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Posts Tagged ‘The Lady Shogun and Her Men’

Part 3: The New Culture

Image from Amazon.co.jp

In the final installment of my look at the cultural revolution during Iemitsu’s reign in Yoshinaga Fumi’s manga 『大奥』 (Ôoku), I’d like to explore the political and cultural changes to the (female) Iemitsu’s Edo through the connection between fashion and political power.

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Part 1: The Sexual Revolution Within the Ôoku


There’s a line in Volume 1 that really defines the larger work of Ôoku, where a character notes that the men there kept like goldfish: a luxury item to have simply for the sake of having. For the third and (part of) the fourth volumes of Ôoku, I’d like to shift the focus from the narrative itself to the larger cultural issues presented in the volume. No work of art or literature exists in a vacuum, and the third and fourth volumes of Ôoku address the present issue of “herbivore men” and their counterpart, “carnivore women.” Unlike Otomen, though, the story of Ôoku is not directly about this issue, but there’s no denying the connection between contemporary culture and the work. The content of this volume is largely meant to explain the changes in Japanese (alternate history) culture caused by the Red Pox, or how the culture in the world that Yoshinaga created evolved from the Shogunate of Iemitsu to that of Yoshimune.

I’d like to address this in multiple parts—first the sexual revolution within the ôoku; next, the changing political and social world; and finally the lasting cultural impact that the revolutions within and without the castle have on the world. The issues addressed here are fairly lengthy, so I’ve divided up Part 1 into subsections. Spoilers are a given; also, one image contains some potentially NSFW cleavage.

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Manga Review: 『大奥』(Ōoku:The Inner Chambers), Vol. 2

Image from Amazon.co.jp

Read the review of Vol. 1 here. Ôoku masterpost here.

Sad to leave Yoshimune and Mizuno of vol. 1 behind for the next story arc, I reluctantly started vol. 2 of Ôoku, but I quickly left my regrets behind as I got absorbed in the story. Readers, this manga is a tour de force. It’s not just the art or the writing– this volume put me through an emotional wringer in a way that only the endings of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and The Rose of Versailles have.

As Yoshimune reads the records of the ōoku, we travel back in time to the 1630s. The manga starts with an explanation: The first two Tokugawa shoguns, Ieyasu and Hidetada, were men. However, the third shogun, Iemitsu, fell victim to the Red Pox. Little by little, we piece together the (disturbing) story of how the female Tokugawa line started.

Spoilers, of course, follow.

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Manga Review: 「大奥」(Ōoku:The Inner Chambers), Vol. 1

 

Although a friend of mine had suggested I read 「男女逆転大奥」(Ōoku: The Inner Chambers) back in May, I didn’t really get the Ōoku fever till August, when I went to see my first movie in a theater in Japan. (For 1700 yen–and that is why I will probably stop at three movies while here.) On the cover of the movie magazine you get with your ticket was a photo of a man and woman in period clothing, which I thought nothing of till I opened the magazine to this page:

 

 

“This is the Shogun. This is her retainer,” it read.

Well, sign me up!

I saw the movie in November, and I finally read the first volume of the manga in December. I loved the movie, but because I’m not accustomed to the non-contemporary language—the Japanese equivalent of Shakespearean English—I had a little trouble on the finer points of the film. I was really worried that the manga would be too difficult for me, but after looking up some of the words (thank god for Japanese-Japanese dictionaries), I actually got through it in a reasonable amount of time.

There are spoilers here for the film and the manga. This refers to the Japanese version,  not from the official English version form Viz.

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