Story and Art: Fumi Yoshinaga
Translation/Adaptation: Akemi Wegmuller
What They Say
Ienobu’s heir is still just a child, and with the few official functions to perform, the men of the Inner Chamber find themselves with much time on their hands. Some find ways to make the most of their rare trips outside the palace, while others turn their minds to blood intrigue…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In the last volume, I discussed my interest in the unbending devotion of a servant for their lord after reading how devoted Shogun Ienobu’s senior retainer was to her. It makes sense that such a high level of devotion could occur when a person’s entire life revolves around being the task manager for someone and the two are together every day. The mirror image of that devotion is seen again in this volume, but from the male point of view with the Senior Chamberlain, Gekko-In, and his retainer, Ejima.
Since the death of Shogun Ienobu, she has been replaced by her young daughter. Unfortunately, her daughter is sickly and the various power factions in the capital are split on who should become the next Shogun after the presumed short life of the current Shogun. Within the Inner Chambers, the men are split into two factions, those behind Senior Chamberlain Gekko-In, who supports the current Shogun since he is her father, and those behind the old fox Ten’ei-In, the dowager consort. The two men have nearly equal power within the Inner Chambers, but technically Gekko-In is the Senior Chamberlain. Nevertheless, Ten’ei-In is bent on backing a young Baron as the next Shogun, which would obviously give him a more powerful position if this Baron would succeed.
The old fox puts multiple machinations into action to get what he wants. It works perfectly and as the reader, I didn’t see it coming until it was too late. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but ultimately, Ejima upholds his devotion to Gekko-In, much to his own downfall. But, Gekko-In reverses the roles and does something incredibly magnanimous for Ejima. I very much enjoyed this aspect of volume seven.
Time pushes on with this series, and the second half of the volume follows the next Shogun, Yoshimune. She is young, beautiful, and very intelligent. In researching Japan’s past with the assistance of the official chronicler, she learns that society used to be completely different before the pox, and men ruled as women do today. She decides that it is important for men to regain their manliness because other countries have not suffered the pox and could easily take over Japan through invasion. Men have become soft after many generations of coddling. Mostly, men are stud horses that father children and do less laborious work, like accounting. Shogun Yoshimune declares that the sons of aristocracy must learn and practice martial arts just like the men of the Inner Chambers. She also decrees that men should work the fire brigades to protect large cities. This makes the Shogun very popular as many men are bored with their lives of lounging.
Shogun Yoshimune is quite successful at bearing children. She births three healthy daughters, presumably assuring her lineage’s success as the Shogun to replace her. But, political jockeying amongst nobility is never without casualties, so will one of her own children actually succeed her? If so, will it be the oldest, or will her children be manipulated by their attendants and be pitted against each other when their mother succumbs to old age?
An aspect of this series that keeps the story fresh is the constant cycling of characters. I have enjoyed reading how differently each shogun has ruled; whether she be keen on sleeping with as many men as she has time or picking a favorite, or allowing her court to be frivolous with the royal coffers or clamped down an all extraneous expenditures. Throw in good artwork, plenty of political intrigue and the view of what a female-dominated society might be like and it is easy to see why the author has won three writing awards for this series. Add to this Viz’s wonderful packaging for these books and this series should be a must buy for any manga lover looking for more than just silly fun along the line of shonen action and romantic comedies.
As always, highly recommended series.
Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: Mature
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: July 10th, 2012