Saiunkoku Monogatari Episode 20
Episode Title: Flowers Blooming From Dead Trees
Refers to: Flowers blooming on the dead trees in the Kou family’s backyard. It has been 9 years since they have bloomed (back during the country’s civil war). Positive changes are finally coming to the land of Saiunkoku!
Shuurei, Eigetsu, Seiran and Ensei are getting ready to leave for Sa Province, and Shuurei’s making sure Daddy Shouka knows where everything is before they leave. Although this is Shouka so… good luck? ^^;;
There are some flashbacks before Shuurei and the others leave. We get to see a little of Seiran’s life with Ryuuki (as Prince Seien) when they were younger, and what Seiran’s weak mother was like. We also see the circumstances leading up to Seiran’s exile from the kingdom, including how winning a martial arts tournament at his young age put a target on his back, leading to Seiran removal for being a superior heir compared to his older brother. Seiran’s mother and grandfather plotted against the king, but were found out by Seiran’s siblings and their consorts. So Seiran and his mother were forced to leave; his grandfather was executed. Earlier that day Seiran had given the royal sword Bakuya to Ryuuki, not knowing it’d be the last time he saw his brother.
Seiran’s mother is a real piece of garbage. Every time she and Seiran share screen time together, she laments that Seiran exists right to his face. She wishes he had never been born. Her life would be better if he didn’t exist. Even as they’re being exiled away from the Imperial Palace, Seiran’s mother shows no love for her son.
Ryuuki of course is devastated that Seiran stopped coming to see him. He’s little so of course no one has explained the plot against the king to him, or why Seiran was sent away.
En route to the province that Seiran and his mother were exiled to, assassins catch up to their carriage and murder Seiran’s mother. As she dies, his monologue states that he doesn’t know if he ever loved her because “she was that kind of mother.” Which is understandable; it’s ok to not love your abusive parent. Seiran does say that he doesn’t hate her.
However once young Seiran kills all the assassins, he’s alone in the world. His mother and protector is gone, and he has no food, only the clothes on his back. How will he survive in a forest, alone and in the dead of winter? We see Seiran pass out in the snow, and he’s found awhile by a passing stranger with long auburn hair.
Back in the present, while Shuurei and the others are still preparing to leave, Saiunkoku touches base with Shuuei and Kouyuu. Shuuei tells Kouyuu that nine years prior, Shuuei’s older brothers had ordered him to find out the location of Prince Seien. They wanted to take him in and protect him before some unsavory people found him, or even perhaps before he was killed. Shuuei also explains that the king sent the Black Wolf (Shouka, though Shuuei doesn’t know that) after Prince Seien to find him and keep him safe. So even though Seiran was exiled, he still had many people who wanted to help him and keep him safe if at all possible.
Unfortunately Shuuei wasn’t able to find Seien. Perhaps the person with long auburn hair is the reason why? Shuuei fills in the blanks by saying that Seien was exiled to Sa Province! Hmmm, maybe Shuurei and Eigetsu’s appointment as co-governors of Sa Province will stir up some memories for Seiran? Shuuei also mentions that there is a one year gap between when Prince Seien was exiled and Seiran was found and adopted by Shouka’s family. What was Seiran up to during that year long gap?
There are more flashbacks to the Saiunkoku’s civil war 9 years prior to the present, sparked by the fight for the throne after King Senka (Ryuuki and Seiran’s father) fell ill. The Royal Court ran into a wall and the country fell apart. On top of the civil war, droughts and floods plagued the capital, leading to much famine and hardship.
We see that Shouka confronted Advisor Sho about not stepping up to take control of the country in this time of desperation, stating that if no help came soon the people of the country were going to starve to death. However Advisor Sho chose to do nothing, saying that he was waiting for the right king to step forward and lead Sainkoku. As a result of his inaction, many people died just as Shouka predicted.
However hope was not lost. Ryuuki, young as he was, was studying to become king. Advisor Sho recognized his potential and in return, stepped up to start helping the citizens of Kiyo. People were given food and criminals were dealt with by either exile or execution. As a result of Advisor Sho’s belated actions, the Royal Court was cleansed and reborn. Kiyo rebounded and became successful once more.
A year before the start of the series, King Senka finally died. His final words were to Ryuuki, pleading with him to become king. However Ryuuki wasted a year, secretly waiting for Prince Seien to return and shirking all of his royal responsibilities in the meantime. One year later he met Shuurei and the rest of the story is history.
Shouka guesses that Seiran has gone to visit his mother’s grave, so Shuurei, Ensei, Shouka and Eigetsu all travel to meet him. Hey, looks like Shuurei’s mother is not the only person with a hillside grave overlooking the capital.
Ensei privately asks Seiran if he’s really alright to return to Sa Province given his history with something or someone known as “The Murderous Blades,” and Seiran emphatically announces that he will protect Shuurei No. Matter. What. claps
At the very end of the episode, Shuurei finally says to her father what she’d started to say earlier in the episode but had been interrupted by Seiran. She thanks Shouka for how he raised her, for always listening to her, and allowing her to go to Sa Province. I won’t lie, I definitely teared up. And hearing this track playing in the background didn’t help my poor heart either.
Shuurei also thanks Seiran for supporting her up to this point. She tells him how happy she is to have him by her side. They shake hands, reminscient of when Shuurei’s family first found Seiran abandoned in the snow and little Shuurei took Seiran’s hand. Seiran’s mother’s words echo in his head, and his own inner thoughts explain that he’s grateful to have been born because it meant that he was able to be loved by Shuurei’s family. The episode ends with Seiran telling Shuurei that he will do absolutely everything within his power to protect her.
My first thought was that this episode was like a filler episode, but at the same time it wasn’t. There’s so much backstory in Saiunkoku which never makes it to the screen because the anime was left unfinished, so while “filler” episodes like this one are few and far in between, I do appreciate them because they almost always provide extra plot information and backstories.
This episode is the first Seiran-centric episode since his previous (and only) episide near the beginning of the series. We learn the circumstances which lead up to his unfair exile, and I’m sure as the series progresses we’ll learn more about what he was up to while he was in Sa Province. Also, what’s up with the person with the long auburn hair?? What is his connection to Seiran? And what is/are The Murderous Blades? So many questions!
Also with this episode we are halfway through the series! Whether you’re a new reader or you’ve been following my reviews of this series from the beginning, thank you very much for your support! <3
tayotte hoshii watashi wa kitto
kore kara mo anata wo omou
I, who wish you would rely on me,
Would continue to think of you