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Monday, March 27, 2006

Ladies, let the battle begins...

大奧第一章 / Ooku Dai-ishou

You will find me stuck in front of my TV every Saturday 6.00pm to catch this japanese series. So far, I enjoyed the storyline and the pace has just began to pick up after Oman's entry into Ooku. Last Saturday episode ended with Ofuku bringing Oraku and Asahina into Ooku as Iemitsu's new mistresses.

Of course, being an inner palace story, this series has been compared with WAB. I don't think there's any 'copying' around because harem has existed far back in the history and though the characters may be fictional, the fierce rivalry among women are very real, regardless of the nation, dynasty or race.

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Yuki Matsushita as Ofuku (Kasuga-no-Tsubone)
The 'star' of our story. Ofuku is a determined woman who will stop at nothing to help Iemitsu strengthen his power as shogun. She treat Iemitsu like her own son and get jealous of his affection towards Oman. I really admire this character, even though some of her deeds are despicable, but as she said, to protect Iemitsu, she's willing to turn into a demon.

Pic 1: Oeyo told Ofuku that she's pregnant again. Pic 2: Ofuku and the grown up Iemitsu

Reiko Takashima as Oeyo
The birth mother of Iemitsu but she despised him, and never considered as her son. This was because Iemitsu was 'snatched' away at birth and given to Ofuku. IMO, her character was the most beautiful of all the ladies here. She exudes elegance, charm yet also powerful at the same time. Plus, her hairstyle and kimonos make you go WOW!

The elegant Lady Oeyo. As far as she's concern, only her second son Tadanaga existed.

Asaka Seto as Oman
Originally a nun, she was forced by Ofuku to become Iemitsu's concubine. Gentle and beautiful, Iemitsu doted on her and this undermined Ofuku's position in Ooku. Her beautiful kimonos should not be missed! Though I pity this character, I disliked Oman's perfectionism. This character somehow reminded me of Ada Choi's Yan Fook in Lok Sun.

Hidetoshi Nishijima as Tokugawa Iemitsu (Shogun)
Iemitsu is also another interesting character in Ooku. His estranged relationship with his mother and Ofuku domineering ways resulted in his 'hatred' for women, until he met Oman. Though he doesn't say much and his action are quite slow, he's actually very intelligent - you'll never guess what's in his mind.

Mari Hoshino as Otama
Being a rape victim, Otama hates man and she worshipped Oman because of her pureness, even to the extent of following her into Ooku. This character tend to be rude, immature and reckless but fiercely loyal to Oman. It will be delicious if Otama became Iemitsu concubine as well - imagine the conflict between her and Oman!

Otama follows Oman wherever she goes.

Tae Kimura as Takako
Like Oeyo, Takako came from a rich, influential family and married Iemitsu as his formal wife. But the similiarities stopped here as Iemitsu never as much as glanced at her. Embittered, Takako lives her lonely life at Ooku. However, she treated Oman as a true friend.

Kotomi Kyono as Oraku
One day, Ofuku ran into Oraku on the street and was instantly attracted to her pretty, youthful face. Because her family was poor, Oraku agreed to enter Ooku even though she already has a childhood sweetheart. I like Oraku, I feel that she is quite pretty (okay, the photo above doesn't do her justice!) and her personality will bring sunshine into Iemitsu life.

Meiko Kaji as Asahina
Asahina was Oraku neighbour. When she heard that Oraku will be entering Ooku, she became envious and approached Ofuku, asking to be taken in as well. At first Ofuku refused, but after Asahina boldly showed her body to her, Ofuku agreed (hmm... must be in seductive shape). Competitive and arrogant, this character is a total opposite of Oraku therefore I naturally disliked her.

Credits to FujiTV.

Deep within Edo Castle was the oh-oku (the inner palace)—the expansive living quarters for the wives and concubines of the Tokugawa Shogun. The entrance was under the tightest security, and the corridors were barred to all men except the Shogun himself. It is said that over 1,000 women lived in the oh-oku to serve the Shogun. For him, life in the oh-oku was like living in paradise.

Oh-oku is the story of the picturesque lives of the women living in the hidden, maze-like inner structure of Edo Castle. Inside, the women wielded their beauty and knowledge: some of them to win the Shogun's love, to obtain political power, or to climb the ladder of the oh-oku hierarchy. Their lives were filled with romance, hatred, anger, envy, tears, and persecution.

Oh-oku - Episode One- will be focusing on the birth of the inner palace. The 2nd Shogun Hidetada's wife Oeyo established the oh-oku. It was then enhanced and perfected by Kasuga-no-Tsubone, the nanny of the 3rd Shogun Iemitsu—also known as one of the most influential and powerful women in the oh-oku, and the main character of this drama. The story takes place in the Sengoku Era, also called the Warring States Period. Learn how the Shogun's women struggled to survive in the oh-oku—the prison for women.

p.s. Anyone who has watched, or watching Ooku? Come and share your thoughts with me! By the way, the kimonos in this series was so beautiful and exquisite. I've lost count of how many costume changes they had...

I'm also looking for the OST. If you have it, please share!


Funn Lim said...

When was this released? Because if later than WAB definitely WAB created the harem in the palace wave.

One consolation for WAB; men there handsomer. Can't imagine the japs with those half shaven and yet bundled up hair. Has my vote as the worst hairstyle, but Qing style is second place.

sehseh said...

No, Ooku was earlier than WAB but not much ppl heard of it. When it was aired in HK, it got the lowest rating of the year.

Haha, you're right about the hairstyle. Men have have the hair while women's was very long and bunched up.

p.s. Wonder if the women walked so slow because of the heavy layers of costumes... :P

YuNqInG said...

Ooku chapter 1 is very interesting! I had watched the first series of Ooku which has another title "Ooku chapter 2".
Personally i preferred Ooku chap1's storyline. Their speech was rather formal compared to modern japanese.

Anonymous said...

do u by any chance a malaysian or what?i realy like oman sama for her kindness and ican c that the king (i don't know the terms in japan)is very much in love with oman and oman is very much in love with the the way i DAISKI the ost very much.

sehseh said...

Yes, I am a Malaysian.

Oman was a good character. She is nice and not arrogant, but it's just that I dislike her 'higher than thou attitude'.

I just watched tonight's episode and I really start to pity Iemitsu (shogun) instead.

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