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The fifth in the ongoing manga series set in a seventeenth-century Japan from which most men have been eliminated by disease, the pick of the remainder sequestered in the Ōoku, the shōgun's harem. This volume collects four of the original parts of the story, and after the first three, I was beginning to wonder if I would continue with this series; the misgovernment of the shōgun Tsunayoshi is not all that exciting a story, apart from the dramatic death of the young heir. I also realised that I was not picking up Yoshinaga's cues about her characters' ages; presumably readers more accustomed to the genre can spot the markers showing that they are in their 40s or 50s, but they almost all look about 25 to me (with a few clear exceptions). I was feeling a bit adrift, and finding it hard to keep track of the characters' multiple names (and wishing the publisher had provided a dramatis personæ).

But the last of the four parts re-engaged my interest; I don't know much about Japanese history, but just knowing that this was a gender-rotated re-telling of a real historical event (the Ako Incident of the Forty-Seven Samurai) made it more interesting to read, particularly since it has dramatic political repercussions in Yoshinaga's world (as I suppose in our own, though I know practically nothing about it). And at the end we meet the child who will become the shōgun Yoshimune, with whom this whole story started (we have been in extended flashback for a very long time now). So I will get the next volume, if with a slight feeling that it's on probation.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
yea_mon
Sep. 14th, 2012 02:37 am (UTC)
It can be hard at times to judge the ages of Japanese women in the age range 30-50. I remember once talking to a group of ladies in a bar I used to frequent and was shocked to discover that the 30-somethings I thought I was talking to were actually in their mid-50s!
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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