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In an alternative feudal Japan, a strange disease that only affects males caused a massive population reduction, leaving females to fill the vacant jobs, therefore changing the social structure. Now, 80 years after the initial outbreak with a 1:4 male:female ratio, Japan is a completely matriarchal society. Females hold all important political positions, and males are their consorts. Only the most powerful female--head of Tokugawa shogunate--may keep a harem of handsome and unproductive males, known as "Oooku."

Note: Won an Excellence Prize at the 2006 Japan Media Arts Festival and a special prize at The Japanese Association of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy's fifth annual Sense of Gender Awards in 2005.
Won the Tezuka Osamu Cultural the Grand Prize in 2009 and the 56th Shogakukan Manga Award in Girls' Category in 2011.
Was nominated for the first annual Manga Taishō in 2008.


Related Series

Associated Names
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers
Le Pavillon des hommes (French)
Ooku: The Inner Chamber

Groups Scanlating

Latest Release(s)

Status in Country of Origin
12 Volumes (Ongoing)

Completely Scanlated?

Anime Start/End Chapter

User Reviews


User Rating
Average: 8.9 / 10.0 (150 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.49 / 10.0
 49% (74 votes)
 22% (33 votes)
 13% (20 votes)
 7% (11 votes)
 3% (4 votes)
 1% (2 votes)
 1% (1 votes)
 1% (1 votes)
 1% (1 votes)
 2% (3 votes)

Last Updated
November 17th 2015, 6:28pm PST



Category Recommendations





Original Publisher

Serialized In (magazine)
Melody (Hakusensha)

Licensed (in English)

English Publisher
Viz (11 Volumes - Ongoing)

Activity Stats (vs. other series)
Weekly Pos #516 increased(+140)
Monthly Pos #742 increased(+109)
3 Month Pos #897 increased(+105)
6 Month Pos #959 decreased(-40)

List Stats
On 538 reading lists
On 923 wish lists
On 30 unfinished lists
On 299 custom lists

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Forum Posts
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers Gets Live-Action Drama 1409 days, 8 hours, 1 minutes ago
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers Wins Tiptree Award 2079 days, 3 hours, 56 minutes ago

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User Comments [ Order by usefulness ]

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Ridiculously brilliant.   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by tartufo
February 14th, 2010, 9:45am
Seriously, how does Yoshinaga Fumi just keep getting better and better? Is she superhuman or something? Must be...

Anyway, I now own the first two volumes of this baby in English, and let me tell you - BEST PURCHASES EVER. I agree with Shoujofan that the archaic English in the VIZ translations seems kind of whacked at first - all the thee-ing and thou-ing and forsooth-ing, eep! - but then you get used to it after a while and it even starts seeming natural. In fact, it becomes part of the "lingo" of that world, part of its natural vernacular, just as the peculiar language of the novel A Clockwork Orange becomes natural to the reader. My hunch (as a non-Japanese speaker) is that in the original version, Yoshinaga must have used extremely archaic/formal Japanese, and the VIZ translators tried to recreate that effect. They kind of faltered with it at the start, but as the reader gets absorbed in reading the manga, I think it works out just fine, and just the way Yoshinaga-sensei would have intended it. The fact that you even stop NOTICING the language after a while is a mark of a master storyteller; you just suspend your disbelief and go along with it. In fact, after I finished reading the two volumes, I almost said, "Thou art most delayed, dear comrade!" to my friend who came late to a meeting. O_O The manga actually infected me, oh my God.

The best part of this manga is the world-building, which is some of the best I've ever seen, EVER, in that it so beautifully and accurately portrays human behavior in a society that is wildly different from our own. Because women now hold most of the perceived social power, society has in many ways "turned on its head," but everyone acts just the way they WOULD in such a situation. Somehow, it doesn't seem fantastical at all... The key to this lies in the fact that the world-building concentrates not on superficial physical things (like architecture or technology), but rather on interpersonal behavior, which is the true barometer of any social system. The nuances of this system are so minutely and exquisitely conveyed by the mangaka that you get completely absorbed in them, and when you stop reading the manga, it's literally like surfacing from another world. This is the kind of manga I like - the kind in which you can go "deep-sea diving".

The wonderful thing about Yoshinaga Fumi - okay, one of the COUNTLESS wonderful things - is that her understanding of human nature only matures with time, and as a result, her portrayal of it in her stories gets deeper and deeper with every manga she produces. This kind of growth in a mangaka is very hard to find, and when you DO find it, it's one of the most mind-bogglingly awesome and rewarding reading experiences ever. The little delicate shifts in her characters' expressions, postures and gestures conveys VOLUMES about their mental states, just as if they were real people; these aren't just static 2D characters with lines to read out from a script, if you catch my meaning. Instead, each one of Yoshinaga's characters is like a bonafide Oscar-winning actor in his/her own right, completely three-dimensional and believable and psychologically life-sized. You don't even think of them as characters anymore. Their pain, their tenderness, their agony, their humor in the blackest of situations and their resilience despite it all - this affecting and utterly moving humanity is conveyed in masterful pen-strokes. Oh, Yoshinaga-sensei...!

Seriously, I mean... My God. Yoshinaga's art was always graceful and subtle, but in Oooku, it has a depth and a wistfulness that somehow surpasses even her previous masterpieces. I was so stunned when I unpacked the first volume from its Amazon pack and started flipping through it, that I actually ended up standing for almost two hours with the book in my hands, right next to the side-table where I'd been unwrapping the parcel, because I couldn't freaking move. The story and the art were both so magnetically powerful that it was as though I'd been sucked into that other world, and I kind of forgot that my body was still standing around in this world, all frozen-like. Heh. I was supposed to be just "flipping through it" but I couldn't even do that; the story forced me to read every single word, to notice every single illustration, every face, every piece of clothing. This stuff is insane. (Insanely good, I mean.)

Yeah. Amazing manga.

Like Naomi said: BUY IT.

... Last updated on February 14th, 2010, 9:58am
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Buy it   
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
by naomi
January 14th, 2010, 7:31am
I've bought volumes 1 & 2 for £14. Read them and love them. Considering the fact it is larger (about an inch width and height), has colour and end notes pages, french flaps and no advertisement in it either (it looks really classy), I'd say it's worth it.

Volume one mainly follows Mizuno while Volume two follows on from the end of v1, when the shogun, Yoshimune, goes to the archives to find out more about the past. v2 therefore follows Arikoto, a Buddhist Abbot who is forced into staying in the inner chambers, showing us the past events to how the first female shogun came to be. To be honest, at first I was a little put off by the "old english" way it was translated into, but after a while I adjusted to it and it wasn't bad at all.

The art and style is wonderful~ One thing that impressed me was that even though there are practically a gazzillion males shown (from the inner chamber), each of them had their own distinctive look. Not like in some series where if you remove the hair, the face of every character looks the same. What I also love about Ooku are the characters and their personalities. Each are different and suit each character well. The one that stood out for me the most was Kasuga. All I can say is she is seriously one ruthless and determined woman.

I've enjoyed what the 2 volumes have already given, and now I'm eagerly awaiting v3.
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Buy if wanna read? =.=   
Rating: N/A
by darcyaglow
December 6th, 2009, 9:14pm
It's pretty sad that i will have to send more than 40sgd to buy 2 volumes of this series from Viz. I cannot read Japanese so I can only look at pictures in the raws =.= Since this series already been licensed so no scanlation groups gonna translate it. I hope some kind readers gonna scan the English tranlations and share it ^^
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Master Piece   
Rating: 9.5 / 10.0
by Shoujofan
September 4th, 2009, 6:00am
I love Fumi Yoshinaga's work and she always suprises me. I did not like the first manga of her that I read, Gerard & Jacques, for that reason I stayed a long time away from her works. Antique Bakery was so praised that I forced myself to read it and fell in love. After I got Flower of Life and I was fully convinced that she was one of the top manga-kas of her generation. I was very eager to read Ooku, and every nomination this work received increased my curiosity. I was very happy when VIZ announced this title.

Ooku impressed me with the mature, beautiful and neat art style. The story was really interesting, mixing history and gender discussions, the main character, Mizuno, is kind and ambitious, although a little naïve, and I felt very interest to know if he would succeed in his career at the inner chamber. For that who do not know, the inner chamber is the shogun seraglio, in a Japan where most of the man, specially the young, died in reason of a strange disease, the red pox. Women took the power and men are an expensive delicacy and necessary source of seed. Mizuno used to bed with women who wanted child for free. Only the most powerful and rich families can afford a husband, and only the shogun can have so many.

I don't know if Yoshinaga will mix real Japanese history in her series, like the contact with other countries. Does the disease affected other places or is a Japanese plague? I can hardly wait for the next volume. Ah, one problem for me, VIZ was very careful and the text is almost in archaic English. It's difficult for a foreigner - I'm Brazilian - to read it as fast as if it was in current English, but this choice give to Ooku a more elegant face. Really nice peace of work.
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