The Story of Saiunkoku (彩雲国物語, Saiunkoku Monogatari, lit. "Tale of the Land of Colored Clouds") 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. English translations of volumes 1 - 9 of the comics are also available at Kadokawa's eBook store.
The anime adaptation, produced by Madhouse Studios, was directed by Jun Shishido, and broadcast on the Japanese television network NHK on Saturday mornings. The first season began airing on April 8, 2006, and completed its run on February 24, 2007, airing a total of 39 episodes. The second season, titled Saiunkoku Monogatari Second Series (彩雲国物語 第2シリーズ) began airing on April 7, 2007 and consists of another 39 episodes, ending its run on March 8, 2008.
Set in the fictional empire of Saiunkoku, Saiunkoku Monogatari tells the story of a kingdom who is recuperating after a tumultuous war that left the throne in the hands of an incapable Emperor and how a girl's dream of serving the Imperial Court changed the lives of the people around him and molded a new beginning for Saiunkoku.
Hong Shuurei, 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. Shuurei 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, Shi Ryuuki, has gained for 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. 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 and if she succeeds, she will receive a reward of 500 gold coins.
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 Colour 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 Coloured 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/Indigo) — The most powerful clan in Saiunkoku, it plays a dominant role in national politics.
- Hong (紅, Kō, Crimson) — Equal power to Ran clan, with which it is known as the 'highest of nobility'.[n 1]
- Heki (碧, Heki, Jade Green) — The family known to master both arts and literature.
- Ko (黄, Kō/Ki, Yellow/Saffron) - 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.
Not included among the eight noble clans is the Hyo (縹, Hyou, Light Indigo) clan, a mysterious clan with a talent for sorcery. They rarely play any political role, though it also has 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.
|01||Hajimari no Kaze wa Akaku (はじまりの風は紅く)||October 31, 2003||ISBN 4-04-449901-2|
|02||Ougon no Yakusoku (黄金の約束)||February 28, 2004||ISBN 4-04-449902-0|
|03||Hana wa Murasaki Miya ni Saku (花は紫宮に咲く)||July 31, 2004||ISBN 4-04-449903-9|
|04||Omoi wa Haruka naru Chato e (想いは遙かなる茶都へ)||September 30, 2004||ISBN 4-04-449904-7|
|05||Shikkoku no Tsuki no Utage (漆黒の月の宴)||March 1, 2005||ISBN 4-04-449905-5|
|06||Kake yuku Hakugin no Sunadokei (欠けゆく白銀の砂時計)||July 30, 2005||ISBN 4-04-449907-1|
|07||Kokoro wa Ai Yori mo Fukaku (心は藍よりも深く)||September 30, 2005||ISBN 4-04-449908-X|
|08||Hikari Furu Heki no Daichi (光降る碧の大地)||February 1, 2006||ISBN 4-04-449909-8|
|09||Koubai wa Yoru ni Kaoru (紅梅は夜に香る)||September 1, 2006||ISBN 4-04-449911-X|
|10||Ryokufuu wa Ha no Gotoku (緑風は刃のごとく)||October 1, 2006||ISBN 4-04-449912-8|
|11||Aoarashi ni Yureru Tsukikusa (青嵐にゆれる月草)||April 1, 2007||ISBN 978-4-04-449913-6|
|12||Hakukou wa Ten o Mezasu (白虹は天をめざす)||September 1, 2007||ISBN 978-4-04-449914-3|
|13||Reimei ni Kohaku wa Kirameku (黎明に琥珀はきらめく)||May 1, 2008||ISBN 978-4-04-449916-7|
|14||Kokuchou wa Ori ni Torawareru (黒蝶は檻にとらわれる)||December 1, 2008||ISBN 978-4-04-449917-4|
|15||Kuraki Tasogare no Miya (暗き黄昏の宮)||December 1, 2009||ISBN 978-4-04-449919-8|
|16||Aoki Meikyuu no Miko (蒼き迷宮の巫女)||April 1, 2010||ISBN 978-4-04-449920-4|
|17||Shian no Gyokuza (Jou) (紫闇の玉座（上）)||June 1, 2011||ISBN 978-4-04-449921-1|
|18||Shian no Gyokuza (Ge) (紫闇の玉座（下）)||July 1, 2011||ISBN 978-4-04-449922-8|
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.
|01||Shu ni Majiwareba Beni (朱にまじわれば紅)||April 28, 2005||ISBN 4-04-449906-3|
|02||Ai Yori Dedete Ao (藍より出でて青)||April 1, 2006||ISBN 4-04-449910-1|
|03||Tonari no Hyakugou wa Shiro (隣の百合は白)||November 1, 2007||ISBN 978-4-04-449915-0|
|04||Kouryou no Yume (黄粱の夢)||May 1, 2009||ISBN 978-4-04-449918-1|
|05||Gaikotsu wo Kou (骸骨を乞う)||March 26, 2012||ISBN 978-4-04-110139-1|