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Wow, it is eps four already and I was eagerly waiting for this sub ever since I saw the raw. I had so many evil and naughty ideas, but that is not the topic here. The thing is that this ep really makes me feel good. The fanservice for those like me is aplenty and I can not hide my pleasure that they did it the way it is.

What do we have after all?

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We have one pretty angry Shuurei stalking the elders for deceiving her and making her believe that her royal husband is a fool when he is nothing of the kind. The Elders are content that everything goes according to their plans and then the High Consort barges in their room stating that since she sees no need of her aid for the Emperor, she should go home, but… there is the small matter of the 500 gold pieces that she desires so much, and that binds her in the Palace.

And then we move to the depressed and utterly funny Emperor, who is sad that his wife is mad at him. I must really compliment the seiyuu, since the voice acting does a great deal in showing the characters emotions and makes me laugh as well, without making the whole scene ridiculous.

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And what do you think the reason for Ryuuki's idiotic behaviour was? He thought Shuurei would like him better that way. Trust a man to assume such a stupid thing. But the fact is in any other anime that would have probably scored points in the heroine's book, so I'll let him go off the hook easier.

And right in the middle of this funny little stunt of selfpitty and lovely facial expressions, his companion – General Ran – brings up the topic of the Emperor's intimate preferences. He has actually always preferred women, but the one thing that forced him to act gay (*BL fangirl mode ON* Ryuuki, act as gay as you wish and as often as you want, you have my firm support here, and if you let Seiran do you, I'll be even more pleased *BL fangirl mode OFF*) was that he was afraid to sire any children mortified by the idea what struggle for power and influence that might induce.

Even if not stated directly it is obvious that his past and memories of the battles that took place prior to his taking the throne are the main reason for his fears and I find this a nice touch in the character development Ryuuki gets in this ep.It is also good that they don't see need to spell the things for the viewer assuming his/her intelligence would suffice to draw the conclusions. Another plus of the show. I guess it being made after a josei novel is partially the reason and the common sense of the scriptwriter helps too.

The Elders discus the problem with the poisoning attempt against Shuurei and her ability to keep it a secret, but then one of them mentions the only living brother of Ryuuki the long since exiled Seien. Seems like he considers that Seien would make a better ruler, but that is my assumption.

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They do concur on one point though – that Seien was the best among the royal heirs and had he stayed a Emperor candidate, he would have succeeded the throne without the problems that took place.

And Shou, the most active and conspiring among the Elders comments that sadly none of them has any idea what happened with Seien after he was cast away. What a liar! But I am actually really interested in him as a character. He seems to be a borderline secondary character, but most of the important plot twist revolve around him or are directly plotted by him (this is a minor spoiler for the future eps, but I hope this won't ruin anyone's pleasure).

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As Shuurei and her father discus the issues of her marriage and Ryuuki's intelligence she realizes he knew everything. And we find out that one of the reason Shuurei was chosen as Consort was the fact that she has a limited set of relatives that might try to use her and attempt to expand their influence. Nice touch as always. Such small details that have seemingly insignificant role at first glance but are later revealed to have been the small stone that changed the direction of the cart make this story a good in the political sense. No stupid teenagers who a suddenly put on the throne and it comes naturally to them, no idiotic decision that turn correct out of the blue. But rather political games and puling the strings behind the scene that are so much closer to real life politics.

And through the memories of Shouka we get another glimpse on Ryuuki's past.

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The young then prince sought in the library refuge from the constant abuse he was subjected to and there he stumbled upon Shouka, who started to take care of him.

But then Shouka adds that while Ryuuki might be an Emperor and have what others might deem perfect life, he has been deprived of the one thing that even the poorest person has – the tender love of a mother and he hopes she would be there for him to make up for that.

Now here I am actually divided. While I understand that the poor guy needs Shuurei, I am not sure that their relationship should elaborate too much on the mother-son type of connection the story seems to concentrate so far on. I just think that if they continue in such a mater it would be hard to convince the audience that they deserve a more intimate relationship as the kind of husbands would be. It won't be realistic. But I'll wait and see how they solve this one from what the series shows so far I have strong hopes for it and hope they don't ruin it. I would even welcome a relationship between Ryuuki and Shuurei that is based on something else and not romantic love in the end, it would be a fresh breeze, but considering the target audience of the novels – young women – I guess that is rather unlikely.

And we move to a more interesting scene right next to brighten the mood ;). The two friends Ran and Ri, who comment on the topic of the day (or would I say the ep – the Emperor's intellect) and if Seiran was presented with a purple iris (well, as far as we've been shown so far – not).

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And then they see him and Ran goes for a little sekuhara type of act – leaning over him and his head as if he would kiss him right then and there, he does not :/ –that while funny is between two characters that I can't envision as a couple. But I guess even this is better than none at all.

The conversation is rather cheesy and suggestive and then I have to praise the voice acting once again as it really helps for making the whole scene even funnier.

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And as Seiran leaves Ran talking to no one the latter chases after him as in a game of courting and leans over him some more (I guess that had this been between my beloved Seiran x Ryuuki couple, I would have been in for some major blood loss due to nose bleed) while imagining scenarios of the things that Seiran did while living with Shuurei and the way he had courted her. It is made into quite the ridiculous and hilarious scene with slightly chibified versions of the characters but not too much).

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Then follows some bad fanservice as we see one of the Elders – the bearded Sou naked from the waist up. He looks horrible to me. Too muscled for my taste. If I have to make some ugly comparison, and since I am writing this and I feel like sharing my allusion with you, I'll tell you that he looks like an overworked fitness junky on steroids. So this man practices sword movements and forces Seiran to spar with him and while fighting he asks questions of the bishi's past. The Elder wins the battle and comments on Seiran's sword style in a way that reveals he has realized something.

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In the evening of the same day Seiran and Shuurei talk and while she brags on about the Emperor he puts in the odd one-word replies but is obvious that is mind is not there at all. And all of a sudden another nice BL reference jumps out of the Consort's mouth.

 

Shuurei: Are you being bullied by the Plume Forest Army?

Seiran: Huh? o.O

Shuurei: You are skilled and have a handsome face…

I was really cracking with laugher and could almost hear the phrase continuing with

"…and you are just begging to be molested."

I don't know if my mind is too perverted or the scene and the text are really suggestive, but my associations were quite not what Shuurei had in mind.

Ok, that aside, there was some nice development of the Seiran x Shuurei interaction. She is sad that it is always her that seeks support in Seiran and never the other way around and is afraid her debt has grown too much. She says that she is there for him, if he needs her.

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Next out of the blue comes the news that Sou has decided to organize a Martial Arts Tournament. This jumps out on us during a talk between Ran and Ri. And Ri wonders if this is done in order to lure out some famous assassin– the Black Wolf, who was rumoured to have been the right hand of the late Emperor.

If this name is mentioned, then we can expect this assassin to make an appearance in some of the episodes to come. Kind of like the Chekhov's rifle saying.

And meanwhile Seiran is ordered to take part and not to hold back.

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Then there is a brief comic relief due to Shouka's horrible art of tea-making and Ri's opening speech which is just a tad too long, boring and he can't present it very well. But really "Let the tournament begin!"

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The award is announced – 100 gold pieces and our money deprived Consort has stars in her eyes at the mentioning of the amount, so her royal husband decides to win her the prize.

So the battle goes on and the semi-finals oppose Ryuuki vs. Seiran, which puts Shuurei at dilemma, whom to support. Until she realizes that whoever wins the money goes to her. Nice one, huh? 😉

So Ryuuki recognizes the sword style, but manages to pull himself together and win.

I have a few remarks here. First I didn't really like the way the battle was done, but since this is not a fighting anime, I am not going to be harsh. What I do mind however is that in the following situation (the left pics):

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…if these were girls and this was a shounen anime, we would have been fanserviced with aplenty of panty-shots, so now would anyone tell me, why didn't we, women, get similar treatment and be presented with some equivalent. Look at the picture to the right. That is what the anime version should have been like ;).

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Whatever, I guess I am getting the short straw here and I can do nothing about it. So, after winning the semi-final our fair Emperor loses in the final to General Ran and the poor Shuurei remained poor (pun intended), no 100 gold pieces for her.

And what is more, Ryuuki seems to be out of it for some reason, but wouldn't speak of it with Shuurei. Then he spots Seiran and follows him leaving behind a perplexed Shuurei.

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Now I really liked how the conversation between those two is handled. Both of them talk mainly in third person.

Ryuuki talks of the important role of Seien in his life, the difference he made. And we finally find out the reason behind his resistance and withdrawal from his royal duties. He always felt like and impostor, a figure that was on the throne only until the far more deserving in his eyes Seien came back to take the place that Ryuuki saw as rightfully his brother's.

Seiran on his part replies that what once was, is not meant to come back, that the Emperor has eventually started to rule as he has always been supposed to and that is the right direction to head to. That, were Seiran Ryuuki's brother, he would have been really proud of him.

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When Ryuuki demands the official return of his brother, Seiran refuses saying that should that happen Seien would have to leave. I can see the sense in this. There's no place for two possible Emperors, not after the problematic rise to the throne of the youngest son. This might inspire another fight, even if Seien has no aspiration towards the title. There are always those who would do anything if they believe that would make them more powerful or richer, or both.

This is another good one from political point of view. While it would have been absolutely tooth-painfully sweet to have a long-lost brothers' reunion, it would have made the political situation very difficult and hard to control. I suppose this however leaves open opportunities for future twists as the secret slowly makes its way from person to person, as secrets tend to do in anime.

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Nice visual touch is the transition from the current selves of the two to the kids in the Emperor's memory. Like the images that were frozen in time for Ryuuki are finally allowed to grow up and mature, thus letting him continue on with his life.

The two embrace while in the kids forms and then are shown as the men they are now.

Ok, and then on this sweet brotherly love expression scene steps in our romantic main heroine, yes none other than Shuurei, and what conclusion does she draw from the pic that her eyes feast upon (mine too by the way) – that they are so rabu-rabu for each other…

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If only, dear friend, if only…

And she retreats to leave them to themselves… as they chaise after her and even if they don't say the obligatory in such cases phrase "It's not what you think" (yeah right, a pic is worth a thousand words), it is obvious, they mean it…

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So, as overall impression from the ep, I can say, that the animation remains low in quality in comparison with the first two eps, which is especially obvious when the characters are drawn in the distance, their features in such cases are a bit disturbing. But aside from that, the story remains consistent, sensible and the characters grow on the viewer and in development. I wish more series were this good.

The one thing that continuously gets on my nerves is the way Shouka's eyes are always closed as if he is blind. It really irks me.

This was as always when it comes to Saiunkoku, one long comment-heavy summary.

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