Saiunkoku Monogatari

Title:Saiunkoku Monogatari
Story of the Land of Many-Colored Clouds
Tale of Saiunkok
Tale of Saiunkoku (R1 title)
The Tale of Saiun Country
彩雲国物語 (Japanese)
Keywords: , , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Madhouse
R1 License - Geneon (Defunct)
Shuurei is well loved by the people who live in the Chinese capital, where she is known as being kind, helpful, hard working and always cheerful. But the income of her father’s position as a court scholar is not enough to bring food to their table, much less keep their large family house in good repair. One of royal advisors has an idea to help motivate their lazy Emperor and offers a bribe to Shuurei, asking that she accept a six-month position as the Emperor’s consort. Believing that the Emperor is interested only in men, Shuurei agrees and moves into the palace to start a very unexpected adventure in romance.

Animation by MADHOUSE & NHK
39 TV Episodes

R1 License by Geneon. "彩雲国" ("saiunkoku") means "Land of Glowing Clouds".

Also see sequel/continuation - Saiunkoku Monogatari 2nd Series

1:30min Series Opening - YouTube Video
Episode Details 
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 9 8 9 9 10 10 Ggultra2764 [series:1353#1552]
This was a fun and interesting grand scale title. Story of Saiunkoku does well in its focus on Shurei and her slow rise into being a renowned official for the fictional empire she lives in. This strong-willed girl overcomes enough throughout the series dealing with getting the emperor motivated to rule the kingdom, overcoming gender barriers in her rise as an official and quelling the corruption within one of the kingdom's provinces. Beyond Shurei's struggles, we get introduced to a diverse cast of characters with different personalities and backgrounds that will lead you to connect with them throughout this series. The hardships of imperial politics are also explored within this series as officials deal with power struggles, the sacrifice of personal feelings and decisions that would make-or-break their assigned goals and/or reputation. Even with these developments, the show does still squeeze in its lighter moments to help ease the mood with comedy focused around the personality flaws of certain characters like Koyu's sense of direction and the lousy kitchen work of Shurei's father. Elements of romance are even present at a number of points in the series and even play a significant factor in shaping the thoughts of some of the characters, such as Ryuki's thoughts of Shurei and some later developments with Shurei when she tends to the problems taking place in the Brown Province. With all these developments, Story of Saiunkoku creates a cohesive plot with a diverse cast that keep you interested in seeing what happens within the series next.

Visually, character designs and scenery have above average detail with bright colors that do well to blend in with the moods of specific scenes. Character designs do well at showing off the status and, often times, personalities of the characters from the slightest features they have that make them stand out from the rough look of Ensei to the unusual clothing features that are worn by Ryuren. Animation was okay, though nothing extraordinary as it was clearly the show's weakest area. Music featured a good mix of gentle and traditional pieces that did well to complement the time period in which Saiunkoku takes place.

Story of Saiunkoku was quite the worthwhile 39-episode watch. With its diverse cast and interesting developments with imperial politics, I look forward to seeing how things occur in the show's second season.

Last updated Wednesday, October 07 2009. Created Wednesday, October 07 2009.
Buy 8 8 9 8 9 9 Dreamer [series:1353#2279]
Having seen and thoroughly enjoyed Juuni Kokuki, I saw this looked similar thus picked it up. I'm glad I did because this is another grand story with amazing plots and a good cast of characters.

Art, Animation and Character Design
The art is definitely better than a lot of anime out there. The animation was about average. The character designs were a slight cut above your norm. At times, the backgrounds and level details would be breathtaking and beautiful.

The OP was a good piece. It was a gentle piece... almost a pop style but not as upbeat. Throughout the anime, you'll find traditional chinese flavored music... songs that might use traditional chinese instruments. Some of it was just astonishingly beautiful. Wow!

Series and Episode Story
The story is short of a grand epic. Although there's not a lot of epic battles or warfare and fantastic adventures, what you have instead is a tale mainly told inside the courtyards of the emperor's castle. You have a lot of political drama, interior warfare and plenty of twists and schemes amongst characters. Many characters are introduced through out the many episodes and many of whom have their backgrounds explored enough to make you either fall in love with them or like them in general. This is a well rounded anime similar in type to Juuni Kokuki... but of course, not nearly as grand as that one. But this definitely holds it's own.

Overall, it's an awesome anime and well worth the gazillion episodes. If you liked Juuni Kokuki or similar, then you'll like this one for sure.

Last updated Monday, February 23 2009. Created Monday, February 23 2009.
Buy Jan-Chan [series:1353#967]
What a fun and charming fairy-tale this is. Shuurei is an absolute sweetheart, and the story is interesting with a good mix of humor, adventure and softhearted romance. Having seen episode 20 (about ½ of this series,) I have no hesitation to flag this series with a BUY.

Set in a mythical Chinese 12th century(?) kingdom, a nice (and naive) seventeen-year-old girl finds herself bribed into being the Emperor’s ‘consort’ for six months, in hopes that she will inspire the lazy nineteen-year-old boy-emperor into taking a more active part of the country’s administration. During her stay, her practical and level-headed attitude succeeds in charming not only the emperor, but also his circle of close friends. She quickly finds herself on a first-name basis with everyone (including the emperor) treating everyone as a close friend, while completely ignoring such minor issues such as court etiquette and differences in rank.

This series is playing itself out as a reverse harem story, in which a cute girl finds herself surrounded by a number of cute boys – some of whom have a romantic interest in her. Shuurei’s quiet charm and fierce independence have made her fun & easy to support, but also difficult to approach with a romantic heart. And even the emperor learns that while it might be easy to steal a kiss from Shuurei, dealing with the aftermath of her temper is an all-together different story.

Tale of Saiunkoku is very much of a character driven drama story, with some adventure and comedy elements. Set in the capital and royal courts of a Chinese kingdom, there is a lot of sword and assassin action, mixed with the dark motivations of court politics. I might want to compare it to the series Juuni Kokuki, minus the sorcery, magic and magic beast elements.

I have posted some images of the first episode if you would like to see a bit more.

There are two fansub titles for this series (and about 3 groups who are dedicated to issuing releases.) The two common fansub titles are Tale of Saiunkoku or Saiunkoku Monogatari

Tale of Saiunkoku is very adept in grouping together a few episodes into a main storyline arc, mixed with a number of important and unrelated minor sub stories.

A short summary of the various major story arcs are …

Episodes 1-5 – The emperor has a new consort! Shuurei moves to the imperial court. This series is a collection of sub-stories that tells of courtly life, introducing the various advisors and sages that support the emperor.

Episodes 6-7 – Trouble in the court! The forces that have been behind the attempts at poisoning Shuurei make an appearance and an attempt to take control of the throne, but the complexity of court politics can also result in many different levels of betrayal.

Episode 8-10 – A summer crisis! A long hot spell is affecting many of the workers at the court and Shuurei is recruited to help in the Department of Taxation, but she will be required to dress as a boy. Meanwhile, a stranger appears at Shuurei’s door at a time when bandits from the Brown Province are troubling the capital.

Episode 11- Shuurei falls ill. A sweet and insightful side story.

Episode 12 -14 – The month before the Imperial Exams. The emperor has proposed that the Imperial Exam (an all important test required for any aspiring court officials) be opened to female applicants. Having passed the preliminary test, Shuurei begins preparing for the Imperial Exam, but she quickly be comes entangled in a series of strange events that surround another Exam applicant and his missing Exam Admissions Tile.

Episode 15-18 - Success means having to survive the internship! The twenty top candidates of Imperial Exam are required to spend two months at court doing various duties as an internship. But corrupt officials at the court are committed to derailing any attempt to admit women into their world of power and influence.

(update Aug 22 '07)

I am happy that this series has been R1 Licensed. We can expect a grand epic anime series on par with Juuni Kokuki, or better than Fushigi Yuugi TV.

Last updated Wednesday, August 22 2007. Created Monday, May 29 2006.

Other Sites
Official Japanese Series Web Site
Wikipedia Listing for this Series.
Wikipedia Listing for the characters of this series.
Geneon (English) Series Web Site

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