Saiunkoku Monogatari Episode 18

Episode 18: Hiding One’s Head But Not One’s Bottom   (wtf lol)
Refers to: Secretary Sai being able to cover some of his plans (the ring under his toupee, for example) but making major noticeable mistakes elsewhere. 

Get ready for another grand finale of a story arc, as only Saiunkoku can do!  😀   Seriously this series is amazing in how it weaves its plot threads together, planting seemingly minor seeds only to reveal their fruition a few episodes later.

Ryuuki reveals that the reason for the city work shortage is because Reishin, head of the Kou family clan, was arrested without proper evidence. The rumor that he interfered with the National Exams’ results was false. Upon revealing Reishin’s “secret identity” if you will, Secretary Sai starts to realize how screwed he might actually be.

Ryuuki doesn’t hesitate to point the finger straight at Secretary Sai, revealing that he knew the rumor about Reishin fudging Shuurei’s exam results came from him. Secretary Sai tries to dump the blame on Official Ro instead, but Ryuuki doesn’t fall for this. Secretary Sai was against female officials from the moment Ryuuki had made his initial proposal, whereas Official Ro had never held that grudge. Interestingly, Ryuuki also mentions that the only reason why Official Ro is so hard on some subordinates is because those people often go on to become very highly accomplished officials. Meaning he was testing Shuurei to help her develop her skills, her resilience and her determination. And Shuurei passed his tests!  So now we know at least one high-ranking official in the Outer Court is in support of Shuurei being an official. ^_^v

While the pre-inquiry interrogation of Secretary Sai has started, Official Ro has gone to meet Reishin where he is in his self-imposed exile. They banter back and forth, discussing their both their history together and Official Ro’s history with the king’s family. Reishin has exiled himself, saying he will not return to court unless Official Ro goes with him, hence their meeting. Reishin does eventually make good on his promise and return for court alongside Official Ro.

The slow death of Secretary Sai is continuing. Holding up Shuurei and Eigetsu’s report, Kijin Kou reveals how the Department of Protocol had been repeatedly asking for an increase to their budget, but instead of the money going to useless spending, “odd items” were being purchased instead. Kijin also mentions Eigetsu’s entire salary of 80 silver coins going missing at the hands of a courier from the Department of Protocol. Kijin had the couriers followed and they went to Secretary Sai’s house, of course.

Secretary Sai tries to attack Kijin based on the strange masks he wears but he only comes off sounding like a crazy man. Really, someone pretending to be Kijin Kou?? Ahaha, Kijin says it best: ” This development is what you’d expect from some second-rate fiction novel.”  LOL! However he does remove his mask, although he is only going to show his face to Secretary Sai; everyone else, including Ryuuki, must turn their backs. Is the man really that ugly?? Actually the reality is quite the opposite – Kijin Kou is so beautiful for a man that his looks can literally drive a person insane. Or as Advisor Sho puts it, a person will be so awestruck that they’ll be unable to do any work for at least 3 years. Wow!!

Sure enough, Secretary Sai is rendered brainless by Kijin’s beauty. His defenses gone, Kijin can now ask the fat bastard anything he wants and he’ll answer honestly. Secretary Sai admits to trying to trap Shuurei and Reishin, to embezzling public money, to bribing his way into promotions, and blaming his bad decisions on Official Ro. When Yuuri protests at how Secretary Sai’s testimony was acquired, Kijin points out that they also have testimony from the jerks who threw mud at Shuurei, and their testimonies also condemn Secretary Sai. Haha, cornered at last!  >:)

Finally, Reishin and Official Ro arrive at the meeting. Reishin confronts Secretary Sai and tells him that if he goes near any place where a Kou family member is, he’ll be killed. Reishin even opens up his fan and looks so deliciously evil when he says it, too. xD  Reishin reminds Secretary Sai that he called Kouyuu Reishin’s “abandoned child” a few years prior, so Reishin has been holding a grudge against the Secretary since then.

For his epic finale, Reishin lifts the Secretary’s hat and toupee, showing the room that Advisor Sa’s missing ring was hiding on top of Secretary Sai’s bald head all along! Again Secretary Sai tries to blame all of his decisions on Shuurei joining the Outer Court as an official, but this claim of course goes nowhere.

With everyone now seated in the inquiry, Ryuuki passes out copies of Shuurei and Eigetsu’s corruption report to the officials in the room. When other officials protest that Shuurei couldn’t have possibly passed the exams on her own, Ryuuki says that the current exam system was created by his father and it was designed to keep out anyone who wasn’t smart enough. The officials who have passed have succeeded on their own merits. Secretary Sai points out that Shuurei has not yet arrived at the inquiry to defend herself, so where was she??

(Side note: Ahhh Seiran looks so handsome in this episode~   He helps Shuurei get ready, including bringing her make-up kit from home so she can wear her “warpaint” to the inquiry.)

Meanwhile Seiran is escorting a dolled-up Shuurei to the inquiry but they keep being blocked by thugs, despite Seiran’s best efforts to knock them down. When they’re cornered on both sides, the townspeople of Kiyo (and the child Ryuushin) come to their rescue by blocking the thugs themselves! They share, with some embarrassment and humiliation, that they’d avoided Shuurei because they didn’t want Shuurei to be bullied based on her association with them. The townspeople felt that officials were “important people”, and Shuurei shouldn’t be seen with them. One more misunderstanding cleared up!

Seiran and Shuurei face further resistance when they arrive at the gate of the Outer Court, but are saved by Hakumei, who has arrived to help escort Shuurei to the enquiry. Nobles are fond of him so they often treat him better than they treat the other initiates. When the trio are blocked by yet another group of guards, Ensei arrives out of the blue to help defeat them!

At the last possible moment, the very stroke of noon, Shuurei manages to arrive safely at the inquiry. Ryuuki asks her what she wants to do and Shuurei says she will give her testimony about the National Exams. Like a true boss, she stands humbly before Ryuuki and testifies. When he asks her why she wanted to, as a woman, become an official, Shuurei tells him she has no answer. Her desire to become an official was not based on her gender but on her dreams. She tells the room:

“I came to do what I myself can do. I would have taken the National Exams whether I was a man or a woman. I want to be an official. I want to protect as much as I can with these hands. Those were my thoughts. That’s why I took the National Exams.”

*fans self*  Feminist role model ftw!

Although he is not able to say anything in the moment, the expression on Ryuuki’s face shows just how moved he is by her spirit, her determination and her words.

I cannot overstate how awesome it is to see a character like Shuurei in an anime. She’s strong, determined, loyal, hardworking… her characters checks off so many criteria of a good role model, of a positive personality. Yeah she’s incredibly naïve and a sucker for money, but they don’t make her a bad person or spoil her character. Usually those aspects of her just land her in less-than-ideal situations. ^^;;   Ahhh I just wanted to stand up and cheer for Shuurei during her speech at the end of the episode!

This episode marks the end of Shuurei and Eigetsu’s training period. They, along with the other candidates who passed the National Exams, will now be assigned a department to work in. I wonder where Shuurei and Eigetsu, and even Hakumei, will be assigned?? (Literally. It’s been so long since I’ve watched this series that I don’t remember where they end up anymore. xD )

 

 

aimai na kotoba yori mo  kantan na yakusoku yori
hoshii no wa te no nukumori  soshite futari dake no toki

More than vague words or simple promises,
What I desire is the warmth of your hand, and a time only for the two of us

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