Saiunkoku Monogatari

Alt title: The Story of Saiunkoku

TV (39 eps)
2006 - 2007
Spring 2006
4.186 out of 5 from 7,035 votes
Rank #752

In an ancient and mythological land called Saiunkoku, the people have begun to recover from a period of war and famine; thus, when an official from the imperial court offers the impoverished and beautiful Shuurei more money than she could ever dream of in return for a favor, she jumps at the chance. What she doesn’t count on, however, is being asked to become a concubine to the recluse Emperor and help him transform into a better leader. What’s more, the Emperor shows little intelligence, seems to have no interest in ruling, and is rumored to prefer men. One thing’s for certain: Shuurei has her work cut out for her!

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Reviews

VivisQueen
7

StorySaiunkoku Monogatari is one of those pleasant surprises where you get a lot more than you bargained for; indeed, far from being a fluffy, witless romance, this title offers a rare formula of ‘pink politics' where a girl tries to make it in a man's world as governor of an empire. Saiunkoku Monogatari's appearance actually gave me the wrong impression at first. I was in the mood for a bishounen-packed romantic comedy when I first picked it up; subsequently, the more episodes I watched, the more frustrated I got that the romance I expected was seemingly getting sidelined by an encroaching political subplot. However, once I realised that the romance was more of a background issue to be resolved at leisure, I found myself enjoying the plot developments a lot more. What actually makes up the bulk of the story is Shuurei's struggle to take hold of a disconnected, elitist government and make it work for the good of the people; in the process she foils nasty plots, defies cultural conventions, and changes those around her for the better. Importantly, a few dark moments get chucked into the mix alongside the simplistic politics and recurrent gags. The high point of this formula has to be the arc with the androgynous guy, which is both clever and emotional. Incidentally, it's important to note the complete lack of cynicism in this title: I'm personally amazed at the weak, token resistance to Shuurei's rise to power in a world that is utterly dominated by elite men; not to mention the bloodless battles and relentless positivity with which she tackles seemingly insurmountable problems. Regardless, the anime remains convincing as long as you can leave reality by the doorstep. Taking all of that into consideration, I definitely enjoyed Saiunkoku Monogatari far more than I would had it remained a straightforward romcom. Sadly, considering the typical shoujo approach, it still falls a little short of being the deep, meaningful epic it wants to be.AnimationWhere the concept is concerned, the clue is definitely in the title: there are many pretty colours. Disappointingly, apart from the vibrant lilacs, pinks, and baby blues, Saiunkoku Monogatari's animation is basic to say the least; as well as minimal shading and background details, the characters are static when they talk (heck, they don't even blink) and utterly robotic when they do move. Most annoyingly, the men all look very similar, with only variations in hair and clothes to distinguish one bishounen from another. Nonetheless, considering Saiunkoku Monogatari's genre and content, I don't feel its flaws in animation detract much from the enjoyment of the series; for example, because the action scenes are not integral to the story, their occasional use of streaky backgrounds and still shots and generally poor choreography is forgivable. At its most lovely, Saiunkoku Monogatari's scenery looks like a watercolour painting, which is pleasant on the eye and makes for a cheery atmosphere.SoundThe opening theme is one of my favourites yet; with mellow vocals by Ayaka Hirahara and such a beautiful melody, I instantly wanted to own it. Sadly, the rest of the soundtrack is bland and forgettable, and the voice actors are decent without being particularly stunning.CharactersAs for the cast, the most remarkable thing about them is how easily forgettable they are; like a rosy daydream, their haze only lasts as long as you're in the moment. Having spent thirty-nine episodes watching their various adventures, I can only remember two names: the main character, Shuurei, and her adopted brother, Seiran. These two are arguably the most developed and most interesting of the bunch and thus the only ones worth caring about; all of the others, such as the Emperor and the eccentric guy with the flute, are only fleetingly amusing. As a whole, the cast is good, but just too large, too cardboard, and too lacking in unique backgrounds to draw attention beyond the series' running time.OverallFar from offering air-headed drivel, Saiunkoku Monogatari fills all thirty-nine episodes with compelling stories and briefly entertaining characters. In fact, the series' true worth lies in its ability to provide a substantial plot despite its soft, light-hearted appearance. Still, while I believe most fans will thoroughly enjoy this title, I doubt many would watch it more than once.

delolmo
8

Saiunkoku Monogatari is a hidden gem. In terms of the story line I must say it was very well developed. For the length of this season, the story was well paced so that it did not go too slowly for the audience to lose interest and it did not go too fast for the audience to get lost in the plot.  This anime has a little bit of everything. Although it revolves heavily around politics, there is a little bit of romance, family themes, friendship, and personal growth. The balance of all the components that makes this anime is outstanding. I don’t like to be very specific about what happens in the story as to not offer any spoilers, but I would like people to know that in terms of story plot, this anime has a lot to offer and it is well deserving of high marks. The only complaint I have in this regard is that there were a few times when something "out of the blue' would take place which was a bit confusing to me, particularly those themes for the "supernatural" type. The animation of this anime was good, but not great. Considering it has been nearly 10 years since the official release, it is expected that it may not rival newer anime. The characters are in fact pleasing to the eye as well as the landscapes outlined in the story. As far as the sound, I tend to be very picky about the soundtracks but I really enjoy the themes that were used for the opening and ending of this season. They seem very fitting with the story and were pleasing to the ear as well. The characters are great! There is no one I hated because the story makes it hard to do. They explore the past of several characters such as Ryuuki, Seiran, and Shuurei and the motives of others at present are also well presented throughout the story. Shuurei is by far the most important character of the story, which also leads the anime to be a reverse harem type. She will be a great feminist in our times if she were real; she conducts herself with pride and dignity throughout the story in an effort to reach her dreams to make a difference in her world. I think that as a woman, Shuurei is very relatable. Likewise, her character along with many of the other characters is seen as pure which makes you fall in love with them all. I recommend this anime to those who enjoy a creative story full of surprises, the way this story starts is by no means in the same direction that it will end (at least in this season, I am yet to watch the next).  Political conflict and romance are main topics and the characters are great!

Dionkeykong
3

There are many types of anime viewers out there,but i think you'll agree with me(well most of ya will at least)the most idiotic and irritating ones are those who see the ratings and then watch an anime and then rate and review accordingly,cause they don't want to interrupt the hype flow,those who rate and review based solely on emotion(i liked the manga,i liked the LN so it must be good even though it came out a dead elephant's ass)..And then there are those who feel special and everything they see,touch or feel is special by default..And guess what..Of course they're not but hey who the fuck cares right?As long as there's love in the air and bees sucking flowers and birds on the trees and that shit.. Well i care for one..I hate with passion this we must love everyone and all is mended by love and romance will set us free fascists.I want mayhem,i want destruction and death.I want a character called Velociraptor Cunt-thrust to take out his AK47 and gun down Moe cutsie Barbies.Why?Because THAT will be more interesting than animes like Saiunkoku Monogatari.In fact everything i wrote up till now is more interesting.And i haven't even started mauling it yet either...Shitkoku bollockatari is like going to work at the salt mines.Your head feels funny and heavy,your eyes wander around the mine,you see the dust and dead people around you you know you are gonna end up dead too if you don't work but you still choose to do something else..It's the same with this.It doesn't catch your attention.You just leave it at the background while doing the laundry. With the exception of the first story arc i found my self asking the same question..What was the story again?The whole thing feels like it's a big artificial world made just for the main heroine.Every path she takes is like it was very conveniently set for her.It's a world where nothing can go wrong for her and to add insult to injury every single man on the land always comes to her rescue...Did i mention she is government official in Dynastic China?No?Well i did now,what more do you want from me?..And somehow every and each man falls for her..From the super attractive and magnificent to behold villain to the super attractive and magnificent to behold emperor to the super attractive and magnificent to behold rest of the cast..I did get a hint at some point that even her super attractive and magnificent to behold uncle wants some sugar too...Sure Dion,you might say,there must be good things about it right?...Well yes..It has many story arcs and they have some cohesion..But if the story is so poor it doesn't matter..But hey,this is fluffy and pink and drama and romance..They don't need a story right?FUCK YOU of course they do. In fact this is such a light drama,even Bambi or the damn little pony are better than this at being a drama.Whatever tension and mystery was faintly there at the beginning in a very sort notice was gone and replaced by..Well everyone wanting to stick their sausage to Shurei.The whole show has no real feel to it it has no identity of it's own.It's sucked in whirl of Japanese and Chinese medieval stereotypes.It also has some supernatural elements but for the life of me i couldn't find what was the purpose of them being there in the first place.They had no relation or added weight to the story whatsoever. The characters are...Uninteresting,flat as a washing board,an insult to humanity's progress.Shurei is probably the only character who has an iq with + in front.Every other character is there just there being attractive and waiting to be used by Shurei. I can't remember EVER a show i've seen failing so miserably at incorporating politics.It was as painful to watch as it would be watching Tranformers talk about the dangers of global warming for the entirety of the show. The animation?Oh yes..We don't need animation in dramas..Put some fancy boys there,some smiles here and some backdrop for the heck of it and we're ready to go. All in all this is a show for girls who think of themselves as princesses or for boys who still don't know how to use their penis.Even so i can hardly believe anyone will thing of this crap as masterpiece.It's way too long for it's own good.39 eps of being drawn out,doing nothing,showing nothing and in the end as interesting as George Bush Jr.

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