For a series pitched as feminist, it surprisingly isn’t. It also fails to be a Japanese historical fantasy. In many many ways as well.
Most of the Shoguns sometimes didn’t have power, same about the Emperor. If this actually tried to explore the situation as it was, which will have been fun to read. But it doesn’t.
And the random throwabout of names of powerful clans. Takeda, Toyotomi clan, Oda clan. Since this is clearly Edo, or you might just want to roll with the alternate history thing instead of it being this ambiguous piece of work.
Also not exploring just how about the aristocratic nobles hated the feudal lords. If anything, having feudal women become Empresses were rare if anything. The only one which was exempt was Tokugawa Masako. Much less of being second wives.
Trust me, any girl who wanders into there with only feudal warlords as her ancestors will suffer. She will be passed over for those of better liege. The other way was a lot more common than this.
Also fun fact, any son borne by a concubine will be raised with the mother’s family not the father’s. So Raiden to have been raised with his father is a little rare.
And they often married among themselves priding themselves for having descended from Amateratsu which meant that inbreeding was rather rampant in this time. And explains the poor health of the Emperors.
As for why it fails as feminist. Gintama, a series that takes place in a similar time period, with comedy being its main thing does it a lot better. Even the plotting against the Shogun is a lot more enjoyable as well.
And here I could count the number of female characters on my hands. And none of them stood out in particular.
I could attribute it to pages and medium, but overall I just didn’t feel that it explores all these themes enough.
Where was Mariko learning how to play the game? Most of the time all I see her is taking reckless risks and telling us how to do things and not showing it. And the court doesn’t go further than Empress Genmei, Lady Kanako. There is almost no mention of other ladies or courtiers in the court.
As for the bafuku, see above except way worse. I didn’t even see any of these things. Having to play things to their advantage, gain alliances. Forge them before moving. This will have done better with one more book and this will have been the chance for Mariko to show her wits.
And being a Japanese courtier was always interesting.
The rebellion was uninspiring. I don’t see then rallying, I don’t see them doing anything that will make sense to garner support. If there was anything about politics in this time, it is factitious and very very messed up.
I mean it. For someone who is writing an alternate historical fantasy set in Edo Japan(Within A Grey Twilight), and knows quite a little about the time.
Rating: 1 out of 5