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Ooku: The Inner Chambers – Volume 6

August 22, 2011

Gestalt Mash have my review of the sixth volume of Fumi Yoshinaga’s Eisner and Tiptree award-winning manga series Ooku: The Inner Chambers.

My review features something of a reassessment of the series as I realise that, rather than looking it as a Feminist thought-experiment about an alternate feudal Japan in which the male population has been reduced by 75%, the series is best seen as a historical epic.  The term ‘historial epic’ is somewhat misleading in that it tends to summon images of fat fantasy novels with intricate plots that unravel over hundreds of years.  While Ooku’s plot may cover a number of generations, the plot is very much anchored to the waxing and waning of historical forces.  There is no grand narrative at work here, just the ceaseless change of an aging ruling class and how the decisions they make change the country:

By stepping back from the lives of the individual characters and focusing instead upon the historical themes that emerge from the passage of the generations, we can see that Yoshinaga is suggesting that history is above all a product of human passions. Yoshinaga’s characters are the twisted and broken products of a twisted and broken society and while their exalted positions allow them the power to shape and reshape society as they wish, there is the growing sense that Yoshinaga’s characters repeat the mistakes of the past because they simply cannot help it.  In Yoshinaga’s history, change happens more by chance than by design.

Needless to say, I am still very much enjoying this particular series and I hope that Viz Media continue to show their commitment to the series by publishing volume 7.

My previous posts on the series can be found at the following locations though I have also collected them under a single heading in this site’s menu bar:

2 Comments
  1. August 23, 2011 7:29 pm

    I have noticed that Yoshinaga is trying to point out that history is just caused by people’s foolish desires. No matter what gender you are, things can turn out bad if people act completely & rule on instinct.

    I did write about Yoshinaga’s view of role reversal in the series at: http://www.mangatherapy.com/post/9079474486/ooku-manga-movable-feast

    The series is leaning more towards an historical epic. I’m interested to see how this will all end in a few years.

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  2. August 24, 2011 8:44 am

    Interesting site :-)

    I think that the shift towards a more historical focus is kind of the result of the fact that the comic is getting slightly repetitive. New Shogun, New Problems, New Concubine, New Old People Causing Problems, New Shogun and so you have to step back and look at the rise and fall of the generations.

    On one level, I’m concerned that this repetitiveness will devolve into soap-operatic melodrama but early issues did show that Yoshinaga is mindful of that historical perspective. I would like to see a bit more of it in the text though I must admit.

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