The Story of Saiunkoku is a series of Japanese light novels written by Sai Yukino and illustrated by Kairi Yura. As of July 2011, the eighteenth and final volume was released, concluding the series. Four side story anthologies have also been released, collecting stories originally published in The Beans magazine.
A manga version, also illustrated by Kairi Yura, is serialized in Beans Ace, which is published by Kadokawa Shoten. However, when Beans Ace ended, the manga was moved to Monthly Asuka. Currently, nine tankōbon volumes have been released. The series has been licensed by Viz Media for an English release in North America as part of their Shojo Beat imprint.
Saiunkoku is a world of eight provinces or houses, each named after a different color.
Set in the fictional empire of Saiunkoku, the story centers on Shurei Hong (Kou), a descendant of a noble family that has fallen on hard times. Her father works as a librarian in the Imperial palace, a post which offers prestige and respect, but little compensation. Shurei teaches in the temple school and works odd jobs to make ends meet, but her dream is to pass the imperial examinations and take a post in government, a path forbidden to women.
The new Emperor, Ryuuki Shi, has gained a reputation for being uninterested in courtly matters and for flaunting his love for men. So the Emperor’s Grand Adviser makes a startling offer for her to join the imperial household for six months as the young Emperor’s consort and teach the Emperor to be a responsible ruler. She easily accepts the invitation as she will receive a reward of 500 gold coins if she succeeds. The mysterious Seiran, a young man who was adopted by her father, goes with her as Ryuuki’s bodyguard. Entering the imperial palace revives Shuurei’s dream of being a court official.
The story details the hardships of creating change, especially as a woman, Shurei’s growing relationship with the Emperor and other members of the court, the intrigues of imperial politics, and her commitment to better herself and her country.
According to legend, Saiunkoku was once infested by demons who threw the country into turmoil. A brave young warrior named Gen Sō (蒼玄 Sō Gen) gathered together the Eight Enlightened Sages of Color and drove away the demons.
Sō Gen then forged the nation of Saiunkoku and became its first emperor. After Sō Gen’s death, the eight sages disappeared, but according to legend they still exist among the people. A beautiful shrine was built for the Eight Colored Sages and still stands within the Imperial City.
Saiunkoku had always been divided into eight provinces named after colors of the rainbow. Six hundred years ago, the Emperor commanded each ruling clan to change its name to match its province. Commoners were forbidden to use the same family names as nobles.
- List of Saiunkoku’s provinces
- Ran (藍 Ran, Blue) — The most powerful clan in Saiunkoku, it plays a dominant role in national politics.
- Kou (紅 Kō, Crimson) — Equal power to Ran clan, with which it is known as the ‘highest of nobility’.
- Heki (碧 Heki, Jade Green) — The family known to master both arts and literature.
- Ko (黄 Kō/Ki, Yellow) – This clan is known for being the merchants capitol. During times of war they are known as War Merchants, for selling weapons and so on.
- Haku (白 Haku, White) – Military family
- Koku (黒 Koku, Black) – Military family
- Sa (茶 Sa, Brown) — The clan which held the least power in the land, trying to take their family honor higher up to a powerful degree.
- Shi (紫 Shi, Purple) — The Imperial family.
- Hyou (縹 Hyou, Light Indigo) — A mysterious clan with a talent for sorcery, although rarely playing any political role it also had one of great influence over the people. It was founded by the first emperor’s sister. Women from the Imperial Family are sent there to practice on how to become well-mannered.
Written by Sai Yukino and illustrated by Kairi Yura, the light novel series The Story of Saiunkoku has been serialized in The Beans since 2003. The individual chapters are collected and published in full novel volumes by Kadokawa Shoten with the first volume released in Japan on October 31, 2003. As of April 2010, 16 volumes have been released for the series.
Written by Sain Yukino and illustrated by Kairi Yura, a manga adaptation of The Story of Saiunkoku began serialization in Beans Ace in 2005 where it continues to run. However, on October 9, 2009, the magazine ended its publication and the series continued in Monthly Asuka till 2012. The individual chapters are published in tankōbon volumes by Kadokawa Shoten, with the first released in June 2006. As of April 2012, nine volumes have been released. The series has been licensed by Viz Media for an English release beginning in November 2010.
Sai Yukino has written a series of short side stories for The Story of Saiunkoku which are published in collected volumes by Kadokawa Shoten. The first volume was released in April 2005; as of May 2009, four volumes have been released.