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Ooku - Le Stanze Proibite, Vol. 2 (2006)

by Fumi Yoshinaga(Favorite Author)
4.15 of 5 Votes: 2
8863042691 (ISBN13: 9788863042696)
Planet Manga
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers / 大奥
review 1: Stuff I Read - Ooku volume 2 by Fumi Yoshinaga ReviewAfter a first volume that just sort of delved right into a world where ninety percent of men died from the mysterious Red Pox, volume two of Ooku steps back and gives us a bit of the history of the setting, specifically the divergent path in the royal family brought on by the disease and the rise of the first female Shogun. This happens alongside the forming of the male Inner Chambers, so it gives a nice back story to some of the events that happened in the first volume while also managing to tell a good story in its own right. The story of Akimoto and Iemitsu is one tinged in pain and sadness. Both are pushed against their wills into their stations, Iemitsu into being Shogun and Akimoto into being the first real memb... moreer of the Inner Chambers.Behind both sad stories is Kasuga, who is ruthless and cruel and yet who manages to save Japan in many ways. Though she is unbalanced and really nasty at times, she is also the one that holds everything together, who ensures that the Edo Shoguns won't lose their power. In her wake, though, she leaves shattered lives. It takes Akimoto, a priest and a bit of a martyr, reaching out with tenderness and compassion rather than with malice. And his compassion mixed with Iemitsu's pain and rage are what basically shape the Inner Chambers into what was seen in the first volume.It's an interesting story, and Iemitsu is a fascinating character, someone that most people overlook as weak or cruel because she has power or because she is a woman. Her life, though, and the things she has to endure because of Kasuga's ambition to maintain the shogun line, are intense and dramatic. It twists her, corrupts her. It makes her relationship with her own femininity complicated. She hates the feminine because she sees it as weak because that was how she was raised, and it takes Akimoto adopting the feminine to show her just what kind of power it can have.So the volume succeeds to me both as a prequel to the first volume, justifying the changes in history by showing how things developed, and also succeeds as a stand alone story of the budding love between Akimoto and Iemitsu. It is ripe with darkness, but given that it's the story of how the old world died and was reborn into the Japan shown in the first volume, it makes sense and doesn't come off as unnecessary. The actions have weight, and I could feel the ramifications echo forward. I'm really looking forward to the next volume, then, and give this one an 8.25/10.
review 2: Having greatly enjoyed the first volume of this manga series, I am glad to say that I thought the second kept up the standard. It is the start of what may be an extended flashback to the 1630s, shortly after the plague that killed most of Japan's men. The young noble monk Arikoto, presenting his respects to the shōgun, is detained and learns to his horror that he is to become one of the shōgun's catamites; but of course, the shōgun is actually a young woman, her father having died though this has been kept secret. It is an intense tale of sexual violence, secrecy, and intrigue, and of flawed human beings overcoming awful personal histories. I will be interested to see where Yoshinaga takes it in future volumes.I am slightly disappointed that this revolutionary situation isn't used to examine the broader societal impact of the altered post-plague sexual politics; of course the title of the series is explicitly "Ōoku: The Inner Chambers" so I guess we will continue with the focus on the ruling household. Perhaps the shōgun Yoshimune, introduced in the first volume, will use the knowledge gained from the flashbacks to show us the rest of Japan. Even so, it seems to me odd that the feminisation of the ruling elite is accepted by all (including, so far, the author) as a matter of deep shame, that must be covered up at all costs.On the other hand, I have been genuinely shocked to see complaints in other reviews about the use of archaic English to translate certain Japanese forms of address. I know little of Japanese, but I know enough to realise that this is a Big Deal, and therefore a big challenge in terms of catching nuance for an English translation. Faced with this problem, the translator, Akemi Wegmüller, has done a fantastic job. It really annoys me when people get this wrong, but she has got it completely right. less
Reviews (see all)
So, so good. Loved the politics and learning more of how the Inner Chambers traditions started.
This is still brilliant. Still very man centered.
SO GOOD!!!!!
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