Notice for Review Requests

I receive review requests weekly. However, my personal schedule is hectic and I no longer review actively. (I also manage another blog called The Toronto Cafe and Food Blog). I do read every request sent but I apologize in advance that I do not reply to them all.

If I do take on a request, I will forewarn that it may take some time before I can review it. I am now looking to review adult fiction and self-help books instead of young adult fiction because I have grown out of it. If you are to request a review for either adult fiction or self-help, I will more likely to give it a shot.

In the meantime, Stop, Drop, and Read! serves as an archive book review blog. When I have the time, I may post a review. Thank you for understanding.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Ooku by Fumi Yoshinaga

Title: Ooku
Mangaka: Fumi Yoshinaga
Age Group: Adults
Series is: Ongoing with 5 volumes
Volume(s) Reviewing: 1-2
My Rating: 4/5

Ooku takes place in an alternate Edo Period (1603-1868) of Japan. A new disease has emerged and it only strikes out on men. Since then, the male population has fell drastically. Thus, leaving the traditional roles of men to be taken over by women.

With little men left in the country, it's important for them to survive as they provide seeds. Beautiful men are taken to be served in the Inner Chamber of the shogun.

The first volume evolves around a young man named Mizuno Yunoshin, who enters the Inner Chambers on his own free will. He learns that the life there is not as luxurious as it seems. Being harassed constantly and still learning the rules of the castle, Mizuno ends up becoming the groom of the bedchamber, a high and honorable rank that serves the shogun.

In the beginning, it took me awhile to get used to the old English the translators had for the series, with all of the "thou" and "thy" words being used. At first, I did not like it. But after awhile, I saw that it really did suit the manga because they spoke in a very sophisticated-manner. Therefore when reading it, the audience must take time to go through it or else they could miss out on what the characters are saying.

I like the new shogun who Mizuno ends up serving for. Unlike what is generally expected of a shogun, she likes simplicity and does not want the men of the Inner Chambers to serve her because she thinks it is unfair for them to waste their lives within the castle. After, she becomes curious of why things has turned out like it has today. Decades ago before the disease, it used to be male lords who were in command. Wanting to know more on why male names are taken by female lords, shogun Yoshimune goes back to the old archives.

This leads us to the second volume when it goes back in time where the disease first broke out. This volume follows a monk who is imprisoned in the Edo Castle to serve the shogun of the time. Not only does it focus on the monk but the shogun, who is the daughter of the late shogun, as well. You could see her history as it shows why her personality is unpleasant towards the monk.

I do find the second volume to be a bit darker than the first due to the monk's imprisonment. Arikoto, the monk, takes his duty very seriously and to see that he is stripped away from his faith is heartbreaking.

Although I do not like the series, I think it has a realistic representation when it comes to the storyline. The details are excellent and the history of the mangaka's world is drawn out. The art style contributes greatly to the series too. You can tell a character's personality immediately from their face.

Ooku is a contemporary manga for an older audience who would like to see what the world would be like with female domination instead of the traditional male domination.

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Liviania said...

The art looks beautiful.

Jenny N. said...

I don't usually read manga but I would pick up this one if I ever saw it in the library. The story sounds interesting with the role reversal.