Category Archives: Saiunkoku Monogatari

Seasonal Impression Mashup (Take 2)


Instead of posting my first impressions (who cares about first impressions anyways? LOL an exercise at judging books by covers), I’d just like to reflect how this time of the year was this year and last year, and hopefully those things will chime with you and give you some idea what the hell I’m talking about. For one, I’m tired of being judgmental about anime. It’s not healthy to do it all the time, y’know?

But like last year and every year before that, some anime are more interesting than others. I remember last year I was reading a few blogs about Canvas 2, and heard about some long ass dumb debate on Animesuki forums regarding Canvas 2’s controversial ending. “Well, isn’t that interesting?” So I embarked to marathon it, finding it fairly compelling to watch. Or maybe those things happened out of sequence? I recall waiting for the last fansubs to come out in order to hold back from the full impact of the first impression of the ending would have on me.

I imagine some time this past year a lot of anime viewers took the same trip with many other shows. Simoun, Suzumiya Haruhi, and many others? But in the larger scheme of things anime companies are looking to expand their territories in the minds of its viewers: to grow more fans, to grow more people who’d give their shows a try, to grow more marketing opportunities and foreign interests, and of course, clamoring and accolades and $$$.

It’s no surprise that the big guns get out this time of the year. Shows like Saiunkoku Monogatari is wrapping up its year-run (3 cheers for Shuurei~) but what will take its place? It’s probably licensed, so a job well done. Gainax’s Gurren Lagann looks to capture a similar sort of thing, in a totally different way, on a different TV channel. Will it run a similar path? Or even a more lucrative one because of Gainax’s leverage and the genre itself? I don’t know. But that’s hardly the only player in the field. If there’s grass, you can play ball–even if that grass is made of dead people. Gonzo earns its name by resurrecting William Shakespeare himself in their adaptation of Romeo And Juliet, so … all is fair in an anime about love and war?

But no, it’s not fair. I have less time than ever to watch all these new shows (yet I do it anyways?) and that’s not counting a couple other shows that I’m dying to catch up from last season (Nodame most notably). Time is a cruel mistress indeed. On top of my obligations as a somewhat responsible human being, do I have to stress through plowing through countless raws, one show trying to outdo the other, appealing from one genre to the next and across and all over? It really pays to be an elitist asshole right about now.

We even have a space conquest anime about various alien races … at the same time with a doomsday anime with Shoji Kawamori mecha designs. Grah. Plus a new Bones anime. It’s like being a bee buzzing over a lovely meadow during springtime [insert Bee Train joke here]. The serial nature of anime means you’re really making an investment now to follow a show, which sort of locks you in for some time. Maybe that’s why first impressions are so important?

But blah, having a compelling pilot episode, as important as it may be, is not of what good shows are made of. Darker than Black, for example, calls on you to wait for episode 2, and I get the feeling of what makes that stuff good is all there.

It’s a frantic time of the year, but also a good time of the year. It’s just that I’m way too busy to celebrate?

Saiunkoku Monogatari Is Not an Epic Venezian Conspiracy

The World Needs More Neviril

I think my Aria the NATURAL backlog is now fully attributed to the fact that Saiunkoku Monogatari has taken over its role as an inoffensive no-brainer. I watch it to appreciate the reverse-harem almost, but more because Shuurei is just so cute and I WUB KUWASHIMA HOUKO…?

Nonetheless I think this show is getting the right amount of attention. I really don’t think it’s so good that you should drop a show just so you can watch it, but unlike Aria, stuff happens. It keeps my wandering mind focused when I put an episode in the media player once a week, on a tiring weeknight, for the fear that if I was watching Aria instead, I’ll fall asleep.

But I went into SaiMono thinking it’ll actually have an interesting setting and story, which so far neither has been the case. We see Shuurei, the only child of the court librarian (Chief IT officer?) learning her ropes as a girl who grew up during hard times, “taming” the delinquent King. Then she goes on this women’s suffrage bit, which is empowering and interesting but kind of, well, boring. Thankfully they’ve layered up enough mystery behind every single thing in the show that nothing is what it seems and there’s probably enough unexplained back story to make an entire anime series on its own. To be fair, yes, most of the potentially “interesting” stuff has not been explained.

Now, I’ve only seen about 12 episodes, but at this point they’re just doing the usual parade of tropes–the court queer, the double agent, the double-double agent, the secret successor, various lineage tricks, the “I understand you but I must fight you” crap, gender bending, typical puppetry and manipulation in politics, etc.

Does it matter? Not anymore. It feels almost slice-of-life, yet stuff goes on! I guess the production value is overshadowing the flaws of the adaptation at this point. A good thing, probably, because out of its planned 39 episodes, it will have a lot of room to hit some climaxes. I’m just wishing those would come soon, if not already! I gave Simoun at least 14 episodes, and 16 was sweet enough to sell me out to it. I hope that is the case with SaiMono.

Saiunkoku Summer Ale – Less Filling, More Taste, Equally Patriotic

Hayate Yagami Salutes! (Has nothing to do with Saiunkoku Anything)

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.

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