- Episodes : 39
- Genre : Historical, Romance, Harem, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Adventure
- Airing Date : April 2006 - February 2007
- Producers : Madhouse, FUNimation Entertainment, NHK, Sogo Vision
Preview (No Spoilers)
In the land of Saiunkoku, the young emperor is unreliable and unfit to run the country. Despite being the daughter of the prestigious Kou house, Shuurei is constantly working to make ends meet. One day, Shuurei accepts the job of being the emperor's new concubine, but only to turn him into a proper emperor. While residing within the walls of the emperor's palace, Shuurei's dream to be a court official is revived and she finds herself diving headfirst into a world of new opportunities and adventures.
Although there are many new things to come, the country of Saiunkoku is still haunted by their own past. Is the new emperor fit to bring Saiunkoku into a new age? This is Saiunkoku Monogatari.
Shuurei Kou is a member of the prestigious Kou family, but her immediate family is poor so she continually works hard at many different jobs to pay the bills. She is overly concerned with money and how wastefully some people spend it. She won't hesitate to slap you in the head for buying something totally unnecessary. Of course, don't start thinking that Shuurei is willing to do just anything for money; She has standards, too!
As the only female in her household, Shuurei is responsible for many household chores as well as cooking. Featured throughout the anime are Shuurei's red bean bao (buns) that just get your mouth watering, but she has been seen making other traditional Chinese dishes like sweet and sour pork or dim sum. Even with all of her talents, Shuurei can also play the erhu allowing the melodic notes of the ancient Chinese instrument to enchant the souls of those around her.
Although she was born in a time where women did not hold important positions, Shuurei dreams of being a court official. She is highly educated in many things about the country from the geography of the land and the welfare of the people to the political struggles within the palace.
In spite of all her stellar qualities, Shuurei has her own share of faults, especially when it comes to men. Shuurei is gullible at times and oblivious in other situations. She does consider the people around her, but if she has a goal, she cannot be deterred from her goal. With that in mind, can you not imagine why she's my girl crush?
1. Strategic and Clever
It takes brains and guts to take on the politics of Saiunkoku, so it is no wonder that she is very clever and a great strategist. In season 1 episode 32, Shuurei is seeking out information and she thinks up the best way to accomplish that: by hiding amongst the help. Servants will always know everything going on within their workplace and gossip is plenty. Shuurei knows this so she dresses in the uniform of the maids to find out the information that she needs, but this is just one of her many great ideas throughout the series.
Time and time again, Shuurei contemplates the best course of action for every predicament that she finds herself in. She doesn't think about what is the easiest action to take or what might give immediate results; Shuurei chooses what will have the best outcomes overall. Even when she became separated from her compared prior to episode 32, Shuurei shows them that she is making headway in her journey by purchasing all of the gan lu tea as she travels through the land of Saiunkoku. It is this brilliance that makes her stand above so many other shoujo heroine.
2. Isn't Ruled by Her Emotions
Everyone always complains that women think with their emotions, but that isn't the case with Shuurei. In the above picture, is taking out her frustrations on the dough she uses to make red bean bao. While the picture really doesn't do the scene justice, I wanted to illustrate that Shuurei finds other outlets for her anger. Throughout the series, Shuurei is constantly serving her delicious foods to her male companions. Even when they frustrate her, she does not let that change her generous nature. Instead, she takes out her frustrations in things like her cooking. This allows her to stay cool headed when dealing important matters such as politics.
People think that women would make terrible leaders; that matriarchs are pretty much flawed systems doomed to fail, but amongst the men, Shuurei has proven time and time again that despite what people are willing to throw at her, she will not let them get to her. Shuurei will do what is right and not what she wants. Rip away her status, her powers, everything she works for; Shuurei will continue to work hard to get it all back. Scoff her, put her down, belittle her at government meetings---it doesn't matter; Shuurei is always going to stay level headed and rule with her brain and not her emotions.
One of the top qualities of Shuurei is her wit and backbone. In episode 31, Sakujun of the Sa clan threw out all of the other varieties of tea to get Shuurei to make him her Gan Lu tea that she stated is only for those dear to her. Instead of bending to his wishes like bamboo in the wind, Shuurei pours him a cup of hot water!
Throughout Saiunoku Monogatari, Shuurei shows just how spunky she can be. When one guy gives her trouble, she does not yield. She's ready to throw it all back in their face. There's a scene where Sakujun irks Shuurei and then, as she is storming out of the room, requests that she do his hair. Don't think she was quite so docile. His hair was a mass of knots!
Shuurei has personality. She's willing to do things just because she is asked to or forced to. She's a heroine with a backbone!
4. A Hard Worker/Unafraid to Dirty Her Hands
If you ever were to say that being the daughter of Kou family made Shuurei soft, then you haven't met her. Shuurei is not scared of getting her hands dirty. In Saiunkoku Monogatari, Shuurei was given the task of being the body double of Ran family princess. Did death threats or assassination attempts deter her? Nope, Shuurei persevered and finished her assignment!
It doesn't matter what task is given to her, Shuurei gives all of her effort in everything even when it puts her life in peril. Throughout the series, Shuurei proves herself not through her words but through her actions. She handles government issues with her own hands, never fails to see a task through till the end, and works hard to help others even when her future is not secure.
Fear does not seem to exist or have any influence on Shuurei. As a reverse harem heroine, Shuurei is far from weak. She isn't solely fixated on eating or cooking, though she excels in that too. Shuurei isn't handed everything so easily; she works hard to be as talented and skilled as she is. She is a step above many shoujo heroines!
5. Breaks Down Gender Barriers
In Saiunkoku Monogatari, season 2 episode 7, Shuurei and a physician stumble upon a treatment that could cure a disease that is running rampant through the Sa Province. In an effort to find enough physicians to treat the people, Shuurei brilliantly goes to the local Merchant Guild and convinces the physicians to assist her by bribing the head physician with Doshu's texts.
Shuurei doesn't let her gender limit her. Knowing full well that everyone will look down on her, Shuurei brought everything she needed to get the help she needed. Shuurei didn't wait for someone to help her or have her co-governor do the necessary negotiations. Shuurei had quickly devised a way of saving hundreds of lives by acquiring the help she needed. she even goes to the Sa Province with the physicians, putting her health in danger, to save the lives of hundreds of civilians.
Still, it took a lot of work for Shuurei to even get to her position as a governor. Even though women were previously not allowed to become government officials, Shuurei had long studied so that she could be as knowledgeable as one and surpassed the barriers with the help of Emperor Ryuuki to become the first woman court official in Saiunkoku. Shuurei is constantly working hard to prove that women are capable of great things.
I hope after this, you have gained a little bit more appreciation for Shuurei Kou of Saiunkoku Monogatari. Despite being the heroine of a reverse harem, Shuurei is not docile, shy, or easily taken advantage of. She has a strong heart, a great character, and aspirations that make her truly a woman to be reckoned with. That's why she's featured as my Honey's Crush Wednesday.