Episode 7: He Who Swims a Lot Will Drown
Refers To: I’m honestly not entirely sure. Something about Enjun Sa trying to do too much, or trying too hard, and in the end it’s what killed him?
Sidenote: I think it’s neat how the narrator (Shouka) sums up the events of the previous episode for those who might be starting the story at that point. I also just really like listening to Shouka’s seiyuu, Shūichi Ikeda. :3
By the time Shuuei and a couple of Imperial guards arrive at the room Seiran’s passed out in, Shouka is gone. Shuuei correctly observes that too many men have been slain for Seiran to have killed them all himself, but he doesn’t know who could have done it.
Shuurei squirming from her hiding spot above Ryuuki conveniently dislodges the hairpin he gave her and sends it clattering to the ground below. The assassins are distracted long enough for Ryuuki to pull out the dagger hidden in his robes and kill them both. As he stabs the second guard Ryuuki reveals that he already guessed their trap, even without the aid of Shuurei’s hairpin, and the second assassin tells Ryuuki he would make an excellent assassin.
Which he would, if you think about it. Being raised as part of the Imperial Family has no doubt taught Ryuuki that he must be wary of everyone and everything in his environment. Hell most of his family has already been killed, and he watched someone try to poison Shuurei because he knew which signs to look for. A lifetime of extremely acute observation combined with all of the knowledge he’s learned means that Ryuuki is extremely competent and able. He is the right ruler for Saiunkoku, despite the image he has spent the last several months projecting to the Imperial Court.
Ryuuki cuts Shuurei free from her bindings and she points out that even in the darkness of the building, Ryuuki was still able to come to her rescue. Ryuuki pulls her close for a hug and tells her that he was able to act in the darkness because he knew she was there. Shuurei was still with him. Awwww! Unfortunately Shuurei passes out moments later, likely from exhaustion and/or shock.
Ryuuki returns her to the Imperial Palace, where Advisor So and Doctor To watch over her. Shuuei’s men are looking for Enjun Sa but they have been unable to find him. Kouyuu reveals to Shuuei that Kourin had fallen unconscious because she’d drunk poison in a suicide attempt; she was hoping her death would deflect attention away from Enjun Sa, the man who’d saved her from the streets eight years prior. If Kouyuu had found Kourin any later than he had she would’ve likely died. Kouyuu angrily rants about how stupid he feels women are, in this case how Kourin never even considered that Enjun hadn’t involved her in his plans because he loved her so much. Ironic because Kourin had tried to kill Shuurei on her own without involving Enjun… because she loved him so much. Shuuei points out to Kouyuu the parallel between him and Kourin: both were adopted into a family not of their own blood, raised with love and care, and in return they both care about the person (or people) who took them in more than anything else in the world. So this is where we learn that Kouyuu is adopted, which doesn’t matter much at this point in the series but comes into play either later this season or in the second season, if I remember correctly. This scene between Shuuei and Kouyuu ends on a very touching note with Shuuei vowing to return Kouyuu anytime he gets lost. And the way Shuuei is holding Kouyuu’s hand in his own can give you an idea as to why so many Saiunkoku fans ship these two as a couple. ;D
Doctor To tells Ryuuki that Seiran is out of danger but Shuurei is still very sick. She is infected with one type of poison he is unfamiliar with, and he implies that she will die because he doesn’t know how to help her. Ryuuki very nearly has a breakdown, yelling at the doctor, Advisor So and Shuurei that she is not allowed to go someplace where he cannot follow. Then Advisor Sho arrives and slyly says that he might be able to help Shuurei.
In a private room, Ryuuki accuses Advisor Sho of being the person who gave Kourin the poison she used on Shuurei. In return for the antidote, Ryuuki promises that he will fulfill Advisor Sho’s “one true wish”: to be a ruler Advisor Sho can be proud of. Advisor Sho gives Ryuuki the antidote in a vial, which he rushes back to Shuurei. After he leaves Shouka emerges from the darkness to confront Advisor Sho. Shouka asks the old man why he’s so obsessed with the king; Advisor Sho corrects Shouka and says he’s not obsessed with Ryuuki, but rather with a promise he made a long, long time ago. He promised the first ruler of Saiunkoku, without naming him specifically, that he will serve the king Above All Else. He will sacrifice anyone he needs to in order to achieve this goal. Naturally Shouka is furious because Advisor Sho has put Shuurei and Ryuuki’s lives at risk. He masterminded this whole stupid plan to get Ryuuki to become a proper king; beating Enjun Sa was only a step on the route to realizing that goal. As Advisor Sho leaves the room, Shouka pledges to kill him one day.
Anyways so while all of this is going on, where is Enjun Sa?? He’s slowly making his way to Advisor Sho. The two old men meet on a hill overlooking the capital city of Kiyo. In the blink of an eye Advisor Sho changes into a much younger man with long purple hair, encircled by glowing orbs and bathed in a soft light. Enjun Sa is not surprised at what this means; he says he knew all along anyways. Advisor So presses his hand into Enjun’s chest as the sun starts to rise over the horizon. In a rare moment of vulnerability, Advisor Sho tells Enjun that he loved him throughout these 50 years they’ve grown old together, and that he admires who he was as a person. When Advisor Sho pulls his hand back, Enjun Sa dies.
By the end of the episode, Shuurei has made a full recovery. She can tell that Ryuuki no longer needs her help in the Imperial Court and she’s ready to return home. Seiran heads to the garden and finds Ryuuki standing there in the rain, looking like he’s a little lost for words. The next morning when Shuurei and Seiran leave, Ryuuki catches Shuurei off guard by telling her that he actually likes women and then kissing her before she can react! Shuurei is…. Shuurei, haha. The Kou Princess, who has absolutely no knowledge of romance, love or sex, reacts about as well as you might expect. ^^;;
Episode 7 was a great way to wrap up the arc with Shuurei’s poisoning and eventual kidnapping. We learned a lot about Seiran and his backstory, probably the most in any one episode actually to the best of my recollection. We also get to see Shouka’s secret identity! Best of all we get a closer look at many of the relationships which become prominent within the world of Saiunkoku: Shouka’s bond with Shuurei and Seiran; the existence of the Wolves of the Wind; Shuuei and Kouyuu’s
relationship friendship; and the narrative exposition dump in the final moments of Enjun Sa’s life which explained his relationship and rivalry with Advisor Sho.
Speaking of that geezer, you’ll notice I didn’t explain much about Advisor Sho’s alternate identity. Unfortunately due to how the series was adapted from the light novels and/or the manga while both were still ongoing, there are certain plot elements which were semi-omitted. I’ll give you a hint as to what Advisor Sho’s alternate identity is: it’s related to the 8 mystical beings mentioned in the opening minutes of the very first episode. You’ll see other references to these mystical beings through the rest of the series, but unfortunately they are never given the attention they deserve because to do so would take away from the rest of the plot that had to be squished into 39 episodes. So occasionally they are referred to but never really fully explained, sadly.
I feel like Saiunkoku is a bit of an outlier in that there is a fair amount of material aside from the anime to enjoy. Yes both the manga and anime are incomplete (9 volumes and two seasons, each 39 episodes long, respectively), but the source material (light novels) spans almost 20 volumes. And if you can understand Japanese there are also audio CDs to collect and side stories published in Japanese magazines to read as well. It’s just a shame that there was not enough longterm interest in the series to full adapt it into a completed manga from the light novels, or even to get a third season of anime, because the lack of a full manga/anime adaption means that Saiunkoku is still, even in 2020, somewhat inaccessible to fans who don’t understand Japanese. /sad sigh
hajimari no kaze yo todoke MESSE-JI (MESSAGE)
haruka na tabiji no sono saki de matteru
Wind of beginnings, deliver this message
At the end of your faraway journey, I will wait for you