Article first published as Manga Review: The Story of Saiunkoku Volume One by Sai Yukino on Blogcritics.
The Story of Saiunkoku Volume One is a manga written by Sai Yukino and illustrated by Kairi Yura. The manga is an adaptation of the YA novels written by Yukino and illustrated by Yura. The first volume of The Story of Saiunkoku was published by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2010. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.
Shurei Hong lives a destitute life, although she is of noble birth. Her dream has been to work as a civil servant in Saiunkoku’s imperial court, but in her society, women are not allowed to hold office. She lives with her father, who works in the Royal Archives. A young man named Seiran also lives with them; he was taken in by Shurei’s father 13 years prior to the start of the series, and is the sole retainer of their household. He is also a skilled fighter and swordsman.
Ryuki is the new 19-year-old emperor of Saiunkoku, and he doesn’t want to take command; instead, he leaves the running of the country up to his advisors. Shurei is approached by a one of the Lord Advisors, and is asked to become the emperor’s consort in order to convince him to govern his country. Shurei accepts when she’s told how much she will be paid act as the emperor’s consort. Seiran accompanies her to the imperial court.
As Shurei gets to know Ryuki, she begins to learn that he’s nothing like the rumors she’s heard about him. By the end of the first volume, it appears Ryuki has feelings for Shurei.
In the art, there are three male characters with long, blond hair; at the beginning of the volume, I was getting confused by who was who, since they look rather similar. However, as I got to know the characters better, I was better able to tell these three characters apart. Outside of that, the artwork is pretty decent. There are some standout panels in this volume, where the characters are drawn with more detail; these are primarily closeups. The art style used for this series works really well for the story that’s being told.
I have to admit that when I started reading this volume of The Story of Saiunkoku, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it. But by the end of the volume, the main characters have become very well-established, and I became interested in their story and what was happening to them. This volume gets off to a slow start, but it does get better as it progresses. This is a manga series I’d be willing to read more of in the future if I come across subsequent volumes at the library.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of The Story of Saiunkoku Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.