Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Volume 1

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Overview

R to L (Japanese Style). In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country's men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun's Inner Chamber...

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Overview

R to L (Japanese Style). In Edo period Japan, a strange new disease called the Red Pox has begun to prey on the country's men. Within eighty years of the first outbreak, the male population has fallen by seventy-five percent. Women have taken on all the roles traditionally granted to men, even that of the Shogun. The men, precious providers of life, are carefully protected. And the most beautiful of the men are sent to serve in the Shogun's Inner Chamber...

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Edo period of an alternate Japan is ruled entirely by women in this manga. A mysterious plague has killed three out of four boys for generations, so men are carefully guarded and sheltered, while women go about the business of daily life. The Ooku was an area of Edo Castle reserved for the shogun’s concubines and female relatives; here the shogun is a woman and the Ooku is entirely male. One of the few serious works of alternate history in contemporary manga, Ooku explores the relationship between gender and culture in subtle and unexpected ways. It begins tightly focused on a single heroic character and slowly pans out from there, embracing first the court intrigue of the Ooku, then the new Shogun and Japan as a whole and finally the outside world, unaware and free of the plague. Yoshinaga is the acclaimed creator of Antique Bakery, which has been made into both a Japanese television series and a smash hit Korean movie. Not as visually busy as many historical works, Ooku’s art has a spare, elegant aesthetic that shines with carefully chosen detail. Yoshinaga’s work is wry and stately by turns, doing full justice to the book’s rich tapestry of stories. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Re-envisioning Japan's Tokugawa past, Yoshinaga uses a premise we've seen in Y: The Last Man and James Tiptree Jr.'s sf short story, "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" As a mysterious disease kills off 80 percent of the males, women have taken control of society, "preserving" men as sperm donors. Only rich women can afford to marry. Poor women wanting children are forced to purchase sex. And only the now-female shogun can dally in the Ooku—secluded quarters where elite male concubines await their liege's pleasure. Because he is too low class to marry his beloved Nobu, handsome swordsman Yunoshin enters the Ooku, where he meets the eighth and newest shogun, Yoshimune. Yoshimune's sexual appetite is exceeded only by her wisdom, a conflation of traits apparently new to the shogunate, and instead of exploiting him, she unexpectedly and expertly solves Yunoshin's dilemma. VERDICT Yoshinaga (Antique Bakery) clearly enjoys ringing the changes on gender tropes while exercising her considerable plotting skills. With four volumes published in Japan and a projected ten more on the way, this beautifully drawn series has won several Japanese awards and an Eisner nomination. Recommended for adult collections.—M.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421527475
  • Publisher: VIZ Media LLC
  • Publication date: 8/18/2009
  • Series: Ooku: The Inner Chambers Series, #1
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 413,591
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Fumi Yoshinaga is a Tokyo-born manga creator who debuted in 1994 with Tsuki to Sandaru (The Moon and the Sandals). In 2006, she was named one of the top twenty creators who have contributed to the world of shojo manga by Professor Masami Toku in her touring exhibit Shojo Manga: Girl Power! Yoshinaga has won numerous awards, including the 2002 Kodansha Manga Award for her series Antique Bakery and the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival Excellence Award for Ôoku.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Unusual writing style paired with elegant and beautiful artwork

    In an alternative view of life in a Japan ruled by Shoguns, only women hold important roles of government. A decline in reproduction due to a plague that decimated the male population, the males are guarded and roles are reversed with the women doing the labor while the men are treasured for their life-giving essence.
    Only the most beautiful men are allowed to serve within the inner chambers (harem) of the Shogun, where they give up all freedom and touch with the outside world for a chance to become the Shogun's consort. Intricate positions and intrigue abound within the secret rooms inside the palace. Naivete and innocence are both treasured and hated.
    This author wrote the award winning Antique Bakery and others. Her ability to capture facial expressions and beauty without clutter makes her work a true joy to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 13, 2010

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    Posted November 20, 2009

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    Posted June 25, 2010

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