Ōoku: The Inner Chambers

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers

TV-MA

netflix

A sophisticated take on examining gender and sexuality in alt-historical anime

7.8

TV Show

Japan
Japanese
Animation, Drama
2023
Eriko Matsui, Jun Fukuyama, Kikuko Inoue
32 min

TLDR

This could've been a simple, shallow reverse harem, and I'm so glad it's not!

What it's about

In a fictionalized version of Japan's Edo period, women are left to rule the country as a deadly disease continues to kill men.

The take

Set in a fictionalized version of Japan's Edo period, where a deadly disease affecting only men has led to women taking traditionally-male roles, Ōoku is steeped in social commentary on gender and sexuality. The concept is well-established in its 70+ minute first episode, allowing the story to set a foundation for a fascinating progression in this world. By centering the powerful warlord figure, the Shogun, it illuminates the shadows women occupy to support a country with little to no recognition. With a political throughline and an inherently feminist lens, Ooku: The Inner Chambers offers a beautifully-animated series with few gimmicks and lots of depth.

What stands out

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers' decision to delve into this alternate history through the characters who ridicule the inherently flawed systems was a great choice. Whether it be a young man choosing to serve the Shogun's Inner Chamber to help his family or the new Shogun that questions everything, including the reason women still have to adopt male names when in power, the perspectives keep the series interesting. Every choice in dialogue and character development doesn't feel wasted. As the story spans the beginning and worst of the plague, the intricacies speak for themselves.

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