Episode Title: Women Are Brave
Refers to: Shūrei sucking up her courage and ripping open the invitation from the Sa clan. It could also be interpreted as Shunki finally deciding to make her move in order to help Kokujun, and Lady Eiki refusing to accept Advisor Sho’s offer of help.
Shūrei, Seiran and the others are finally within sight of Koren. They have 19 days until the swearing-in ceremony for Shūrei and Eigetsu, and 20 days until their big deadline of arriving in Koren. No matter what, they must find a way into Koren before then!
Back home, Shouka and Shusui are having tea together. Shouka tells Shouka about his friend Hokuto in Sa Province, who had asked Shouka not to visit and said that he would instead visit Shouka one day. But that day never came. All Shouka had to remember his friend by was a letter. Hokuto left behind two young boys, Shōrin and Yōshun, whom Shouka had initially helped raise. However eventually they left to be on their own because their father had raised them so well, they didn’t need any adult supervising them. These two boys are the kids whom we’ve seen helping to guard Shunki.
Speaking of Shunki, she has a vision that Kokujun is drawing near. She tries to tell Shōrin and Yōshun that she needs to leave the mountain they’ve been hiding on – alone. Thankfully the boys refuse to let her carry out her plan singlehandedly and they insist on accompanying her.
Shunki passes out when the boys jump down a large ravine, so they stop for awhile to let her recover. As they’re resting who appears but Ryuuren! And he has a present for them! It’s the Ran family token. This token will allow them to get through the blockade at Koren without interruption! Scoooore ~
But there’s a problem: Ensei requested that the boys first talk to someone important in Kinka before they came to Koren. So the boys’ solution is that they will split up. Shōrin will take Shunki on ahead to Koren while Yōshun will run directly to Kinka to meet this “important person.” Who could Yōshun have to meet with?
It is a downside to Saiunkoku Monogatari ‘s large cast that many characters, including Ryuuren, often don’t have much of a role despite each season of the anime having 39 episodes. Ryuuren in particular, because he is something of a wandering nomad, often gets reduced to a person doing fetch quests for characters like Ryūki. This might change in season 2 when there is more of a focus on the Ran clan, I just don’t remember if that’s the case because I only remember bits and pieces of season 2.
Back near Koren, Shūrei’s big plan to get through the front gate of Koren is to… well, have Seiran and Ensei beat up the Sa private army’s guards who are blocking the gate. Pretty simple no? And she doesn’t even have to lift a finger as Ensei and Seiran will be doing all the hard work. ;D
Thankfully Shūrei’s plan works as everyone had hoped. Private army guards must not be very well-trained in Sa Province if they folded like a wet paper bag. Now that they’re through the front gates, Ensei suggests that everyone hop on a horse because for lack of another place to go, they’re all heading to Shō’s sister Rin’s house. (I’m sure Seiran is not complaining about Shūrei riding with him.)
It’s episodes like this which highlight something does Saiunkoku Monogatari does so well, which is simultaneously weave multiple plots and subplots together, revealing the finished tapestry at the end of the arc. I think I’ve mentioned it already, now that I think about it. But it hit me all over again in this episode. We have Shūrei and Eigetsu’s arc about getting to Kinka and Koren, but at the same time we also have the subplot with Shūrei and Sakujun (although that does partially tie in with the main arc because Sakujun is one of the 2 people pulling strings behind the scenes), plus whatever Shunki has up her sleeve, AND Kokujun’s efforts to help the Sa clan. Pretty impressive, no? OH! Don’t forget that Advisor Sho is also in Sa Province meeting secretly with Lady Eiki, Advisor Sa’s widow. 5 plot threads going on at once!
Once inside Rin’s home, Eigetsu and the others find that she has left 2 letters for them. One is for Shūrei and Eigetsu as the new co-governors, and the other is some kind of invitation from the Sa clan! From Sakukjun? From Chūshō??
I feel a little bad for Shūrei because everyone’s getting involved with her situation with Sakujun. Technically they need to be involved because Sakujun’s the one trying to take over as head of the Sa family, but because it also involves Sakujun’s supposed romantic feelings for Shūrei, she is very embarrassed about the lack of privacy with this personal matter. Seiran might be the only person who’s interested in Shūrei’s situation due to personal reasons; for everyone else they just want Shūrei to get her hair pin (and the symbolic power it represents) back.
Shūrei and Eigetsu decide that it’s time to make their first big decision as co-governors, together. They will send a reply to Rin, through Shō, asking for immediate assistance by having the Merchant’s Guild deploy all soldiers associated with the guild. Soldiers are to control existing conflicts and protect all provincial mayors who may be present at Shūrei and Eigetsu’s swearing-in ceremony.
Furthermore, Shūrei adds that there will be no reward money, and this request is not an order. Shūrei and Eigetsu want to prove that they are not trying to bribe or control anyone with their request. Instead they ask Rin to use her own judgement as to whether she will accept Shūrei and Eigetsu’s request. You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, right? Seems like the new co-governors are trying to take this type of approach. They will earn the people’s trust faster by proving their good intentions and pure hearts, instead of demanding that people obey them simply because of the authority they now wield.
As for the other letter, it’s an invitation from the Sa clan for Shūrei and Eigetsu to be present when the Sa clan picks its new head of the family. The date of the Sa clan’s ceremony is the day before Shūrei and Eigetsu’s swearing-in ceremony. Meaning that if the invitation is a trap like everyone in Shuurei’s group suspects, there is very little room for error if the situation goes sideways. Shūrei and Eigetsu MUST be present for the ceremony or they will lose their government positions. Unfortunately, despite the invitation most likely being a trap, Shūrei knows that she and Eigetsu must attend the ceremony.
Later that night, Seiran secretly meets with Shō out in the courtyard and asks the guild leader if he was able to get the item Seiran was looking for. The item Seiran asked for is some kind of poison in a small bottle; its purpose is yet unknown. My guess is that Seiran will find a way to use it against Sakujun somehow.
Shō tries to get more information out of Seiran, such as why he even knows so much about poisons and why he would have a need for it, but Seiran firmly rebuffs him and tells Shō that it’s none of his business. Seiran reminds Shō that he needs to protect the co-governors at all costs, and furthermore since Ensei seems to always be able to avoid the darker side of life, Seiran is the better pick between the two men to deal with Sakujun. Seiran will never hesitate to hurt or kill people, commit illegal acts, or apparently even poison people if it means keeping Shūrei safe. He will literally do anything for her.
Unfortunately, this monologue tips Shō off correctly as to Seiran’s real identity and Shō openly puts voice to his suspicions. To add insult to injury, Shō also correctly assesses that Seiran uses both light and darkness in order to achieve his goals, as a conqueror would. Thankfully Shō is on Shuurei’s team, so I think we can trust that he will keep this information a secret. (Ahhhh Seiran’s facial expression when he’s getting all protective and possessive over Shuurei… [fans self] )
“Whether it be light or darkness, I will take advantage of anything I can use. In order to protect what I ought to be protecting.” – Seiran
Elsewhere Kokujun is finally confronting his grandfather Chūshō about his recent behavior. Of course the old geezer refuses to change his ways and calls on members of the Sa clan’s private army to drag Kokujun away. Chūshō even admits to being the one who locked Kokujun’s father away and stole his memory, all the while lying to Kokujun and telling him that his father was away somewhere recovering from an illness. How cruel!
Near the end of the episode we get to be present for Advisor Sho’s conversation with Lady Eiki. He offers to free her from the locked room she’s been a prisoner in but she refuses his help. Lady Eiki asks only about the location of Enjun’s gold ring that Advisor Sho apparently stole a year and a half prior (when Enjun died?), and Advisor Sho says somewhat vaguely that the ring will be making an appearance soon. So it sounds like Advisor Sho no longer has the ring on him.
As the episode closes out, we get a short flashback of a scene between a young Shunki and her grandmother, Lady Eiki. The Sa family matriarch tells the girl that she should only ever use her power for the sake of one person. Until the time when Shunki picks that person, Lady Eiki will seal Shunki’s voice away! By now we now that Shunki’s chosen person is Kokujun, so right now her biggest concern is getting to Kokujun before the rest of the family does something to him. Hang on Kokujun!
Wow there sure was a lot that happened this episode, eh??
This was the first of the last 10 episodes of season 1! I hope you’ll join me for the rest of the countdown. ^_^v