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Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Just Another Manga Monday: The Story of Saiunkoku by Kairi Yura and Sai Yukino

So, my college major was Recreation Administration. It was geared towards municipal recreation departments and consequently required 18 credits of political science. Apparently we needed to know what an ombudsman is in order to toss around a ball or organize a marathon. The problem being that I really can't stand politics. I thought travel and tourism would be a better avenue to explore within the recreation department. Sadly, my college didn't offer any such focus and I was stuck with the 21 credits of political science. I wonder how it was, then, that I found myself reading The Story of Saiunkoku illustrated by Kairi Yura and written by Sai Yukino.

Series Description:
Reads R to L (Japanese Style), for audiences T.
Shurei Hong, destitute but of noble birth, has always dreamed of working as a civil servant in the imperial court of Saiunkoku, but women are barred from holding office. The emperor Ryuki, however, refuses to take command, leaving everything to his advisers. Shurei is asked to become a consort to the emperor to persuade the ne’er-do-well ruler to govern.

Publication Date: May 1, 2012 | Series: Story of Saiunkoku (Book 7)
Though Shurei and Eigetsu passed the Imperial Exam with high marks, they are being bullied as they go about their duties as new civil servants in the palace. But it seems the pair may have found an unlikely ally...

My Review:
The story is set in the country of Saiunkoku with the majority of the story taking place within the various ministries, at least so far. I first encountered this story as an anime. I didn't finish watching all the episodes, but Viz started releasing the manga here in the US and the anime has been released here as well.

Saiunkoku is ruled by an emperor with the different ministries running specific aspects of the government. The country is ruled by a fool of a young man named Ryuki Shi who doesn't take his position seriously, can't be bothered doing his job or learn his duties or be bothered with the governance of the country. In order to try to reign him in, Shurei Hong, daughter of one of the 7 noble clans, but destitute, is brought in as his consort to teach him how to govern.

Shurei's lifelong ambition is to become a civil servant and work at court. Unfortunately, women are not allowed to take the civil servants exam or work for the government. Her father is the Imperial Archivist and has taught her about government, so she understands what is at stake. Ryuki just seems like an idiot, but she has a job to do and she tries to get him to understand the importance of his position and his responsibility to the people of the country. With her guidance, he begins to take an interest in the running of the government.

The title of consort was only to be temporary until Ryuki started to become the emperor he should be. He has fallen in love with Shurei, but knows he cannot keep her by his side. He wants to earn her love and respect and ordering her to stay would do the opposite, so he begins to cultivate a plan. A plan that will perhaps give Shurei what she has always desired most in the world, but may also lead the two of them back together eventually. Ryuki has decreed that women should be allowed to sit the civil servants exam and hold public office.

In Vol 7, Shurei has passed her exam and she had the third highest score of all entrants. There are many men who resent that, especially considering the first ranked seat was won by a 13 year old boy. The job placements will be announced soon, but in the interim, all the inductees are working for the various ministries to learn as much as they can before they are assigned a post. Shurei and the first seat, Eigetsu, are targeted, bullied, given extra work and crap details. Far more than anyone else has to do and they don't complain about it.

There is a conspiracy with the two of them at the center. In an effort to get rid of the two upstarts, a mystery civil servant has orchestrated a situation that may get them removed from their positions before they are ever assigned a post, but not if Ryuki has anything to say about it.

I absolutely love this story.  Ryuki is so eager and sincere and he truly cares about Shurei and what she desires.  While he has his head's more in the clouds, Shurei has the ability to ground him.  They balance each other out.  The story itself has everything, romance, adventure, espionage, intrigue, murder, corruption, a little something for everyone.

Volume 8 is due out October 2.

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