Ryūki Shi

Infobox animanga character
name = Ryūki Shi
series = The Story of Saiunkoku


caption = Ryūki as seen in the anime series.
first = Novel, Manga Volume 1
Episode 1 in the anime
last =
creator = Sai Yukino
voiced by = Tomokazu Seki
nickname =
alias =
age = 19 ("at the start of the series")
gender = Male
born =
death =
occupation =
title = Emperor
relatives = Seiran Shi (Elder brother),
previous Emperor Senka (Father, deceased),
Four brothers (all deceased),
Mother (deceased),
Yuri-hime (aunt)

nihongo|Ryūki Shi|紫 劉輝|Shi Ryūki is a fictional character in the novel, manga and anime series, "The Story of Saiunkoku".

Background

Ryūki is the youngest of his six royal brothers. Even so, he didn't have much attention from his father, Emperor Shi Senka. In the novel, it is even stated that Ryūki didn't know what his father looks like.

Childhood

In the novel, it is mentioned that Ryūki looks a lot like his mother, the Sixth Consort. Sadly, his mother never loved him and he barely knew his father, previous Emperor Shi Senka. He never even knew what his father looked like in his childhood days. He was once saved from drowning by his father, but he didn't know who the man was. The 'scary man' called little Ryūki 'rice cake' since Ryūki's cheeks were white and stretched very well when he pinched it.

As a child, Ryūki was badly treated by his mother and his brothers, except for his brother Seien, who seemed to be the only one who truly cared for him. His other brothers and mother used to beat Ryūki and lock him in a storage house for hours at a time, telling him his birth order was bad and that he stole affection from his siblings.

These experiences has led to a lingering fear of the dark and sleeping alone. Ryūki often took refuge in the garden or the Imperial Archives, where he first encountered Shōka. He tutored the young prince and encouraged War General Taifu Sō to teach him swordsmanship.

In a short story titled Suzuran no saku koro ni ("In the Lily of the Valley Season"), the reasons as to why Ryūki's mother hated him was clearer. She was previously a famous courtesan in the Red Light District. She then became the sixth consort of the previous Emperor Shi Senka, and was convinced that her beauty and charms alone will win his heart. She was wrong however, because the Emperor never really cared about his consorts and had always had his eyes on another woman. Her giving birth to the Emperor's sixth son, Ryūki, didn't change a thing and she was frustrated by it. She was very arrogant and conscious about her looks, and was highly envious of Lady Suzuran's (Seien's mother) beauty, who didn't need cosmetics to preserve her beauty. She also claimed that giving birth to Ryūki took her beauty from her. This made her hate Ryūki even more and abused him all the time.

In this short story, it was revealed that the Sixth Consort (at that time) was about to throw a vase on Ryūki's head, but luckily, his elder brother Seien is there to stop her in time. Seien, enraged at how the Sixth consort treated Ryūki, reminded her of her position that was beneath Ryūki's since he was a direct child of the Emperor and she was only an ex-prostitute. Seien said that if she was so afraid of losing her beauty, then she should ask for his mother's cosmetics since his mother still remained beautiful after giving birth to him. Seien also warned her that he could easily throw her into the pond nearby. She realized that he is capable of doing so. Then after they left, Seien was putting some medicine on Ryūki's wounds.

Ryūki refused to move to Seien's palace no matter how many times his brother asked him. Ryūki, however, was interested at Seien's mother, Lady Suzuran. Seien told him that his mother was beautiful and kind (a lie that Seien made because he knew it was the response Ryūki wanted). Seien also told Ryūki that Lady Suzuran was in poor health, and this made Ryūki want to meet her even more. He later did, and he brought flowers to the surprised Lady Suzuran, who was touched by the kind gesture but asked him to never come see her again. Saddened by her request, Ryūki obeyed his second stepmother's request, but kept sending her drawings of Suzuran flowers which touched the lady even more. While she awaited her execution in the palace dungeon after being accused of treason, Lady Suzuran remembered Ryūki and asked the Emperor to pay more attention to the child. It was perhaps the most selfless thing she had ever done, and a sign that little Ryūki left a mark in Lady Suzuran's heart -something he never received from his own mother.

The lack of affection from his mother remained even at his mother's death. Approximately six months after Seien confronted the Sixth Consort, her body was found floating in the pond at her palace by Ryūki. Her face was terribly disfigured, and the cause was because of the poison mixed in a bottle of cosmetics (reportedly sent by Seien but was actually sent by Lady Suzuran), but the poison was not lethal. The cause of her death was an impulsive suicide from insanity triggered by the disfigurement. Ryūki lost his memory of the incident due to shock and only felt a hole in his heart whenever he tried to remember her. Despite the abuse that he received from his mother, he admitted that he didn't want to give up on her and that was why he never wanted to move from her palace.

Relationships

hūrei Kō

Ryūki first encountered Shūrei at the sakura garden in the palace. He didn't know at that time that she was the consort sent by Shō-Taishi and believed Shūrei when she said she was a newly arrived maid-in-waiting for the Imperial Harem. At that first meeting, he nervously introduced himself as Ran Shūei. Shūrei, of course, didn't believe him since she had met the real Ran Shūei and Ryūki wasn't wearing any military official apparel. His first impression of Shūrei was the image of a nagging mother, who wouldn't hesitate to yell at him or slap his hand whenever he over-indulged himself with her manjuu buns.

Despite Shūrei's stern nature, Ryūki fell in love with her from the first moment they met, though she returned his affections believing that he was only interested in men. Ryūki uses this as an opportunity to stay with Shūrei. Also during that time, Ryūki, in order to spend more time with Shūrei, acted as if he didn't care about the political problems of the country, so that Shūrei would come to motivate him into studying.

During Shūrei's time as a consort, Ryūki has protected her on a few occasions without her knowing about it. When one of her maids-in-waiting, Kōrin, tried to poison Shūrei with the wine she drinks, Ryūki, realizing the wine was poisoned, drank it in her stead knowing that she would not survive the effects of the poison while he could. Ryūki was also the one who rescued Shūrei when she was kidnapped and even figured out who was the one behind her kidnapping and assassination attempts.

Just as Shūrei's stint as a consort ended, Ryūki gave her a very public kiss, revealing that his interest in men was an act and that he was really interested in Shūrei herself. Soon after, he began sending Shūrei a lot of silly gifts, such as a big block of ice during the summer heat wave, and a voodoo doll.

During the time Shūrei worked in the palace under the guise of a boy named Shū, Ryūki felt Shūrei presence even then, which made her say that he has sharp senses. To make Shūrei return to the palace, he proposed to allow women to take part in the exam.

When Shūrei was about to leave for Sa province, Ryūki tells Shūrei that he loves her and he would not take any other women to be his wife other than her. He also wanted Shūrei to acknowledge him as a person and not as the Emperor. During their time alone, Ryūki kissed her.

Later in the first season, Ryūki gained more maturity and began to act more like an emperor. Shōka says that the more he acts like an emperor, the lonelier he will become. Now, the only one who will call him by his first name is Shūrei.

hi Seiran

He first encountered Seiran when the latter was appointed as a part of his personal army, around the same time that Shūrei became his consort. He realized that Shūrei confides in Seiran more, which irritates him. But in a way, he was also strangely drawn to Seiran. Seiran was the only person that could make Ryūki's recurring nightmares of Prince Seien disappear. In the anime, he realized Seiran's true identity (Prince Seien) when they combatted on the Swordsfighting Tournament. He recognized Seiran's unique swordsmanship as his brother Seien's, so he couldn't focus on the tournament. In the novel and the manga, Ryūki learned about Seiran's true identity by the letter that Seiran trusted with Ran Shūuei.

In his childhood, the only brother that cared for Ryūki was Seien. Ryūki first encountered Seien when he was three years old. Seien found the abused Ryūki crying in the garden and asked why Ryūki was crying. At first, Seien didn't realize that Ryūki was his youngest brother. Ryūki replied "Sa, sabishii ... no desu" (I am lonely). This innocent remark seemed to touch Seien, who was at that time a cold and calculating child, and Seien recognized who the little boy was. Seien then lifted Ryūki and introduced himself. From that day on, they were inseperable. They both gain benefit from the relationship. Ryūki no longer felt alone, and Seien learned from Ryūki on how to become more approachable and sincere.

When Seien was banished, both parties were devastated, especially Ryūki. He had recurring nighmares of chasing Seien's figure ever since he was a child. In the dream, Seien would always turn his back on Ryūki and the more Ryūki tried to catch up to Seien, the gap between them continue to broaden. Ryūki continues to wait for Seien's return and believed that Seien should be the true heir of the crown. On his coronation and initial days as Emperor of Saiunkoku, Ryūki often slacks off because he thinks he's only guarding the position until Seien returns (Ryūki wanted people to be irritated by the way he rules and cry out for Seien).

In the past, Seien presented the sword Bakuya to young Ryūki after Seien won the Swordsfighting Tournament and Seien himself wields the sword Kanshő. When Seien was exiled, both royal swords were kept by Ryūki. Upon Shūrei and Eigetsu's appointment as Governors of Sa Province, Seiran was also appointed as their personal guard and Ryūki returns the sword Kanshő to its owner.

He lovingly calls Seiran 'Aniue' (elder brother) every time they were alone, even though the latter forbids it. He admires and trusted Seiran very much that he didn't feel the need of presenting a flower of trust to Seiran. He also listens and heeds Seiran's advices.

Like Seiran, Ryūki is also a brilliant swordsfighter with skills that only Ran Shūei could beat.

Rule as Emperor

In the second season, Ryūki's character developed tremendously and he became more aware of his responsibilities as Emperor. At the end of the season, he embraced his destiny to rule Saiunkoku. From the novel, it is known that Ryūki's rule is considered much later to be the Golden Age of Saiunkoku. Tei Yūshun serves as his right hand man and Prime Minister. Ran Shūuei and Shi Seiran are considered the best military officials in his time. Ri Koūyū and Kō Shūrei are considered the best civil officials. This is yet to be revealed in the anime, if there will be a third season.

Romantic Interest

In the initial episodes, he pretended that he was homosexual to prevent having children. He later fell deeply in love with the nagging mother figure of Shūrei (though the latter believes that he's more into Seiran) and proclaimed that he only wanted her as his consort. In the end of the first season of the anime, Ryūki said to Shūrei that she will be the only consort for him and he will wait for her for eternity. However, as he embraced his destiny as Emperor in the second season, Ryūki came to realize that it is an Emperor's duty to marry and produce the next heirs to the throne. It was because of this that he changed his mind about waiting forever and gave Shūrei a time limit. Should she continue to reject being his consort than Ryūki would take Jyuusan-hime as his consort even though he only loves Shūrei. According to Hyo Ruka, Ryūki shares the same fate as his father, Senka, who only loved one woman in his lifetime and was forced to marry other women for political reasons.

It is still unknown whether Shūrei will eventually become his consort or not. But the narrator of the novel mentioned that a painting done by Heki Yuukoku (a genius artist from the Heki clan) of Shūrei and Ryūki gazing at the sakura trees side by side will be famous for many years to come.


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