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The Story of Saiunkoku: The Complete Season One
The Story of Saiunkoku The Complete Season One
Genres: Anime & Manga
NR     2009     15hr 36min

Saiunkoku is a country with eight powerful houses governed by one emperor. However the new leader Ryuki cares not for his new role and is rumored to spend his days chasing after noblemen in his court. Enter Shurei, a princ...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Anime & Manga
Sub-Genres: Anime & Manga
Studio: Funimation/Geneon Entertainment
Format: DVD - Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 10/06/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 15hr 36min
Screens: Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 9
SwapaDVD Credits: 9
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Japanese, English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Sweeping Tale of Politics and Romance
ONENEO | Buffalo, NY | 10/07/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The more anime a person takes in, the clearer it becomes that lumping all Japanese animation into a single classification is an absolutely ridiculous notion. A majority of the anime I find myself attracted to could almost be mistaken for some of the finer American made "cartoons" save for the fact that the DVDs contain the original Japanese vocal track. Enter The Story of Saiunkoku from Geneon, distributed through Funimation. Not only is the show overflowing with Japanese sensibilities and visual charm, it's built on a solid foundation of Asain culture so thoroughly that there's no mistaking its origin regardless of the language track to which you find yourself listening.

Coming in at a whopping 975-minute runtime, The Story of Saiunkoku Complete Season One box set consists of 39 episodes spanning 9 discs. The packaging breaks it down into five thin pack cases housed in a charming cardboard outer slipcase. The show wears an appropriate if not slightly conservative TV 13 & Up rating due to a few adult-themes (war, good versus evil on an epic scale), some light sexual innuendo (a king everyone thinks is homosexual), and a little bit of drama.

Language options are typical sub & dub meaning both the original Japanese vocal track is present as well the choice of an English dub (either presented in Stereo) with the option of running English subtitles available with either vocal track.

Extras include textless opening and ending themes and a host of Geneon anime previews on each and every one of the nine DVDs.

The story, which has to be watched to be fully understood (or appreciated for that matter) goes something like this: Shurei, daughter of a broke aristocrat in fictional medieval country Saiunkoku has everything it takes to be a member of government except for the opportunity (because women are prohibited in this society).

Her father, a glorified librarian with a title, discovers the opportunity of a lifetime for young Shurei as the king's personal consort. Using his influence, her father is able to secure the position so that Shurei can put her motherly instincts to good use (and hopefully secure some wealth in the process) by supervising the young (19 year-old) king of the nation while injecting a little motivation and ambition into his routine.

Suspecting an arrogant and close-minded ruler, Shurei charges into the role only to discover a gentle, shy and insecure young ruler who just so happens to be of similar age. They strike up a solid relationship in no time, each forcing the other to change their view of members on such opposite sides of society's spectrum. King Ryuki, inspired by Shurei's knowledge, passion and ambition soon takes a more active role in the governing of his land while simultaneously providing Shurei an opportunity to put her skills to use despite the fact that women are not able to pursue such ambitions directly.

Now I'm not sure whether or not that summary captures the scope of the prose, so I will follow it by saying that those expecting wild action scenes, hilarious dialog sessions, passionate lovemaking sequences or even a quick moving plot structure will probably be disappointed. The truth is that The Story of Saiunkoku is an anime piece that requires, in fact demands, a certain level of patience and commitment from its viewer if satisfaction is to be found. In other words it relies on very few gimmicks along the way to tell its tale and makes no apologies for doing so.

The grand prose is methodic and evenly paced with character development taking the foreground of each episode. Sure there are moments sprinkled about that may earn a chuckle or build a little tension, but they serve to break the monotony of the show's rhythmic progression rather than to act as a selling point on their own.

The visuals are an interesting blend of traits with character models absolutely rife with detail, occasionally at the expense of the backgrounds. Then just as quickly, that relationship can completely inverse with background art that is simply stunning to behold. Again though, the viewer gets a definite sense that the show's creators deliberately avoided going too far in any single direction that could possibly detract from the story being told.

The fact that the first season consists of 39 episodes spanning nine DVDs should act as some indication to the type of pacing one is to expect. Almost like sipping hot coffee or sitting down to read the newspaper, Saiunkoku is best enjoyed at a relaxed pace and is a sort of acquired taste. Action junkies may be quick to dismiss the show once the opening narration (which is almost like something from Lord of the Rings) fades to a semi--contemporary setting where a young teacher tells the tale to her wide-eyed students and similarly diehard fans of the risqué will likely grow tired of waiting for lead character Shurei Hong and King Ryuki Shi to just hurry up and get it on.

The viewer who will get the most from this series is most likely someone who enjoys Japanese culture and politics coupled to fantastic artwork and youthful protagonists. I wouldn't even think of suggesting that the show's for everyone but for the few it really is for, prepare to be impressed."
Romance/Intrigue fans
Archaic Tears | 09/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you love a good heroine story chock full of romance and political intrigue with some humor tossed in then this series is for you. I think its safe to compare it to Mysterious Play (Fushigi Yugi) as there are a few similarities between them namely the romantic circles this series leads you on in addition to a bit of the political crazyness that also somewhat surrounded Fushigi Yugi (ie: the wars)

In any case if romance is what your looking for with a steady moving plot line you may enjoy this series. I do have to warn though it takes a few episodes to really get the feel of this series but I found myself watching seasons 1 and 2 and being pleased with both."
One of the Best
Saiyuki | 11/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I'm a big anime fan, have seen a lot of it, and, I think that everyone who claims to be a fan should see this anime at least once. With a lot of talk of politics, it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I promise that it makes up for it with drama, romance, intrigue, rather cool fighting scenes, and a great deal of humor. Laugh-out-loud funny, with a solid plot, and startling plot twists. The characters are simply amazing and well presented so that you can connect with them, some of whom have some rather fascinating oddities (one who always wears a mask, one who can get lost within two steps, etc), and you fall in love with all of them. Even the villains are fascinating and make you want to see more of them! The English dub, which I was rather worried about, is actually one of the better jobs I've seen done (good choice of voice actors as well). So I rate this a MUST see, it has something for everyone, you won't regret it."
A Very Entertaining Series Of Feudal Times And The Might Of
Rich | CA | 10/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I've never seen the series Twelve Kingdoms but even without that this series will entertain most anime fans regardless if their more into the action or mecha animes. The series is a nice woven story of court life, the intrigue and political back dealings of the royal court, and the personal lives of the new emperor and his friends. The series main female character Shurei Hong a young female noble of an impoverished home whose dream is to be a governmental official but cannot because she is a woman finds a unique loophole when a powerful lord of the royal court makes her an offer, be the consort to the new emperor and teach him to be more refine and proper in the court since the scandal of his seemingly homosexual dalliances have caused quite a stir in the court. Along the way in her new position she meets new friends and new enemies in the court as the people in the shadows who wish to keep the emperor under their hold see her as a real threat to their power, but young Shurei has her own agenda as well as she wishes to show the young and seemingly somewhat naive emperor how the regular people live and how he should try and better their lives instead of just satisfying the nobles of the court. The series does have undertones of same sex relations but nothing hardcore and almost humorous in some cases, but if their are people who find that sort of thing offensive than this series is one they should pass over. The series has a nice touch of drama, humor, a little action, and a nice touch of romance(With a man and woman), the animation is very well done and the voice cast for the English/Japanese actors/actresses were great for their roles they voices in the series, The extras sadly aren't much just the usual trailers and textless intro/ending songs. The series for this set is all 39 episodes on nine dvds so for this price and how entertaining the series was this is a must have for any anime fan..."