Saturday, 25 January 2014

Ookū The Inner Chambers: An Inspired Story Told In An Uninspired Way

A Review By: Amelia
Alternate histories are something that I’ve really come to enjoy looking into: it’s like fanfiction for real-life history and if there’s two things on Earth that I love indefinitely it’s history and fanfiction! An alternate history of Japan is what Ookū The Inner Chambers is all about and it’s what drew me to the manga series. It really is a shame that I didn’t like it at all!

Ookū: The Inner Chambers is an alternative timeline of feudal Japan, a strange disease that only affects men has caused a massive reduction of male population, thus women have to pick up men's jobs, changing the social structure. Now, after 80 years of the initial outbreak, Japan has become completely matriarchal, with women holding important political positions and men being their consort.

Fumi Yoshinaga is both the writer and the artist of Ookū. She attended the prestigious Keio University in Tokyo and she writes/draws her mangas on the simple premise that she “wants to show the people who didn’t win, whose dreams didn’t come true. It is not possible for everybody to get first prize”. This rather depressing outlook is a prominent feature in her work, especially Ookū.

The characters of Ookū change from volume to volume, each one featuring a new set of people with a new set of problems. Unfortunately with this frequent role over of characters I wasn’t able to really get to know any of them or find a reason to care about them. I know a lot of people out there will disagree with me on this, but I thought the characters were flat and lifeless. They were there only to progress the plot–they didn’t bring anything to the plot.

Ookū is a manga that has more words than it does pictures. The speech
bubbles are large–very large–and as the story is told through them, little of the story is told through pictures. The art style is second to the story and it definitely shows throughout the different volumes of the piece. The art is simple and is the bare minimum that it can be. The faces are plain and mostly bare of any emotion (it certainly doesn’t show the characters with the level of emotion that other mangas do!), and the locations are mostly unfilled white space, the exception being outdoors when trees and drawn with leaves and flowers and so on. The one thing in the whole manga series that has consistent detail are the clothing: the many kimono that the characters wear are always beautifully detailed.

I choose to read Ookū because of the story it was presenting: an alternate history of Japan told through the form of manga and after having read great reviews about it online, I was completely sold. Unfortunately after reading four volumes of it, I was left longing for more. The story is such a great idea, but it was executed poorly with visuals that are sorely lacking–and when you use the manga volume, shouldn’t the visuals be 65% of how the story gets told?

My final thoughts on the manga series Ookū The Inner Chambers are that it’s okay. It wasn’t really my cup of tea with its heavy, dry storyline and lacklustre art style, so I couldn’t get into it. I read four volumes of it–each time expecting to be drawn into the story and find something about it that I really liked–and each time I was left disappointed. I guess what it comes down to is that I prefer my mangas to be light and fluffy or, at the very least, have humour in them. Based on that alone, Ookū was sure to leave me disappointed: it was just way too deep for whimsical-little-me!

No comments:

Post a Comment