|Saiunkoku Monogatari's main love story is between Shuurei (left) and|
At the center of Saiunkoku Monogatari's cast of characters is Kou Shuurei, a girl from a prominent clan in the Kingdom of Saiunkoku. The story starts with her living a relatively simple life (her father isn't interested in getting involved with the rest of the Kou clan) until one day she is invited to temporarily come to the imperial court and be the consort of the kingdom's young, newly crowned emperor, Ryuuki. She doesn't have to take part in any hanky panky, but Shuurei does spend time with him, and while he was once irresponsible, and aloof, she somehow ignites something in him that makes him want to start becoming worthy of his position in life. It also helps that they both start to slowly fall in love with one another.
|Ran Shogun and Kouyuu are two of|
Ryuuki's most trusted officials
This is why I like the series so much: it goes so far beyond just being an excuse to parade handsome men across the screen. There is so much substance to Saiunkoku Monogatari. The first season has a couple of very good story arcs chalk full of political intrigue, both related to the Sa clan, another of the kingdom's more powerful, and in this case prone to scheming, families. There were so many twists and turns during this part of the show that it was hard to pry myself from it and actually get some sleep every once and a while.
|The eccentric Ran Ryuuren is now one of my favorite|
anime characters ever
There are also other people who have strong feelings for Shuurei. The one to have the biggest impact on her would be Sakujun of the Sa clan. He's a terrible, evil person who has been responsible for countless deaths, yet he found that he wanted to be kind to Shuurei, and slowly fell in love with her, never showing her any ill will. She in turn wound up having feelings for him to a degree, or at least was unable to hate him, unlike most other people in the show. It made for a very complicated situation, but it was really interesting to watch it unfold.
|Shuurei is a very strong female character in this show|
The show's setting itself is also quite interesting. It takes place in the fictional kingdom of Saiunkoku, but it is very reminiscent of ancient China. Everything from the architecture to the mythology has a pronounced Chinese flavor to it. While I am quite fond of European, or historical Japanese settings that often crop up in anime, I really enjoyed the world created here. It has a largely historical feel to it but there are elements of magic and otherworldly beings. What I like is that the show is so subtle about it. There are always vague hints of it, or we'll see a few characters that seem to have a mysterious ability, and only over time are we given tiny hints at what it all means. So, there's always a little bit of curiosity as to how that all works, and these sort of things don't happen very often making them all the more interesting. It's a nice change of pace from so many other shows that will just be, BAM! Wizards! and suddenly spells and monster summons are happening all over the place.
Saiunkoku Monogatari is definitely a show worth spending some time with. The story is phenomenal, there are tons of interesting characters, and the world it presents is quite intriguing. I really wish more bishonen styled anime series tried to emulate this instead of being ramshackle excuses to parade handsome men across the screen for half an hour. Saiunkoku Monogatari shows that the genre can be so much more than that.
Have your own thoughts on Saiunkoku Monogatari that you'd like to share? Be sure to leave a comment below. ^_^