Feb 28

Tom Baker (Chiba-ken, 1989-91) is a staff writer for The Daily Yomiuri. A big part of his beat is the Pop Culture page, which covers manga, anime and video games.  You can follow Tom’s blog at tokyotombaker.wordpress.com.

Here is his latest manga review, of Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga:

With its shrinking population, chronically depressed birthrate and rising average age, Japan is fated for major social changes in the fairly near future. How that will play out remains to be seen, but Fumi Yoshinaga’s manga series Ooku: The Inner Chamber is an example of how popular art can tap into real-world social anxieties.

Ooku is set in an alternate-history Japan that also faces a demographic crisis, but of a different type. In the 1630s, a mysterious epidemic called Redface Pox kills 75 percent of Japan’s men, while leaving women physically unharmed.

The disease lingers, the gender imbalance never rights itself, and Japanese society comes to resemble a colony of bees or ants, in which the large female majority does every kind of work while the male minority are seen as delicate creatures valued only for their “seed.”

With women forced to share the limited supply of men, the institution of marriage largely disappears, as only a rich woman can keep a husband all to herself. The wealthiest and most powerful woman of all is the shogun, who keeps a crowded male harem in the innermost chambers–the Ooku–of Edo Castle…

Read the rest of the review here.

Page Rank