Episode Title: All is Right With the World
Refers to: Yūshun Tei’s words summarizing how all of the problems in this arc have been resolved.
By the time Shūrei and Eigetsu return to where Sakujun had lain dying, he has disappeared. Shūrei is clearly distressed by this sudden development, but thankfully she has Eigetsu to help her see that the two of them have more important priorities at the moment.
As they shift their focus to rescuing Yūshun Tei, it looks like the new co-governors might be too late as the tower Yūshun was being kept in has gone up in a roar of twisting flames. But before they can throw their lives away into the fire, Ensei stops Shūrei and Eigetsu. It turns out that Officer Yu, the man who had helped Shūrei, Eigetsu and Ensei with their paperwork many episodes ago, was Yūshun Tei all along!
If you’re new to Saiunkoku Monogatari, it’s a good idea to take all new character introductions with a grain of salt, in my opinion. Rewatching this show for this coverage, it feels like every 3rd character we meet is actually not who they say they are. ^^;; Definitely makes for some nice twists later in the plot though, no?
From there the episode shifts to Lady Eiki, who has retired back to her regular quarters. Advisor Shō, still in his young form, has shown up and is taking a beating (both verbal and physical) from Lady Eiki. She bears a lot of anger towards Advisor Shō for being the person whom Enjun spent most of his life chasing after. Only occasionally would be “turn back to look at her,” which she quietly came to accept as a penalty of sorts for loving Enjun. But it’s normal that a person would still bear anger and resentment towards their spouse for not prioritizing them more. This anger and resentment towards Advisor Shō finally reaches its breaking point as Lady Eiki grabs the front of Advisor Shō’s clothes and yells at him for always interfering in her relationship with Enjun. She has hated him for a very, very long time, and it shows.
“I have a feeling that the way I am going to die has already been decided. Even when that time comes, I would like for you not to cry. Because I will surely pass away satisfied.” – Enjun to Eiki (flashback)
As Advisor Shō is about to leave Lady Eiki for the last time, he tells her that Kokujun didn’t kill anyone. And then in the blink of an eye, he’s gone. Hopefully for the last time, since Lady Eiki told him to never show his face to her again.
Elsewhere in the city, with everyone together and safe, Shūrei and the others can finally catch their breath. Yūshun Tei, Kokujun, and Shunki are safe. Seiran and Ensei are safe. The Sa clan has picked their new head of the family, and no one lost their lives in the process (wellll no one outside the Sa family anyways). Shūrei and Eigetsu have arrived in Koren on time and will be able to formally accept their new positions.
Only Sakujun is missing, but he is presumed dead, wherever he is. Shūrei will have to put any concerns or feelings for him into a box for now, to be unpacked later when she has some quiet time to herself. (Maybe Seiran will give her a shoulder to cry on? Nyuk nyuk… )
Later in the day, the improperly constructed trap-building erected by Chūshō is torn down at last.
Shūrei and Eigetsu also meet with the new Sa clan family head, Kokujun Sa. Shunki is of course by his side. Kokujun is ready to prostrate himself at Shūrei and Eigetsu’s feet, but they tell him they are not enacting any punishment. Instead he is to do as he said he would when he accepted the position of family head: rebuild the Sa clan from within. That will be the best way to atone for his family’s past sins. Which is fair, right? It makes no sense for Kokujun to be punished for things the other members of his family did. Then the family would have to pick a new family head all over again, and would that person be punished too as the new family head? Kudos to Shūrei and Eigetsu for understanding that the cycle of sins must be stopped somewhere.
Also, Lady Eiki asks for Shūrei and the others (Seiran, Ensei, Kōrin, Shunki and Kokujun) to meet her near the entrance to the underground dungeon. Lady Eiki wants to explain the backstory behind recent events involving the Sa clan, as it’s important that the people who will oversee her family’s future, and her province’s future too. Everyone must be on the same page.
Lady Eiki begins by reassuring Kokujun that while his father and grandfather were indeed deceased, he wasn’t the one who killed them. Instead, Sakujun was! She explains that incense had been burned in the dungeon (what she calls a cellar) under the shrine, and that incense had the ability to take away a person’s mental capabilities if it was breathed in. That explains why Kokujun’s father was a withered old man down in that dungeon, and it could also theoretically explain Chūshō’s erratic behaviour over this arc. Think back – how many shots of the old man sitting in that dimly lit room with the stupid incense burning did we see? That incense came from Sakujun, trying to mess up his family members apparently.
In a flashback we see that Sakujun provided the short sword to Kokujun down in that smoky dungeon, and as Kokujun’s father momentarily came back to lucidity, the two men fought over it. However, when Kokujun’s father recognized him and spoke his name, Kokujun became unable to fight his father. Maybe he accepted that he was going to die at his father’s hands, who knows.
It is during this break in the fight that Chūshō entered the dungeon, and he was armed with a regular sword. But, Chūshō’s injuries came from Kokujun’s father! A just punishment for being hidden and locked away in that secret dungeon for so long, if you ask me. In the end, father and son killed each other with their deadly blows. And Kokujun’s father was able to protect his son.
Lady Eiki compares Kokujun trying to take the blame for something he didn’t do to something very similar to an event in Enjun’s past. She mentions the bloody story of Enjun having supposedly killed all the men from the main branch of the family in order to take over as head of the Sa family, and says that that story is incorrect! Instead of Enjun wielding the weapon, the killer was a man from the main branch of the Sa family who greatly admired Enjun, so much so that he slaughtered all those men in order to allow Enjun to become head of the Sa family! What a twisted way to show one’s devotion! X__x And like Kokujun attempted to do, Enjun willingly took all the blame for those men’s deaths.
When Eigetsu asks why, Shūrei attempts to explain her theory. She carefully says that while it was perceived that Enjun started his rebellion against the king as a ploy to gather more power, it was really to get the king’s attention. For if a clan family head were to cause problems, then the king could investigate (or send someone to investigate) the Sa family’s crimes and hopefully deal with them in an appropriate matter. Change was never going to come from within the Sa clan because so many people were corrupt, or didn’t care. Advisor Sa created this plan so his family, his citizens and his province could be rebuilt from the ground up. A new beginning for everyone was his great hope. And even though he didn’t live to see it happen, his wish has been fulfilled. Hopefully his soul can be at peace now.
Sometime later, perhaps even the next morning, Shūrei finally has some time to herself. She sees the empty erhu lying on a table in her room and, thinking of Sakujun in his last moments, finally allows herself to cry. Only briefly, because Seiran has to come ruin the moment by arriving at her door. 😛 He can hear her crying too, I imagine, but says nothing because he doesn’t want to embarrass her. Perhaps there will be a scene between them later that will allow Shūrei to explain her feelings for Sakujun to Seiran properly, so he will stop suspecting Shūrei of hiding some secret feelings for that psychopath.
Yūshun helps Shūrei prepare for the swearing-in ceremony, while Kōrin helps Eigetsu (much to her fake annoyance and his quiet enjoyment). Yūshun shares with Shūrei that he is so happy to see how well she has grown up, and it turns out that this meeting in Sa Province is not their first encounter. At least, not for Yūshun. You see, when Shūrei was a little girl, Reishin had talked Yūshun and Kijin (yes, weirdo minister Kijin) into a climbing a tree with him so he could secretly spy on Shūrei. So Yūshun had already “met” Shūrei, even if she didn’t know him. This was a really touching moment and helps solidify that there are a lot of people in Shūrei’s life who love her very much and are always looking out for her.
I got goosebumps when Shūrei and Eigetsu took their vows formally accepting their new roles as co-governors. It was really heartwarming to see a room full of stern-looking, older male officials break into big grins and applause. I felt as taken aback as Shūrei and Eigetsu, lol!
Back at the Imperial Palace, Advisor Shō arrives and speaks a few words with his old friend Sō Taifu about death and dying. The former reassures the latter that the situation with the Sa clan is finally over, and their friend Enjun’s soul can finally rest in peace.
Meanwhile a report has magically zipped from Sa Province to Kiyo in record time (must be a time skip in here to explain this), filling in the king on the successful completion of the Sa family head ceremony and the swearing-in of the 2 new co-governors. Ryūki muses aloud whether one of them will come for the upcoming New Year’s celebrations, and we all know he hopes it will be Shūrei. If anyone can talk her into taking a break and leaving her work for a few weeks, that is.
The final shot of the episode is of Shūrei touching her hair pin as she works, and her eyes appear to fill with tears. It’s almost as if Ryūki’s thought of Shūrei are reaching her…
I will say, one of the big bonuses to Saiunkoku Monogatari having so many episodes is that they can actually give each season proper closure. Nowadays with most seasons lasting only 12-14 episodes, the main conflict is resolved and the series wraps up in what, half an episode? Maybe a full episode at the very most? Here Sakujun dies with 4 episodes to go, so we actually get to see Shūrei and Eigetsu governing! And maybe there will be a final scene between Shūrei and Ryūki? The series just doesn’t suddenly end with Lady Eiki’s words neatly wrapping up the arc’s events.
Only 3 more episodes to go!