Anime Best in Show

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2 Review – Best In Show

Quick SummaryBest MomentSetupDeliveryOther Posts

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2 – Quick Summary

In Raven of the Inner Palace episode 2, “The Jade Earring, Part 2,” emperor Xia Gaojun had seen Liu Shouxue washing her hair in the lake. He was shocked to see the black dye wash out to reveal her shining white hair – the same hair color of the previous Luan dynasty. The same dynasty Xia’s family had put to death for treason! How will Xia react? What will Liu? Is there anything she can do if the emperor of China decides she should join her ancestors? And will they ever solve the mystery of the jade earring, especially if the Raven Consort is no longer around?

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

Favorite Quote from Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2: Xia had learned a truth about killing.

Xia’s statement showed a profound trust and intimacy. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Now that we have two episodes under our belts, I’m beginning to think I had a feel for the show. The show is not bombastic. I’m not going to be out of breath at the end of an episode. But the show has given  me strong indications that it wants to treat events with respect. It wants to be realistic. And I like that!

My favorite quote is an example of that. There are some humans who suffer from psychopathy – or more precisely, there are some humans who suffer because of the psychopathy in others. I’m used to fiction that portrays one of two extremes: stories that celebrate psychopathological behavior, or stories that demonize it. 

Consider the taking of a human life. In some stories, the act is treated with the same gravity as changing a lightbulb. In others, it’s celebrated, like when the hero kills the villain. I find both approaches lacking. Stories where people die in droves, and no one bats an eyelash, strike me as psychopathic. And in terms of celebrating death, I’ve only one one or two villains in real life who I thought deserved death, though even in those cases, I could not be certain. 

In this show, Xia said something that inflamed in me a hope that this show might actually get it. It might actually intend to depict something close to realism in this matter.

Xia was talking to Liu about the death of the empress dowager. After gathering conclusive evidence of her crimes, he put her to death.

““But I should have known there is no right way to kill a person,” he said to Liu (21:14). “All that remains is the regret that I couldn’t save anyone.”

His statement and manner exuded trust and intimacy. It might seem like a subtle thing, but to me, it dramatically increased my level of trust in the writers!

Best in Show Moment for Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2: Jiu-jiu reacted in a human way to the threat of violence

Jiu-jiu’s reaction is among the most realistic I’ve seen in a while. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

Setup: A Quiet Moment with Profound Implications

There’s a problem with language. It inflicts subtle biases by its very structure. It’s hard for me to even convey what I mean, because the tool I have available to do so – language – is compromised.

I’ve spoken before about coming to an understanding that I can only call “the terror of knowing what this world is about.” Queen’s song Under Pressure is the best articulation I’ve come across. 

And no, I’m not kidding. Once you experience that terror, once you understand what’s going on, once you experience the sheer simplicity of the answer… I wish I could end that sentence with something dramatic. Something insightful. But the thing is, once you’re there, you’re there. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t show it to you.

I would like to “fix” it. But I’m not sure I can. At least, I haven’t found a path forward yet. I’ve managed station-holding. I can still score minor victories. But as Denethor said, there is no final victory against the Shadow. And we’re fresh out of Gandalfs.

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2: Liu wished Xia pleasant dreams.

If there is a chance against the Shadow Denethor referred to, it might be in small gestures like this. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

What’s that have to do with my favorite moment in this episode? Simple: Jiu-jiu. Jiu-jiu is the antidote to the Shadow. At least, she could be. Because she’s one of the most rare things in the universe: she’s an innocent human who doesn’t wish harm on anyone. Even more: she’s an innocent human who shows reacts with terror in the face of potentially lethal force.

Liu had asked Jiu-jiu to be her lady-in-waiting, which to Jiu-jiu was an upgrade. Liu took her to question someone who might be a witness. But agents of the empress dowager tried to harm Liu and her. In fact, one threw Jiu-jiu to the ground and was about to skewer her. Liu had tried to intervene, but she had zero ability to project force. Only Xia’s foresight and the betrothed of the jade earring’s dead owner saved them.

Delivery: Jiu-jiu, Acting in Defiance of Fear

After the assault, Liu offered Jiu-jiu a hand up. Jiu-jiu placed her forehead on the back of Liu’s hand and wept (07:42). The assault had terrified her. She had faced death, and she had come away terribly shaken.

Liu, apparently used to contemplating near-brushes with death (given her tragic backstory), gave Jiu-jiu understanding and pity when she said (07:44), “I’m sorry for dragging you into a dangerous situation.” She even suggested Jiu-jiu return to relative safety. 

But Jiu-jiu, grateful for Liu trying to defend her, wanted to stay.

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2: In spite of her fear, Jiu-jiu wanted to say beside Liu.

I hate to sound hyperbolic, but if there is hope for humanity, it is in gestures like this. Capture from the Crunchyroll stream.

The terror of knowing what the world’s about is sobering. It brings a brutal clarity. But the thing about clarify is that it’s neutral. It casts a defining light on all it touches. And one of the things it touches is the fact that one of the only known ways past that terror is the trusting relationships we build. Liu, in a moment of profound danger, acted to protect Jiu-jiu. Despite her terror, Jiu-jiu responded as best she could.

And in the end, that might make all the difference in the world.

What did you think of the emperor falling asleep in Liu’s bed? What were your favorite moments in the episode? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2: Other Posts

Other Anime Sites

This Site (Crow’s World of Anime!)

Copyright 2022 Terrance A. Crow. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “Raven of the Inner Palace Episode 2 Review – Best In Show

  1. I’m going to have to think about “what the world is really about.” I’m not thinking it is all that terrifying to me. It is more of a neutral reality that one adapts to. “Raven of the Inner Palace” is a beautiful anime and one I will enjoy.

    1. The problem with language is that it can say exactly what I want — but only if I’ve set the context! In this post, when I say “what the world is really about,” I have in mind the world humans have created for themselves. That’s the one that has, at least IMHO, the terrifying truths. However, from the perspective of wider reality, where world = universe, then I agree — the universe is not cruel or kind. It simply is.

      If that makes sense.

      1. The thing I like about the wild is that I simply am. It simply is. I’m not smothered in grand purpose. There is no purpose other than to exist and to experience. I might get eaten by a cougar or I might fall off a cliff. but neither of these causes hatred of cougars or cliffs.

        You can extend that feeling to regular life. If there is nothing you can do about something, there’s no reason for fear or hatred. You do your due diligence and if a drunk driver runs into you on the road or a nuclear war happens, there is really no reason to get heated up. Just as with cliffs and mountain lions, you take what care you can and accept the uncontrollability of the world around you.

        Stoicism and Budhism and Existentialism and Epicureanism and even Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. all lead to the same state of mind. Acceptance of that which cannot be controlled and prudence regarding that which can.

        1. That’s all good advice! Great song, too.

          I get entangled in an internal discussion of the line between what I can and cannot control. Were I to become involved in a political movement, I might be able to affect a problem that looked insurmountable before. If that’s the case, I keep asking myself if I have an obligation to get involved, at least at some level. That’s where a lot of my stress comes from.

          Well, that, and Real Life Family Events (RLFEs)!

Please let me know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.