Saiunkoku Monogatari Episode 26
Episode Title: Crows in a Moonless Night
Refers to: The flock of crows Ensei sees flying away after Sakujun jumps out the window during a lightning flash.
The violence and treachery is really starting to ramp up as of this episode! o_O
Ryuuren and Shuurei find each other in Kinka, but when he tries to give her the governor’s seal and charm, she asks him to take them to Eigetsu. Ryuuren knew that Eigetsu and Kourin had been captured and taken somewhere secure, so Ryuuren’s been following them. Shuurei also asks Ryuuren to check the pawnshop for something important, which turns out to be Seiran’s royal sword.
What will she be doing? She’s going to go see Senya at his residence, as he asked her to. Shuurei tries asking Ryuuren some questions about who Senya really is, but Ryuuren remains vague, saying she knows the answers already.
Soujun is about to attack and kill Eigetsu and Kourin for being “fakes,” but is instead betrayed by Meisho and is killed. 1 Sa brother down, 2 to go.
Seiran and Ensei show up after Soujun’s death and are blackmailed into dropping their weapons for the sake of Eigetsu and Kourin’s safety. However, Meisho doesn’t know that Ensei doesn’t need a weapon to be deadly.
Ryuuren shows up just in time to save Eigetsu from Meisho’s sword slicing through his throat. Then Ryuuren shoves a small bottle of alcohol down Eigetsu’s throat and huzzah, Yougetsu’s arrived to help Ensei with the lower level punks! Ryuuren’s helping by whacking the thugs upside the head with his flute. xD And Seiran is facing off directly against Meisho.
Seiran dispatches Meisho easily and as the leader of the Murderous Blades dies, Ensei reveals that he and Seiran were the people responsible for eliminating the Murderous Blades years before (aside from Meisho). Meisho uses his last words to tell them that they’re all being played for fools because one of the 2 remaining Sa brothers is going after power. He wants to rule the Sa family. Who is this mysterious man? The middle Sa brother, Sakujun. Kokujun arrives and says he will show them to Sakujun’s residence.
Quick note before we switch scenes: anyone else think that as Seiran was dealing the finishing blow to Meisho that he looked just like his nickname Little Whirlwind? With the way he held his arms out and the sword curving out behind him… man that’s a great shot.
Anyways, the Chrysanthemum Residence. Shuurei’s already beaten the guys there of course, and just in the nick of time because it’s started to rain. The inside of the Chrysanthemum Residence is dark and bloody, with swords stuck in the walls and floor, their wielders long dead. The only room which is lit is Sakujun’s.
Shuurei says that she’s come to say goodbye, despite Sakujun wanting another type of promise from her. They reveal their true names to each other, but at this point it’s not really a surprise because Shuurei’s been given hints as to Sakujun’s identity and Sakujun long ago figured out hers.
Shuurei is embarrassed that she never even suspected Sakujun at all; he on the other hand could’ve killed her at any point. But he admits a growing emotional attachment to her. Sakujun is fairly clearly a psychopath, and it’s weird watching someone who can so callously murder his older brother try to figure out whether what he is feeling for Shuurei is actually love. Psychopaths don’t understand love, which explains Sakujun’s confusion. He tells Shuurei that he killed his older brother so that he would be next in line for the position of head of the Sa family. Once he had that role then he could be in the appropriate position to take Shuurei as his wife; anything less would cause the Kou family to revolt.
This is a difficult scene for me to watch, honestly. Shuurei is in a state of shock and confusion, having learned that the man she thought was Senya Rin was actually a man who has killed people. A lot of people, including his own brother. This man wants to marry her and is now preparing to have sex with her. Shuurei has no idea where Seiran or Ensei are, where Ryuuren is, and is probably terrified. If she fights back against Sakujun will he kill her? Will he try to harm the people she cares about?
Simultaneously as he’s preparing to bed her, Sakujun is asking Shuurei a list of difficult questions. If he treats her as precious (during him sleeping with her), will she think of him as precious? Will she stay by his side? Will she make Gan Lu tea for him too? As a psychopath Sakujun doesn’t understand that there is a lot of emotion which goes into these acts. Yes you can go ahead and pour tea and stay by someone’s side, but you only want to do those things if you care about a person, and you can’t force those feelings. He doesn’t understand that Shuurei can’t, won’t, and will never feel those things, and especially not about someone who’s openly a murderer.
Shuurei finally manages to stammer that what Sakujun says he’s feeling for her isn’t love, and he agrees. Shuurei asks him why he loves her and Sakujun admits that he doesn’t know, only that Shuurei makes him feel good so he wants her to stay with him.
We see flashes of Shuurei and Ryuuki together during this scene, so I want to mention the parallels between the 2 pairings again. While both characters are similar in personality at times, the main difference between the two relationships boils down to consent. Sakujun wants Shuurei to stay with him regardless of whether or not that’s what she wants. He wants to sleep with Shuurei and then marry her but has not asked if that’s what she wants, and as we can see, is preparing to take those steps regardless of Shuurei’s feelings on the matter. Ryuuki is the polar opposite: he loves Shuurei and tells her so, but wants her to be with him because that’s what SHE wants as well. He pursues her but respects her wishes when she rejects his offer of a relationship, even though her decision is very painful for him.
Seiran and Ensei burst into the room at long last, and Sakujun wastes no time telling Seiran that he was the one who took Seiran to the Murderous Blades 14 years prior. When Kokujun shows up, Sakujun readily admits that he’s the one who killed Shunki’s parents 9 years ago. And though Seiran declares that he’s present to arrest Sakujun for his involvement with the Murderous Blades, Sakujun points out that he can’t be arrested because there’s no proof of his involvement.
Sakujun blackmails Shuurei into coming to see him at Koren because he’s got her hairpin, her gift from Ryuuki. He knows she’ll come to see him to get it back no matter what. As he prepares to leave, Sakujun tells them what his grandfather Chuushou has been planning and why he needed the governor’s charm and seal, plus Shuurei’s presence.
A massive flash of lightning fills the room and Sakujun uses that distraction to jump from a window. Ensei rushes to the window but sees only a flock of crows flying away. Crows = Sakujun? Who knows.
The mayor of Kinka shows up and we can see his troops are starting to flush the Murderous Blades out from Kinka. About time! Shuurei tries to tell him how she wants to take action but passes out, presumably from the shock of the last few hours.
At the same time back at the palace, Ryuuki sees a flower bud on the floor and worries that something serious has happened to Shuurei.