Episode 6: Lacking the Finishing Touch
Refers To: Multiple ongoing plots to kill people and bring others to power fail. Enjun Sa’s plan to best Advisor Sho fails.
Things are looking good in the Imperial Court as Ryuuki has finally stepped up to perform his duties as king. Shuurei reflects on how this means she’ll be going home soon.
That evening Shusui brings Shuurei some tea and some incense from Kourin, her “special scent.” Within moments of Shusui’s departure Shuurei has passed out cold. But… why would Shusui do this to Shuurei?? o.o
Elsewhere in the palace Kouyuu has gotten lost yet again, and he accidentally overhears a conversation between Kourin and another person. When he finally barges into the room Kourin has been knocked unconscious and the person she was yelling at is missing. Shuuei hears Kouyuu’s yelling and demands that Shuurei’s room be checked; of course by now she’s long gone.
Shuuei and Kouyuu break the news to Ryuuki that Shuurei is missing. As we soon see she is thankfully unharmed, just bound and gagged in a dark location.
Ryuuki orders that Shuuei leave to arrest the person or persons who kidnapped Shuurei, and Kouyuu is to remain with Kourin until she awakens. Kouyuu points out that Seiran is also missing but Ryuuki insists that Seiran is innocent. This leads to a long conversation about why, after which Shuuei says that Ryuuki “passes his test” and presents the king with a note from Seiran. The note reveals what Ryuuki already knew: Seiran is actually Prince Seien.
A note tied to an arrow is shot into the room but by the time Shuuei rushes to the window the culprit is gone. The note says that Shuurei is in the Ministry of the Enlightened One’s Cave, a dangerous location Ryuuki is willing to brave in order to rescue Shuurei. Ryuuki knows it’s a trap but is going to go save her anyways.
By this point, Seiran has caught up to the person who is behind Shuurei’s abduction: Enjun Sa. Enjun knows who Seiran really is and even addresses the young man as such. Seiran must have known that Ryuuki and/or Shuuei would go rescue Shuurei themselves and therefore he should deal with Enjun Sa himself.
Seiran asks Enjun why he would go so far as to kidnap Shuurei and risk harming her, and Enjun tells him it was a “gamble.” Originally Enjun Sa had wanted the Sa Family to be at the top of the Seven Families. If you remember that each province in Saiunkoku is lead by one of the Seven Families, what I think I neglected to mention in my first post is that each province is also assigned their own color, thus being known as the “Eight Colored Clans of Saiunkoku.” The Sa Clan originates from Sa Province, and their royal color is brown. The Sa Clan is also the least respected of all the clans in Saiunkoku, something Enjun is painfully aware of and has tried his best to overcome. Enjun is particularly sensitive about his rivalry with “that man” whom Enjun reveals to be Advisor Sho, one of three Grand Official like Enjun himself.
Enjun explains that Advisor Sho has been deeply devoted to serving the king; nothing else matters to him, not even things like status and power. This is why Enjun hates Advisor Sho – because Advisor Sho makes Enjun feel lesser than due to his wanting “normal things” like status and power, and having ambition. So in his final attempt to rise above Advisor Sho, somehow Enjun thought that kidnapping Shuurei would be his best option.
Enjun wants Seiran to reveal his true identity to the people and take over the throne. When Seiran protests that Ryuuki is the king, Enjun basically says yes but what if an accident were to happen to him…? And suddenly I understand Enjun’s plan: Enjun masterminded the plan to abduct Shuurei knowing that Ryuuki, who had grown close to Shuurei, would be the one to go after her. And if there was some kind of “accident” during her rescue, well then Seiran could just take his place!
Seiran again refuses to co-operate with Enjun Sa and says that Ryuuki is not as stupid as Enjun thinks he is. Enjun distracts Seiran by knocking some sedating incense into his face, which stalls him long enough for assassins to surround him. Seiran tries to fight them but is rendered nearly unconscious by the incense. Just before he is knocked out by the assassins Seiran manages to throw a dagger into Enjun’s back.
Moments later a figure dressed in black with red eyes arrives and eliminates all of Enjun’s assassins. He tells the advisor that the king figured out his plan and that Shuuei is on his way to arrest Enjun. This mysterious figure also says that Kourin is who tipped off the king to Enjun’s plan. Although Enjun never directly told Kourin of his plans, Kourin adored Enjun so much that she plotted to kill Shuurei on her own. Enjun has treated her as his granddaughter, although the two are not technically related. The figure in black points out the irony in how Enjun’s rescuing of Kourin is what has led to his downfall at this present moment.
We also learn that Shusui is part of the infamous group of assassins named Wolves of the Wind, a group to whom this unknown man in black also belongs to. The Wolves of the Wind obeyed the previous king and so with him being dead, the Wolves will only take orders from this unknown man (who is their leader), and Advisor Sho. But who is he?? drumroll He is… Shouka, known to a very, very select few as the Black Wolf!! And if your jaw dropped upon seeing this revelation, rest assured that I did too the first time I saw this series.
If you think about this bombshell, it really is a genius move, making a character who has up until this point been painted as being silly and rather useless actually a brilliant assassin. Shouka has a low-paying job in a corner of the Outer Court, so he’s never been seen as super important or necessary, and he doesn’t come off as being all that bright. He can’t even make tea right! So how is this man the best assassin in all of Saiunkoku?! We never even see him with his eyes “open”, so seeing the Black Wolf’s red eyes at the beginning of this scene doesn’t give us any hints as to who is real identity is. It is a brilliant twist and I love the series for it.
With Shouka’s secret identity revealed, and his mentioning of Advisor Sho, Enjun knows that he has been beat for the final time. He retreats from the Black Wolf to presumably die somewhere else.
Meanwhile Ryuuki finally reaches the Ministry of the Enlightened One’s Cave and is looking for Shuurei. In the darkness two of Shuurei’s captors ambush him with swords, but Ryuuki is able to fight him off. Two more assassins hiding in the darkness try to persuade Ryuuki to throw away his sword, which he does. From above Shuurei is desperate to keep Ryuuki from walking into the trap. Will she be able to save Ryuuki in time??
I’ve always admired how Shuurei’s kidnapping is pulled off quite smoothly, in my opinion, in the span of just a few episodes. Reflecting back upon the last 3-4 episodes it’s easy to see in hindsight the hints that were dropped, but unless you’re looking for them they can be hard to piece together when watching Saiunkoku for the first time. I also liked how Shuurei’s kidnapping, the attempted assassination of Ryuuki and the plan to put Seiran on the throne were all tied in together.
The next episode will bring the whole plotline with Enjun to a close and pave the way for the next story arch – can you guess what it is? Hints have been dropped regarding that too, but I’m curious if anyone can guess what it is ahead of the revelation.
tatoeba, taisetsu na hito wo mune ni omou toki wa
daremo ga kitto yasashii kao wo shiteru hazu
michi wa toki ni hateshinakutemo akiramezu ni yuku yo
For example, when a person thinks about the one important to them
Surely they have a kind look on their face
The road through time is endless, move forward and don’t give up