Tag Archive: Ooku


Ooku ~Tanjou~ Ep 06 Review

The pace of Ooku ~Tanjou~ (大奥 ~誕生~ – Inner Palace ~Birth~) has slowed tremendously since its promising start. I find myself unsympathetic to all but a minor character (Masakatsu), and a number of the characters are downright annoying. Parts of the plot that should have been given more time (especially the development of the relationship between Arikoto and the Shogun) were almost entirely skipped over (through time-lapse) while the plot as it is drags on. There’s nothing spectacular about the acting – certainly nothing to keep me watching this drama.

So, this is the last chance. Either they make some serious moves, or I’m going to give up on this drama after this episode. Let’s see how it goes.

At the end of the previous episode, the Shogun (Tabe Mikako) and her new consort, a good-for-nothing-except-procreation idiot, did what Lady Kasuga expected of them:

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And to my great surprise, it actually worked! The Shogun got pregnant, and the Ooku is in a good mood. Well, except for Arikoto (Sakai Masato) presumably, though he doesn’t show it.

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What I don’t get is, why couldn’t the Shogun have had a kid with Arikoto? I thought she said she couldn’t get pregnant, and suddenly, it seems like she managed it quite easily. I confess to being a bit lost. There’s no questioning the pregnancy, though, since we hardly get to blink an eye, and there the baby is:

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Ooku ~Tanjou~ Ep 05 Review

Ooku ~Tanjou~ (大奥 ~誕生~ – Inner Palace ~Birth~) presents an alternative history in which the shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu dies, leaving only a daughter as heir. To keep the country from plunging back into the chaos of a generation before, Iemitsu’s death is kept a secret in the hope that his daughter (played by Tabe Mikako) will eventually give birth to a male heir who can take over. The hero of this story – Arikoto (Sakai Masato) – is brought in as a consort for the female Shogun.

When we last left the two main characters, they were in love with each other, but about to be separated because Lady Kasuga (Aso Yumi) was unsatisfied by the results of their pairing. She decided to bring in a new man for the Shogun, who would take Arikoto’s place. This led to a depressing scene in which the Shogun and Arikoto expressed despair, behaving like they had no power over the situation.

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I have no idea why they didn’t feel a greater sense of agency, and that puzzle will become all the more acute by the end of this episode.

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Meanwhile, there’s also the idiot who Kasuga brought in. We see a bit of his earlier life, in which we see him thinking in the most brutish way possible – how best to take advantage of the woman who is infatuated with him.

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Ooku ~Tanjou~ Ep 04 Review

Ooku ~Tanjou~ (大奥 ~誕生~ – Inner Palace ~Birth~) presents an alternative history in which the shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu dies, leaving only a daughter as heir. To keep the country from plunging back into the chaos of a generation before, Iemitsu’s death is kept a secret in the hope that his daughter (played by Tabe Mikako) will eventually give birth to a male heir who can take over. The hero of this story – Arikoto (Sakai Masato) – is brought in as a consort for the female Shogun.

In the third episode, Arikoto and the Shogun were getting to know each other. By the end, it’s safe to say that Arikoto managed to become quite close to the Shogun – far closer than any of the other potential consorts.

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But I have to admit – this might have happened too quickly. I thought this would be more of a struggle for Arikoto, especially considering the way the Shogun treated him in the first episode (violently). If they’re already close to each other, where’s the conflict in the series?

The episode begins with a bit of archery. Arikoto has been practicing – being in the Ooku for a year with little else to do – and is now quite skilled at  it.

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He prefers it over swordsmanship, which has become the specialty of his aide, Gyokuei (Tanaka Koki). We learned in the previous episode that Gyokuei is a less than savory character – and certainly no monk – after he set up Shigesato and was delighted when Shigesato was forced to commit suicide.

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Ooku ~Tanjou~ Ep 03 Review

In Ooku ~Tanjou~ (大奥 ~誕生~ – Inner Palace ~Birth~), the shogun is a woman, and young men populate the inner palace/harem of Edo Castle. However, the situation is not yet normalized, and the Japanese public has no idea that Tokugawa Iemitsu has died, leaving only a daughter as heir. To reveal the death of the Tokugawa shogun at this point would plunge the entire country into another age of chaos and warfare like the one they had just exited a generation before.

Iemitsu’s daughter (Tabe Mikako), currently technically Shogun, is trapped in the Ooku for the rest of her life along with Arikoto (Sakai Masato) and all others who know the truth. Inaba Masakatsu (Hirayama Hiroyuki) handles official duties, pretending to be Tokugawa Iemitsu while wearing a hood. The goal is to hold out until the Shogun has a male heir who can take over. Lady Kasuga (Aso Yumi) forced Arikoto into the Ooku in the hope that he would be the Shogun’s consort.

Wow, this show takes a lot of explaining! As we pick the thread up, Arikoto’s assistant Gyokuei (Tanaka Koki) is telling an urban legend about the Ooku regarding a samurai seen holding a woman’s freshly severed head. Apparently, the Japanese liked telling horror stories four hundred years ago, too.

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Ooku ~Tanjou~ Ep 02 Review

Ooku ~Tanjou~ (大奥 ~誕生~ – Inner Palace ~Birth~) is the prequel that explains how an alternative reality where gender roles in the Tokugawa shogunate were swapped came about. In this story, the shogun is a woman, and young men populate the inner palace/harem of Edo Castle. However, in this prologue the situation is not yet normalized, and the Japanese public has no idea that Tokugawa Iemitsu has died, leaving only a daughter as heir. To reveal the death of the Tokugawa shogun at this point would plunge the entire country into another age of chaos and warfare like the one they had just exited a generation before.

In the first episode, the monk Arikoto (Sakai Masato) was coerced by Lady Kasuga (Aso Yumi) into returning to secular life, along with the noble lineage he had once abandoned. He does so after the horror of seeing one of the young monks under his care killed by Kasuga’s guards, and to avoid the slaughter of a second – Gyokuei (Tanaka Koki). At the end of the episode, Arikoto finally learns the secret of the shogun, and finds out not only that the shogun is a teenaged girl, but also that she has a remarkably bad attitude (though possibly being a violent sadist is considered beneficial for the chief warlord).

Arikoto’s job is apparently to produce an heir with the Shogun. Talk about an unpleasant turn in this life – he’d definitely rather be back tending to victims of the scarlet smallpox at this point.

Inaba Masakatsu (Hirayama Hiroyuki) handles official duties, pretending to be Tokugawa Iemitsu while wearing a hood. He explains the situation to Arikoto, including the fact that the secret is known only to a handful of people. Now that Arikoto knows, he cannot leave the inner palace for the rest of his life.

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