Manga Review: The Story of Saiunkoku Volume Two

The Story of Saiunkoku Volume Two is a manga written by Sai Yukino and illustrated by Kairi Yura. This series is an adaptation of the YA novels written by Yukino and illustrated by Yura. This volume of The Story of Saiunkoku was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2011. The series is rated “T” for teens; from what I’ve read of the series so far, I would agree with this rating.

The Story of Saiunkoku Volume 2
Written by: Sai Yukino
Publisher: Kadokawa Shoten
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 1, 2011

Shurei Hong lives a destitute life, although she is of noble birth. She lives with her father, who works in the Royal Archives. A young man named Seiran also lives with them; he was taken in by Shurei’s father 13 years prior to the start of the series, and is the sole retainer of their household. He is also a skilled fighter and swordsman.

In Volume One, Shurei is approached by one of the Lord Advisors to become the consort for Ryuki, the emperor of Saiunkoku, and try to convince him to govern his country. Shurei accepts when she’s told how much she will be paid act as the emperor’s consort. Seiran accompanies her to the imperial court.

During this volume, Shurei discovers that Ryuki was only pretending to be ignorant, and she demands that she be allowed to return home immediately. She also doesn’t want to see Ryuki. We also discover that the hints being dropped in Volume One that Ryuki is in love with Shurei were legitimate.

It’s also discovered that Shurei’s things are being poisoned, but that Ryuki is able to remove the items, have the poison removed, and returned without Shurei know that he is doing this. Shurei is then kidnapped as part of a nefarious plot. Most of the remainder of the volume focuses on this plot, which includes a secret regarding Seiran, the attempts to poison Shurei, and an attempt to trap Ryuki.

After the first volume spent a lot of time establishing the characters and the world that they inhabit, Volume Two gets the action going rather quickly. As the nefarious plot is revealed, the reader becomes more and more interested in what’s going on, and I personally didn’t want to put the volume down. So much information is revealed in rather quick succession that it can be disruptive if you have to put the book down for any reason during this portion of Volume Two.

One of the biggest things in Volume Two for me was the fact that Ryuki becomes a much more likable character. This likability is reinforced in the side story, “The Flavor of Steamed Buns,” that is included in the back of the volume. This story takes place back when Shurei’s mother was still alive, and mother and daughter book make steamed buns, but her father always preferred Shurei’s. A younger Ryuki is being mistreated at the palace, and he befriends Shurei’s father; the two of them share the steamed buns that Shurei’s father brought with him to work. There’s a very touching moment that takes place with the steamed buns after Shurei’s mother has passed away. Personally, I thought this was a rather touching side story and that it helps to enhance the main story presented in the manga.

After reading Volume Two, I will need to find the time to track down more volumes of The Story of Saiunkoku in order to read them and find out what happens past this point. I also believe that fans of shojo manga stories will find enjoyment in The Story of Saiunkoku,

I wrote this review after reading a copy The Story of Saiunkoku Volume Two that I checked out through the King County Library System.

Additional post about The Story of Saiunkoku:

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