I can sort-of understand why people often are reluctant to check out very lengthy series. After all, they’re a huge commitment and it’s very hard to tell whether it will turn out worthwhile or not if you have to sit through more than sixty episodes. Series like Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z and Inuyasha went on and on, amidst pointless fillers, and just could have gotten so much better if they were just 1/4th of their original length.
Still, let me say that for every lengthy series that screws up, you can always find a lengthy series that’s absolutely worth the commitment. Take Legend of Galactic Heroes, Gintama, or any of the World Masterpiece series. And of course Saiunkoku Monogatari. It’s set in a world, reminiscent of ancient China, and follows Shuurei, as she tries to be the first female govermnent official, in a male-dominated society.
Of course, there’s much more to the story than just that. The series starts out as an innocent shoujo love-drama, but soon enough this series shows its josei-roots and develops its huge cast of characters perfectly. Be sure to expect lots of politics. The different arcs are very different from each other, and they’re more than enough to keep this series interesting though its entire run. And of course, there’s quite a bit of romance as well, but don’t expect standard Shoujo-romance here. Quite often, you see two characters who are in love with each other, yet can never be together due to their social status, or the things they did in the past.
I do want to note, though, that some parts of this series are less interesting than others. Saiunkoku Monogatari has a couple of incredibly deep and well-developed characters, but it needs to build up a lot in order to achieve this. There will be a few arcs that aren’t that special, other than that they build up for some amazing scenes, later on in the series. It’s also a shame that the final quarter of the series builds up to a third season that’ll probably arrive in two or three years. The final few episodes also showcase some dramatic budget-problems, with three recap-episodes within twenty episodes, so that’s also something to take into account.
Still, despite the flaws, Saiunkoku remains a versatile and engaging series. If you liked The Twelve Kingdoms (I haven’t seen the series myself, but I hear from everywhere that that’s another excellent series), you’ll definitely like this series. Now all that’s left is to wait a few years for the third season to arrive!