Kukuru's Saiunkoku Monogatari Tv Review

Saiunkoku Monogatari Saiunkoku Monogatari Screenshot Seiran and Shuurei walking down the street Saiunkoku Monogatari Screenshot Shuurei's bedroom - so colourful! Saiunkoku Monogatari Screenshot Action shot - that's about all you're getting Saiunkoku Monogatari Screenshot Royal Consort Shuurei and Emperor Ryuuki

Saiunkoku Monogatari tv Review

It's been half a year since the Emperor has succeeded the throne of Saiunkoku. He is young and seems to have little motivation or interest governing. Furthermore with no concubines to date he has earned a reputation of being interested more in men!

There is no choice for a replacement since he is the sole heir to the throne. If things continue this way, it will only be a matter of time before some usurper will set their greedy eyes on the throne leading the country into another civil war when it has barely recovered from the last. When Grand Advisor Shou approaches Kou Shuurei with an offer she just could not refuse, Shuurei ends up becoming the concubine of the Emperor of Saiunkoku for three months, in hopes of generating an interest and motivation of his position over the country.

By: Kukuru

List of components:
- Bunkobons written by Sai Yukino, illustrations by Kairi Yura (2003-2011); main stories (18 volumes), side stories (5 volumes).
- Two Anime Series produced by Madhouse, 39 episodes each; 1st series (2006-2007), 2nd series (2007-2008).
- Alternate Retelling Manga by Kairi Yura (2005-2012), 9 volumes.

Story & Characters

This review is based on the Japanese dub of the 39 episodes of Season 1 of the anime. The anime is based off the manga of the same name written by Sai Yukino. It consists of 12 volumes.

Story 6.5

It's been half a year since the Emperor has succeeded the throne of Saiunkoku but he seems to hold little interest in ascending to the role. If things continue this way, it will only be a matter of time before someone will seek the throne for themselves, sending the country into civil war.

Enter Kou Shuurei, a bright young girl who teaches the local children in her town. When Grand Advisor Shou approaches her with an offer she just could not refuse (and rashly accepting before actually finding out what she was needed for), Shuurei finds herself as the concubine and teacher to the Emperor in hopes making him a real Emperor.


The title Saiunkoku Monogatari translated means "Tales of Saiunkoku" and the is show exactly that. Though the initial impression of this anime may be a fangirl's dream come true, 'a poor girl chosen to be the mistress of the extremely handsome Emperor!! *squeal!!1!*, there are some interesting plotlines and messages that are carried across. Sure, your romantic elements are present, but the central focus is on Shuurei fulfilling her dream of becoming an official and helping to restore order to her country.

The story does not move at a particularly exciting pace, but it was enough to keep me interested and wanting to finish the series. There is a bit of everything present: romance, humour, drama and action (though more about that in the art section). Be wary though: there is a 2nd season and while Season 1 does wrap up, it may not be to everyone's tastes.

I also felt the plot was not tight enough with a few holes and random scenes of a supernatural nature which neither get explained nor seem to be of any problem or surprise to the characters. Again, since there is a second season, I hope it will be better explained.

Finally, I would like to point out that while this anime is set in a fantasy realm during ancient china, it seems to be nothing more than that as it does not reflect any actual historical period that I'm aware of.

Characters 8
The characters in Saiunkoku Monogatari is probably the main reason why I am such a fan of this show. The assembly of characters are so lovable each in their own way. From the gifted yet immature Emperor, the intelligent but directional challenged Ri Kouyuu to my favourite eccentric, flute playing genius Lan Ruuyen - I am certain you will find a character to like. Furthermore, Kou Shuurei is smart, hardworking and a spunky heroine for this series. While at first glance she may come off to some as the girl who is perfect and love-interest for every male who comes along, there is depth to her character and she possesses this strong and determined nature that you cannot help but admire.

Character development was satisfactory enough and Shuurei is portrayed quite well. However, since there were some plot holes, I can only hope the characters will be looked at further in season 2. In addition, at the start of the series the absence of female characters other than Shuurei is a little overwhelming but as the anime progresses, some interesting women enter the plot.

Rating: 7


Background Art 8
The colour scheme of the show is very bright and - well - colourful. At first, it was a little strong, but it does suit the show. The animators have adequately captured the beauty in the landscape and architecture of China, portraying a strong sense of the setting and time.

Character Design 8.5
Bishounens anyone? The cast is full of them - so being of the female gender I had no complaints.

^_^' Seriously though:
The character designs are as likable as the characters themselves. They are well drawn with great attention to detail, design and - if you are willing to overlook hair colours, (of aqua and purple) and some of the borderline feminine hairstyles on some of the males - they are drawn quite realistically.
Furthermore, the costumes are lovely and further compliment the setting of the show.

Animation 5
It seems that the animators took the 'cost effective' approach when putting this anime together. While the normal scenes (such as characters walking, talking, breezes etc.) flow smoothly enough, the action scenes have adopted what I like to call the "Before 'n' After" method.

Allow me to elaborate:
Before - A shot of all the baddies and the bishounens looking rather cool and composed. Then one baddie charges in.
'n' - The middle bit - where all the action is going on. Exciting right? Well, it certainly sounds like it, for while we can hear what is going on, our screen instead graced with an image of the sky.
After - All the baddies are defeated - wow our heroes are so amazing!! *fangirl sigh*

... This can get a little annoying after awhile - but I have to give some credit as it does work - provided you use a bit of imagination (hence the 5 rating).
For the rare scene or two that occurred where we saw the characters actually fighting, they came off a bit rushed and jagged - but the bishounens always looked good and that's what matters right?

Rating: 7


Opening and Ending Themes 7.5
Opening: "Hajimari Kaze No" Hirahara Ayaka
Ending: "Saikou no Kataomaoi" Tainaka Sachi
Both very pretty songs that suit the tone of this anime very well.

Soundtrack 6.5
A bit of mixed bag: while there are some lovely instrumental pieces where the Chinese style is quite evident, some scenes of the anime contain background music that tend to give the impression you were watching a scene from an RPG game.
Sound effects were adequate for the situations portrayed and hey, it was enhanced what would have otherwise been lacklustre action scenes.

Voice acting 9
Another brilliant Japanese dub. The voice actors chosen highly complimented their characters, adding to their charm. Great vocal expression and suitability - it was a pleasure to watch.
As this anime has been licensed, there has been an English Vocal cast chosen and I must admit I'm curious to see how it will work. With voice actors such as Kelly Sheridan as the voice of Shuurei (Leena from Zoids New Century and Sango from Inuyasha) and Matthew Erickson as Emperor Ryuuki (Van from Zoids, Chaotic Century and Guardian Force and Shinn Asuka from Gundam SEED Destiny), I have high hopes for the English dub.

Rating: 8


I start this section off by providing a link to a blogger's site about what they felt about this anime.

I think the pictures and their captions tell it all and pretty well gives you the impression about what sort of large fan following will come to follow this show. With lots of eye candy and potential for coupling, it's enough to satisfy any fangirl.
That being said, those who prefer a little more sophistication in their viewing will find it in this anime. Though the plot is nothing groundbreaking, there are life themes and concepts presented that are worth consideration. In particular, I quite liked the episode titles. They were proverbs whose meaning was explored somewhat during the episodes. It made me feeling that I got something out of viewing rather than just enjoyment or an aesthetic appreciation.

Saiunkoku Monogatari is an anime set in ancient China that has potential to be a great story. The first season was quite enjoyable to watch with lovely designs, some great concepts and very loveable characters. It was enough to capture my interest and to look forward to the next season of this series.

Rating: 8

Final Verdict

7.50 (good)

Reviewed by Kukuru, Jan 07, 2008


  1. shoujoboy Jan 07, 2008

    Now this was a series I actually was going to watch. I bought the first volume with all intentions to buy the rest... then Geneon tanked completely ruining my chances of ever seeing this puppy. It looked like something I might enjoy, maybe not with the fangirlish excitement you had (beings that I'm not a girl). As for your review, it seemed much looser this time. I'm not saying that your reviews are robotic at all, but you normally state well thought out points and give out a score. This review you seemed a bit looser, like you were just really comfortable from beginning to end.

  2. riku-chan Apr 18, 2008

    Nice review, I also loved Saiukoku Monogatari for its use of literary devices and the plot is complex and thought provoking; you can never really seperate the realm of reality from imagination.

  3. SukiLovesAnime Dec 31, 2008

    I've seen a couple of episodes of this anime and I thought it was ok

  4. narunarunarunaru Feb 28, 2009

    wow i like it..

    merged: 02-28-2009 ~ 01:47pm
    i'll try watching this

  5. pigmypuff Jun 03, 2009

    like story princess and prince again

  6. lordryo Jul 28, 2009

    Good review.

  7. SchRita Aug 24, 2009

    Thanks for the review!

  8. Fanatik007 Nov 03, 2009

    good review,tnx

  9. pipichan May 04, 2010

    I stopped watching in mid season 2 due to the wait for subs last year, but just got back to finish the series a few days ago. It just happens to be during exam time...

    What this series offered were historical setting, fantasy, politics, conspiracy, a bit of romace sprinkled on top with some madness and subtle comedy, and I'm sold.
    I have to admit I enjoyed the first season 1 more than season 2 as I preferred more romance and comedic bits, though in season 2 I really liked how Ryuuki grows and more insights into Ran Shuuei as an important character. If I were to work in an anime production company, I'd totally be making season 3, because I do think a lot of people would follow this sort of story. The problem might be that the story (light novel) is still being written though...

    My favourite character was Ran Ryuuren, the hilarious genius son of the Ran clan, who I think is completely GOLD for his flashy fashion and using daikon as a flute.

  10. eyecatcher13 Sep 30, 2010

    i already watched season 1-and i loved this anime!....

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