The first two volumes of Fumi Yoshinaga's Ōoku: The Inner Chambers manga won the 2009 James Tiptree, Jr. Award. The annual literary prize is for a work of "science fiction or fantasy that expands or explores our understanding of gender." The award announcement stated that even though none of the jurors have read much manga, or are experts in Japanese history, they "fell in love with … the detailed exploration of the world of these books."
The historical science-fiction story takes place in an alternate-history version of medieval Japan, in which a bizarre disease has dwindled the male population. This has led to a matriarchal society where women outnumber men by 4 to 1. The shogun and de facto ruler of Japan keeps her own harem of men, or Ōoku.
The American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) division named Ōoku as one of the top ten graphic novels for teens published in 2009. The manga was also nominated for the first ever Manga Taisho award in 2008. It was also nominated for the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Viz Media will publish the third volume in the series on April 20. A live-action film adaptation will open in theaters in Japan on October 1.
It's always nice to see some manga get acknowledged for its
literary worth. It shows that it is not only a "childish" medium.
Wikipedia page of James Tiptree, Jr. Award
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