The Story of Saiunkoku, Vol. 1 - Kairi Yura, Sai Yukino My local library is making a liar out of me. I've always said that I'm not a shojo fan (exceptions being Fruits Basket and Ouran Host Club), but I have now found two series in the shojo genre that are amazing and I'll be rereading them for years to come.

This series is set in a fictional (and slightly fantastical) world that draws heavily on particular eras of Chinese and possibly Japanese imperial courts. The main character, Shurei, is the daughter of a noble but poor civil servant working in the palace archives. She desperately wants to serve as a civil servant as well but only males may take the exam, so though she has all the knowledge to be an exceptional worker, she can do little but try to support her family.

Until an old adviser offers her the chance to put her knowledge to use. He will pay her to serve as a temporary consort to the new, young emperor who has shown little interest in his duties or in women in general. If she can train him to fulfill his duties, she will be richly rewarded. She agrees, but can't even find the prince to talk to him.

Finally, he meets her and comes to care for her a great deal. He learns her lessons, though you find out quickly he knows everything he needs, he is simply not fulfilling his duties. However, Shurei has given him a look at how the people have suffered, so he is at least attempting to be the emperor in some ways. Someone, however, is out to poison Shurei and he fights hard to keep her from even noticing as he also requests two of his retinue to focus on protecting his 'flower'.

There is a lot that goes on in this small manga. I've never seen a series pack so much characterization, plot, and explanations in one book and yet it doesn't feel forced or clunky. The pace is excellent and your interest is definitely held with little effort.

The only reason I'm not giving this full stars is I simply find the main character extraordinarily stupid at times. Ryuki, the emperor, all but puts on a Broadway spectacular on how much he cares for her but she simply refuses to see it. Some might see it as naivety or something but I think she willfully blinds herself to it. At times this becomes extremely hurtful.

Still, looking forward to the next volume!