Ooku: The Inner Chambers Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, December 08, 2009
How would you treat a harem tasked with fulfilling all your desires?
Writer/Artist: Fumi Yoshinaga
Translation: Akemi Wegmuller
Adaptation: Akemi Wegmuller
What They Say
Curious about why female lords must take on male names, the Shogun Yoshimune seeks out the ancient scribe Murase and his archives of the last eighty years of the Inner Chambers--called the Chronicle of the Dying Day. In it's pages Yoshimune discovers the coming of the Redface Pox, the death of the last male Shogun, and the birth of the new Japan' 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 to a quarter of the total female population. 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.
This volume reverts to the beginning of the red pox plague that kills only males. Portions of this volume peek at the changes brought on by the shift in population. For the first time, many families find all their men dead, forcing the women to work in the fields. Even samurai families are forced to send their women to till the land as their farmers are too few to support the feudal system.
Much of this volume focuses on the priest Arikoto after he travels to visit the Shogun and pay his respects. Through some underhanded tricks, the Shogun’s nursemaid, Lady Kasuga, tricks Arikoto into renouncing his priesthood and becoming the bed partner of the Shogun. This theme has been repeated throughout many societies in the world and is a disheartening example of how power has so often begat horrific treatment of those “below” royalty.
With his fate sealed, Arikoto is inducted into the Shogun’s inner chambers. Surprisingly, only men reside in those chambers. Considering how few men there are in the region, it is shocking to see so many men languishing in the Ooku. For men brought into the inner chambers can never leave. This is a rather disgusting example of power as so many women of the region are forced to go without husbands and ultimately children.
Being a man of delicate features, Arikoto quickly meets the Shogun, only the Shogun is a young woman. She is the only offspring from the late Shogun, and her only purpose in life is to give birth to a male heir to continue the clan’s position of power. This Lady Shogun is instantly unlikeable, but with time Arikoto begins to pity her and her position. All of this makes for an interesting read as the characters try to make their way in a changing world.
This is another great volume in a historically themed series that turns the Shogun era of Japanese history on its head. In this second volume, the author back tracks to the origination of the male killing disease and how the Shogun’s Inner Chambers, or Ooku, came into existence. The Shogun at the onset of the plague was Lord Iemitsu, a sickly character that preferred the company of men. His politically powerful nursemaid thought she could cure his “affliction” if she could fill the palaces inner chambers with the most beautiful women in the world. Eventually, with the death of Lord Iemitsu his daughter had to replace him and all the women of the Ooku were exchanged with men. From that incident blossoms all the future female Shoguns and there male harem of the Ooku.
This idea remains fascinating, and Yoshinaga’s ability to create sympathetic characters despite their initial impressions is nothing short of impressive. The first female Shogun, the daughter of Lord Iemitsu, is at first a nasty spoiled brat. Her personality is slowly examined and her past revealed, making me feel so sorry for her life that I can’t help but like her or at the very least pity her.
This second volume followed different characters in an earlier timeframe than the first volume. At this point I have no idea where in time the third volume will take place, nor the characters involved. With writing and art as good as Yoshinaga’s, I don’t care when or who the characters are, I just want to get my hands on the next book.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translation Rating: A-
Age Rating: 17 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Ooku: The Inner Chambers