun realizes he will have to find a way to overthrow his mother's callous rule.
As with all the Ooku books, it is very difficult to give a true synopsis of the story. There are so many layers and depths that all wind together into a fascinating story. While the previous volume looked like it would end with the cure of the red pox, instead a change in power destroyed all the advances and set the society back. In this volume 11, startling discoveries are going to be made and now it will all be a matter of whether or not Shogun Ienari has the will to wrest control of power from his mother.
We've seen some very interesting characters in the past but Lord Harusada is likely our first real sociopath. That she would end up ruling the country is interesting and certainly the slow reveal through the chapters of her machinations are quite disturbing. Author Yoshinaga really brings to fore the helplessness of everyone from councilors to peasants in the wake of one woman's terrible power.
Because of the superb writing, Ooku is one of the best values out there for dollar spent. This is definitely not your 12 year old's manga and is something you set aside a few hours to really lose yourself into that world. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
I debated how to rate this particular volume on sexual and violent content. For sexual content, there is nothing graphic (mostly talk) and much less than some of the other volumes in the series. For violence, whereas some of the other volumes had assassinations and stabbing deaths, this volume has lots of poisoning deaths and blood being coughed up related to that. There is also one scene were an adult tries to hurt or kill a child by stepping on him.
Like in the previous volumes, it is helpful to keep notes (in your mind or written out) on who these characters are and what their relationships are, focusing on their relations to Tokugawa Harusada. That will help you understand why some of these people are being poisoned. I'm looking forward to how this series will progress, now getting away from the Red Faced Pox as the driver of the story to now the power struggle of Tokugawa having so much power and how they have these branch families with conflicts as the focus.
I have not read any of the previous volumes in this series, and this is typically not something I would pick up.
I’ve read a few other books by Yoshinaga, and I do like her artwork and storytelling. It’s pretty and realistic, very expressive and subtle, with some nice humor mixed in when needed.
I’m not a historical fan, so I will say that I didn’t fully enjoy the story line. Not having read the previous books, I was also a little lost in the story line, and had a hard time following a few times. There wasn’t any catch-up at the beginning, though.
I did like some of the humor, and the way that women are seen as the powerful, strong ones in society. That’s such a different vision than most have. I also liked how the fathers doted on their children, even if some of the sexual relations I didn’t like, what with some of the guys sleeping with a lot of women. I was also intrigued, and rather horrified, with Harusada’s character and underhanded scheming.
This was an interesting volume. I can see why a lot of people like it, especially fans of historic fiction, even if it’s not really for me.
A review copy was provided by the publisher, VIZ Media, for an honest review. Thank you so, so much!
[More of my reviews are available on my blog, Geeky Reading, to which there's a link on my profile.]