I am continually impressed at how Yoshinaga has managed to create such an incredible story but through the manga form. History that is painstakingly researched – from medicine to astronomy, social to political, rich and poor alike – yet also crafted into an impressive and engaging story underneath. Her ability to create rich triumphs and devastating defeats within this winding timeline is unparalleled.
Story: Ienari is under the iron dominance of his mother yet he plans a small rebellion of his own. He enlists the aid of doctor ryojun in secret to renew the work to end the red face pox. But Ienari’s mother has plans of her own and it doesn’t involve a son who develops a political agenda outside of hers. Double crosses, twists, and surprises abound as a new attempt is made to end the pox that has killed so many of the male population. And then strange black ships appear on the horizon….
This feels so real – as if it could actually have taken place. The strengths and weaknesses of the characters as well as the politcal and social machinations are spot on. It’s always a real nailbiter to see who will succeed and who will fail – with failure often meaning death.
I also greatly appreciate that this is a generations story. Where the forebearers are strong, often the progeny end up very weak and ineffectual – so very much like real life. This story always hits such a note of accuracy in its nuances; life is never black and white and no one is good or evil. Typically, just selfish or not.
I have greatly enjoyed Ooku and look forward to where it will go now that the Americans and Commodore Perry have arrived on Japanese shores. It’s so amazing how the story and the actual history are combined into something so fascinating. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.