Movie Review: Ooku (Spoilers!)


What is quite funny is that before I watched Ooku, I just finished watching another historical piece- the second season of JIN, which is situated in the Edo period, before the Tokugawa fell. Here, in Ooku, we look into the time of the Shoguns, but with a twist.

All over the country, an endemic called the redface pox cut down the male population of Japan so much so, that women become shoguns, and breadwinners, and it’s important for males to be able to find a good marriage. In the red-light district of Yoshiwara, it’s not women who are courtesans, but males, and of course, instead of having a male shogun with his concubines, we have a female shogun, with a harem of beautiful men. Interesting, isn’t it?

This film tells the story of Yunoshin Mizuno (Arashi’s Ninomiya Kazunari), the only son of an impoverished old samurai family. Mizuno, much to the chagrin of his childhood friend who secretly loves him, O-Nobu (Horikita Maki), enters the dangerous,secretive and luxurious world of the Ooku, or the Inner Chambers of the Shogun.

Ninomiya Kazunari as Mizuno

Here, Mizuno starts out as a page, and is ridiculed for his taste in his topknot and clothes by other fellow pages. However, he is able to fight them off, and in time, is noticed by one of the high ranking people in the Ooku, Fujinami.

He encounters a young swordsman (Ohkura Tadayoshi), whom he defeats, and in despair, this young beautiful young man, ends up killing himself.

Mizuno and Tsuruoka getting ready to fight

After this, Mizuno slowly rises up the ranks, and becomes a groom of the bedchamber, which means that he joins this harem of beautiful men, in which the Shogun will choose who will be her partner.

While all of this is happening, the current Shogun has passed away, and a new Shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune (Shibasaki Kou), becomes the new shogun. She is quite different as she would rather don simple clothes to save money, and is not interested in her harem.

Shibasaki Kou as Tokugawa Yoshimune

When she does finally have a general audience, Mizuno catches her eye, and asks his name. However, tradition dictates that an unmarried Shoguns first consort must be put to death.

This movie is amazingly breathtaking for many reasons. The music, the scenery, the story, the men, the actors and the actresses are all amazing.

Ninomiya Kazunari once again, doesn’t fail to impress and the noble and dashing Mizuno. (Well, then again, I have yet to see a movie or a drama that he actually fails to impress him.) Tamaki Hiroshi is perfect as one of the main grooms of the chambers. And Ohkura really took my breath away here. I have seen him act in Utahime, proving that he is capable of portraying comedic roles, but here, he proves that he can act in serious roles as well.

The contrast between the two lead female characters is one of the things that really interested me. Horikita Maki’s character didn’t have a lot of scenes, but she was able to portray her role well. Her character was the embodiment of a women, while Shibasaki Kou’s character (the shogun), was the embodiment of a women in a man’s role- powerful, strong, and controlled. The small break in her character after the first audience with her harem was very refreshing. (Shibasaki, for me has always had this image of portraying strong characters, and she never fails to disappoint.)

What’s funny is that I never realized how beautiful the theme song ( Arashi’s Dear Snow) for the movie was. I’m a big Arashi fan, but I tend to skip their slower songs at times. After watching the movie and looking for translations of the song, I see now how apt the song is for Ooku.

All in all, if you are looking for a different kind of movie, like historical pieces, and if you don’t mind a little bit of yaoi here and there, then this movie is for you. Trust me, this movie is one of those movies that I won’t mind repeating over and over again.

Overall rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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