Ooku: The Inner Chamber Volume 8 (manga review)

Ooku volume 8Ooku: The Inner Chamber Volume 8

Created by Fumi Yoshinaga

U. S. Distributor: Viz Media

American Release Date: September 17th, 2013

Format: Manga / Paperback / 224 pages

Genre: Historical Edo Period

Age Rating: M for mature Theme

Overall Personal Rating: B

Similar series: Vagabond and maybe Tactics

Imagine a world where the population is 85% women and 15% men. I know that for me it might be a great life, or would it?  If I were a 20 year old handsome guy I would think it might be heaven.


The year is 1636, a terrible plague hits Japan and only one-fourth of the male population survives. The plague is known as the Redface Pox. The effect it has on  Japanese society is unbelievable. The Japanese society during the Edo period was ruled by the Shogunate and male dominated in every way. The utter devastation of the male population forces the Japanese to completely reverse roles. The women become the workers and rulers and the men that survive become pampered playthings for the sole purpose of ensuring the continued existence of the Japanese race. Or should I say the bearers of the precious seed.

Now we have moved through several Shogun and Yoshimune has secured her place in history as a cunning and capable ruler, but the time has come for her to officially declare an heir. Many in her court hope she will pass over her oafish older daughter Ieshige in favor of the urbane Munetake. Yoshimune has never been one to bow to convention, but this time the future of her country is at stake.


Volume 8 of Ooku had hit a wall. It seems to be spending plenty of time exploring the fate men and making sure that they live a similar life of what women did in our history, but at time the path of these men feel a little cliché. Over the years I have enjoyed many of the Edo Period  stories such as Vagabond and Samurai Champloo, but I was very afraid that Ooku is loosing it’s touch at being poignant and at the same time giving us a cultural statement about the battle of the sexes. It started off strong, setting the premise well, but appears to be falling apart quickly when the story turned to Yoshizo and his life of trying to be a cook in the Inner Chamber.

The one thing that bothered me most was the translation. The English was written in a heavy Quaker speak and the thee and thous  were very much out of place. I know that the Japanese had some minor contact with the West, but I doubt that it had the effect of changing the way they spoke. I realize that it was done for dramatic effect, but there is no reason for it.

Overall Grade: B

Being a Viz Signature series manga I expected more from the series and it was not until the last 25% of this volume that something of value began to unfold. The use of old English or the puritanical speech betrayed the intent of the author. I find it very hard to accept that style of language, I would have rather it been in a contemporary voice rather than the 16th century style.  I felt like I was on a Quaker Farm in Ohio rather than 1700 Japan. I begin to understand what Fumi Yoshinaga  is beginning to do. It may be a slow development of the true plot line but it does look to be intriguing. I am looking forward to the next volumes and the direction this parallel universe is going.

Similar Titles:

If Ooku is something for you, be sure to check out Vagabond and Tactics, then when you need a little humor with the Edo period give Samurai Champloo a ride.

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