The Gist: Shurei Hong is a noblewoman living in poverty, but she has always dreamed of becoming a civil servant for the imperial court of Saiunkoku. Because she is a woman, she is denied that privilege. The ruling emperor Ryuki, refuses to take command of the country, leaving all decision up to his advisers. So they come up with a plan to make Shurei a royal consort in the hopes that she will be able to inspire the defunct emperor to take some responsibility for his country. No one expects the reaction Ryuki has, nor the impact Shurei will make upon the royal court.
Romance: This one rates high on romance scale, but don’t expect explicit content. Shurei Hong is a proper noblewoman, although she is playing the role of a consort. Ryuki tries many types of seduction. There is even the possibility of a love triangle, if the author chooses to go that route.
Artwork: The drawings are nicely done on the part of Yura. A nice mix of action scenes with dialogue means the story keeps moving at a pleasant pace. The time period clothing showcases elaborate details. Yura’s great use of a variety of facial expression makes the characters very endearing. Plenty of bishies in this story as well. Included at the beginning of each volume is a color spread, allowing for more color images than the standard cover art.
Audience: Aimed directly at the shojo audience, The Story of Saiunkoku is an enjoyable and inspiring read. Shurei Hong is a great female protagonist who values leadership, community service, and education. An excellent role model for girls. Although her emotions play a role in her actions, she is quite practical. One can’t help but admire her determination to help the emperor, and to later on strive to become the first female to take the national exam. The story is rated teen, so no worries for parents about inappropriate content. Chaste kissing is all we see.
In the Media: The story of Saiunkoku started out as a series of light novels. Up to sixteen light novels have been released in Japan. There were also two seasons of anime that included 39 episodes each. There have been drama CDs and art books released in Japan as well. Now there is a manga being drawn to follow the story of the light novels. In the states we have received the anime first, and now the manga. Viz has released the first two volumes so far.