Story of Saiunkoku 6

May 10, 2013

Kairi Yura / Sai Yukino – Viz – 2012 – 9 volumes

I do like this series. I like the art, the setting in ancient China, and I love the fact that the goal is for Shurei to become a civil servant, a difficult thing since no woman can be one. It actually sidelines the romance with the prince in order to achieve this goal, which is unheard of in shoujo manga. But I have a bad habit of reading the same volume I just finished when I pick this series up, so I’m a few volumes behind. Part of this is because many of the chapters deal with side stories, and all of them include a huge cast of characters I can’t be bothered to remember. My ardor for this series has cooled, but I’m going to try to read the last several volumes straight through and see if I can’t remember why I liked it.

This volume starts off on a bad foot, in the middle of a story about a character with multiple personalities from an outside city getting his token for the civil servant exam stolen, and Shurei and company have to have a big fight to get it back. In addition to the main set of men who usually look after Shurei (who all look the same to me, and don’t have distinct enough roles in the story anymore for me to tell apart), there’s an underworld set that’s helping her through this trial, none of whom are likely to factor into the story again. And if they do, it’s going to be with a side story like this that has no real bearing on the plot.

But this chapter does introduce a character that proves to be important for the second half, and is a young boy to boot, so I can tell him apart from everyone else. The second half of the book find he and Shurei in the same boat during their trial period as civil servants, as the others who passed the exam, and the instructors, do not want women and children joining their ranks. They’re forced to clean and do more paperwork than any of the other candidates. This part of the book was more enjoyable, especially seeing Shurei’s resolve to deal with it all in order to pursue her dream. But it was hard for me to believe all of her “friends” just sat back and let this happen as a character building exercise. It was a pretty intense hazing. But the clouds are breaking in the last chapter, so maybe the next volume will be cheerier.

On one hand, I hate to say this was a slow volume, because the post-exam story was exactly the plot of the series. But I was so uninterested in the first half of the book that I couldn’t really get into it. Let me see if volume 7 is any better for me.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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