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The Shi Clan
The nineteen-year-old Emperor of Saiunkoku. Basically a big dork, albeit with Hidden Depths.
- Abusive Parents: His mother resented the fact that Emperor Senka didn't favor her, and took it out on Ryuuki. Senka wasn't actively abusive, but he won't be winning any father of the year awards where Ryuuki is concerned either.
- Acquired Poison Immunity
- Apparently Powerless Puppetmaster
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Ryuuki is a good enough swordsman to make it the semifinals of a combat tournament with some of the finest warriors in the empire. He also takes down a group of assassins in a pitch-dark room in order to rescue Shuurei, in spite of his own serious fear of the dark.
- Big Brother Worship: To Seien, the only one of his older brothers who was ever nice to him. This was especially true when they were kids, but it still shows: Ryuuki's main reason for refusing to rule is the hope that by making himself thoroughly objectionable and useless as Emperor, he will inspire someone to bring Seien back from exile to take the throne.
- Bi the Way: It turns out that Ryuuki's habit of spending the night with various male servants is because he's afraid of the dark, but as he explains to Shuurei, he is attracted to both men and women.
- The Chains of Commanding
- Chick Magnet: At one point, Shuurei uses him as fanservice for a jewelry shop, to help sell more pins to the ladies. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: When Shuurei encounters him at a brothel, he tries to save face by saying that he doesn't need to go there because he can do that sort of thing at Imperial Residence if he wants. Oops.
- Dogged Nice Guy
- The Emperor: Of the most benevolent sort.
- Happily Married: To Shuurei. It doesn't last long and he never re-marries.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy
- King Incognito: Frequently, especially earlier in the series, and on at least one occasion his subjects don't initially believe him when he does state his true identity. On the other hand, the first time it comes up it's almost immediately subverted: when they first meet, Ryuuki introduces himself to Shuurei as Ran Shuuei, but Shuurei sees through the lie instantly since she's already met the real Ran Shuuei, and who else but the Emperor would be wandering around the palace gardens in casual clothing in the middle of the day?
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- Obfuscating Stupidity: There's a reason that Ryuuki was the only one of the previous Emperor's six sons to survive the Imperial Court long enough to take the throne; he is considerably sharper than he chooses to let on.
- Parental Abandonment
- Reluctant Ruler
- Royal "We": In the original Japanese dialogue he refers to himself with a royal pronoun which serves essentially the same function, and is sometimes translated as the royal "we." It occasionally trips him up a little when he's being Emperor Incognito.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Shuurei's purpose in joining the Imperial Harem is to turn Ryuuki into this.
- Skilled, but Na´ve: Ryuuki is by no means incompetent but season 2 and the later novels show that he is severely inexperienced when dealing with older officials.
- Son of a Whore: It is stated in a side-story that his mother was a high class courtesan, which is yet another reason Ryuuki was The Unfavorite in the court.
- The Unfavorite: Ryuuki grew up at the absolute bottom of a pecking order of six princes and their mothers.
- Unexpected Successor: The youngest of six princes, he only became Emperor because one of his brothers was exiled and the rest executed for treason.
- Youngest Child Wins: May count as a straight example or a subversion, depending on your perspective; he may be the most successful of the previous emperor's children, but the series takes pains to show how much being emperor fails to make him happy. All things considered, the real winner of the happiness lottery is probably Seien/Seiran, making it a subversion.
Ryuuki's father, the previous Emperor, deceased by the time of the story.
- Abusive Parent: He attentively watches over his sons and has the policy of saving each of his sons' life once. However, he does not care about their personal well-being and does nothing to prevent the power struggle that leads to the death of four of them.
- The Emperor: An extremely charismatic tyrant whose effective rule is recognized by even his enemies.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The novels reveal that he died protecting his son Seien from a curse by the Hyou clan.
- Lonely at the Top
- Magnetic Hero: People who know him all comment on his charisma. Even the notoriously ruthless and independent-minded Ran triplets would follow him if he asked them.
- Parental Favoritism: While Senka is apathetic to all of his sons personally, Seien is definitely the one he favours. Senka took the curse meant for Seien, exiled the boy instead of executing him even with the charge of treason, and ordered the Black Wolf to take care of him.
- Posthumous Character
- Social Darwinist: Has shades of this with the way he pits his sons against each other to weed out the weak ones and openly challenges Ou Ki to overthrow him.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: To Seien.
The Kou (Hong) Clan
Our heroine, an impoverished noblewoman and classic Plucky Girl. Her dream is to become a government official, which is a little problematic since women aren't allowed to serve as government officials in Saiunkoku.
- 100% Adoration Rating: It runs in the family.
- A-Cup Angst: Played for Laughs.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Averted; when her Unlucky Childhood Friend Santa tries to win her heart by joining a gang, she is definitely not impressed. However, she is attracted to Sa Sakujun - a fact which makes her no little uncomfortable.
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: When Sa Sakujun captures her, she asks him this almost word-for-word. Unlike most examples of this trope, she's relieved that he's not going to do so (yet) rather than insulted.
- Celibate Hero: Says she's afraid of falling in love because it would distract her from her goals in life. Later, she admits that her insecurities related to her mother's death are the real reason.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: She just can't leave a person in trouble alone or let injustice slide, sometimes to the detriment of long term benefits. A few people call her a "softhearted idiot" and some try to train her to do it more effectively.
- Daddy's Girl: Her father is Shuurei's favorite person in the world.
- Death by Childbirth
- Dude Magnet: At least three men have declared their love for her. Various others (or really, most of the male cast) are also shown to be attracted to her romantically in varying degrees. Eigetsu is pretty much the only non-grandpa-aged male to show none whatsoever.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Accounts for the strength of Shuurei's appeal to quite a number of men, starting with Ryuuki.
- Fear of Thunder: In one particularly memorable episode that involved Kijin.
- Girly Run
- Gold Digger: She first became Ryuuki's concubine because the job came with a payment of 500 gold ryo. In Shuurei's case the trope is less a reflection of persona greed and more one of extreme practicality: she and her father are struggling to make ends meet and Shuurei has personally witnessed the kind of suffering and death that can come from poverty, so she's very motivated to secure financial stability for her household.
- Guile Hero
- Happily Married: To Ryuuki. Until her death.
- Head Desk: Does this in the first episode after finding out just how much she has her work cut out for her with Ryuuki.
- Ill Girl: Was one until her mother's death.
- Impoverished Patrician: At first. Despite her title, she needs to hustle for every part-time job she can find just to keep up her family estate. Then she marries up.
- Na´ve Newcomer: To politics. Quite a few characters express their exasperation about her naivete and ignorance, especially when it comes to power struggle between the clans and the factions at court.
- Not with Them for the Money: Yes and no. On the one hand, she did become Ryuuki's concubine to restore her family fortune. On the other hand, she hates extravagance thanks to her personal experiences with poverty and want. As a result, she's unimpressed and even angry with Ryuuki's attempts to shower her with gifts, only accepting them when they can serve a practical purpose, such as when he sends her a block of ice during the heat of summer - and even then, he has to be careful.
- Oblivious to Love: And when she does notice, she is a Celibate Hero to the misfortune of her admirers.
- Plucky Girl
- Supreme Chef
- Sweet Polly Oliver: She briefly poses as "Kou Shuu" to work as an assistant to Ko Kijin in the Ministry of Finance, courtesy of Li Kouyuu.
- Through His Stomach: Everybody loves Shuurei's cooking, but it has special meaning for Ryuuki thanks to Shouka sharing the meals Shuurei cooked for him whenever he visited the Archives.
- Tsundere: Type B. Shuurei is mostly friendly and polite, except when it comes to Ryuuki and Sakujun.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Has strong views about justice, which irritates some of the more cynical people around her to no end.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Because of the unusual circumstance of her birth (child of an Immortal, who is supposed to be infertile), her lifespan is reduced when she goes out of the capital Kiyou.
Shuurei's doting father, in charge of the Palace Archives and, to all appearances, mostly useless outside of them.
- Badass Bookworm
- Big Brother Instinct: In the gaiden stories, he became a hostage to Emperor Senka to protect his little brothers.
- Bumbling Dad
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: You think Shouka's an idiot, until he isn't.
- Defeat Means Friendship: In a side story, this is how he becomes friend with Hokuto, a member of the Wolves of the Wind.
- Dogged Nice Guy: How he won his wife Shokun's heart.
- Doting Parent
- Eyes Always Shut: An indication of his easygoing good nature. When he does open them, watch out.
- Happily Married: Until his wife dies.
- Honor Before Reason: In later novels, when Ryuuki is out of favour with almost all of the courtiers and noble families, Shouka still stands by the young emperor because he has made his promise. It's a Kou family thing.
- 100% Adoration Rating: Almost every character with a name adores or at least respects Shouka.
- Impoverished Patrician
- Improbable Age: Became the "Black Wolf" a.k.a. leader of the Emperor's assassins Wolves of the Wind when he was a little above 11.
- Lethal Chef: He can't even make a cup of tea without wrecking the kitchen, and Ryuuki is the only one who can drink his tea without cringing.
- Love at First Sight: With Shuurei's mother Shokun, the Hyou Clan's Rose Princess.
- Nom de Guerre: The previous Black Wolf names him "Kaito", the chief star of the Dipper.
- Not with Them for the Money: The family's financial situation would be much less dire if Shouka weren't so easygoing and completely unconcerned about money that he allowed his pay from the palace to be reduced almost to nothing. This in spite of the fact that not only are his brothers (who adore him) some of the most wealthy and influential men in Saiunkoku, he's served as a surrogate father figure for years to the man who is now the Emperor.
- Papa Wolf: Though he mostly seems content to play the kindly Bumbling Dad, when the Black Wolf is moved to protect Shuurei and Seiran, he is completely merciless.
- Parental Substitute: To both Seiran and Ryuuki.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: On the rare occasion we see him with his eyes open in the anime, they are a vivid red.
- Rescue Romance: As the Black Wolf, Shouka was ordered to kill the Rose Princess. However, after learning about what happened to her, he decided to free her instead.
- Retired Badass
- Stepford Smiler: He is kind and benevolent, but his early life as an assassin weighed heavily on him.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: As his great aunt puts it, he is a sad child as he is no longer innocent at the age of 5 because of the in-fighting in the Kou clan.
Shouka and Shuurei's loyal retainer. Secretly, Seiran is Ryuuki's older brother Shi Seien, who was exiled when Ryuuki was still young.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: With Ensei during one of the fights with Murderous Blades.
- Bash Brothers: With Ensei in the past. They quickly click when meeting again after ten years.
- Battle Butler: Shuurei's.
- Berserk Button: The Satsujinzoku.
- Big Brother Instinct: Towards Shuurei. To a lesser extent, Ryuuki. When Shuurei proves to be capable of surviving on her own, he becomes dedicated to helping his brother instead.
- Bishōnen: His good looks is often commented on in-story. His brother once complains that he is "too perfect".
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Played for Laughs. He can switch between smiling to Shuurei and doing something unpleasant to the likes of Ensei and Suou at the drop of a hat. In more serious situations, he claims to be a ruthless person deep down, the truth of which is illustrated in all of his interactions with Sa Sakujun.
- Break the Haughty: As Prince Seien, he was very proud and a rather tactless perfectionist as his interactions with a young Shuuei shows. His talents and attitudes ultimately backfired on him.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: As Seien, he was once mistaken to be a girl by a young Shuuei.
- Facepalm: Does this a lot in the manga.
- Happily Adopted: And loves his adopted family dearly
- I Just Want to Be Normal
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Except when Sa Sakujun courted Shuurei.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Despite Ryuuki's rosy memories of a kind big brother, Seien was portrayed to be highly cynical at the ripe old age of ten in the side-stories, courtesy of the Deadly Decadent Court he grew up in.
- Knight Templar Big Brother: Displays this tendency towards Shuurei. Ensei and Suou among other people called him out on his overprotectiveness, and growing out of it and focusing on bigger picture for both Shuurei and Ryuuki's sakes is an important part of his characterization.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- Long Lost Sibling: Ryuuki's.
- Manipulative Bastard: In the novel and manga, with Shuuei being his favourite target.
- Meaningful Name: "Shi," written with a different kanji than the family name of the Shi clan, refers to a plant used to make purple dye - meaningful because not only do they sound the same, the "Shi" of the royal family's name means "purple." "Seiran" means "silent orchid," and was given to him by Shuurei's mother because he did not speak for some time after the Kou family took him in.
- Old Retainer
- Porn Stash: Suou speculates that he has one. He does not, but inadvertently reveals to Shuurei that he knows what "peach coloured" books are.
- Red Baron: "Little Whirlwind"
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Ensei's red.
- Spit Take: Makes one when told by Shuurei he's her second favorite person in the world.
- The Stoic
- Too Clever by Half: As his father the previous Emperor Senka said, he is not foolish enough to be destroyed easily. However, he is not clever enough to avoid conspiracies either.
- The Wise Prince
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Ensei.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Prince Seien was famous to be remarkably precocious.
Vice Minister of Civil Affairs under Kou Reishin. A promising up-and-coming government official, he is specifically assigned as an aide to the Emperor... provided he can ever find him.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Gets drunk very easily and Shuuei is often the one who has to take him home.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Like Shuuei, he is aware that he can be tied down by Reishin and by extension the Kou faction, and thus cannot swear true loyalty to Ryuuki. This is where Reishin's Hidden Heart of Gold shows: by not giving his adopted son the Kou surname, he is keeping Kouyuu away from clan affairs.
- Dark and Troubled Past: In the novels, he was adopted by a kind old couple, who got murdered. Then he fell into the hands of slave traders. After he was sold back and forth several time, he ended up being tied to a tree as a human sacrifice when Reishin found him.
- Desk Jockey: He specializes in bureaucracy and thus is often not involved in what goes on outside the palace.
- Fatal Flaw: His overattachment to Reishin.
- Hair-Trigger Temper
- Happily Adopted: Though it is not easy being Reishin's son and Kouyuu openly envies Seiran for being taken in by Shouka, who he greatly respects.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Kouyuu claims to dislike women (though he gets along fine with Shuurei).
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Ran Shuuei.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: To Reishin, whose job Kouyuu mostly does for him. This is due to laziness on Reishin's part rather than incompetence; he's a Chessmaster in his own right when he cares to exert himself, but often as not he can't be bothered to do the day-to-day work of his position, leaving it to Kouyuu instead. In second season, it is also heavily implied that Reishin wants to keep Kouyuu from getting too involved with Ryuuki. In a later novel, it is revealed that this is Reishin's method of forcefully making Kouyuu stop living solely for his foster father's approval. Unfortunately, Kouyuu missed the point and ended up making both of them lose their positions.
- Implausible Deniability: His explanations for why he never finds the place he wants to go to.
- Meaningful Name: "Li" for plum, Reishin's favorite flower and fruit. The "Kou" in "Kouyuu," similar to the family name of the Kou clan, means "crimson," and finally his "Yuu" in "Kouyuu" means "To flow freely (like water streams)." note The "Kou" in "Kouyuu" is also homophonous to the character used for his name before he was adopted by Reishin.note
- Nice Guy: But protested when Ryuuki commented on that.
- No Sense of Direction: Though he usually refuses to admit this flaw and instead claims that his intended destination has moved without his prior knowledge.
- Non-Action Guy: His ability with a sword is pretty much limited to "wave it wildly until Shuuei bails him out."
- Parental Abandonment: Until Reishin takes him in.
- Stern Teacher: To Ryuuki in the beginning, going as far as shouting and whacking the Emperor in the head.
- Teen Genius: Has the reputation for having been this.
- There Are No Therapists: The guy has serious abandonment issue. It does not help that his father figure is Reishin and his adopted mother is rather strange.
- Tsundere: A very mild example, but he seems to demonstrate a few classic traits.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Kouyuu's response to Shuuei's claims that they are good friends is usually an annoyed denial.
Shouka's younger brother, the Minister of Civil Affairs.
VAs: Mitsuaki Madono (JP), Louis Chirillo (EN)
- Big Brother Worship: Reishin more or less worships the ground Shouka walks on, and this also extends to Shouka's daughter. They're the only two people he can be bothered to be nice to on anything like a regular basis.
- Brutal Honesty: He never bothers to sugarcoat his opinions.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Reishin has serious communication troubles, as his treatments of Kouyuu and Shuurei show.
- Creepy Uncle: How creepy? He acts more like a Stalker with a Crush than Shuurei's uncle, and in a rant to Shouka, says outright that he doesn't mind marrying her and that she will be happy with him. (To be fair, they were discussing about arranging a political marriage for her and it's not said with romantic intent, which makes it slightly less creepy. Slightly.)
- Happily Married
- Insufferable Genius: He is frequently described as haughty and obnoxious.
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: His friend Kijin muses about how Shouka helps him barely escape this fate (in contrast to Ryuuren, who does not have such a figure in his life).
- Jerkass: How much of a jerk is Reishin? When he and his friend Ko Houju fell for the same woman, Reishin forged a letter from her to Houju saying she could never bear to be with someone so much more beautiful than herself. Then Reishin married her. This led directly to Houju constantly wearing masks and calling himself "Kijin," meaning "weirdo." All this in spite of the fact that, aside from his family, Kijin is pretty much Reishin's only friend.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As the manga states, "his personality sucks," but underneath it he's a good person.
- Overprotective Dad: To his adopted son Kouyuu, although he'd never admit it.
- Relationship Sabotage: See "Jerkass."
- Tsundere: Reishin is more or less a jackass to anyone else, even his friends and his adopted son, but Shuurei and Shouka reduce him to blushing and cooing. Also, as Shouka explained to Kouyuu, Reishin does not show his likes or dislikes openly.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Ko Kijin. Reishin is too much of a Jerk Ass and Kijin is just too weird to be best friends with anyone else. May also be Heterosexual Life-Partners; Reishin is married but we never see his wife and these two almost always pop up together.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: To Kouyuu.
Shouka's wife and Shuurei's mother, who died of illness when Shuurei was a little girl.
- The Gambling Addict: In Seiran's recollections, she often made her husband and young servant play dice with her, and the loser had to drink sake. She was basically responsible for Seiran's strong stomach for alcohol.
- Healing Hands: As the "Rose Princess," she had healing powers.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Shokun gave up her life in order to cure Shuurei's constant illness.
- Lethal Chef: Seiran had to break his silence when her attempt to make medicine for Shuurei resulted in an explosion.
- Missing Mom: Shuurei's.
- Posthumous Character
- Really 700 Years Old: She is the Sage of Red.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: She was pretty sharp to Shouka when they first met.
- Something About a Rose: Shokun was the Hyou clan's "Rose Princess."
- World's Most Beautiful Woman: Is reputed to have been so beautiful that her beauty even caused troubles for the whole nation.
Shouka and Reishin's youngest brother and the proxy leader of the Kou Clan.
VAs: Ryotaro Okiayu (JP), David Orth (EN)
- Disproportionate Retribution: When Reishin is accused of tampering with the results of the Imperial Examinations, Kurou orders a labor strike which grinds the entire capital city to a halt. When Shouka's servants abandoned him following Shokun's death and stole most of the household's valuables, Kurou had them hunted down and had their eyes and severed ears sent to their families.
- The Reliable One: Is considered as more level-headed and more concerned with clan affairs than his two older brothers, and is therefore effectively the head of the clan despite the position being officially held by Reishin.
- Thicker Than Water: Takes clan affairs very seriously. He claims to hate Shouka for being irresponsible and probably does not get along well with Reishin, but touch his older brothers (and niece) and he will show why the Kou clan should not be messed with.
The Ran Clan
A general of the Imperial Army. Like Li Kouyuu, he's an up-and-comer in the Imperial Court and was assigned as a personal retainer to the Emperor. Reputed to be a ladies' man, but usually seen joined at the hip with Kouyuu instead.
- Big Brother Instinct: He cares a lot for Jyuusanhime, his younger sister. And his youngest brother Ryuuren, but he seldom expresses it openly. In a sidestory, he comments that Ryuuki is like a little brother to him, probably even more than Ryuuren.
- Bodyguarding a Badass: Subverted. While Ryuuki is strong in his own right, and guarding him is indeed his duty, Shuuei is actually much stronger than Ryuuki but prefers to keep that a secret.
- The Casanova: Can get any woman to fall for him except for the two he fell in love with.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Between Ryuuki and his family.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dogged Nice Guy: Towards Shusui.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Li Kouyuu.
- Not Distracted by the Sexy: In the manga, he is pretty much the only client who can leave Kiyou's best courtesan Kouchou in the middle of the night.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Shuuei likes to flaunt his The Casanova reputation but his frequent visits to the red light district are not just for pleasure. Also, very few people know how strong he actually is at swordplay.
- Officer and a Gentleman: In contrast to grumpy scholar Kouyuu and mostly silly Emperor Ryuuki.
- Only Sane Man: Plays this to Kouyuu and Ryuuki, sometimes even Seiran, especially in the comedic moments.
- Princely Young Man: Is noted by his childhood friend Shiba Jin to be the "young master" type.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Kouyuu, whose lack of a sense of direction and dislike for women he frequently makes fun of. In his childhood, he and Shiba Jin were this.
Shuuei's younger brother. Generally understood to be a genius; also generally understood to be completely loopy.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Ryuuren's loopiness is part of his genius. His unpredictability means that nobody can get a handle on him or manipulate him. Also, his flute-playing is completely tuneless, physically painful to hear, a legitimate weapon and can also stop pouring rain.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Ryuuren is so quirky that most people can barely understand anything he says. He's also a genius who travels as he wishes because, regardless of the place, nobody can keep him out. When Ryuuki needs to transport the governor's seal to Shuurei and Eigetsu in Sa Province, knowing that the Sa Clan's agents will be trying to intercept it, he gives the task to Ryuuren knowing that Ryuuren will be able to smuggle the seal across provinces without letting it be discovered.
- Dreadful Musician: His flute-playing.
- Genius Ditz
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: His intelligence is mentioned before as a reason for his quirks because he does not see the world the same as ordinary people.
- Meaningful Name: "Ryuu" means "dragon", and "ren" means "lotus". Dragon and lotus are two charges on the crest of the Ran clan. The name marks him as the special person in the Ran clan whose will is respected by the clan head, and the vessel of the Sage of Blue.
- Moment Killer: To Kourin's great frustration.
- Nice Hat: He wears a number of odd things on his head, but the standout is the large and brilliantly-colored phoenix he wears to the palace's new year celebration.
- Really 700 Years Old: He is the Sage of Blue.
Shuuei's younger sister, and a prospective bride for Ryuuki.
VA: Megumi Toyoguchi (JP)
- Action Girl
- Affectionate Nickname: "Hotaru," meaning 'firefly,' is the name given to her by Shiba Jin in response to her complaints about her given name.
- Boobs of Steel: The main visual distinction between Guile Hero Shuurei and Action Girl Jyuusanhime is the latter's larger bust.
- Dual Wielding
- Identical Stranger: She and Shuurei look almost exactly alike.
- Kissing Cousins: Her mother comes from the Shiba clan, which makes her a relative of Shiba Jin.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Shiba Jin.
- Twin Switch: Their very similar looks lead inevitably to Jyuusanhime and Shuurei switching places as part of a ploy to foil an assassination.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Her name just means "thirteenth princess," which is the position she was born into in the Ran clan. She is shown complaining about it as a child.
Shuuei and Ryuuren's oldest brothers, a set of triplets collectively named Setsuna who co-lead the Ran Clan.
VA: Mitsuru Miyamoto (JP)
- Big Brother Instinct: Despite their reputation of ruthlessness, they fight their clan's tradition and assume the leader position so that Ryuuren can have more choices in life.
- Single Minded Triplets: Played with. Multiple births are considered unlucky in Saiunkoku, so the Ran family named all three triplets "Setsuna" (they have individual names as well, but don't use them in public) and raised them to be as indistinguishable from one another as possible, treating them as the same person. In fact, this becomes a plot point late in the second season, as a test for Shuuei. The only other person to have successfully differentiated between the three of them is the wife of one of them.
The Sa Clan
Leader of the Sa Clan and one of the three "grand old men" of the Imperial Court, along with Shou Yosei and General So.
VAs: Naoki Bandou (JP), Trevor Devall (EN)
- Always Someone Better: Enjun's greatest goal at the end of his life is to surpass Shou Yosei.
- I Was Quite a Looker
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Becomes one after his death.
- Out-Gambitted: And then some. But then also subverted, when it is revealed that his failure leads to his Big, Screwed-Up Family being cleaned up, as noted below.
- Thanatos Gambit: His plot to assassinate Ryuuki turned out to be one of these, in that its failure gave the Emperor a reason to take action against the corruption of the rest of the Sa Clan.
- Undying Loyalty: As symbolized by chysanthemum, the flower the previous Emperor gave him.
Sa Enjun's wife, and not a woman to be messed with.
VAs: Mami Horikoshi (JP), Jacqueline Samuda (EN)
- Cool Old Lady
- I Was Quite a Looker
- Never Mess with Granny: Because she can and will bitchslap immortal sages.
- Spider-Sense: Eiki has the ability to see the future.
Thirteen-year-old lady-in-waiting to the Imperial Harem.
- The Atoner
- Hidden Depths: Unexpectedly manages to write down the whole obscure poem she was tested with while masquerading as Shuurei.
- Precocious Crush: Implied to have one towards Sa Eijun, the person who adopted her.
- Proper Lady
- Tsundere: Type B. Kourin is sweet and ladylike to everyone - except for Eigetsu. And Ryuuren, but he exasperates everyone.
One of Sa Enjun's nephews.
VAs: Takehito Koyasu (JP), John Murphy (EN)
- Acquired Poison Immunity
- Aloof Big Brother: To Kokujun
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Easily took hold of the position as head of the Sa clan and deflected any violence from Seiran.
- Blood from the Mouth
- Bishounen: His beauty is almost legendary throughout the story and he knows it.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He's generally only motivated to take action when something's getting in the way of his personal amusement. And by "take action" we mean "manipulate someone else into removing the obstacle." Even with that, he manages to do quite a bit of damage before he self-destructs.
- Camp Straight: Looks and behaves somewhat flamboyantly, but only likes women, specifically Shuurei.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder
- Crazy Jealous Guy: He hates the idea of Shuurei paying attention to anyone other than him.
- Evil Redhead
- Fiery Red Head: Averted. Sakujun is disturbingly calm and composed even during the most inappropriate times.
- Forceful Kiss: Plants a few on the object of his affections.
- Go Out with a Smile
- Hidden Depths
- The Hedonist
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy
- Manipulative Bastard: Oh yes.
- Shadow Archetype: Ryuuki's. They're both much more intelligent and capable than they choose to seem, but Sakujun lacks any semblance of Ryuuki's strong morals. The resemblance gives Shuurei a number of bad moments.
- Villainous Crush
- What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: Sakujun is distinctly fuzzy on the concept of caring about anyone other than himself, and admits that he can't be sure his feelings for Shuurei are actually love since he's never felt anything of that nature before.
- Yandere: Has shades of this towards Shuurei
Sakujun's younger brother, another one of Enjun's nephews.
VA: Kosuke Toriumi (JP)
- The Drag-Along: In Ryuuren's antics.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Gets this from Ensei and then Shunki. He does not completely get rid of his inferiority complex but is more willing to do something.
- Kissing Cousins: With Shunki.
- Nice Guy
- Youngest Child Wins: In Kokujun's case, mostly by virtue of being a decent human being and not crazy.
Enjun's granddaughter and Kokujun's fiancee. She inherited the power of her grandmother's Hyou Clan bloodline.
VAs: Rumi Shishido (JP), Natalie Walters (EN)
- Compelling Voice
- Cute Mute: At least until her voice is unsealed.
- Kissing Cousins: With Kokujun.
- Lysistrata Gambit: A very mild version; when Kokujun gets overwhelmed by his responsibilities as the new leader of the Sa Clan and panics, Shunki motivates him by gently pointing out that finishing his duties will give them "more time to spend together as husband and wife." It works perfectly.
- The Voiceless: Again, until her voice is unsealed.
The Ko Clan
The Minister of Finance. One of the odder characters in the Imperial Court, which is saying something.
VAs: Kazuhiro Nakada (JP), Mark Oliver (EN)
- Appropriated Appellation: His real name is Ko Houju. "Kijin," meaning "weirdo," is a nickname originally given to him by others, which he began using himself after being rejected by a woman for being too beautiful.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's in charge of the Ministry of Finance, and respected in spite of being difficult to deal with... not to mention his other quirks.
- Deadpan Snarker: Very much so, especially towards Reishin.
- Expressive Mask: His masks are not animated, but Reishin provides him with a wide assortment of them and some of them are painted to be very expressive.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: So pretty, people go insane.
- Nice Guy: Eccentricities asides, he is absolutely loyal to his friends and as his subordinate Kei puts it, he is interesting to know once you get past the mask.
- Rapunzel Hair: A lot of the men have it, but Kijin is particularly notable because he wears his completely loose.
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: The year that Kijin took the Imperial Examinations, his beauty proved so distracting that only two other candidates passed the exams and thirty officials had to be fired for forgetting to announce the end of the exam period.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Reishin. See his entry for this.
The Hyou Clan
Head of the Hyou family, although that is a position that is ordinarily held by a woman.
VA: Toshihiko Seki (JP)
- Older Than They Look: He's actually in his eighties, but looks like a young man.
- Something About a Rose: His appearances and disappearances tend to be accompanied by rose petals.
- The Rival: To Shouka with regards to the Rose Princess' affections. Riou is a sore loser.
- White Hair, Black Heart: This isn't a particularly good man.
Hyou Riou's son, who also goes by Riou, although he says at one point that it isn't really his name.
VA: Yuki Kaida (JP)
- Alas, Poor Villain: In-universe, he has one of these moments over Ren, observing that Ren's actions were driven by his desperation for his mother's approval, and that if he'd had the chance to spend some time with Shuurei and her friends, he could have received the genuine affection he craved so much.
- Monochromatic Eyes
- Mouthy Kid: In a Deadpan Snarker kind of way.
- Wise Beyond Their Years
Son of Hyou Riou's sister Ruka.
VA: Asami Yaguchi (JP)
- Body Snatcher: Snatched the body of Ka Shin, Eigetsu's father figure, and founded the Jasenkyou as part of a wider conspiracy to lure him and Shuurei.
- Enfante Terrible/Psychopathic Manchild
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Did everything to win the approval of his mother.
Sister to the head of the Hyou clan Riou, and mother of Ren.
- Abusive Parents: Heavily implied in Ren's desperation for her affection and his generally completely screwed-up state of mind.
- Body Snatcher: She can both mind control and occupy Shusui. She plans to steal the body of Shuurei, daughter of the Rose Princess, to make her brother pay attention to her.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Her attempt to get her brother's attention has vibes of this.
- Facial Markings
- Man Behind the Man: Is the one who has actual power in the Hyou clan.
- Older Than They Look
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: She starts out as a young girl who wants to protect her clan.
The Heki Clan
A young man who takes the Imperial Examinations in the same year as Shuurei and Eigetsu.
VAs: Atsushi Kisaichi (JP), Gabe Khouth (EN)
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Gets angry when Shuurei and Eigetsu are singled out for harsh treatment and eventually helps them despite being well aware that he himself can become a target for bullying like them.
- Insufferable Genius: Likes to remind people how smart he is.
- Thicker Than Water: Refuses to cooperate with Kouyuu, someone he admires, to find the famous artist Yuukoku because people from his clans have been exploited and thus the Heki want to protect their current genius.
An eccentric woman who is an art expert. She is the famous artist who will be the next head of the Heki clan.
- Does Not Like Men: Played for Laughs considering that she's married and has a son.
- Honor Before Reason: She is chosen to make a magical mirror for the Hyou clan, a task said to kill every single person who completes it. Though that makes her angry, she still accepts it.
- Nom De Plume: She is the famous artist Heki Yuukoku. Her clan forces her to take on a male professional name because female artists don't get much respect.
Officials and Residents of the Imperial Capital
Usually referred to as "Advisor Shou". With Sa Enjun and Grand General So, he's one of the three Grand Officials of the Imperial Court. Shou is one of the Eight Immortal Sages, specifically the Sage of Purple.
VAs: Kouji Ishii (JP), John Novak (EN)
- Batman Gambit: He plays Sa Enjun and the rest of the entire Imperial court like a harp in order to force Ryuuki to take his role as Emperor seriously.
- Jerk Ass: Was willing to let the country burn in civil war despite being perfectly capable to clean the mess up, all for the sake of finding a worthy emperor. Shouka openly threatened to kill him because he did not care if Shuurei and Seiran died as a result of his plot.
- Knight Templar
- Manipulative Bastard
- Really 700 Years Old
Grand General So
The third of the three Grand Officials of the Imperial Court, with Shou Yosei and Sa Enjun. Usually appears for the sole purpose of beating the stuffing out of swordsmen fifty years younger than he is.
VAs: Mitsuru Ogata (JP), Dale Wilson (EN)
- Badass Grandpa
- Boisterous Bruiser:
- Cool Old Guy
- Stern Teacher: So stern that he is not asked to be trainer for the army again.
Lady-in-waiting to the Imperial Harem; she assists Shuurei during Shuurei's time as Consort. Shouka took her in from the Hyou Clan when he abducted Shokun, and made her one of the Wolves of the Wind, in which capacity she serves briefly as a double agent between Sa Enjun and Shou Yosei.
- Brainwashed and Crazy: Courtesy of Hyou Ruka.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Played with a little. Shusui is adept in all the feminine graces save for embroidery, at which even Ryuuki is better than she is.
- Lady of War
- Mind-Control Eyes: While under the hypnotic control of Hyou Ruka.
- The Power of Love: Could shake off hypnotic control thanks to this.
- Unexpected Successor: Takes over the Hyou clan by the end of the series
Contemporary of Reishin and Kijin and inarguably the sanest of the three. Mild-mannered, pleasant, and very adept at playing politics.
VAs: Nobutoshi Canna (JP), Vincent Tong (EN)
- Actually, I Am Him: He's initially introduced to Shuurei and Eigetsu as "Jun Yuu," a minor government official sent from the capital of Sa province to advise and assist them in taking over as co-governors. Throughout the arc in which they do so, they are told that Lieutenant Governor Tei Yuushun has locked himself in a prison tower to continue the work of the Governor's office in safety... until Shuurei arrives to rescue him and finds the tower ablaze, at which point Yuushun admits his real identity.
- The Chessmaster: It comes with being the Hourin
- Chessmaster Sidekick: While Ryuuki is intelligent and competent in his own right, he lacks experience in governing, especially when it comes to the finer points of clan-related issues and power struggles. Hence, he relies heavily on Yuushun to bail him out when he's cornered in assemblies and to think of plans and tactics. For example, Yuushun is basically responsible for his tactics for bringing Shuuei back from the Ran clan from start to finish. Although it's never really discussed, he presumably filled a similar role to Ensei while serving as Lieutenant Governor of Sa Province, given the unusual nature of Ensei's appointment as Governor.
- Dark and Troubled Past: The novels reveal that he is the "Hourin", head of a legendary hidden clan of strategists who would only appear to help the Kou clan in time of crisis. Emperor Senka wiped his clan out when he was little, which the Kou clan turned a blind eye to.
- Dragon with an Agenda: He is involved in Ou Ki's plot to usurp Ryuuki but until the very end, nobody is quite sure what his aim is.
- FaceľHeel Turn: Zig-zagged. he is ultimately loyal to Ryuuki but puts the young Emperor through hellish tests and considers turning away for real if Ryuuki does not have it take to be a good ruler.
- Happily Married: To Sai Rin after the mess in Sa province is sorted out.
- Hidden Depths: He may seem mild-mannered and even kind of bland, but he has a very sharp political mind, not to mention cojones of solid steel.
- Last of His Kind: The sole survivor of a clan of strategists who were vassals to the Kou clan
- The Matchmaker: In a side story, he tries to get Reishin (of all people!) and the latter's not-love-interest together.
- Non-Action Guy
- Only Sane Man: To his friends Reishin and Kijin.
- Poisonous Friend: While he helps Ryuuki get what the latter wants, he never points out to the young Emperor the full extent of the long term consequences or the better alternatives. To make it even more awesome, he warns Ryuuki to take his words only half seriously.
Introduced late in the story, after Shuurei comes back from the Sa Province. Makes a failure of a proposal to Shuurei on his father's orders. Later becomes Shuurei's colleague and helps her in Ran family arc.
VA: Anri Katsu (JP)
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: His first response when realizing that his parents were going to see him off was to run away.
- Beware the Honest Ones: He says whatever is on his mind. However, Seiran admits that it is difficult to figure out his motives and ways of thinking. Kouki says he can play the fool easily because he is a fool.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: An interesting case. He's definitely lazy, but while he's not necessarily as intelligent as Shuurei or Seiga, he's not nearly as dumb as most people - himself included - claim he is. In particular, he turns out to be extremely perceptive, and in the end, out of Seiga, Shuurei and himself, is actually the first to be promoted.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Appears to be this at first with his rather strange proposal to Shuurei and his golden tanuki statue.
- Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: Delivers a scathing lecture to Ryuuki and to some extent, Seiran, about the responsibility of a ruler when Shuurei goes missing just after accepting to be a Royal Consort
- Hidden Heart of Gold: He complained about being dragged into troubles by Shuurei all the time but eventually voluntarily took the fall for her. He also takes very good care of his father, who while not abusive is irresponsible and a bit of a wimp.
- In-Series Nickname: "Tan-Tan," courtesy of Seiran. This is because he carries around a golden tanuki statue in his first appearance.
- The Mole: He does not work for the bad guy. However, he acts as agent of the Inspector General and reports on what Shuurei does when she works in Ran province, which can get her fired. He ultimately voluntarily takes the fall for her.
- Only Sane Man: Is not necessarily depicted as "right" all the time, but his laid-back attitude makes him this in contrast to Shuurei's enthusiasm and Seiran's crazy overprotective tendencies, among other things.
- Parental Abandonment: His mother leaves his dad and him for a rich man, and can't even recognize him when she sees him. However, unusually in this cast, he's not very broken up about it, and accepts his mother when she comes back to them.
A friendly and confident young officer who was without an official job. In truth, he is a promising and utterly ruthless young official of Governmental Inspection Department
- Badass Bureaucrat: It comes with being an Investigator.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- He-Man Woman Hater: A much more sinister example than Kouyuu as he actively harrasses Shuurei.
- Jerk Ass: As noted by the Inspector General, he is willing to sacrifice people in contrast to Shuurei, whe is helped by people.
- The Mole: He is actually a spy of the Inspector General to report on Shuurei.
- The Rival: Shuurei views herself as this to Seiga, who in turn loathes to admit that she is on the same level as he is.
The head courtesan of Kogorou, the best pleasure house of the capital and where Shuurei works for a while as an accountant. Beautiful and one of the people you should not piss off.
- Absolute Cleavage
- Cool Big Sis: Plays this role to Shuurei.
- Honey Trap: Can pull this off masterfully. Shuuei relies on her for information about what goes on in the city for a reason.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold
- Jerkass Fašade: Acts cold to Shuurei during the time she was accused of cheating in the examination.
- Real Women Never Wear Dresses: Defied. Shortly before Shuurei takes the Imperial Examinations, Kouchou presents her with the gift of a large cosmetics case to remind her not to be ashamed of being a woman, but to take pride in it.
- Silk Hiding Steel: She wields considerable power in the lower part of the city.
Head of the Governmental Inspection Department. Ruthlessly strict and considers Shuurei a complete idiot.
- Reasonable Authority Figure
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He is a master at delivering this.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Does not hesitate to get rid of people who do not live up to his standards.
- Stealth Mentor: He forces Shuurei to reflect on her Wide-Eyed Idealist approach and as a results helps her to better navigate the muddy court politics.
- Sugar and Ice Personality
Chancellor in Central Government who often criticises Ryuuki's policies.
- Last of His Kind: Previous Emperor Senka thoroughly wipes out every clan that has blood relation to the original Emperor Sou Gen. Ou Ki is a survivor of the purge. As a result, he takes in survivors of the purged clans.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Gently but scathingly lectures Ryuuki on what being a ruler means
- The Rival: He is a candidate to the throne
- The Starscream: Wants to depose Ryuuki. With noble reasons, no less.
Investigator of the Ministry of Personnel and thus a subordinate of Reishin
- Beleaguered Assistant: His superior is Reishin, an Insufferable Genius who does not care an ounce about work. He had some hope for Kouyuu but was soon disillusioned.
- Brutal Honesty: He does not bother to defer to superiors who have not earned his respect. Thus, he is very confrontative to Reishin (as shown in his report of Shuurei, who he knows is Reishin's niece). He also does not hesitate to persecute Kouyuu, whom he personally is quite fond of, when Kouyuu does not fulfill the duty of an official.
- Comes Great Responsibility: Is a believer of this, hence his disdain for Reishin who is a genius from a powerful clan but does not use his talents for the greater good.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Master of Disguise: He often needs to go undercover for his work.
Sa Province Officials and Residents
An old friend of Seiran's, and general go-to guy for when you need someone to open up a can of unadulterated whoop-ass.
VAs: Kentaro Ito (JP), Jason Simpson (EN)
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Despite not having passed any of the examinations required to qualify for public office, Ensei was made Governor of Sa Province by special dispensation because the Imperial court needed someone in the position who could survive the Sa clan's repeated assassination attempts.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Despite his martial prowess, he aspires to be an administrative official rather than a military officer.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Book Dumb: Seiran likes to claim that Ensei's brain has turned into muscle, to which Ensei cheerfully agrees. He could still pass governmental exams to be employed officially, albeit with unimpressive rank.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Ensei has an x-shaped "hero scar" on his cheek.
- He Cleans Up Nicely: When first introduced, Ensei sports an unkempt, bushy beard and generally wild appearance. When he shaves the beard off later on, he turns out to be quite a good-looking fellow.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Ordering him to drop his staff is a bad idea - Ensei prefers to use a staff as a weapon because, as Seiran explains, it allows him to be more gentle on his opponents than when he fights barehanded.
- Nice Guy
- Red Baron: "Little Staff King"
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Seiran's blue.
- Simple Staff
- Shipper on Deck: For Shuurei/Seiran, during his first appearance in the series. Becomes somewhat ambiguous later though, with heavy implications that he is in love with Shuurei himself.
- Triple Shifter: In his first appearance, he works with Shuurei at Ministry of Finance at day and hunts bandits at night.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Seiran.
A thirteen-year-old boy who comes to the Imperial Capital to take the qualifying examinations for government office. Keep him away from sake.
VAs: Daisuke Namikawa (JP), Reece Thompson (EN)
- Brutal Honesty: Eigetsu sometimes gets into trouble for this.
- Demonic Possession: More or less. He was saved from dying of Parental Abandonment by Yougetsu, who possessed him in order to extend his life. Yougetsu is the immortal Sage of White rather than a demon, but in practice it works out the same.
- Drunken Master: Drinking or even smelling sake brings out Yougetsu, who is a master fighter.
- Hellish Pupils: A visual cue for when Yougetsu takes over.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Though Yougetsu is an immortal Sage and thus does not actually die, he eventually seals himself to give Eigetsu a normal lifespan.
- I Was Just Passing Through: Yougetsu makes excuses for basically everything nice that he does.
- Improbable Age: Co-governor of a province at thirteen.
- Parental Abandonment: Eigetsu originally came from a large family; his parents tried to kill him when, due to their poverty, they could not afford to feed everyone.
- Power-Up Food: Sake, since it brings out Yougetsu.
- Powers via Possession: What Yougetsu does for Eigetsu, essentially.
- Shrinking Violet: Eigetsu is shy and soft-spoken. That does not mean he is a pushover.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Yougetsu. Though he ultimately proves to be less Evil and more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Teen Genius: He claims that he's not a genius and is able to memorize texts due to sheer hard work, but considering that he's the youngest person to ever pass the exams (younger than Kouyuu by three years), in first place no less, it's not very credible.
- Tsundere: Yougetsu a.k.a. the Sage of White. He goes to impressive lengths for Eigetsu but always denies that he cares for the kid.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Necessary as he enters politics at the young age of thirteen.
- Your Days Are Numbered: Yougetsu saved Eigetsu from dying as a child, but could only prolong his life by "about twenty years," a duration then halved when Yougetsu saves Eigetsu's adoptive father Doushu by sharing Eigetsu's soul with him, and further shortened every time Yougetsu takes control of Eigetsu's body.
Governor of Koku Province, later Governor of Sa Province, all-around cool guy.
VA: Yosuke Akimoto (JP)
- Cool Old Guy
- Grandpa, What Massive Hotness You Have: Shuurei is warned that if he were thirty years younger, she'd be in danger of losing her heart to Kai Yu. She doesn't take it seriously... until she meets him. Heck with I Was Quite a Looker; he's quite a looker now.
- The Mentor: Becomes this to Eigetsu.
Representative of the Merchant Guild and the manliest woman in Saiunkoku. Famous for her inventing skills.
- Dogged Nice Girl: Despite being repeatedly turned down, she keeps proposing to Yuushun over ten years. He eventually relents.
- Happily Married: To Tei Yuushun.
- Impoverished Patrician: Hence her determination to regain the family fortune via commerce.
- Intrepid Merchant
Sai Rin's brother. Calculates gains and losses as well as devises money making schemes all the time.
Dr. You Shikou
Regarded as the best doctor living in Saiunkoku at the time of the story. He treated Shuurei when she was a child, since she was often ill. Actually the Sage of Yellow, one of the Eight Immortal Sages.
VA: Aruno Tahara (JP)