Episode Title: Good Things Come to Those Who Wait
Refers To: Shuurei finally being allowed to take the national exams after waiting her entire life for that opportunity. It could also be interpreted as Ryuuki finally getting to have a dinner with Shuurei (plus her family and their friends) after not seeing her for so long.
Shuurei and Ensei go to clean the grave of Shuurei’s mother. Shuurei shares some fond memories of her mother with Ensei, and we learn that Shuurei is scared of thunderstorms because her mother died so suddenly during one. There are a couple mentions of Shuurei getting better after her mother passed away, something which is explained in the light novels but not fully explored in the anime. Shuurei feels a lot of guilt over her mother’s death, feeling like her mother died in her place because Shuurei was a sickly child but she was the one who lived. It turns out Ensei’s lost his whole family too, and he tries to encourage Shuurei to remember the positive memories of her mother instead of crying over her loss. If Shuurei can do this then it will make the people around her worry less because the fact that they do shows that she’s “still a child.”
Which IMHO is stupid because no, they worry because they care; it has nothing to do with her age. No one likes to see their loved one crying or being upset over a loss, or for any reason really. I’d also argue that repressing one’s grief isn’t normal or healthy for anyone involved, and to do so plays into the cultural suppression of grief that is so prevalent, especially in the West. Plus Ensei is Seiran’s age, so he’s like 10 years older than Shuurei and therefore has had that much more time to deal with his loss. Bad Ensei! :/ smacks with newspaper
Ryuuki tells Shuuei and Kouyuu that he’s in a good mood because he asked Shouka if he could have “an evening tryst” with Shuurei. Thankfully Ryuuki was a little inept at knowing what a tryst actually was, and he actually just invited himself over for a meal from Shuurei and some musical entertainment. Ah Ryuuki, so naïve. ^^;; Ryuuki correctly observes to Shuuei that he can’t force Shuurei to return to his side because he would irreparably damage their relationship. The “dumb king” isn’t so dumb after all.
Back at Minister Kou’s office, Shuurei, Ensei, Yuri and the Minister are ambushed by two bandits who break in through a window. They spot Ensei as the man they’re looking for but Ensei quickly overpowers one of the bandits; the other one flees through a window before Ensei can catch him too. Minister Kou offers Ensei the use of his home, since Ensei’s location has now been discovered by the bandits, and Ensei thanks Minister Kou before adding that Shuu will come too.
Unfortunately, the timing of these events means that Shuurei has missed Ryuuki’s visit. Seiran says that he is leaving to go look for the bandits and says anyone else wanting to come too must bring a sword. Great, party time at Minister Kou’s house!
Inside the Minister’s house it is verrrrrry awkward. Ensei manages to excuse himself by saying he wants to take a walk, but “Shuu” is stuck. By the time Seiran, Ryuuki, Shuuei and Kouyuu arrive at Minister Kou’s house, the bandits have caught up to Ensei. Kouyuu is directed to fill in Shuurei and Minister Kou on the situation while the rest of the group must fight the bandits.
After the fight is over and the bandits are squashed, everyone meets up outside in Minister Kou’s garden. Ensei disappears briefly to… shave and trim his hair?? Whaaat? He’s much more attractive now, so I guess it’s ok. >> Ensei takes this opportunity to formally introduce himself to Ryuuki as the Governor of Sa Province. Ensei explains that there was a power imbalance brought on by Enjun Sa’s departure to be by the king’s side, so Enjun made Ensei the Governor of Sa province because he had the reputation of being able to defeat any assassin. Ensei goes on to say that he wants to put the seal and badge of Sa Province in the king’s hands, because now that Enjun Sa (Ensei’s sponsor) is dead, all it would take is one Sa provincial assistant to question Ensei’s authority as governor and Ensei would have to step down because he doesn’t have the formal requirements to be a government official (namely taking the annual exams). Therefore Ensei came to Kiyo to meet Ryuuki and talk with him. As for the bandits, they were chasing him because someone put a price on Ensei’s head.
Ryuuki offers to write Ensei a letter of authority but Ensei declines the offer. He asks Ryuuki to install a proper Governor in the meantime, and Ryuuki in turn asks Ensei to at least take the exams. Ryuuki would rather have Ensei legally placed the Sa government if at all possible, of course.
Later Ryuuki finally gets the dinner he asked for, though not before having to listen to Shuurei’s complains. One by one Ryuuki goes through the gifts he sent her, and Shuurei explains what she did with them. After reaching the end of his list, Ryuuki pulls out a cherry blossom tree branch from his robes. He says that the full tree will arrive the next day. With tears in her eyes, Shuurei thanks him and says that the tree was the best gift of all. Ryuuki proceeds to kiss Shuurei and catch her off guard again, and as per usual Shuurei freaks out on him. ^^;;
The next morning when Ryuuki, Shuuei and Kouyuu leave for the Imperial Palace, Kouyuu finally lets the cat out of the bag and tells Shuurei of their plans to pass a bill allowing women to take the exams. Kouyuu asks Shuurei if she will wants to try despite knowing that she will have to work very, very hard all on her own for little to no recognition, and Shuurei replies enthusiastically that she does. Of course she does! She’s not going to chicken out now when her dream is finally within reach.
After the trio leave Shuurei, Ensei, Shouka and Seiran go to visit the grave of Shuurei’s mother. Ensei leaves after urging Shuurei to do her best on the exams. Afterwards the narrator explains that at the end of the summer, Ryuuki’s bill allowing women to take the national exams was passed thanks to support from both Kijin and Reishin. Shuurei is, of course, very grateful for Ryuuki’s gesture. Actually, the moment at the very end of the episode where she is clutching the notification of the law passing to her chest is probably the most honest, truest expression of her feelings for Ryuuki up until this episode. Aside from maybe when she’s freaking out over him kissing her, that seems pretty honest too. ;D
Now that we’re into the double digits and this arc with the bandits is done, and Ryuuki’s master plan is revealed, I’m glad this part of the plot is over. The bandits bit always bored me a little, and I felt like the best thing to come out of the arc was the introduction of Ensei. If there’s anything I did enjoy about it, it was how this mini arc tied into previous events (Enjun Sa’s absence from Sa Province, his death), and how it sets up the next arc.
I’ve said it in a previous episode’s review but I’ll say it again because I so admire it about Saiunkoku: the way the different plot threads are woven together from the very beginning, through all the plot arcs, blows my mind. A lot of time, effort and attention was put into making sure there are no plot holes. As a fan who doesn’t have access to the light novels, nor can I read Japanese fluently, the information being omitted due to lack of space (info about the Eight Coloured Immortals, some of the family clan backstory, etc) is still frustrating. But those omissions aside, Saiunkoku feels very coherent to me. Even now all these years later during this re-watch, something will be explained and I’ll be super surprised because a reference or hint to it was dropped a couple of episodes earlier and I either missed it, forgot it, or didn’t understand its significance.
Next week kicks off the next story arc and introduces a new character. If you were impressed with how the bandit arc was wrapped up, the conclusion to the next one is even more intricate so keep your eyes open!
See you then! ^_^v
maiagaru kaze yo unmei mo koete
negai wa todoku to shinjirareru kara
osoreru mono nado nai “anata ga iru kara”
Soaring wind, exceed your destiny
Because I believe my wish will be delivered
There is nothing to be afraid of, “because you exist”