If one were to liken story-driven anime series to beer, Saiunkoku Monogatari would make a nice drink under the tepid breeze of summer. To me, however, that’s sort of besides the point. It is either delicious or disgusting. It either goes well with what I am eating and doing, or it doesn’t. It’s either affordable or overpriced.
In as much as I compare anime with beer at all, something like Windy Tales or Mushishi is by all means much more interesting; and dare I say, superior than beer, so the imagery wouldn’t work so well. To cop a line from Bokura ga Ita, those kinds of shows are like either like drinking hot cocoa after spending a turgid December day outdoors, or hearing your favorite song play on the radio on your drive home from work.
But I got nothing against beers. It’s just that since it’s such a prevalently consumed beverage in North America I figured a rather stock-genre show like Saiunkoku Monogotari would fit better as a comparison. When people praise this show for its deep intrigue and complex character relationships and expositions, to me it means simply that the original writer got its job done. It speaks little to the merit of the animated adaptation. That’s what these kinds of show are suppose to do, folks. It’s like NOT able to find an attractive girl in all of Negima: they went out of their way to avoid that problem. An added thing is just that this faux-Chinese historical thing just doesn’t do me any favors. I’ve had enough of it from just the live action stuff my relatives watch alone. Check the wiki, for crying out loud.
So only names like Kunihiko Ryo (my latest favorite anime soundtrack composer), Houko Kuwashima in a very demanding lead female role (I’m sort of torn regarding her performance though), and plus a generally un-hate-able assembly of big guns…NHK knows its conspiracy. It knows production value (for the most part).
And it goes down like a nice cold one. Take it as a warning and a suggestion at the same time. It’s slotted for 39 episodes, so it’s not a light commitment (though the first 7 episodes are self-contained). I’m knee-deep in this crap already, and it only took a day. We’ll see how this pans out.