A First Impressions Review
So, I just watched the first three episodes of Raven of the Inner Palace (Koukyuu no Karasu), and I am enjoying the show so far. Raven of the Inner Palace is an anime adaptation of the light novel series and shares its namesake. The light novel series is complete at seven volumes, and Seven Seas will publish the series in print/digital starting February 2023. (Unfortunately, there is no manga adaptation.) Seven Seas describes the story:
Deep within the palace lives a mysterious woman known only as the Raven Consort. Some say she’s an old woman, others that she’s young and beautiful. But all are agreed on this: her dark arts have the power to exorcise spirits, lay fatal curses, and find what has been lost—for a price. When the young emperor, Koushou, seeks out the Raven Consort to make use of that magic, what follows will overturn the court…and perhaps even the country.
Alright, so that description basically describes the first two episodes of the anime, but I'm getting a little ahead of myself. The Raven of the Inner Palace is a supernatural historical drama with some romance and mystery thrown in. The setting is the imperial complex of ancient China, where we follow the titular Raven Consort. The Raven Consort Shouxue is a 16-year-old girl. She is a mysterious and intelligent beauty with supernatural abilities. She does not have contact with the emperor or the rest of the court and palace, but instead lives in solitude, only to be called upon to solve mysteries within the inner palace. Since she was taken in and trained by the last consort, Shouxue lived in solitude, having never been called upon until the young emperor Koushou comes to visit her.
Prior to his visit, the young emperor came into power via overthrowing the evil empress dowager. Now, he seeks out the Raven Consort with help to find the owner of an old Jade earring left by the palace walls. So, the first two episodes are spent searching for the owner, and the search coincides with learning about Shouxue's true identity, Koushou's past, and the imperial dynasty's violent rule. However, all of this information isn't dumped on you. It's given out in flashbacks, dialogue, and clever shadow puppetry animation.
The beautiful animation is helmed by Bandai Namco Pictures Inc, and the beautiful music accompanying that animation, such as the musical cues underscoring Shouxue's use of magic, is done by Asami Tachibana. Tachibana also did the music for Haikyuu!, Moriarty the Patriot, and other anime you're sure to recognize. The anime is helmed by Chizuru Miyawaki, and Miyawaki's other work includes the Inuyasha, Ghost in the Shell, and Gintama franchises as well as obscure anime like Hare+Guu. This appears to be one of Miyawaki's few big Director roles as most past credits include Key Animation and Episode Director, which is interesting because the anime is flowing smoothly thus far. The voices are great too!
I watched the first three episodes in Japanese with subtitles, but Crunchyroll will start releasing the dub simulcast starting October 22. Alexis Tipton will play Shouxue (voiced by Saku Mizuno in Japanese), and Christopher Wehkamp will play Koushou (voiced by Masaaki Mizunaka in Japanese).
In closing, I enjoyed the first three episodes as I like historical mysteries and I enjoyed the animation, pacing, and voices thus far. My only (minor) hangup is the reveal of a new villainous character in episode 3. I thought the series would be a slice-of-life historical/mystery/romance kind of thing, but it looks like our heroes will have to fight this guy at some point, and I have a feeling that a few of the mysteries that our heroine will have to solve will lead back to this guy. I'm also worried about the short 13-episode run. I hope we get a season 2 or the anime wraps up everything in a satisfying manner, especially since the light novel series is 100% complete. Nothing is worse than an incomplete anime adaptation of a complete series. 😑
At any rate, Raven of the Inner Palace is the anime I will continue watching this season (and probably next as I'm sloooow at finishing anime). What will you be watching?
You can watch Raven of the Inner Palace via Crunchyroll.