This and succeeding posts won't be heavy on episode summaries (or caps for that matter); other bloggers have done those, with more flair than me. Instead, I will focus on musings and such (which might turn into full-fledged reviews if the tweak imperative strikes). But for now I will keep it simple and to provide context, will include short (very short) synopses. If you want the series synopsis, go here.
EP01 There's a catch to every deal
Umai hanashi ni wa ura ga aru
OAD 2006.04.15 (Animax Asia: 2007.09.26)
(I didn't catch the title of episode 1; I'm using something Shuurei said within the episode.) « It seems I was right; this IS the title...
Kou Shuurei, the impoverished daughter of a noble family who dreams of joining the civil service, is invited to become the Emperor's consort in the hopes that she can reform him and make him a responsible leader.
EP02 The frog in the well never sees the ocean
I no naka no kawazu taikai o shirazu
OAD 2006.04.15 (Animax Asia: 2007.09.26)
Shuurei has met the Emperor Shi Ryuuki who is pretending to be someone else. She decides to show him the world outside, a world in which there are things only he can change.
Seeing Colourcloud Palace AKA Saiunkoku Monogatari or The Story of Saiunkoku on a TV screen is just simply... lovely. Feel-good lovely. I found myself sighing at the pretty, pretty (pink) visuals
and although the original was not HD (edited because it is). Shuurei and Co. and the (pink) oriental kingdom of Saiunkoku looked not only romantic, but gorgeous. If only for this, I would like to thank Animax for bringing this title to SEA.
I have at least two issues though that I hope will get resolved in time as the Animax re-recording team gets its act together.
As with other English-dubbed shows airing on Animax, déjà vu once again rears its head as viewers are treated to another round of Haven't I heard that voice before? But that's not the snag I want unraveled; in any case, there does seem to be some new actors mixed in so it's not all rolls-eyes and predictability.
Rather, it's the quality of the English voice acting. Revealing a certain level of immaturity and amateurness, the voice acting, especially in the first episode, tends to grate. Perhaps it's because of the deliberately crafted to be comic beginning of the story and the consequent necessity to garner the laughs, but the VAs were prone to over-act and produced heavy-handed performances.
I refer specifically to the actress who does Shuurei (when she's trying to be funny) and the actor for Li Kouyu (in his Angry Young Civil Servant mode). I found it almost tragic, given how much I loved seiyuu Kuwashima Houko-san and Hiyama Nobuyuki-san in those roles. Granted, even Kuwashima-san has admitted in that NHK special that she had misgivings about her own portrayal of Shuurei (the character is definitely not easy and Kuwashima-san herself is not infallible—I still shudder at her Kita Michiru performance); granted that Hiyama-san and Kuwashima-san have had oodles of experience and are capable of deft fine-tuning, which the uncredited VAs of Colourcloud Palace probably don't possess and as yet, still have to learn the fine art of stopping on dime or pivoting on a punchline. Still, the sometimes inept acting reduced a beautiful anime into so much Saturday morning cartoon fare (no offense meant to fans of the genre).
But like I said, this was in the first episode. By the second, these two actors seem to have hit their stride and the acting tones down enough to an acceptable, if still a bit too enunciated, credibility, with only occasional lapses into cringe-cringe, over-the-top.
Of course, the VA for Ran Shuei wasn't as seductive as Morikawa Toshiyuki-san, but then I don't think anyone would or could be ^^. There's just simply no comparison. Same goes for the VA of Shi Ryuuki. In that gawky first meeting between Shuurei and her prince, it's still Seki Tomokazu-san awkwardness FTW.
Language, Diction and Register
I found the language a tad informal, especially obvious in those occasions when the characters had to speak formally: as when Shuurei introduces herself to the Advisor Shou or when Ryuuki slips up and uses his royal we speech or when he finally meets Shuurei as the Emperor, or even in the title of episode two—
The frog in the well never sees the ocean instead of
The frog in the well knows not of the great ocean which is actually the more idiomatic version of this proverb. So it felt like the writers were deliberately pitching the register lower.
Additionally, the Indonesian subs followed the English translation so some of the original nuances were lost.
Nitpicks and quibbling aside, I will still continue watching. I know that that incorrect
Behind every successful man is a nagging woman promo plug is misleading and not at all the point of Colourcloud Palace, even though at this early stage, that's what it looks like.
~nik AKA 花木兰03 who apologizes for the roughness of this draft and will watch the encore of these episodes in the original Japanese
EDIT: P.S. Looks like I *am* going to edit/expand this--there's other blah-blah I want to include in addition to the few tweaks I already made.
Shirley I don't have anything against the name per se, it just reminds me too much of a Sesame Street line:
Let's call it 'Shirley'. If you recognize that, then your age (as well as mine ^^) is showing...