When Japan’s social system is thrown off kilter by the red-faced smallpox virus, the entire population is left shaken. The roles are switched now that men have become a rarity, a kind of status symbol only the rich could afford. In such a scenario, Yunoshin Mizuno, a powerful samurai decides to join Ooku, a residency for men serving the shogun. Leaving the love of his life aside, to aid his parents’ financial condition, Mizuno steps inside the Ooku only to find it as an alternate universe.
In this universe, classes divide men and specify their duties with only a handful being honoured to serve the shogun. Mizuno’s journey in Netflix’s Ooku: The Inner Chambers is as compelling as heart-breaking, isn’t it? A man forced to bear the hardships of the world and weave out of the trap laid in front of him by his selfish community members, Mizuno is indeed a charismatic character.
If you, too, have enjoyed Noriyuki Abe’s anime, here is a list of the top 7 animes like Ooku: The Inner Chambers hand-picked for you!
7. The Rising of the Shield Hero
Whether The Rising of the Shield Hero is a harem anime or not is still up for debate. Its resemblance with Ooku: The Inner Chambers might not be as strong as the others but the structure of the anime has led me to place it on the list. Ooku’s quintessence lies in its focus on establishing identities and understanding the inner dynamics of a corrupt system. The Rising of the Shield Hero loosely follows the same concepts, albeit explores them through a different approach.
When Naofumi Iwatani is abducted to be trained as a Cardinal Hero, he doesn’t realize what lies behind him. He tries to fit into this alternate universe but his attempts are sabotaged by the princess’ accusations. Now, Naofumi is left to bear the weight of her betrayal which leads him to a demi-human girl, Raphtalia. Similar to Mizuno, Naofumi has to undergo betrayal to rise from the ashes.
6. Hanasakeru Seishounen
Hanasakeru Seishounen or Youth That Can Bloom is a Japanese anime centred around a fourteen-year-old protagonist, Kajika Burnsworth. Set in an Asian country, Raginei, Kajika is thrown into turmoil by her industrialist mogul of a father, Harry. After Kajika finishes school in Japan, Harry forces her to continue her life in New York where he could better keep an eye on her. Soon, Harry manages to persuade Kajika a “marriage game” in which she has to choose her life partner out of three possible suitors.
While you might not consider Hanasakeru Seishounen to be remotely similar to Ooku: The Inner Chambers initially, you’ll slowly connect the dots. The anime isn’t just a romantic drama but a political thriller, too. It deals with the same force that beckoned Ooku–inner politics. Hanasakeru can be loosely connected to Ooku due to the resemblance between the animes with respect to their emphasis on politics and true love.
5. The Story Of Saiunkoku
Ooku: The Inner Chambers isn’t just a gender-swapped harem anime centred around Mizuno. Rather, it is a thought-provoking political battle held by an inner member of the chamber. Following this trope, The Story Of Saiunkoku is a Chinese take on poverty-driven decisions, the complexity of love and the endless sacrifices it takes to survive in a money-driven world. This tale is centred around Shurei Hong, a former nobless now bearing the harsh whiplash of life. It is set in the fictional empire of Saiunkoku.
After Shurei’s family’s financial condition worsens, she takes up a job at the temple school. She aspires to join the government cabinet and though it is forbidden to women, Shurei doesn’t let it hinder her dreams. When she’s offered a job to become the consort of the new emperor, Ryuuki Shi, and make him more “responsible”, Shurei jumps on the offer. Though The Story Of Saiunkoku is conceptually different from Ooku: The Inner Chambers, the essence of both the animes intertwine.
Similar to the sci-fi trope of Ooku: The Inner Chambers, Gintama follows an alien attack. Set in the Edo period, the historical anime probes the shogun and the samurai genre. When the shogun is unable to compete against the aliens, he gives up control of his region to these foreign creatures. The responsibility of restoring humans and humanity falls on the shoulder of Gintoki Sakata, a samurai who works odd jobs to make ends meet.
Though the anime is centred mostly around the epic battle between aliens and humans, its historical setting and sci-fi trope thread it with Ooku: The Inner Chambers. Moreover, the similarities between both Mizuno and Gintoki are impeccable. As Gintoki’s team keeps expanding, he starts to get some insights from the inner circle of the alien government. It adds one more point to the similarities between the two animes!
3. Otogi Zoshi
If you have enjoyed Ooku: The Inner Chambers’ concept of showcasing feminine strength, Otogi Zoshi deserves a place on your watchlist. This anime, similar to Ooku, emphasizes on females being equipped to deal with harsh scenarios and take charge of life-threatening missions. Our protagonist Hikaru’s brother, Minamoto no Raiko, is assigned to retrieve the five magamata aka pillars of life to resurrect Kyoto country. However, due to a sudden illness, Minamoto is rendered incapable of carrying out this substantial mission.
To help his brother and save the country, Hikaru leaves her love, Mansairaku, to gather the magamatas. In search of the last magamata she is unable to retrieve, Hikaru comes across the fortuneteller, Abe no Seimei. It was Seimei who instructed the emperor to begin the search for the magamatas and as it turns out, he is none other than Mansairaku. Choosing between love and obligations has never been easy, especially for someone who’s spent her life loving that one person. Hikaru’s tough decision will certainly make you relate the anime to Mizune’s resolution.
2. The Heike Story
Death has been a key element serving the trope of Ooku: The Inner Chambers. The Heike Story’s foundation is the same, too. It revolves around Biwa, the daughter of a blind man who is annihilated in a war. The Taira clan is one of the participants in the war and is responsible for the death of Biwa’s father. With her supernatural ability, Biwa is able to foresee the future of the Taira clan. Her predictions have hardly proved to be false and when Biwa is standing against the clan, its downfall is premeditated.
However, she isn’t the only one with a supernatural ability. Taira no Shigemori, the heir to the Taira clan is a ghost-watcher. He is able to witness the ghosts of people who lost their lives in the war. When Biwa narrates her prediction to Shigemori, he believes her instantly. Does that mean he accepts his fate? Of course not. Amid a disastrous war, with their clashing intents, would Biwa and Shigemori ever overcome the complexities of their circumstances? Tough decisions, death and the convolution of choosing responsibility over death lay the foundation for both animes.
1. Medetaku Kou
If you’re an Ooku fan due to its historical setting and shogun setting, Medekatu Kou would steal your breath away. It is centred around a simpleton, Hikari, who worked as a maid for the shogun. With her doe eyes, bright smile and docile nature, she easily becomes a decorative piece. But when the shogun starts to notice her, Hikari’s life starts to alter. She quickly becomes his concubine and the birth mother of his children but they are constantly surrounded with haters.
When a simple maid garners such a significant position, it is bound to turn heads. In Hikari’s case, however, it slices off heads. Medataku Kou is considered to be a Cinderella-style story which serves as a common ground for both, Ooku: The Inner Chambers and itself. Only, the former is more of a gender-swapped version of a confined Cinderella.
7 Animes Like Ooku: The Inner Chambers–FAQs
It is centred around the shogunate of the Kanto region which is held back by its inner politics. When Mizuno, a samurai joins the Ooku, he leads the current shogun to become privy to the rich albeit hidden history of the Ooku.
Yes, both the animes are similar in terms of their emphasis on feminine strength.
Yes, it is a samurai-based anime revolving around the courageous samurai, Gintoki Sakata.
It is centred around a simple maid, Hikari, who becomes the concubine of the shogun.
Yes, there are trailers available for each of these animes.
You can stream these animes on Crunchyroll, the anime streaming giant! Some are available on Funimation and Netflix, too.