- Titles: Koukyuu no Karasu
- Genre: Historical, mystery, supernatural, drama, romance maybe?
- Episodes: 13
- Studio: Bandai Namco Pictures
Deep in the inner palace, there lives a consort known as the Raven Consort. She holds a special position, and despite her “consort” title, she does not perform night-time duties.
Though she lives there, it is said that she can perform mysterious arts and even gain some friends along the way, but she has no contact with the emperor, nor kneels before him. Such is the Raven Consort.
Every few generations a new Raven consort is chosen to carry on the tradition. Living a life of austerity in seclusion in exchange for relative comfort and her mysterious powers. However, Ryuu Jusetsu, the present Raven Consort, is a little different. Despite her best efforts at seclusion, her life is being invaded. She has a well-meaning lady in waiting now, that could even be called a friend. A young eunuch in her care. And this annoying new emperor will just not leave her alone.
What is a frightening and mysterious magical consort to do? Other than becoming a historical inner palace ghost buster of course?
The Raven of the Inner Palace caught my eye when it was first announced. I quite liked the key visuals and the title so I put it on my to-watch list. Reviews from my fellow bloggers seemed fairly positive and when I visited the AniList page, I saw that it was being compared to Natsume’s Book of Friends. Somebody knows how to get my attention!
The production of The Raven of the Inner Palace reminded me most of Kakuriyo: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits. In fact, that’s what this whole show should have been compared to… Anyways, what I mean by that is that the character designs for Raven were quite nice. Ryuu herself was probably the most striking and my screencaps are mostly close-ups of her face. The establishing shots of the inner palace with its gardens and traditional architecture were also quite beautiful as was the fashion.
But the animation was lackluster and very minimal, the colours were boring, and worst of all, the art itself was extremely inconsistent. There were frequent scenes, almost every episode, where characters were so badly rendered at a distance or in certain angles, that I could only tell who it was supposed to be by the colour of their clothing. For real.
For some reason, this doesn’t bother most people at all. I find it so odd. I’m sure if someone disliked the show, to begin with then this inconsistency would add fuel to the fire but otherwise, it seems people don’t pay attention to art consistency at all. But I do. And it was very bad in The Raven of the Inner Palace.
Otherwise, I would say the production was a bit dull. Once you get used to the character designs, there’s not much else. Backgrounds tend to be very sparse and repetitive and the voice acting wasn’t my thing. However, I have to insist that the character designs and fashion were truly beautiful. They do make up for most of the stuff I liked less.
Story & Characters
Because Natsume’s Book of Friend is one of my favourite anime, when I saw it so high on the list of similar recommendations, I couldn’t wait to see how the two shows were alike. I guess The Raven of the Inner Palace does have a lot of ghosts and gods in the story which are technically Yokai but by that logic, all the characters in the Nightmare before Christmas are technically Yokai as well. Actually, The Nightmare Before Christmas is way more similar to Natsume’s Book of Friends than The Raven of the Inner Palace is.
It is not a failure of the show that it doesn’t resemble another show that I like. But it was an initial letdown that might have affected my experience.
What The Raven of the Inner Palace was a lot like in my opinion is The Apothecary Diaries. Both are set in similar time periods, in the Emperor’s Inner Palace. Both have a spunky female lead that spends her time-solving past murders and mysteries. And coincidentally, I happened to be catching up on the last volumes of the Apothecary Diaries as I started The Raven of the Inner Palace.
This was another unfortunate blow for Raven. Because I like The Apothecary Diaries a LOT more. It doesn’t have any supernatural elements but otherwise, it’s extremely similar and the writing is a lot more subtle and interesting in my opinion.
So that was the second time The Raven of the Inner Palace got compared to something else in my mind and left me wanting.
The Raven of the Inner Palace does offer some elements that are fairly unusual in anime. The setting is lush and intriguing. Although it doesn’t go into much detail on the subject (I wish it had in fact) the politics of the Inner Palace are complex and fascinating.
Now that I think of it, that was one issue I had with the show. It left me wanting more in a lot of areas. We get to find out a bit about the workings of the palace and inner palace but not much and we are sometimes left wondering if certain situations are due to palace politics or just specific circumstances of the characters. Similarly, we are told a bit about the supernatural circumstances of the Raven consort, mostly towards the end of the season, but there are a lot of grey zones and unanswered questions that make it seem like most of what happens to her is somewhat circumstantial.
A lot of the supernatural elements felt a little toothless as well. For instance, in an early episode, the dowager empress curses the emperor with her dying breath. It’s really set up like it’s going to be a big deal. And it does in fact come back a few episodes later. Cool, follow-through. But the effects of the curse happen mostly offscreen and when we finally get to see it, it’s dealt with by the Raven consort without any effort in about 10 seconds. Maybe less. Trying to figure out what to wear to have snacks with another consort seems to have higher stakes than this death curse.
This could have been interesting if the consort was presented as this One Punch Man, ridiculously overpowered character. And she certainly has strong spiritual powers. But we see her have a lot more trouble with way more mundane ghosts. The show is also not at all presented as a comedy, so I don’t think it was meant to be a punchline but it’s possible it simply went over my head.
The impression I was personally left with is that the stakes seemed somewhat mismatched to the build-up events were given in the show.
Other than the episodic supernatural investigations, there is a half-hearted romance storyline between the Raven consort and the emperor. In this season it doesn’t really go anywhere but it has some cute moments if you’re into that sort of thing.
And that’s about it. The Raven of the Inner Palace is not a bad show. The writing is a bit awkward and way too blunt for my tastes but I can see it appealing to viewers with different preferences. It’s just not as good as I wanted it to be mostly because I was unfairly comparing it to other stuff.
You might like this anime if:
You think the screencaps are pretty and you have different tastes from mine
My favourite character:
That ornery chicken was pretty fun
- Every time we see a character with silver hair – take a sip
- Every time the golden chicken attacks – consider ordering food
- Every time the Raven uses magic – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “eunuch” – take a sip
- Every time Jiujiu gossips – listen
- Every time a ghost shows up – gasp!
- Every time the Raven tries to throw the emperor out – take a sip
- Every time the empress dowager is just so evil – take a sip
- Every time the Raven makes a face – take a sip
- Every time the Raven gets a snack – also get a snack
- Every time there’s a flashback scroll – you’ll know it when you see it
- Every time we see the Raven as a child – awww wait oh…
- Every time anyone gets beheaded – well this got dark
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.