Saiunkoku Monogatari Episode 17

Episode 17: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Refers to: Shouka telling Kuro to just leave the current situations with Reishin and Shuurei alone instead of retaliating in anger.

It turns out that the thugs are only to intimidate Shuurei and Eigetsu, it seems. Kochou has never really appeared “scary” to Shuurei and Eigetsu before; normally she’s all smiling and happy with Shuurei, and doesn’t at all hint to her role as the biggest gang boss in the red light district. But, apparently “someone” with a very high rank and authority has demanded that Shuurei and Eigetsu remain at Kougaro for the time being – for their safety. Maybe? I can think of several people who might wish this, but who could it be??

Just before they head inside, Eigetsu slips the seal Ryuuki had given him to Seiran, asking him to use it to protect Shuurei if needed.

Elsewhere a thug reports to Secretary Sai from the Department of Protocol. The fat bastard is literally laughing like some evil Disney villain as he gloats about what he has planned for Shuurei and Eigetsu. Secretary Sai gives permission for the thugs to “have a little fun” with Shuurei and Eigetsu.

Back at the Kou household, Shouka reveals that yep, he already knew about Kuro coming to visit courtesy of Eigetsu. He also knew that Kuro gave Eigetsu a meal and a roof over his head after he carelessly sent all his money back home to his village. Shouka’s so matter-of-fact about the whole issue, lol. It turns out Kuro’s been working behind the scenes to help Shuurei where he can.

Kuro’s arrival in Saiunkoku also means that we get another small glimpse into how the Kou family operates. Despite the fact that Shouka should be the one running the family as he is the eldest son, Kuro is the family figurehead, although he’s not the actual head of the family. So if it’s not Kuro, nor Shouka, then that can only mean that Reishin is the actual family head! Bit of a surpise, eh, a guy like that running a whole clan? Also, Kuro’s relationship with Shouka is also the opposite of Reishin’s; where Reishin idolizes Shouka and looks up to him, Kuro openly tells Shouka to his face that he hates him! O_o  

Kuro tells Shouka his reason for visiting: he wants Shuurei to marry Kouyuu. Because of course he’d pick Kouyuu.  [facepalm]  The one man who hates women more than anyone else. Kuro feels that this match would secure the family’s high standing in the world of Saiunkoku.

However the situation immediately changes when one of Kuro’s spies arrives at the Kou household and tells Kuro and Shouka that 1) Reishin’s been arrested, 2) there’s going to be a hearing about Shuurei the next day at the Imperial Palace, and 3) Shuurei and Eigetsu are being confined at Kougaro so they can’t attend this surprise hearing. Kuro however isn’t fazed; he clearly has something up his sleeve.

Poor Ryuuki’s got a lot to deal with now: the “somebody” causing trouble within the Department of Protocol, Reishin’s arrest, Shuurei’s being held captive, and Kuro Kou being in Kiyo! Thankfully Kouyuu arrives with some physical proof as to who the recent troublemaker is, so now Ryuuki can take formal action against him. But first he wants to go see Shuurei.

Seiran has a conversation with General Haku of the army and makes a formal request: he wants a rank with enough authority to be able to wear a sword, so he can protect what’s most important to him (Shuurei). Ah, it seems Kochou’s snide comment to him at the beginning of the episode really did hit home! Go Seiran!

Stuck alone inside Kougaro, Shuurei and Eigetsu have time to talk. Eigetsu reveals that he wanted to become an official because he would make money. Originally he’d wanted to be a doctor, like the monk who raised him had been, but they lived a very, very poor lifestyle and as much as he wanted to help people, Eigetsu felt that money was more important. Once he had enough rank to earn lots of money, then he could return home and try to help the people of his village. After hearing Eigetsu’s story Shuurei becomes even more determined to do well as an official.

Thugs arrive and separate Eigetsu and Shuurei. They mean to force Eigetsu to drink sake to see what happens, while some of the other men make like they’re going to sexually harass Shuurei. Thankfully Yougetsu arrives in the nick of time to save Shuurei. He’s not happy about having to save Shuurei yet again but concedes that he’ll do it because even Eigetsu was upset this time. There’s even a near miss with Yougetsu trying to kiss Shuurei, whoa!

Once the situation is resolved, Kochou goes to Shuurei and comforts her. Shuurei cries for the first time since becoming an official, knowing she is in a safe place with someone who does in fact love her. Kochou apologies for having to deceive Shuurei, and the two make up.

It turns out that the person who’d asked Kochou to keep Shuurei and Eigetsu safe was Shuuei. Awww what a nice guy. ;D   Seiran and Ryuuki arrive at Kougaro and Ryuuki fills situation in on what had been happening recently. After Advisor Sa died, someone was trying to take advantage of the old man’s missing ring. This person was using his position to engage in several illegal activities in order to make himself rich. And of course we know that he is trying to get rid of Shuurei and Eigetsu too. Ryuuki shares that there will be an enquiry regarding Shuurei the next day, based on the false claim that she passed the exams by someone else’s meddling and not her own. By keeping Shuurei at Kougaro, this person could then claim that Shuurei was too scared to show up to the meeting and that she had failed as an official.

Ryuuki also gives Shuurei back the report she’d started to write about the paperwork oddities she and Eigetsu had noticed earlier. He gives her the royal seal Eigetsu had slipped Seiran, and said that if she used that seal, it would indicate that her report MUST go to the king immediately. There could be no hiding or blocking of her report.

After Seiran temporarily leaves and Kouchou puts a now-sleeping Eigetsu to bed, Ryuuki is left alone with Shuurei. She uses this opportunity to thank Ryuuki for not going soft on her since she became an official. In a series where Shuurei is often coddled and not kept up to date about current circumstances, that is finally starting to change. Huzzah! 

Kouyuu sends a message to Ryuuki demanding that he return to the Imperial Palace immediately, as Kuro’s plan has come into action: Kuro demanded that all members of the Kou family stop their work in protest of Reishin being arrested. Ryuuki returns to giant stacks of paperwork on his desk, all petitions for assistance from the king since workflow in the capital has come to a screeching halt. Seeing Ryuuki not back down from facing a challenging situation like this just goes to show how far Ryuuki has come as king. Yay for character development!

As the episode closes out, Shuurei and Eigetsu resolve to finish their corruption report by the time of the inquiry the next day. Which they manage to do successfully, as Kijin Kou receives their report. And if you want yet another example of A+ storytelling in Saiunkoku, here’s the seed which was planted a few episodes ago: when Kijin had had his assistant slip some paperwork into Shuurei and Eigetsu’s massive workload, those papers were the ones Shuurei and Eigetsu spotted with the discrepancies in them! Kijin had very deliberately given those papers to Shuurei, hoping or perhaps even knowing that the two youth would find them and do something about it.

Now, the inquiry is about to begin! 

 

Thoughts

Ah, Shuurei’s about to really shine! The next episode is pretty freaking fantastic and wraps up the arc cleanly. With this episode being the penultimate episode in the “Department of Protocol Arc” (my nickname, not official), we can see a couple pieces of the puzzle starting to fall into place: Kijin passing along the weird paperwork to Shuurei and Eigetsu, and Ryuuki’s royal seal making a circle through our cast. What role will these two pieces play in the next episode?

This episode also shines a spotlight on some excellent character development, particularly with Shuurei not allowing herself to be coddled or protected by those around her anymore, as well as Ryuuki not shying away from his royal responsibilities. Everyone is doing what they need to do to Get Shit Done and stop whatever BS is going on with the Department of Protocol.

Going into the final episode of the arc, there are still a couple of missing threads. For one, where is Advisor Sa’s ring?? Will our cast find the real ring before the end of the one year period after Advisor Sa’s death? 

Last but not least, I was happy to see Seiran finally do something about his situation and take it upon himself to improve his ranking, even if he only did it to be closer to Shuurei (because now he can protect her as a higher ranking member of the army). Guess Kochou really knew how to push his buttons. ;D  Must be all that time she spends around men. 

 

 

anata no sono utsukushii nagare ni
watashi mo nosete hoshii

I want to follow 
Your beautiful shadow*

(*This is the figurative translation, subject to some creative interpretation on [the translator’s] part. Literally, it would go “I want to ride on that beautiful flow of yours”.)

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