I was not intending to blog on the special arc in the four weeks that summarizes everything leading up to Saiunkoku Monogatari second season. However, this episode had many of the scenes that I enjoyed about Saiunkoku Monogatari and it will be bad of me to not post something to pay some tribute to it. It will also act as a build up to the coming series too.
This episode starts off with Ryuuki’s plan to legitimize the entrance of women into the imperial exams of Saiunkoku up to the stage where Shuurei finally finished the exam at the third top position.
Ryuuki first asked for volunteers to help Kou Kijin in the treasury and suddenly shot off the suggestion to approve women into the imperial examinations, leaving the palace in shock. Ensei was then picked up by Shuurei when he fainted after starving for a few days, much to Seiran’s dismay when Shuurei allowed Ensei to stay.
Later on, Shuurei invited everyone close to her over except Ryuuki, as Kouyuu offered Shuurei the chance to work in the palace for one month under Kijin. Shuurei initially hesitated but decided to go for it with Ensei’s encouragement that it was better to regret after doing something than not doing it at all.
As she reported for duty as a boy with Ensei (Kouyuu said her body is just like a guy, ouch for small chest), the strange man, Kou Kijin, was extremely strict but it was apparent that he welcomed the help. Shuurei also nearly met up with Ryuuki who had the innate sense of an animal, as well as Reishin, the uncle of Shuurei.
He was grinning from ear to ear after Shuurei called him uncle but he never revealed his identity. Ryuuki was also working hard at the proposal to send women into the examination, especially since Kijin left once he heard about Ryuuki’s announcement, clearly unhappy with the decision. With the talk of Reishin and Kijin, it was clear that both of them were rather confident about the plan and Shuurei’s capabilities.
Shuurei was studying hard still, but felt demoralized, only for Ensei to boost her confidence once again. Late at night, Ensei was out fighting bandits as Seiran warned him not to trouble Shuurei or Shouka. After a break in by bandits in the treasury, Kijin offered a place for Ensei and Shuurei to stay.
That night, the bandits finally gave chase to Ensei, as everyone including Ryuuki came over to dispatch the bandits. We then found out that Ensei was the governor of Sa, and came over to hand the seal to Ryuuki. He wanted a true official to take over, and not one that had not passed the exam like him. The next day, as everyone left, Kouyuu told Shuurei that the three of them were working hard to make the proposal for females to sit for the exam, as she readily said yes to work hard for it.
The law was finally passed, as Shuurei met up with Eigetsu, a young boy who was somehow robbed of his wooden certification. Eigetsu was in some trouble with a clan after beating up one of the gangsters, which eventually led to Seiran escaping to the red light district. As those gangsters tried to evade the area for Eigetsu, they were given a rude awakening by Kochou, one of the underground bosses of the district. As the head of the gang tried to take Shuurei as a hostage, Eigetsu was thrown into a wine barrel.
He turned into Yougetsu, his alter ego which appeared when he got a drink. Yougetsu literally hit the living lights out of all the bandits, but collapsed after fending off the attacks. At the exam, we realized that Shuurei and Eigetsu was getting all the attention for their appearance until Ryuuren came with his awful flute blowing. At the end, the first female official was born as Shuurei got third overall in the imperial examinations.
I still remember how I said that Reishin might be an antagonist in the future for Shuurei because he is so strange and queer. How wrong I was with that speculation. In any case, I think that was also when I started liking Reishin because his display in front of Shuurei is just downright hilarious, with him going all sky happy with Shuurei calling him “Uncle”. I think he’s really desperate for Shuurei to know who he is, but as we have watched the series, we realized why he is reluctant to.
I also remember the first appearance of Ensei really changed Seiran a bit. I was like “What in the world, Seiran is actually being all mean and rude to his friend?”. Until the later stages, I did not understand why Seiran’s attitude is damn bad, but I guess it just triggers off the bad feelings he had in Sa province. Nevertheless, this arc really make me appreciate Ensei because beneath that beard and seemingly lazy behavior is a very keen mind that can think, fight and comfort Shuurei like an elder brother. Well, most of the main characters can fight, have brains and comfort Shuurei, so I am almost talking rubbish here.
Kijin in this arc also struck me as a very deep character. In his aloft behavior is a character that is very concerned about things that are around him, including the impressive Shuurei that disguised as a male to work in the palace. I am not that surprised that Shuurei, with her rather cute looks, is easily recognizable by most in power. I guess Kouyuu’s misogynist behavior has caused him to only think about the breasts when it comes to masquerading as a male. Kouyuu still needs some good lessons in sweet talking to a gal.
This arc is perhaps my favorite arc other than the last one with Sakujun, simply because there are tons of humor, with the jokers like Ensei appearing often to bring some laughs. The good thing too is that it is a haven for Ryuuki’s fangirls, as he appears quite often in his puppy eye “Shuureeeeii” calls that will probably melt most fangirls in their wake. I must say, it is really cute to see the two eventually coming together with Shuurei trying to escape Ryuuki at all costs. She really is bad at hiding though, both in words and in physical abilities. Seeing Yougetsu reminds me how much I enjoy his presence and his lack of appearance at the later parts of the story is quite a sore miss, but I think they did not want to use him too much. It will be boring, I guess.
The process of the birth of the first female official is definitely a development point for Shuurei, as we start to see more of Shuurei, be it her funny faces or her strong resolute at doing things. Yet, unlike super heroes who never falter, it is clear that Shuurei is just 17 and sometimes falters. That is perhaps the beauty in the character of Shuurei, in which she is able to do a lot, yet still depends on others for help when required. She makes for a very pleasing and interesting character in any anime.
All in all, it really helps to refresh my memory on that arc and I once again fell in love with Saiunkoku Monogatari.