Posted by psgels on 8 March 2008 with categories: Anime Reviews, Saiunkoku Monogatari


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!

12 Responses

  1. marmot says:

    I’m only a few episodes into the second series (fansub group picked it up again woo!) but this really is one of my favourite series, I always like how there wasn’t one large overall goal to it, it made it seem far more true to what life would be like. Admittedly it is sometimes too slow and too complex for it’s own good (I keep forgetting what characters do, though that isn’t a terrible thing) and I’m not so sure about the supernatural side of it playing a bigger role in this series but overall an incredible achievement on the production company to have such a long series and only a few minor slip ups.

  2. shun says:

    hmm………………………….

    looks like this is the End of the End.

    based on how it looks, they’re not planning for a season 3. because as part of my former simulation, there’s no indication of the next move, which is the upcoming Kouyuu Arc… so… hmm, even though it’s sad on my side, but even if they do have a new season, like what psgels said, it’s not gonna be very soon.

    hmm….

  3. death13a says:

    I picked Saiunkoku after my craving for 12 Kingdoms, I really like stories with rich and complex worlds, I am currently waiting for more subs.

    For those that want to watch 12 Kingdoms warning: you will want more.

    http://www.anime2leech.com

  4. Kei says:

    >some dramatic budget-problems

    budget problem? really?
    I thought that the problem is caused by the tight schedule caused by the original novel. As you know, this animation is based on the novel of the same title for teenagers. The novel is still going-on, and the latest volume, on which the last several episodes of the animation were based, was published last summer. This might cause a problem for the production team of the animation, because they did not have enough time to prepare scripts for the rest of the animation series. To insert three recap-episodes was a solution for them, maybe.
    Regarding the possibility of the third series, it totally depends on Yukino Sai, the author of the original novel. Even though I never read the novel, I personally think that it is better that the Saiunkoku Monogatari finishes with the second series, since I am a little bit worried if she has a good idea how to end the story…

  5. psgels psgels says:

    The thing that mostly led me to believe that the show had its budget-problems was due to their strange placement. Saiunkoku Monogatari didn’t just have three recaps, but around December and January, there were lots of one- and two week hiatuses, and three episodes before the ending another recap gets introduced. I can’t really believe that everything was planned that way.

  6. kawahato says:

    I love Saiunkoku!! You said on another blog it gets the most hits on your blogsite, but interestingly enough I haven’t run into anyone that’s have heard of it besides people online! It’d be nice to have someone to talk about it to, lol. It is such a great series though. It has strong characters and has a good balance of humor and seriousness. It has it slow parts and sometimes it’s hard to remember who does what and whose name is whose in the show, but it’s easy enough to get past. This show is especially good though since it’s so rare to such a strong female character like Shuurei! I really hope they make a third season as well. I’d love to actually see Shuurei and Ryuuki together, not just hope they are.

  7. Kamryn says:

    Where do I find any episodes after 39?

  8. Lorena says:

    Excellent blogging. I’ve found this when I began watching this series. Although… I wouldn’t recommend this to people who enjoyed the Twelve Kingdoms (granted you didn’t know). As a 12K fan, I was encouraged to watch this because is “alike” with “strong heroines” and was very let down by the first season. Shuurei’s completely unrealistic and perfect without any single flaw people don’t coddle her from compared to Youko’s greatness in her complexity and flaws. Twelve Kingdoms has no qualms to show us heroines who are flawed, realistic people who struggle to be better (and people acknowledging their shortcomings in negative ways).

    The series is rather good, I’m working my way through the second season, but I wouldn’t go as far as to even compare it to Twelve Kingdoms. It’s like comparing Fushigi Yuugi with SaiMono. SaiMono has certainly more realistic depth than FY but at the same time it comes short when pitted against JK.

    Lovely series, however.

  9. Spik says:

    Lorena says much of what I feel in regards to 12K and SaiMono.

    Having watched 12K first, when it came to SaiMono I felt extremely disappointed. SaiMono seems extremely unrealistic and pales in comparison to the character development and world creation of 12K.

    And as I am somewhat familiar with Chinese customs, some of the things that happen in SaiMono just rubs me the wrong way. If it were to happen in a modern setting it’d be fine, but considering that SaiMono takes place in an AU Ancient China, I had hoped for something more culturally accurate.

  10. MurasakiRiyu says:

    I would perhaps compare this more to Fushigi Yuugi than Juuni Kokki. It falls somewhat between the two, being a more realistic setting than FY but not as fully realised as JK. Since this is perhaps the third anime I’ve found in this sort of category (bishounen, fantasy, court politics)it is well worth a watch if you enjoy this style/theme.

  11. Maileeee says:

    Now that the final installment for the light novels is released. Can’t they finally decide for a third series? How I wished there were. NHK please do a 3rd season for this AMAZING Series? Anyways, Saiunkoku Monogatari is worth the watch, the read. I loved it.

  12. Esther says:

    too many things that’re not explained in season 2!! shusui?? what about barahime?? and the official that are going for the throne! SEASON 3 IS A NEEEEEED!

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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 01:53 AM)
    What’s disappointing is Indie developers- they are all over the place, and have more support than ever, yet they crank out the same pixel-art nonsense that’s been way overdone. The rest of em, like Schafer and Igarashi, taken to pan-handling on Kickstarter, to do exactly what they’ve done 20 years ago. Although in the case of Castlevania that might be the only solution, as their forrays into any other format has failed miserably.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 01:46 AM)
    But again, high cost makes publishers weary of shaking things up too much. Back then 5-10 people could’ve made a fully functional game, that was deemed graphically appropriate for the times; now the cost waltzes in millions of dollars. It’s really the same with movies.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 01:43 AM)
    @K-off: haa! Why do I feel as if you have Quantum Break in mind? The problem is that the conventions are so ingrained that a company forgets that their making a ‘new’ game, and instead sought out to make a new MMORPG, Third Person Adventure or FPS shooter etc. “Innovation” has become the last step instead of first, and it really comprises of adding on a few bells and whistles.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 01:39 AM)
    @K-off, All the while trying to rip apart the game and sell it back to you as DLC.
    Speaking of lazy after I am annoyed after I found out that half the bosses in Kirby Rainbow Paintbrush is just the first bosses repeated. Nobody likes repeated boss fights. Ever.
  • k-off
    (Saturday, Apr 30. 2016 01:15 AM)
    @Bam Triple A games have become so lazy probably because companies know the consumers will settle for anything. Make a flashy ad campaign, shoe-horn in minor “innovations” like motion capture and some other gimmick and people will play it, forget about it and move on to the next piece of shit.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Apr 29. 2016 06:04 AM)
    It’s either a 4.5 and a Mobius, or an Occulus and a better graphic card for me; can’t swing both ways on that unless I come into some money.
  • HelghastKillzone
    (Friday, Apr 29. 2016 05:50 AM)
    I’m not into Nintendo at all and their offerings over the last few years doesn’t do anything for me. I’m looking forward to the PS4.5 and getting a VR headset for my PC though…
  • Bam
    (Friday, Apr 29. 2016 05:25 AM)
    The only Japanese games that make it big are the ones that rely on brand recognition or some simple yet polished gimmick. Souls games get around actual size by forcing repetition due to difficulty, otherwise they’ll be crushed against the Witchers and Elder Scrolls of the world. Aside from such niche markets, only Nintendo, SquareEnix and Capcom remain.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Apr 29. 2016 05:22 AM)
    AAA games take a lot to produce. With the sandbox world becoming a staple in gaming, and shoehorned into every imaginable genre, you need way too many artists to render these worlds and fill em up with all the details; otherwise they’d be shunned for looking bland.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Apr 29. 2016 05:18 AM)
    Konami’s situation has a lot to do with the state of the industry. With every consecutive generation games become more expensive to produce, really stretching the Japanese companies thin. About 70% of the Japanese producer/publishers that were around during the PS1 era have either been bought out, closed down, or reduced to producing portable games; since they really don’t have the resources to go head-to-head with Rockstars and Blizzards of the west.

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