Story: Sai Yukino
Art: Kairi Yura
Translation/Adaptation: Su Mon Han
What They Say
Shurei has been falsely accused of cheating on the Imperial Exam by those who don’t want women working as civil servants. Shurei must attend an inquiry to prove her innocence, but her opponents are plotting to make sure she never arrives at the palace.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Minister Sai thought he had a clever plan in place to remove Shurei from her position, but the man was clearly in over his head. On the morning of the inquest he can’t stop Shurei’s return to the palace, nor does he realize the trap he’s walking into.
Not that it feels like Minister Sai is much of a threat. He is systematically presented with more evidence than would ever be necessary for his crimes of embezzlement. The official report compiled on the missing finances was the paper being written by Shurei and Eigetsu, adding insult to injury. To cap it all off, he had no idea Minster Hong was the leader of the Hong clan, and that the clan has forced commerce in the city to grind to a halt.
Sai remains indignant about the charges and even accuses Minister Ko of setting him up, tossing in an attempt to humiliate the mask wearing official. He demands off with Kijin’s mask. Yeah, that’s a great idea! Cue a long drawn out joke where the entire palace staff is urged to avert their eyes unless they want to be ruined forever by Minister Ko’s beauty. Of course, us readers have already seen Ko’s face back in volume 4, and Shurei and Ensei didn’t seem to horribly fazed by him. Minister Sai is an idiot though, so he is lovestruck upon first sight and, in a daze, signs his own confession.
Shurei misses most of the impromptu tribunal and arrives at the palace with an escort of Seiran and the newly returned Ensei. They managed, along with several townsfolk, to get Shurei to her destination. Without even breaking a sweat, Shurei calmly faces the questions of the inquest and is in the clear about her position as a civil servant.
There’s a nice speech by Shurei during her preparation for her inquest about make-up and working in a man’s world. She doesn’t want to be a man, she just wants to have all the same opportunities as them without compromising her femininity. Saiunkoku is probably the most feminist manga I’ve read, in the truest sense of the word. In the end, it’s her hard work and positive attitude that win over her detractors, and she’s given her final placement assignment.
What a surprise that assignment turns out to be! Shurei, along with young Eigetsu, are to be the co-governor’s of the troubled Sa province. Not willing to send them off into trouble on their own, Ensei and Seiran are going as well! Everyone is shocked at the placement, but Shurei is more than happy to accept. This would appear to be the happy ending that everyone is wishing for, except maybe for the lovesick Emperor himself.
There’s one side story to close out the volume, which is perhaps the silliest and has the most fanservice out of any of the side stories in the series. If you ever wanted to know what the boys would look like in drag, here’s your chance to find out! Still missing in this volume are color pages, and sadly I don’t think volume nine will have one either.
After volumes of hard work, Shurei wins her official position in the court. She also manages to take down a corrupt official in the process, with a little help from her friends. Saiunkoku remains one of the rare shoujo manga where winning the guy is secondary to everything else, despite the beautiful men adorning the pages. And beautiful they remain, the artwork in this series has always been incredible. The adaptation ends in one more volume, so we have a little more time to wrap up loose ends for what is just the beginning of Shurei’s story.
Content Grade: A –
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A –
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: October 2nd, 2012