Ryu’s Musings – The Story of Saiunkoku vol1&2

Posted on January 25th, 2012 by Ryu Sheng |

a Language: English
Direction: Right to Left
by: Kairi Yura (Art) Sai Yukino (Story)
Publisher: Viz Media, Shojo Beat Imprint
Type: Series
Genre: Shojo, Romance, Comedy

Synopsis:

Shurei Hong, destitute but of noble birth, has always dreamed of working as a civil servant in the imperial court of Saiunkoku, but women are barred from holding office. The emperor Ryuki, however, refuses to take command, leaving everything to his advisors. Shurei is asked to become a consort to the emperor to persuade the ne’er-do-well ruler to govern.

There’s way to many characters to do individually, so I wont even bother trying 😀

I was seriously torn over this series, on the one had it was a conversion, from anime to manga, and it was from Viz. Those two elements on their own would have been enough for me to give this series a wide birth. Yet, despite that, I LOVED the anime. So I decided to take the plunge.

Before I get into this I want to set something straight, when I say I loved the anime I mean I loved the fansubed version, not that bastardised piece of garbage that was foisted off on us, which yes I did buy.

Anyway, I loved the anime so decided to give the manga a try. And to be fair it has won me over and I will be picking up the remaining volumes.

This series is very character heavy, we have the three main leads, Shurei, Seiren, and Ryuki. Then there’s all the other half mains: Shuei, Koyu, Shoka, Shusui, Kourin, the 3 sages, and those are just from the first series. You can’t really class them as secondary characters either, since they do play a huge role in the series.b

There is one other thing which makes this series well worth picking up, this  conversion was done by the original creators. The series was originally a series of light novels (currently at 22 volumes) and was then an anime and finally a manga. Since the original creators do the conversion the character designs tend to be faithful, not to mention the story remains almost true to the original.

Admittedly there are some differences, and if I’m honest these differences do tend to rub me the wrong way, though they’re honestly only small differences.

The manga is an adaptation of the anime, and it is a fairly good adaptation. However I have to admit I don’t like the pacing, which is faster than the anime. I don’t like this since it moves their relationship along at to fast a pace and skips certain events that help to build their (Shurei and Ryuki’s) relationship. The manga version simply “tells” you the relationship and doesn’t really give it a chance to breath and grow. This is also true for the relationship between Ryuki, Shuei and Koyu, which is a disappointment.

There are several other changes as well, though until the series is over it’s going to be hard to judge whether these were good or bad changes. As a fan of the anime my initial reaction is that all change is bad hehe but I’ll try to hold my resentment till it’s over.

The story doesn’t do so well in manga  however, it lacks the comedy, both raw and situational, that made the anime series so good. In part this is due to the VA’s in the anime bringing the series to life. You don’t get this in a manga, which makes it a bit flat, some of the comedy is lost as well.

Viz did an okay job on the editing I have to admit. A good choice of fonts for the different things being said, as well as narration and thought boxes. They also have good placement for the most part. Though I found it very frustrating they placed the translation notes in the in the spice of the manga, meaning I was having to damage the spine to read them.

Where they really failed for me was in the translation though. The anime is quite clear that the lead girl is called Kou Shurei (or Shurei Kou if you want to go the Viz route). However they decided in all their wisdom to rename her Shurei Hong, and that is something I find unforgivable. You do NOT go renaming characters, especially when their real name is already known. It just means the reader will always be wondering what else has been changed.

What really surprised me however, and it was a pleasant surprise, is that the volumes contain their original colour pages. While Kairi’s art looks amazing in black and white, it takes on a whole new lease of life in colour and becomes stunning.

Despite my miss-giving’s over the way Viz handled this series, I do think it’s worth a read if you’re into shojo with a comedy twist. Sadly it doesn’t seem to be getting published all that fast, taking an entire year for Viz to publish just five volumes. Which given how fast they churn out Naruto and Bleach volumes it’s ridiculously slow. Hopefully Viz will ramp up the releases a bit in time to a more speedy schedule.

I’m also still living in hope that someone like DMP (or their new DMG imprint) will pick up the Light Novels!!

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