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Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1 Review – Best In Show

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Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1 – Quick Summary

In Raven of the Inner Palace episode 1, “The Jade Earring, Part 1,” emperor Xia Gaojun had a problem. He needed to find the identify of a ghost he suspected might be connected to his family. So, with his attendant Wei Qing, he sought the help of the mysterious Liu Shouxue. Wei expressed outrage at how disrespectfully Liu spoke to the emperor, but Xia waved aside his concerns. Who is Liu that she can speak to the emperor that way? What is her role as the Raven of the Inner Palace? And why does that over-sized chicken named Xing-xing live with her?

Note: This post may include spoilers, so be cautious.

Favorite Quote from Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1: Liu Shouxue spoke very freely with the emperor

Seriously, who talks that way to the emperor? Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

First episodes often have a lot of introductions. I try to pay close attention to those, especially in a series like this where I have no prior experience with the characters or situations. Liu Shouxue, the consort who is called the Raven of the Inner Place, is the introduction I watched the closest. Not only is she the title character, but she represents several contradictory ideas. She’s powerful, yet confined. She’s willful, yet cannot control her own destiny. And of course, she has mysterious powers.

The show wasted no time in defining some of the limits to her power. After she used teleportation magic to kick the emperor out of her room, he returned the next day with delicious food. Seems Xia is adept at enticing people. That’s certainly better than coercion! 

The steamed buns got her attention, though she made a show of reluctance. As she happily munched on the buns, he asked her if she could divine the earring’s owner. When she said she couldn’t, he said he had heard that the Raven Consort could answer any question.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said, her mouth full (08:59). “I’m not a god.”

I admire her honestly. I think Xia did, too.

Best in Show Moment for Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1: Apparently gossiping about death is a form of entertainment

She gave us a realistic glimpse into palace life – for the subjects. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Setup: The Danger of Romanticizing Imperial Life

My education lacked any mention of eastern histories. Even the college-level classes called “World History” really meant “European History.” I regret that, and I think it’s a seriously blind spot in the United States education establishment. Because I’ll tell you this for free: current events made a lot more sense after I read Henry Kissinger’s book On China.

That was one of the things that made me want to check out this series. Another was the soundtrack and animation. Both are right in my strike zone. But those would not have been enough to make me want to review the show. There has to be some hook, something that inspires my imagination. That turned out to be my favorite moment in this episode.

As fascinated as I am by Chinese history, much of its characteristics repel me. The very concept of an emperor is troublesome. Power + humans = suckage (and please do check my math!). Let’s face it: emperors have near limitless power within the human sphere. They can build great monuments and provide stability for their people. They can also abuse humans at will. 

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1: The empress embodied arrogance

The previous empress embodied a lot of what I detest about those who wield imperial power. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

That was one of the concerns I had going into this episode. I was afraid the series would try to glorify imperial power. Also, I was afraid it would try to depict happy subjects who sang their emperor’s praises.

The show did not give that to me. And I am grateful.

Instead, the show gave us a matter-of-fact portrayal of the people who lived and worked in the palace. Liu hilariously went undercover to find the earring’s owner. I say hilarious because I don’t think she’s very good at it. It’s only because Jiu-jiu was so innocent that Liu’s act worked. But work it did. And I must say that Liu gets points for her willingness to work to earn the information Jiu-jiu gave her. I like that attitude!

Delivery: Liu Uncovers Evidence I Might Like This Show

With Jiu-jiu’s help, Liu found a woman who knew a lot about imperial court intrigue. She told the two younger women about the poisoning death of one court lady and the subsequent “suicide” of Ban Yingnu, the woman accused of administering the poison.

After hearing the story, Liu wondered if the investigation had really proven Ban’s guilt. After all, she said, someone else could have poisoned the fish broth. The other woman laughed it off and said that’s just how things worked within the palace.

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1: Liu Shouxue was not a fan of death

I really want to know more about her story. She seems unjaded (pun not intended!) by imperial life. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

“But because of that, we never run out of things to gossip about,” the woman said cheerfully (16:55). Liu, clearly displeased, lamented that even death had become entertainment for the inner palace. The other woman answered, “What do you expect us to do? We’re forbidden from leaving this place for our whole lives.”

And just like that, the show put my concern to rest. It wasn’t an in-your-face kind of moment. It was just a passing moment of a woman gossiping, then justifying that gossip with a matter-of-fact statement of her condition in life. That gave me hope that this show might be worth watching. That, and I really do like the music and animation!

What did you think of our first glimpse of the Raven of the Inner’s Court’s magic power? What were your favorite moments in this episode? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 1 Review – Best In Show

  1. Occupational hazard of both emperors and czars is that you lose touch with reality. Nobody can tell you anything but what you want to hear. When your beliefs do not correspond to reality, even the mightiest ruler can faceplant a nation.

    1. And that’s a fact!

      I’m afraid we’re seeing that play out in real time right now. With potentially devastating effects.

  2. Your math is quite definitely correct. And it makes me admire the young emperor a bit, because at a moment when he had all the power in the world, and more emotional justification than most, he chose to be the better man. Instead of summarily beheading the woman he fully believes murdered his mother, he waits for proof. That takes a level of integrity which most men have never had. I would very much want a different form of government, but with a man like that at the head, for however long he lasts, I could at least tolerate it for a time.

    And the final hook they had, at the end, when she washes her hair and it turns out to be white, like that of the previous dynasty, and the emperor sees it? Oh, now, that was masterful!

    1. “That takes a level of integrity which most men have never had.”

      History agrees with you on that one! I’m still shocked about how George Washington walked away from the presidency.

      “for however long he lasts, I could at least tolerate it for a time.”

      I think that’s part of why that particular form of government persisted. When it worked, it was extremely efficient. But, well, we just proved mathematically how bad humans are with power! That tolerable phase never lasts.

      “Oh, now, that was masterful!”

      That was seriously cool!

  3. Honestly, the investigation was my favourite scene this episode. I have a slightly different take on Jiu Jiu, though. In a highly stratified society you don’t expect people above your station to talk to you, so this actually being the raven consort right in front of her would have probably been preposterous. And Liu didn’t actually put on much of an act; she just answered a question and didn’t correct a misconcpetion. Do you think the older woman knew who she was talking to? I’m not sure, to be honest. My take is she didn’t really think about it either way, and my prediction is that the show will never tell us.

    I found the episode quite pleasant to get through; it looks pretty. I don’t care much about the plot so far, but I like the mood. The plot seems like standard court intrigue; and our raven consort seems to be of a lineage thought to have been eradicated. We’ll see where this goes. It might become interesting, but so far it’s just the skeleton that supports the show’s mood, not something that draws me in.

    1. “Do you think the older woman knew who she was talking to? I’m not sure, to be honest.”

      I don’t think so. I’m not sure, either, but I had the sense that so few people had seen Liu in her role of the Raven Consort that they might well not recognize her.

      I like the vibe/mood, too. I don’t know yet if it’s going to be a romance or a mystery, some combination of the two, or something completely different. But it’s enough of a departure from the routine that it’s captured my interest!

  4. I haven’t seen this anime yet, but it certainly sounds interesting! Hmm, I carefully checked your math, and you do indeed seem to be correct! Yeah, I took a bunch of history classes in college, and I avoided World History because it did seem a little limited. But a lot of schools do have great history classes, you just have to dig for them! My favorite history classes were Economic History of the Pacific Rim (it was history of Asia and the Americas) Economic History of the Golden Age of Discovery (it was the history of pirates!) and Ice Age Human Migration (it was stone age history). If I had just picked my classes by their title, I probably would have never taken these classes. I’m glad I got into the habit of talking to the professors before registering for classes, to find out what the classes were really about.

    1. The classes sound awesome! I wish my college had offered them.

      I also have to say I’m impressed with how you talked to the professors. That never even occurred to me! I’ll bet that had a huge positive impact on your education.

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