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The second ep makes quite a progress into the real story and what is more, it proves that the characters are not your average stupid pretty stunts that only grace the screen for the purpose of fanservice and to please the eye of the (female) viewer.

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Shuurei starts to interact with the Emperor treating him no differently that any other person around her, which obviously makes him wonder about her. Is she stupid, simple, clueless, naïve or what… And he is quite stunned that the hands of the young Empress bear the signs of hard labour. They are all bruised and unlady-like. So she admits that she had done all the domestic chores at her previous home.

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However, thinking that the Emperor is lonely and ignorant of the actual political situation in the country, Shuurei decides to let him see for himself what he is responsible for.

She takes him out into the Real World ™ outside the Palace walls, which seem to have so far been the border of his small privileged and pampered world.

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Once in the city he gets to experience things that he had never been subjected to. Like having stray kids pull him demanding he played with them. Become a vendor and use his male charm and attraction to lure the women into buying hairpins. And after some initial blushing and backing off, he does a fairly good job.

Leter on he is awarded with an invitation into Shuurei's house where he realizes just how strongly the political struggles of the high nobility and more specifically the struggle for the throne had influenced the life of the commoners and the poor nobles.

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This and a few carefully chosen words from his young wife make him see his own life, position and responsibilities in a completely different way and realize that the Palace does not give a fair idea of the life of his subjects. Going back in time she tells him what she saw and experienced, hiding her own pain.

So after hearing what his subjects went through the Emeperor decides that it is time for him to take his obligations seriously and begin studying to become a wise and competent ruler.

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I was relly impressed how there were no tears or cheap melodrama while she told her story. She just described an honest picture of hunger and hopelessness. Yet later when she was alone in the kitchen she couldent control the tears and luckily her bodyguard was there to give her a sholder and support.

This is actually the other thing in the series that really appeals to me – the interaction between the characters. One actually feels that there's more to them than just sharing the same show.

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That is a lot of development for one ep. I even have a distant fear that in no way would they be able to pull it off like this for a long time. So maybe I'll just get used to a lot going on and they'll start to drag the show. Let's hope that I am wrong though. It will really be unfortunate.

On the subject of animation, which is always a matter when it comes to second eps in general, the characters look a bit strange in comparison with the previous ep, especially the Emperor. But seeing him blush made me go into a "fangirl mode" and scream "Kawaii!" There are noticeable difference in the way the characters are drawn, but still the animation itself is of the same high quality. The characters always move, even if they are in close view and basically do nothing but talk, they still move their heads, or smile or change their facial expression or something else. It is nice to see that it's not only their mouths that move, while they stay immobile like broken dolls.

I actually think the constant change of expressions, which give the viewer a good idea of what the characters feel and go through is one of the strong points in the anime, even if those expressions are sometimes a bit exaggerated.

Ok, the Emperor got scolded like a child for eating and spilling crumbs. And he eats so much and doesn't know when to stop. Kodomo mitai, ne?* So he gets a slap on the wrist. Don't be so gluttonous, Emperor. Show, some manners. ^_^

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Aah, I like Shuurei's character. She really is not one of those most banal types that the average anime girls surrounded by (a harem of) bishounen seem to belong to. She differs from the rather annoying cliche-females who would either jump and beat the boys or be some blushing maidens who are also known as the "damsel in distress" type. She however looks quite plausible which is really refreshing.

And I am even more impressed because she is capable of thinking reasonably and connect the dots to get the picture that they make. I mean she is not fooled by the lie of the Emperor. And she is not one of those who will shout "I know you were lying, you, bad boy" or try to make the other feel bad about his wrongdoing. She just calmly pretends to be clueless and lets her husband take his time. she realizes that forsing hum wuill only result in pushing him away form her and would ultimately make her tast way more difficult. As I said already, she is smart.

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Ok, this anime has a few strong points in my book, and I just can't hold silence and miss to mention them even if Irepeat myself:

1 – It has a sensible plot so far. Yeah, it might be far from original, but I don't care. It's handled well, and that's what matters.

2 – The characters are funny, yet they have brains and for a change they use them, even the main female character, which is a miracle on itself.

3 – Nice, really nice animation, even if the quality is a tad worse in this ep, "The curse of the second episode", I guess

4 – It is full of bishounen. Do I need to say more?

5 – Last but not least – they interact in a way, which leaves enough room for a looser interpretation. In the yaoi aspect, I mean. Now, tell me, what's not to like here?

And as far as yaoi goes I just loved how Shuurei directly asked the Emperor if he really prefers men to women and how he straightforwardly answered in the affirmative. And she wais so ridiculously happy at his reply, that I almost fell off my chair. And then she starts to worry over the heir issue that this creates. It is just so nice to see a series where sexuality is handled so openly and honestly. There were no blushes from the Emperor, no going around the topic, no nasty all-knowing smiles. Just a direct statment of his sexual preferences. WOW! Well done!

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And the way Ran Shuuei and Ri Kouyuu nag at each other is so rabu-rabu that I can almost imagine the fanfics that would inevitably sprout. Or at least I hope so, they deserve it. 

 

*Just like a kid, isn't he?

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