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Ooku. Vol. 1 : the inner chambers
Yoshinaga, Fumi
Adult Fiction YOSHINA

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From 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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From 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. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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