aka Saiunkoku Monogatari/彩雲国物語
I rented this from Netflix; it had some hype when it ran. I’m using the DVD names, despite the fact that Shurei’s name sounds like Kou, but is written Hong, which is distracting when watching the subtitles. This was a deliberate choice to distinguish between two families who were both pronounced ‘Kou’ but used different kanji; Hong is apparently a Chinese pronunciation of her last name. The names of the various clans are apparently all colors; unfortunately, there was nothing to indicate this. The introduction of the first episode says that:
In the time of demons, a young man tried to beat back the rampaging demons; eight enlightened beings came to his aid, using colors as their names. They became known as the Eight Colored Enlightened Ones. The young man, whose name was Sogen, became the first ruler of Saiunkoku, the Kingdom of the Colored Clouds.
This is the story of Shuurei Hong, who is from a noble but poor family, who accepts an extremely well-paying job without first hearing the details, and ends up as consort to the king. The king ended up as king because one of his brothers was exiled, and the others killed each other in a fight for power eight years ago. He has been king for six months, but does not seem to care about ruling; and at 19, has never been out of the palace, and there is a rumor that he prefers men. Shuurei studied for and wanted to take the exams and become a court official, but women are not allowed to do that; one of her odd jobs is teaching the children at the temple. After hearing about the king’s non-involvement with the government, she is determined to convince him to take an interest and teach him what she knows about the government; both of them end up taking classes from Koyu Ri, one of the king’s advisors.
I did enjoy this, though I found Shuurei annoying half the time; she bounced between smart and competent and generic teenage anime overly loud and cheerful girl. I was interested in the plot; everything looked peaceful on the outside, but there were obviously darker things happening behind the scenes. One of the plot points in these episodes was blatantly obvious (the missing brother), but others were not. Any number of people were clearly not what they seemed to be, though in some cases it was not immediately apparent what they actually were.
I actually watched this last month (I have a lot of half-finshed drafts), and so don’t remember as much about it as I should, and don’t know if it’s worth the effort to try to remember any more about it, due to Geneon’s problems; volume two will be released, but there is no news yet about what will happen after that. I hope to be able to see more of this someday.
There were not a lot of extras on this disc, just the textless opening and previews (Paradise Kiss, Rozen Maiden, Ayakashi: Samurai Horror Tales — I think everything I’ve rented from Geneon lately has had the Rozen Maiden trailer on it and one of the other two).