Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: Saiunkoku Monogatari (2006-2008)

Saiunkoku Monogatari ~The Story of Saiunkoku~ (2006-2008) is a Japanese historical fantasy anime. It takes place in the fictional land of Saiunkoku, divided into eight regions based on the colors of the rainbow. It contains 78 episodes (two seasons).

The new Emperor, Shi Ryuuki, is known throughout the kingdom of Saiunkoku for being uninterested in imperial matters and his flirtation with men. Meanwhile, Hong Shuurei, who descends from a noble family, and her father have fallen into financial hard times. She receives an invitation to be the Emperor's concubine for six months so that he can become a good ruler. If she succeeds, the financial reward will be great.

Shuurei has always wanted to become a court official in the imperial palace (At the time, women were not allowed to take the imperial exams.). The mysterious Seiran, a young man who was adopted by her father, goes with her as Ryuuki's imperial bodyguard. Ryuuki gradually becomes attracted to his new concubine. He pursues relentlessly, hoping that she'll feel the same way for him. Overall, Shuurei embarks on an incredible journey to change societal perceptions of women and fend off the Emperor's advances.

In the second season, Shuurei encounters more obstacles that could endanger her life. Secrets are revealed, and imperial politics become more complicated. and Nevertheless, friends and companions continue to help her with her duties as an official. Shuurei is determined to prove herself and help her country. Meanwhile, a relationship begins to form between her and the Emperor.

I enjoyed this show even though I never read the manga. Since watching Fushigi Yuugi, stories that takes place in a mythical Chinese dynasty with fantasy and romance thrown in the mix intrigue me. Saiunkoki Monogatari, although there's no magical girl/priestess theme, was a good choice. This is a long series, but Shuurei is a strong character that is easy to like as she gradually develops into an intelligent and confident woman. If you are looking for a historical romance, I highly recommend this anime.

Opening: "Hajimare no kaze" by Ayaka Hirahara

Ending: "Saikou no Kataomoi" by Sachi Tainaka

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