Episode Title: While There’s Hope, There’s Life
Refers to: Shuurei telling Kourin to not throw her life away protecting her.
A mysterious man asks Ensei to lock him into what looks like a jail cell while he “continues his work,” and he even asks Ensei to destroy the key to the room! Who is this man and why is he asking Ensei to take such drastic measures??
Ah, it looks like he’s the Lieutenant Governor of Sa Province, Yuushun Tei (who’d been co-governing with Ensei). He’s in prison for his own protection is my guess, since the province is so politically unstable. He’s relatively young and he passed the National Exams the same year as Reishin and Kijin Kou. It should be noted that Yuushun’s holding onto the governor seal, meaning that as long as he’s kept safe, their enemies can’t install a new governor (because they need both the charm and seal to do so).
The scene between Ryuuki, Ensei, Kouyuu, Shuuei and Advisor Sho quickly brings the viewer up to speed on what’s going on in Sa Province. There’s tons of turmoil and unstability, even with Yuushin Tei holding down the fort alone as best he can. Advisor Sa’s wife, Lady Eiki, is under guard in the Sa family home and not able to move around freely. Meanwhile Advisor Sa’s granddaughter, Shunki, managed to escape and is hiding in an undisclosed location. So the faster Shuurei and Eigetsu can safely get to Sa Province, the better.
Finally, at long last, it’s time to leave. Ensei and Seiran are riding in the front of course, with Shuurei, Eigetsu and Kourin in the carriage in the back. As their carriage departs Kiyo’s outer walls, four very concerned-looking men watch them leave. There’s so much at stake. For Shuurei, it’s the first time she’s left Kiyo. Ensei explains that they must reach the capital of Sa Province, the city of Koren, within 3 months or else Shuurei and Eigetsu will be considered to have abandoned their post and a new governor will be assigned.
Actually this trip is containing a lot of firsts for Shuurei. First time leaving Kiyo, first time camping… first time being hunted by assassins? xD
While Seiran is helping Shuurei, Kourin and Eigetsu prepare dinner, Ensei is taking care of the assassins (stealthily) who had already started following them. Day 1 and they’re already being stalked??
After that first batch of pursuers, their trip settles into something of a routine. There are other encounters with assassins as we see in the time lapse, but they seem to be infrequent.
Finally 1 month after leaving Kiyo, Shuurei’s group reaches their first city and they can stock up on supplies.
There’s a minor incident where Ensei is accused of kidnapping Eigetsu, but Kourin quickly steps in to diffuse the situation and it passes quickly without any harm coming to anyone. Actually the explanation for the accusation was really stupid: Ensei had been lifting Eigetsu up so he could reach a book on the top shelf in a bookstore, and someone saw this and thought Ensei was trying to kidnap Eigetsu. But if the stranger had just stopped and used his brain for 2 seconds, he would’ve been able to assess the situation correctly. :/
I wasn’t a big fan of Kourin in the beginning of the series, seeing as how I knew her role would turn out in the first couple of arcs, but now that I’m into episodes that I don’t remember as clearly, she’s kind of beginning to grow on me. She’s a bit smarter than I was giving her credit for; I guess the situation with her poisoning Shuurei and the death of her adopted father Advisor Sa forced her to grow up a lot.
The group has to stop along the way because Kourin’s come down with a fever. Thankfully Eigetsu has some medicine to give her and that will hopefully help her feel better soon. At least they’re neat the city of Sakyo, so Seiran rides on ahead to make sure they’ll have a clear path to the city. (And if it’s not, you just know Seiran will make the path clear. ;D )
The group makes it to Sakyo safely and rest in an inn overnight so Kourin can rest properly. She’s very weak but doesn’t appear to be too ill. Kourin however is still struggling with immense guilt over her actions towards Shuurei, back when Shuurei was kidnapped and poisoned. She feels she doesn’t deserve to be treated well by Shuurei, even though I feel like Shuurei’s accepted what happened and isn’t angry at Kourin for the incident.
With Kourin resting, Eigetsu sleeping and Ensei away battling more assassins, Shuurei and Seiran have few quiet minutes together to discuss their journey thus far. Shuurei makes Seiran some local sweet tea called Gan Lu tea. It involves putting a flower bud in a cup, and when hot water is poured over it, it slowly opens up within the tea. Shuurei thinks that it’s her first time having the tea, but Seiran corrects her and said she had it when she was much younger, back when their family traveled out towards this way. So Shuurei was incorrect, it’s not actually her first time leaving Kiyo. (Which makes sense now that I think about it, as we’ve seen in flashbacks when Shuurei and her parents first found Seiran, they were not in Kiyo. Oops, bad goldfish memory! ^^;; )
Ahhh, the music that plays during this scene ~ <3 Shuurei goes on to tell Seiran that she’s happy he chose to come with her family all those years ago, and that while she’s naturally curious about his past, if he chooses not to tell her she will respect that decision. Furthermore while Shuurei knows Seiran is always protecting her, she tells Seiran straight up that she watches out for him too, and that it’s ok for him to lean on her when he’s feeling down or worried about something. Uggghhhhh I love their ship so much, goddammit Saiunkoku why must you break my heart like this— stomps off
After hearing Shuurei’s little speech, Seiran shares that he hasn’t finished “sorting out his feelings yet,” whatever that means. Something to do with his past. So he might look a little down until he’s able to work through what’s in his head. Seiran asks Shuurei to make him some Gan Lu tea during those times so they can share it together. And then… Haha, Ensei was eavesdropping on them. XD Eigetsu too apparently. Hearing Ensei bicker playfully with Seiran reminds Shuurei that Seiran and Ensei knew each other before Shuurei’s family found Seiran in the snow, and she wonders what their shared past involves.
Ensei shares his plan with the rest of the group (minus Kourin because she’s still resting in another room): they’re going to try to sneak past the border guard at Sairi because it’ll draw less attention from the assassins. They don’t know who specifically is sending people after them, so it’s best to fly as under the radar as possible, even if they get political flack for it later. After the border guard they’ll be in Sa Province at last, but they’ll still have a few weeks of travel before they reach the capital city of Koren. Supposedly young people around Shuurei and Eigetsu’s age are being confined at the border and have been ordered to be held there until the end of the summer, when the deadline for Shuurei and Eigetsu taking office passes. Ensei says that once they get past the border they will stop in the merchant city of Kinka, located not far from Koren.
Kourin wakes up and apologizes yet again to Shuurei for what happened one year before. Shuurei finally reveals to the young girl that she’d already heard the explanation from Kouyuu, and that she permitted Kourin to travel with her because she likes the girl. There’s a thought! Shuurei does thank Kourin for being brave enough to bring up the sensitive subject. Kourin is overwhelmed by Shuurei’s kindness towards her and vows to protect Shuurei with her life, just like Seiran.
Suddenly things go sideways – they’ve been found out by the border office! Shuurei is slid under the bed to hide, and Ensei reminds her very pointedly that as Sa Province’s new co-governor plus a royal member of the Kou family, she’s a very important person. If they get separated, she must. get. to. Kinka. no. matter. what. Eigetsu is left to protect Kourin while Ensei and Seiran stand on guard against the guards which burst into their room. Can they get through this safely?! o_o
iroazayaka na kisetsu wa kitto
kono omoi todokete kureru
And I am sure that this season, with its vivid colours,
Will convey these feelings of mine to you
Author’s Note: And with that, I’ve finished sharing the lyrics for both the season 1 opening and ending themes! If you’d like to listen along, the opening theme can be found here (lyrics here), and the ending theme here (lyrics here). I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do! ^_^v