First Look: Raven of the Inner Palace


Alternative title(s): Koukyuu no Karasu
Light novel adaptation by Bandai Namco Pictures
Streaming on Crunchyroll


In a fantastical version of ancient China, Jusetsu is a palace consort who, despite her official position, does not serve the emperor or anyone else. Known as the Raven Consort, she is rumored to possess strange powers and, in return for appropriate payment, can locate lost items or even place death curses. When Koushun, the current emperor, visits the Raven Consort to unravel the mystery of a haunted earring, their fates are set to become intertwined.


Artemis’ verdict: Courtly Intrigue

I’m not quite sure if I have mixed feelings about this or if I just haven’t made up my mind yet. Raven of the Inner Palace is an interesting series in that the premiere feels like it plays its cards close to its chest. In fact, I didn’t even really click that this was going to be a mystery series at all until near the very end of the episode. It’s slow-burn for sure, as well as fairly dialogue-driven, and for that reason if nothing else, the show definitely won’t be for everyone. It also makes first impressions hard to formulate, in that I’m certainly curious to see where it goes but haven’t been able to come to any solid conclusions about what’s already there. This first episode feels like it’s mostly setup, but it’s hard to say whether or not the eventual payoff will be worth it.

That being said, I think anyone who enjoys Chinese-inspired historical fantasy and/or supernatural mysteries will almost certainly be intrigued. Raven doesn’t seem to do anything new or groundbreaking within any of these genres, but it does approach them competently, with its own distinct style and some very pretty artwork, especially if you’re into court ladies with flowing gowns, elaborate hairstyles, and ornate ornaments. This won’t be enough to carry the show if it turns out to be lacking in terms of actual story, but the eye candy is appreciated nonetheless. In short, I’d recommend viewers stick this one out until it becomes more obvious what Raven is capable of delivering.


Jel’s verdict: Feels Familiar

I got some big YA novel vibes from this episode. The protagonist is a reclusive but special teenage girl, who they literally describe as “not like the other girls consorts”, and she’s in a unique position to upend the status quo. The inciting incident is a meeting with the hot emperor, who immediately takes an interest in her. I’ll eat my hat if another hot guy with the opposite personality of the emperor doesn’t show up vying for her attention.

I’m not saying these are bad things. I just think beneath the facade of court intrigue and politics, that’s what we’re really getting here. It’s characters and themes we’ve seen many times before. It’s well executed, and I’d say the strongest point so far has been the art direction and character design. But aside from that, I don’t think there’s going to be anything special or unique here.

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