Title: The Imperial Coroner
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Setting: Late Tang Dynasty
Production year: 2021
Current rating: 4.75/5
The Three Judicial Offices in Chang’an, managed by the reserved Lord Anjun Xiao Jinyu, is hiring a new coroner. Chu Chu, the youngest child in a family of coroners, arrives determined to pass the exam with flying colours and become the next Imperial Coroner. A chance encounter with Lord Anjun’s best friend, Jing Yi, gives Chuchu the boost she needs to get into the exam hall.
Despite impressing the judges, Chuchu has two major points against her: her strange background, and the stone token she carries around with her. Lord Anjun decides to personally employ Chuchu until he can verify her background, and find out why she is carrying a token that shouldn’t be in her hands. As Lord Anjun and Chuchu work together to autopsy bodies, they realise that there is a pattern to the killings and that the next victim may be closer to home…
Review (with spoilers)
If you’ve not watched this series, I advise you read my first review about the first 20 episodes of the show. This post can be found here. If you know what’s happened up until this point then read on, my friend!
Last time I blogged about this series, I praised it for the healthy relationship between Lord Anjun and Chuchu. Well in literally the next episode Lord Anjun (the little goldfish himself) proposed to Chuchu and… she turned him down on the spot, and absolutely cut him off. I was saddened and confused. Did this spell the end of the hitherto excellent communication between the pair? Lord Anjun turns to his best friends for seduction tips, which is a hilarious subplot. A comedy of errors ensues.
It transpires that Chuchu had been thinking about the social ramifications for Lord Anjun if he were to marry a coroner. A few episodes later Chuchu confesses this to Lord Anjun, and everything gets worked out. Excellent communication recommenced immediately (to my relief).
Once again, the pacing deserves praise. The series has dozens of subplots. Off the top of my head some of them are: fake coins flooding the market, the stories told by the corpses Chuchu autopsies, her parentage, the whereabouts of Lord Anjun’s father, Eunuch Qin’s devious machinations, Leng Yue’s family troubles. The list goes on. In so many C-Dramas that I’ve watched, each of these sub-plots would have been spun out into whole episodes of their own, which can lead to bloating and losing sight of the original plot. In The Imperial Coroner, the scriptwriters managed to create compelling subplots that did not detract from the main storyline.
As ever, the only bum note remains the music and opening credits. They created new opening credits when the series started to become popular, but I find these ones to be less aesthetically pleasing than the intermittently shown originals.
A second frustrating point is the subtitles. If I choose to watch the series on WeTv to avoid the endless YouTube adverts, then there’s no chance of having both Mandarin and English subtitles. If I watch on YouTube, I can see both sets of subtitles but the adverts are truly mind-numbing, not least because I use a brilliant cookie/tracker blocker so none of the adverts I get spark any interest.
This is absolutely my series of the summer, and is going to be the one I recommend to friends who have never seen a Chinese Drama series before. Every episode contained a moment (or two) that made me laugh out loud, the main characters’ relationship is so darn positive, Chuchu is everything I’ve ever wanted in a female main character, the visual effects are excellent, and the storyline is punchy and keeps viewers interested.