The Story of Saiunkoko (Volume 1) Kairi Yura & Sai Yukino
The manga The Story of Saiunkoko is an adaptation of the Japanese light novel series of the same name written by Sai Yukino. Kairi Yura, who did illustrations for the light novels also illustrates this manga based on those stories. This is a historical story that follows the clans of Saiunkoko, a fictional land, with eight provinces named for the different colors of the rainbow and whose noble families are named after the provinces they rule. Immediately, we are introduced to Shurei Hong (of the Crimson clan), who's down-on-her-luck. All but one of her servants have left her and her father since they can't afford their salaries any longer, and they're lucky if they can get actual rice on their plates. When Shurei is offered a chance to make a good deal of money for her clan, she jumps at the chance, only to learn that her duty is to become the new young emperor's consort, to teach him to rule like a responsible leader. Shurei does as is asked of her, finding a reluctant ruler who's much more than he seems, and learns to enjoy the company of the court. There's plenty of intrigue and gossip floating about the palace, in what is a pretty fun story. Shurei, being used to hard work, is less spoiled than many she encounters and has to keep her crass ways in check, but as a reader, I couldn't help but root for her as she attempts to teach the emperor in the ways of ruling (not to mention getting the chance to speak to him in the first place). Yura does a fine job illustrating this story, pacing things nicely to slowly show friendships grow, and offers nice banter between many of the supporting characters. Some surprises aren't hard to see coming, but it's just a nice story of this web of friends in a palace full of expectations. I can't say that The Story of Saunkoko is one of the most exciting books I've read in recent memory, but it held my interest and left me curious about what's around the corner for these characters I've come to know.