Saiunkoku Monogatari Episode 23
Episode Title: Companionship in Travel, Compassion in Life
Refers to: Senya Rin telling Shuurei that by traveling together, they will hopefully come to learn about and appreciate each other.
The episode opens with our first glimpse of Enjun Sa’s younger brother Chusho Sa. He’s an old man and given how he’s talking to the viewer, it seems like he’s part of the plot against Shuurei and Eigetsu taking office. He’s going to start with removing Ensei and Seiran from the picture so as to leave Shuurei and Eigetsu vulnerable.
Indeed, when Ensei and Seiran are taken into custody by the border guards, they know of Seiran and Ensei’s past as part of a group called the Murderous Blades. But how could he know? And these Murderous Blades, were they a military group? A group of mercenaries? Eigetsu and Kourin are also taken by the border guards, with Shuurei being spared as she’s hiding alone under a bed and the enemy doesn’t know she’s there.
Chusho breaks the fourth wall to narrate to the viewer that someone named Sakujun is going to be the person to lure Shuurei out of hiding. Oh no, be brave Shuurei! Don’t fall for whatever trap Chusho is planning! Furthermore, Chusho mentions eliminating Enjun’s bloodline, meaning the eventual assassination of Shunki is going to be a part of his overall plot too.
Anyways, with the rest of her group in official custody, Shuurei is now alone in Sa Province with no way of getting to Kinka by herself. She presumably has no supplies either as I’m assuming their carriage was taken as well. She’s scared, confused, and overall just overwhelmed. How will she make it to Kinka without being found out?
We are next introduced to someone named Lord Sojun and he has a history with Ensei. He’s also part of the plot to get rid of Shuurei and Eigetsu. We learn that the governor charm and seal are missing, so I’m assuming that’s what’s in the red bundle Shuurei is carrying. Sojun also mentions, to Ensei and Seiran’s shock, that Kinka is under the control of the Murderous Blades. The band of thieves is working for the Sa Province rebels! This means Shuurei’s going to be walking into a lion’s den! The Murderous Blades apparently survived because of a survivor named Meisho, which is how Sojun and the border guards knew of Seiran and Ensei’s past history with the Murderous Blades. The three men would’ve lived alongside each other within the group of thieves.
Elsewhere Kourin and Eigetsu are resting in a private room. (Lucky them – Seiran and Ensei are being held in prison cells!) Kourin feels guilty for Shuurei being left behind alone until Eigetsu points out that they needed to be caught as a foursome so that Shuurei can remain undetected. Kourin is basically acting as a stand-in for Shuurei, which is why they’re being kept in such nice accommodations. Shuurei is technically royalty after all, and if word got out that “Shuurei” had been captured and treated poorly there would be hell to pay from the Kou clan.
Kourin and Eigetsu get interrogated by Meisho, who tests them in different ways to determine if they are the new co-governors or not. Thankfully they pass his tests, though Eigetsu lets slip that they had plans in Kinka. Meisho figures that the pair have left the governor charm and seal get sent ahead secretly to Kinka, which is why Meisho had the Murderous Blades take control of the merchant city.
To Eigetsu and Kourin’s great surprise, Meisho also reveals that the Sa clan is planning for Shuurei to get married to Sakujun! This would raise the “value” of the Sa clan immensely, as at present they are considered to be the lowest of the eight clans in terms of social standing. Meisho decides to head on to Kinka with “Shuurei” and Eigetsu, while Sojun is to remain behind until Ensei escapes. xD I appreciated how Meisho knew Ensei so well that he predicted what Ensei would do before it actually happened.
Back at Kiyo, Advisor Sho finally reveals to Ryuuki that he had Enjun Sa’s gold ring all along! He tells the king that he’s going to Sa Province to deliver it to… someone. He doesn’t specify who. Hopefully to Shuurei and Eigetsu, but if that’s the case his idea is stupid because he should’ve just given it to Shuurei and Eigetsu before they left! >w< What a dirty bastard.
Back on the streets, Shuurei gets into an argument with a man whose wine she accidentally breaks. She looks to be in serious trouble until the Merchants Guild encounters the pair and the man runs off. Shuurei tells them that she’s trying to get to Kinka and asks them to introduce her to a caravan that’s heading that way. As she’s killing time later while waiting to leave the city, Shuurei finds an erhu in the marketplace and asks to play it. She tries to buy it for dirt cheap (because she’s trying to save what little money she has), and this is where the long auburn haired man from earlier steps onto the scene. His name is Senya Rin and he makes a deal with Shuurei so she can buy the erhu.
Senya and Shuurei travel to the local branch of the Merchants Guild, where they part ways. Shuurei shows her pass and is treated like a queen as she is taken to meet the regional Director of the Sakyo Branch office himself! Wow that’s quite the pass Shuurei has! This man Kaku knows Shuurei’s real identity and that she was traveling with people who were taken into custody. Shuurei asks to travel to Kinka on a caravan, and Kaku agrees to her wishes.
Kaku also explains to Shuurei why her travel pass is so special: in the dark, her pass glows! Although the crest on it is from the Kou (yellow) family clan, the ink on the pass is made only by Shuurei’s family’s clan. If someone carrying such a token comes to the Merchant Guild, the guild is to help that person no matter what. That is an order that comes from both Kuro and Shouka. In return for helping Shuurei, the Kou clan will give the rights to the ink to the Merchants Guild, something they’ve been trying to negotiate for a very long time. So Shuurei turning to the Merchant’s Guild for help is a win-win situation for everyone!
Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t be narrating events so closely, but there’s so much detail in Saiunkoku that I feel like giving a brief or simpler recap of events doesn’t do the series justice. For example I could’ve just explained that Shuurei’s pass was unique and left it at that. But instead, by explaining why it is so special, I’m highlighting the thought and effort that went into making Saiunkoku. Also, clarifying some of these details serves to strengthen the relationships between the characters involved (in this case, the Kou family protecting Shuurei above all else).
In the final moments of the episode, it turns out that Shuurei is being added to Senya’s caravan, and she’s going to serve as his personal maid. makes a face At least it’s better than menial work?