The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Saiunkoku Monogatari

Title: Saiunkoku Monogatari aka The Story of Saiunkoku
Genre: Romance/Drama
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 39 episodes
Dates: 8 Apr 2006 – 24 Feb 2007

Synopsis: Born of an old, respected family in the land but subsisting on a low income, Shuurei, a strong willed, intelligent girl, accepts an invitation to become the new Emperor’s only concubine. It is from here that her story begins.

The Highlights
Characters: Flat, especially the male ones.
Visuals: Quite sketchy, especially as far as movements are concerned; clothes were a redeeming factor.
Attempt at politics: Abhorrent.
Ups: Rare.
Downs: Plentiful.
Music: Catchy introductory and ending themes and some decent Chinese folk tunes.

I do not know what calls for higher complaint when referring to Saiunkoku Monogatari: the fact it leaves numerous questions unanswered, or the fact that the questions it left without answering could be seen as a positive if it resulted in the shortening of this abhorrence. At most points this show is as boring, superficial and banal as an anime can be.

The Story of Saiunkoku had me asking one predominant question throughout the series, “what story?” The show feels more like an artificial contraption in which a girl has a road set for her. Nothing can ever go wrong, and everyone who is anyone never fail to come to her rescue regardless of the fact she is a female government official in Dynastic China. The unrealistically attractive villain falls for her, the unrealistically attractive emperor falls for her, the unrealistically attractive plot devices (other characters) fall for her… it is even implied that her unrealistically attractive uncle falls for her. A few sections of the anime point in a positive direction, but they are overshadowed by what is essentially a very poor story.

The characters are simply atrocious. They are tedious, they are flat, they are an insult to anyone’s intelligence. Kou Shureei, the female lead, is the only character that barely surpasses the vegetative level… and barely means barely. Other characters, which mostly means unrealistically attractive males, can be likened to unused tissue paper, waiting to be used by Shureei. Metaphorically, the entire show’s approach to characters can very much be compared to the usage of tissue paper.

It was rather amusing, by which I mean excruciatingly painful, to observe a show lacking all intellectuality attempt to incorporate politics. Extremely unsuccessful is the easiest way to describe it. It was as if the creators of Baywatch decided to incorporate “global societal issues” as a leading theme.

Some might find this show entertaining (that some being teenage girls). However, this is undoubtedly an unoriginal anime, with very few redeeming factors. How an anime can manage to say and do so little in such a great number of episodes is beyond my imagination.

The Rating: 3

Reviewed by: MK

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