Saiunkoku Monogatari Episode 8

 

Episode Title: To Borrow a Cat’s Paw
Refers To: The Imperial Urin Army is so short-handed that they would borrow even a cat’s paw, meaning they would accept help from almost anywhere. It could also refer to Shuurei returning to the Inner Court in disguise because the Ministry of Finance is so desperate for extra help.

Saiunkoku skips forward a month to the middle of summer, and everyone inside the Imperial Palace is sweating to death. It’s HOT. Don’t ask me why they’re not wearing different clothes – too much work for the animators I’d imagine. ^^;;   Or maybe for cultural reasons?

Ryuuki’s been sending Shuurei what he thinks are romantic gifts, but are really just… nuisances? Oddities? He sends her cemetery flowers, dozens of boiled eggs and even a voodoo doll. It takes Shuuei, the ever-present voice of reason in Ryuuki’s life, to point out to him that those gifts aren’t really romantic, and likely aren’t gifts Shuurei would be interested in. She’s just not that kind of young woman. If he’s going to give her any kind of gift it should be practical, or maybe even just money. I like how Shuuei never misses an opportunity to gently tease Ryuuki and then point out what he could be doing better, whether it be related to politics or trying to win Shuurei’s heart.

Within the first few minutes of this episode, the next plot arc I’ve been hinting at is announced: Ryuuki wants the royal examinations opened to women! Huzzah! Did you see it coming? Were you as shocked as the court officials?

However the point of this scene is to highlight Ryuuki’s somewhat misguided attempt to get legislation passed to allow for women to take the royal exams. Kouyuu says that Ryuuki will have to work extra hard to get the law passed since he’s already jumped the gun a little in how he announced his idea. Ryuuki tells Kouyuu that the resolution must be passed within the year, presumably to allow Shuurei to take the next round of exams. If Ryuuki cannot get the legislation passed before this year’s exams, and the rest of the court shuts down his idea, Shuurei may never be able to take the exams. Ryuuki’s only going to get one shot at passing his idea.

Back at home, Seiran arrives at the Kou manor to see they have a visitor: his old friend Ensei. He brings another piece of Seiran’s past into the present, as they both used to be in a gang together. Seiran even had a nickname: Little Whirlwind.

As you’ll see, Ensei often brings a lot of comedic relief to the table, especially regarding his friendship with Seiran. Ensei is friendly and outgoing, quick with a smile or a quip, whereas Seiran is quiet, reserved and stoic.

Anyways, Seiran is definitely NOT happy to see Ensei. The two haven’t seen each other in a long time but Seiran knows that having Ensei around threatens his security. After all Ensei actually knows about Seiran’s past and is not shy about teasing him with it. However Seiran is outvoted by both Shouka and Shuurei so he’s stuck with his old friend for the time being.  xD

The next day, Shusui and Shouka break for a snack with some tea and tiny manjuu buns made by Shusui herself. We learn that during the timeskip Shusui took Kourin back to Sa Province.

In the evening there is a dinner party held at Shuurei’s house, and both Kouyuu and Shuuei have been invited. We learn that instead of using her money from Advisor Sho to repair the family’s house and courtyard, Shuurei instead donated the money and used it to help different people in her community. Because of course she did. <3 

Over dinner Shuuei and Kouyuu fill Ensei in on the situation with the king, and take a chance by asking Seiran (in front of everyone, naturally) if he’d be willing to return to the Urin Army. Shuurei’s reaction is rather entertaining because everyone keeps her so sheltered from EVERYTHING that she has no idea about Seiran’s past. She doesn’t know his real identity so she doesn’t know that he’s had combat training nor that he was even in a gang. Dude didn’t get the nickname Little Whirlwind by sitting around and reading books, let’s put it that way. As I might’ve already mentioned, one of my few complaints about this series is how sheltered everyone keeps Shuurei for much of the series. One could argue that yes she’s protected by not knowing that her father is also a deadly assassin, or that Seiran is really Ryuuki’s older brother, but sometimes I feel like that lack of knowledge also hinders Shuurei’s character growth. Given her age maybe everyone feels that she can’t make poor decisions if she doesn’t know any better.

Seiran tries to recruit Ensei into the Urin Army as well but Shuuei won’t take no for an answer from Seiran. So, Seiran becomes part of the Urin Army again, with Ensei taking Seiran’s place protecting/helping Shuurei. Kouyuu asks Shuurei if she would help in the Outer Court for a month – to help in the Ministry of Finance as an assistant/errand runner. Shuurei is hesitant to say yes because she knows the royal exams are coming up and she won’t be able to partake as per usual. However Seiran, Ensei and Shuurei’s father talk her into accepting the offer. However there’s a catch – she’ll have to dress up as a man because women can’t work in the Imperial Court in an official fashion, other than as a consort or assistant like Shusui, of course.

The next day marks Shuurei’s first day as Minister Kou’s assistant, and she’s not very happy about dressing up in men’s clothing. Nevermind that her family keeps trying to persuade her that she’ll never be noticed, but that only makes her feel worse about having no figure or chest. Poor Shuurei. ^^;;    And since Seiran has to report to the Urin Army, Ensei must follow Shuurei to the Outer Court like Seiran normally would. Gotta love how someone changes their appearance only a little and ta-dah, they’re a brand new person!  Anime trope for the win.

Kouyuu leads Shuurei and Ensei to the Outer Court to introduce them to Minister Kou, but they end up lost. Derp. Will Shuurei and Ensei get in trouble for being late on their first day of work??

Now that we’ve started episode 8, we’re off with a bang into the next story arc. We meet a couple of new characters and best of all, learn that Shuurei might just get a chance to realize her dream after all. Ryuuki’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to knowing what a woman wants, but there’s just something so heartfelt about seeing him work incredibly hard for Shuurei’s dream. As he says in the episode himself, “Shuurei worked hard for me so now it’s my turn to work hard for her.”  What a guy!

 

maiagaru kaze yo unmei mo koete
negai wa todoku to shinjirareru kara
itsuka mata aeta nara ano egao misete

Soaring wind, exceed your destiny
Because I believe my wish will be delivered
If I meet you again someday, show me your smile

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