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!