Saiunkoku Monogatari Episode 19

Episode Title: Send Your Dear Child on a Voyage
Refers to: Shuurei and Eigetsu starting their careers as junior officials (and where they are sent to on assignment)

Now that the inquiry is formally over and Shuurei has been vindicated, people are thinking better of Shuurei. Her peers in the Outer Court had started to notice her hard work, positive attitude and determination, even when she was delivering papers or cleaning toilets. And when Shuurei testified during the inquiry, she proved that she passed the National Exams based on her own hard work and knowledge. She became an official based on her own merit. Like, about time!

Shuurei and Eigetsu now have a few days off until the official Swearing-In Ceremony, so life has temporarily returned to old habits. Ensei invites himself over to stay with Shuurei’s family, and she protests but everyone knows she’s just teasing.

Ensei comes bearing some happy news: he managed to pass the qualifying exam for Sa Province! Not by much, but he passed. Now he can legally be made an official!  Eigetsu shares that he’s brought Kourin to see Shuurei, but she’s busy at the moment so he’ll bring her by later. Seiran is immediately suspicious, as he of course knows the role Kourin played in Shuurei’s kidnapping and Advisor Sa’s death, but Shuurei is only excited to see her friend again. Time will tell if her opinion of Kourin changes after the two young women are able to talk.

In Ryuuki’s office we learn that the ring Secretary Sai had been hiding under his toupee was in reality a fake. Therefore Advisor Sa’s real ring is still missing. Where could it be?? Well, looking at the picture Secretary Sai had made of his daughter wearing a ring, it looks like it’s within his family!

…Except nope, that one is fake too. Where are all these fakes coming from, and why is someone trying to pass off so many fake rings as real?  Reishin points out that if Advisor Sa’s ring is kept hidden for a year, a new provincial leader can be installed and a new ring made. This would formally transfer power from the Sa family to another family. Who could want that to happen?

Kuro and Shouka continue to work on their relationship. Kuro hates Shouka, supposedly, but still feels immense guilt over the events that happened after Shouka’s wife Shokun and blames himself for them (the servants he hired to help Shouka robbed him blind instead). Kuro gets angry at Shouka when the latter shows him pity, and reasserts that he wants Shuurei to marry Kouyuu and take over ruling the Kou family clan. Thankfully with both Shuurei and Kouyuu working as officials, that isn’t likely to happen anytime soon.

On the day of the Swearing-In Ceremony, Shuurei, Eigetsu and Hakumei finally learn where they will be assigned. Hakumei is to be a junior official in the Ministry of State Affairs, specifically in the Department of Civil Affairs. It’s the same department that his idol Kouyuu works in, so Hakumei is bound to be very pleased with that placement. Eigetsu and Shuurei get assigned together, a move which is very unusual and catches both Shuurei and Eigetsu off guard. (Although by looking at the knowing smiles of the other officials in the room, they might already have an idea of what Ryuuki has planned for them.)  Shuurei and Eigetsu get placed…. As co-governors of Sa Province?!  Whaaaaat?!

There are many in the room who are upset with this assignment and don’t hesitate to voice their objections. However Ryuuki quickly and firmly points out that prior to Shuurei and Eigetsu, the man running Sa Province (and doing a damn good job of it!) was a man who didn’t even pass the National Exams (Ensei). So how can they object to two junior officials, and smart ones at that, when they had no problem with an unranked man running the province before? Ryuuki says that he will assign two assistants to accompany Shuurei and Eigetsu: Lieutenant Governor Tei, who was in Sa Province helping Ensei and will remain there, and the other is Ensei himself. Huzzah! And they will get their own special security officer too – Seiran!  I bet he’s happy getting to be close to Shuurei again. ;D

Ryuuki has a couple more surprises up his sleeve too. The governor of each province has a royal charm and seal that they carry. Because two copies of the Sa Province charm and seal couldn’t be made for obvious security reasons, Shuurei and Eigetsu will split the charm and seal between them. Ryuuki also has a flower for each of them – a sign of his absolute trust. Up to this point in the series, the only two people to receive flowers from Ryuuki were Shuuei and Kouyuu. Shuurei and Eigetsu’s flowers look a little different from Shuuei and Kouyuu’s in that they take the form of jewelry. Eigetsu’s is a a purple gem with a golden flower cradling it from underneath and a tassel hanging down. Shuurei’s is more ornate and it’s also a hairpiece, like Ryuuki’s first gift to her. Shuurei’s “flower” has several red buds and many leaves of different colors. Ryuuki explains that the buds represent infinite possibilities and hope, and that once Shuurei and Eigetsu have made them bloom, he will present them each with a real flower in full blossom.

Shuuei and Kouyuu note that these gifts also mean that Shuurei and Eigetsu will be expected to support the king and the nation of Saiunkoku in the future (which of course they will, because come on), and it also means that anyone who seeks to harm them will become instant enemies of the king.

Later that night, Shuurei is out walking the grounds when she encounters Ryuuki. He is completely honest with her, explaining to her that he really didn’t want to send her away to Sa Province because then he won’t get to see her for a long time again. He wanted her by his side. Shuurei thinks that Ryuuki doesn’t need her anymore because he has Shuuei and Kouyuu to help him, and this upsets Ryuuki. Shuurei’s pushing him away again, and he reminds her that he’s told her several times that she is very important to him. Again he repeats: he wants her by his side, as his equal and as his wife.

Now it’s Shuurei’s turn to be upset. She reminds Ryuuki that she doesn’t want to be a consort; she wants to be an official, working to help others and change the world they live in. When Ryuuki asks her if she cares about him, she admits that she does but that her feelings for him are likely different than his for her. Ryuuki backs off and says that that is enough for now. He knows he can spend another year without her while she’s at Sa Province, but he’s just lonely and wants her to be with him all the same. Ryuuki also asks Shuurei to not distance herself from him and run away. He gives her a kiss and asks her not to forget him while she’s gone, then leaves her alone in the courtyard.

The next day, Ensei, Shuurei, Seiran and Eigetsu all leave for Sa Province. Everyone gets shiny new clothes. ;D  Kijin comments on how Shuurei so “naturally” changed how society viewed female officials. He speculates to Yuuri that if she continues on in this manner, she could very well change other things in the country of Saiunkoku. Shuuei and Kouyuu muse how the buds given to Eigetsu and Shuurei will definitely bloom. And with some final well-wishes to the group from Ryuuki, Shuurei and the others are off on their journey to Sa Province!  

 

Thoughts

The scene with Shuurei and Ryuuki highlights one of the central “battles” in SaiMono, and while Shuurei x Ryuuki isn’t my top fangirl ship, I do think that this conflict between them does a great job at giving their relationship extra depth. 

Throughout Saiunkoku, any potential romance between Shuurei and Ryuuki is dampened by the conflict of their wishes and desires. Shuurei, as a female who has always been treated differently than men, wants to become an official. That is her lifelong dream. Perhaps because her mother died before she could teach Shuurei about men, and her father and Seiran both gave her no guidance on romance and courting, that’s why Shuurei has no interest in the opposite sex. Maybe it’s because Shuurei’s emotionally immature. Or maybe she just… has no interest in dating and romance (which could make her asexual). So when Shuurei met Ryuuki, although I’m sure she can admit he’s very handsome, she never considered him as a romantic option because she had no interest in dating and romance. Her mind was already elsewhere: how to help this young man become a good king so he could lead their country.

Ryuuki, on the other hand, had had little exposure to people of pure heart who wanted good things for him. Especially people of the opposite sex. We learn early in the series that Ryuuki was beaten by his mother, one of the few females in his life, and she hated him. So Shuurei entering his life and wanting to help him was like a bucket of water to his face. Shuurei is beautiful as well, though she doesn’t see it, and it’s natural that Ryuuki would be drawn to her because of her looks too. (Though Saiunkoku does an awesome job at having Ryuuki love Shuurei because of ALL of her, not just her looks or her intelligence.)  Lastly, Ryuuki being king means that he will one day need to take a wife, and right now Shuurei is the only person he wants to fulfill that role.

So this puts Shuurei’s goals at odds with Ryuuki’s goals: her dreams of being an official vs Ryuuki’s desire (and political need) to take a wife. It also pits Ryuuki’s romantic feelings for Shuurei against her more platonic feelings for him.

I’ll also note here that Shuurei is now 17, as it’s been a year since the start of Saiunkoku, and if she’s expected to be away at Sa Province for a year then she’ll be roughly 18 when she returns. Ryuuki is 19 at the beginning of the series and is now about 20 years old. He’ll be around 21 when Shuurei returns. 

As I’ve said in previous reviews, there are many parts of this series that I don’t remember because it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, so rewatching Saiunkoku in order to blog it has almost been like watching it for the first time. I loved this episode, especially everything from the Swearing-In Ceremony onwards. I cheer for Shuurei every time she takes another step forward and shows everyone just what she’s capable of. Now with Ensei, Seiran, Eigetsu and Lieutenant Governor Tei at her side, I’m sure she’ll go on to achieve even greater success!

 

 

moshi mo anata ga kanashii no nara
ashita ga sukoshi mienai no nara

If you should feel sad,
Or if tomorrow [the future] can’t be clearly seen,

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