Story of Saiunkoku Season 1 Collection DVD Review

If one were to judge this work solely by its cover artwork, one would be doing it quite a disservice. On first appearance, with so many handsome men and only one main female character in sight, it would seem that this should be nothing more than a "reverse" harem, where one female is chased after by a group of handsome males. The heavy use of pinks and other traditionally feminine colors in the packaging would also seem to point in this direction, and no doubt there are many female fans of the original light novel series by Sai Yukino, which made its debut back in 2003. You could not really blame male anime fans for wishing to run away from all of the pastel colors and flowers and "bishies" (bishounen, "pretty boys," in Japanese).

As I said, however, that would be to do the show, and the story it tells, quite a disservice. For instead of a brainless "reverse" harem (by the way, this is not a trait limited to "reverse" harems; the great majority of "standard" harems, with one male surrounded by a gaggle of horny females, are about as brain dead as is humanly possible), what the Story of Saiukoku offers is a very intricately plotted and highly complex tale of ambition, greed, corruption, intrigue, and courage centered upon the royal court of the mysterious land of Saiunkoku, which translates roughly as the Land (koku) of the Colored Clouds (saiun). The country and setting created by Sai Yukino is modeled very closely on ancient China, though without really being tied to one particular period, but that does not matter, since this is fantasy, not history.

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