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Related Series

Associated Names
Le Pavillon des hommes
Oo Oku
Ooku: The Inner Chambers
Ōoku: The Inner Chambers

Groups Scanlating

Latest Release(s)

in Country of Origin
18 Volumes (Ongoing)

Completely Scanlated?

Anime Start/End Chapter

User Reviews


User Rating
Average: 8.7 / 10.0 (167 votes)
Bayesian Average: 8.35 / 10.0

Last Updated
June 25th 2020, 5:57am PST



Category Recommendations





Original Publisher

Serialized In (magazine)
Melody (Hakusensha)

Licensed (in English)

English Publisher
Viz (16 Vols - Ongoing)

Activity Stats (vs. other series)
Weekly Pos #548 increased(+71)
Monthly Pos #1090 increased(+140)
3 Month Pos #1336 increased(+115)
6 Month Pos #1568 increased(+186)
Year Pos #1729 increased(+83)

List Stats
On 633 reading lists
On 1076 wish lists
On 45 unfinished lists
On 371 custom lists

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User Comments  [ Order by time added ]
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Ridiculously brilliant.  
by tartufo
February 14th, 2010, 9:45am
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
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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Master Piece  
by Shoujofan
September 4th, 2009, 6:00am
Rating: 9.5 / 10.0
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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Fantastic Story, Terrible Translation  
by Roaku
November 2nd, 2013, 2:23am
Rating: 9.0 / 10.0
I enjoyed the story telling of Ooku very much. Each set of story lines are intricately linked, with the underlying human emotions that come with change and life. The author made the story compelling, exciting, sad, and at the same time wondrous. Please read some of the other commentator's for more details on the elegance of the story.

My only problem, (and its a HUGE one) is the horrible translation. Whatever the translators thought they were "creating" was absolutely abhorrent. If I ever wish to read a Shakespearian play, please I will, but the fact is: we are in an era where we do not speak as they do, so unless we are English majors, the use of olden english is TERRIBLY ANNOYING AND DISPLEASING! If the story, was any less than what it is, I'd have dropped this series entirely, even though its so good? Which IDIOT (in Viz) decided to ruin a good read for everyone? Why must we suffer, because Viz decided it would be interesting to re-live old England (with so much of it made in Scottish/Irish accents) in an otherwise Japanese setting? Its horribly inaccurate, some words are just incomprehensible, there is so much LOSS of understanding, and a waste of time! By the end of it, I had to read each bubble, then mentally translate it to proper English just to get the gist of it. PLEASE for the love of god SOMEONE RE-TRANSLATE THIS BEAUTIFUL STORY WITH PROPER ENGLISH PLEASE I BEG YOU!!!!

--And yes, I understand that Viz wanted to relate the authors original intentions, but let me remind you, Japanese, and some other languages, might not have changed altogether as much as English has. For instance I know that Russian books written some 200 years ago, can be read almost without loss of any meaning. This is NOT the same for the olden English. Almost everything is different, this isn't a factor of just some archaic 'polite speech' this is a matter of rearranging your whole head to cave in for "thooths" "thees" and "thousts"! Viz thought to translate Ooku into the piece of "artwork" they thought they were creating. But, I the reader, don't want to read their 'artwork' but a story which I can understand and comprehend. Why make it so unnecessarily hard for readers? Why do we have to sit with a dictionary, re-writing sentences just to read one manga written in our common era? I see it as unnecessary extra work being flung on me without even asking, for what the translators misguidedly though would increase the 'credibility' of the manga's setting (and don't worry, its a manga for gods-sake, I can understand its setting without having some ridiculous English from a different era and different country thrown in to 'spice' things up, k.thanks.bai :T).

... Last updated on November 2nd, 2013, 2:36am
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As to why it's shoujo: it's a magazine target matter.  
by elianthos
January 12th, 2012, 8:28am
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
Since this question still pops up a lot: shoujo (and shonen, seinen, josei) is a demographic label in Japan, not a content/genre one: Ooku is published in a shoujo magazine ( = aimed af teen females readers), hence it's shoujo. As simple as that.
Content, art and storytelling can vary wildly within such demographic: Nana by Yazawa Ai is shoujo, published in the older teen-aimed( = still shoujo) magazine Cookie. . Ooku appears to be an older teens/mature shoujo and borderline adult (in terms of readers' age) work, as the magazine hosting it... in this sense is similar to Nana, a shoujo with a crossover demographic appeal; on the brink of adult readers' demographic in Japan, and popular among both adults and teenagers in the Western world. Yet Nana and Ooku, although both of them are shoujo, they are totally different in terms of content, art, genre(s) and 'feel'.
You see? It's a bit like like the Young Adult fiction label for books in the West: you can find any kind of genres and style among such books... it's a 'cointainer' label, not a 'content' one ^^ .
Ok, now that this arguably pedantic intro is over, on to Ooku itself.
This manga is a brilliant, thought-provoking and verisimilar 'what if' about politics and gender dynamics. It has many characters and manages to make them both compelling, multifaceted and fleshed out, their flaws and all. As a Westerner I find the insight into the Imperial court and the period feeling fascinating. As a history and period fiction and essays lover, the subject is just my alley.
Fumi Yoshinaga is a gifted storyteller and her drawing are deceptively simple, yet effective and evocative, regardless of her churning out yaoi, shoujo or seinen titles, but her period pieces are where this evocative yet understated/sober quality of hers shine the most imho. As such, I consider Ooku not only an excellent piece of fiction in manga form, but also her best work to date.

... Last updated on January 12th, 2012, 8:45am
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Buy it  
by naomi
January 14th, 2010, 7:31am
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
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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Very cool premise, and thought-inducing manga--but yes, AWFUL translation  
by moonmystery
December 25th, 2014, 11:38pm
Rating: 8.9 / 10.0
this manga inverts the history of patriarchy and instead examines an ancient world where the women rule, and the men have been reduced to prostitutes and trophy "husbands" due to their scarcity. It is quite interesting to see, and this author does a terrific job of covering multiple aspects of such a situation.

However, unfortunately, the English translations are in Old English...and the phrases such as "thee" "thou" and whatnot are inconsistently used. Also, this story still flows without any real direction, and it feels like I'm reading a dramatized version of a history book. There are SO many different characters with names I cannot remember that I have become lost in this manga. There's Mizuno, O-tama, O-man?, Fuke-u? (lol for real), and bunch of random names!!! What's worse is that many of these people have MULTIPLE names!!!! I'm at a lost as to what else to say... It's just too much lol.

But, this is still a pretty cool manga series, and I think I will find the movie version enjoyable as well!! It's called "Lady Shogun and Her Men."

... Last updated on December 25th, 2014, 11:41pm
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Quite interesting  
by emkat
August 14th, 2012, 10:59am
Rating: N/A
It's an interesting take on social dynamics if Japan was a matriarchal society. The old modern English that the translator tries to use is kind of annoying because it's inconsistent and inaccurate though. The overall story is very unique and the art is typical of a josei.
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words could not describe all its wonder.  
by otakuness
January 22nd, 2012, 6:53am
Rating: 10.0 / 10.0
i was perplexed. at first i was turned of with the old english language.. i kinf of imagined shakespheare going on and on in my head with a japanese accent <impossibru LOL> but that thinking was taken over by how fast paced the story telling was... no it wasnt so fast paced that you dont feel for the characters anymore but there wasnt one scenario that doesnt have any relevance to the story. i liked all the characters, how noble they were and i just love all of them.. each have his and her flaws and they are not all perfect shoujo types.. i mean sure they are pretty but.. actually the art wasnt that pretty but it was clean. clean lines every where.

the thing that got me here also is the history and boy was i a sucker for period drams, ive never been to japan but i wish that will someday and yeah gosh.. im not so sure about the accuracy but it seems legit smile) and did i mention the awesome story telling.. im only up to volume 3 and i mean,, i was having goosebumps while reading the last chapter on how it really began i mean.. so awesome.. "in order to understand a story you must first start with the beginning" so awesome. gawd... i really hope that i can have all the published copies of this in english but since online shopping is not an option i can only pray that theyll sell this in a local bookstore biggrin
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by CiellavonNightmare
December 3rd, 2011, 9:47am
Rating: N/A
I`ve been waiting forever for the scans but they never come. so i went to the next city just to find a bookstore that has it. i found it, i was so glad I hastily read the first 2 volumes. My reaction? Oh my gosh. pure masterpiece. A wonderful alternative history which actually makes sense. When I saw the `mature` tag at the cover I was even more driven to read it. But there was no explicit sensuality or violence so it`s all good. I can`t wait till I go back there next month to finish the 3-6th volumes!!!
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What a great series  
by Tiny Lady Yume
August 13th, 2011, 6:41am
Rating: N/A
I have to say I really like this work of Fumi Yoshinaga, the art is beautiful and the style mature and elegant. The only thing I don't understand is why it is marked as shoujo because neither the art nor the story are aimed at teenage girls (though I don't doubt there are some who could like it).
I like this series together with All my darling daughters and Flower of life but I'm a bit neutral towards her yaoi works. For most of my yaoi I prefer more or less believable, yet lighter and more romantic tone...
However I bought the books of Ooku available in English and I have to say, worth buying ^_^
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