The Imperial Coroner (2021) poster
8.5
Your Rating: 0/10
Ratings: 8.5/10 from 5,102 users
# of Watchers: 11,739
Reviews: 99 users
Ranked #653
Popularity #1367
Watchers 5,102

Young girl Chu Chu came from a family of coroners. She meets Prince Xiao Jin Yu, a dignified prince in charge of criminal lawsuit who appeared weak and sickly. Prince Xiao lacks reliable manpower to investigate case, while Chu Chu lacks people to step up, take charge and be a man. Together, they manage to unravel a shocking case that has dragged on for 18 years. After solving the case, she won the Emperor's approval and is finally certified as the Imperial Coroner, fulfilling her life goal. (Source: DramaWiki, Baidu) ~~ Adapted from the novel "Yu Ci Xiao Wu Zuo" (御赐小仵作) by Qing Xian Ya Tou (清闲丫头). Edit Translation

  • English
  • 中文(简体)
  • 日本語
  • Русский
  • Country: China
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 36
  • Aired: Apr 29, 2021 - May 20, 2021
  • Aired On: Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • Original Network: Tencent Video
  • Duration: 39 min.
  • Score: 8.5 (scored by 5,102 users)
  • Ranked: #653
  • Popularity: #1367
  • Content Rating: 13+ - Teens 13 or older

Where to Watch The Imperial Coroner

WeTV
Free (sub)
TencentVideo
Free (sub)
Viki
Free (sub)

Cast & Credits

Photos

The Imperial Coroner (2021) photo
The Imperial Coroner (2021) photo
The Imperial Coroner (2021) photo
The Imperial Coroner (2021) photo
The Imperial Coroner (2021) photo
The Imperial Coroner (2021) photo

Reviews

Completed
WandereR
104 people found this review helpful
May 21, 2021
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 7
Overall 9.0
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.0

A delightful gem worth savouring

Every year without fail, at least one C-drama historical that’s underrated and under-the-radar but utterly deserving of praise, would somehow make its appearance in dramaland. This year’s gem, undoubtedly for me, is The Imperial Coroner.

If you love the detective genre in ancient historical settings, you’d love this. This drama bears a close resemblance to Miss Truth, Maiden Holmes, Ancient Detective and Young Blood, among the recent productions of this genre. Furthermore, there are other compelling reasons I’ve enjoyed this show immensely.

Why I Love It

The Tang Dynasty in which the drama is set in. Among all the ancient dynasties, this one is my favoured time period, particularly during the early to mid-Tang, because of the vibrant and thriving era of peace and economic prosperity, along with the burgeoning appreciation for fine arts and fashion. This is reflected in the bustling cosmopolitan city of Chang’an with the integration of myriads of cultures, when international trade was at its peak. This year seems to be the season of Tang with a number of dramas set in this timeline already released, notably The Long Ballad, Court Lady and Weaving a Tale of Love.

The production values of this drama. Although reportedly being low on budget, the overall quality isn’t hampered and it shows, because the money is spent on all the right places. Sometimes a drama is big budget because of the fees involved in casting big name stars. There are no A-list superstars involved here, which is just as well because what we get in return are decent cinematography, art direction, set designs (courtesy of Hengdian World Studios), action choreography, engaging direction and brisk pacing of the storytelling, as well as the blossoming talents of a young cast.

Speaking of the cast, for fans of Young Blood we get to see Su Xiao Tong again, this time in the lead role of the titular character. This young woman is worthy of top billing for this show because we get to see her showcase her expanding range in carrying this show through her character of Chu Chu. The rest of the cast are equally promising, with Wang Zi Qi’s characterization of the male lead Xiao Jin Yu particularly convincing. The supporting cast comprising Zhao Yao Ke, Yang Ting Dong, and Wang Yan Bin provide a very respectable account of their respective portrayals as members of the band of friends and team of investigators.

One of the more pleasing aspects of this production is the projection of visual designs and art. Its opening title sequence is one of the few I’ve seen that does not spoil any scenes from the show. It uses two versions, all of which feature conceptual art with a dramatic original score (as opposed to having an opening theme song). Throughout the drama, scenes of medical examination are accompanied by visual aid in the form of diagrams and title cards that provide concise explanation of the technical terms. Additionally, numerous visual representations of crime scene reenactment are added for the benefit of viewers.

The captivating plot about a gifted female coroner who works for the Imperial court in solving crimes is quite cleverly conceived. Based on the novel The Story of the Imperial Gift (御赐小仵作) by Qingxian Ya Tou (清闲丫头), the story fuses factual history with fiction, alongside some rather serious fictional dramatization. Real-life characters such as Emperor Xuanzong and the infamously powerful Eunuch faction, in addition to the Tang administrative system of the Judicial Ministry and the Censorate all form part of the overarching conspiracy that drives the story of this drama.

In comparison with some of the previously mentioned productions that are similar in nature, I honestly do think The Imperial Coroner is slightly better in terms of the execution and the storytelling. The chemistry and interactions between the various characters are more organic and positive, as opposed to some of the toxicity present in the messy love triangle and the rather “misogynistic” traits portrayed by the ML, in Miss Truth. The story progression here is much more engaging while the plotline is considerably more elaborate, in addition to the consistent writing of the FL character, when compared to Maiden Holmes. The depiction of the camaraderie between the main characters are a joy to watch and reminiscent of the gang in Young Blood and Ancient Detective.

Overall

The Imperial Coroner truly is a delightful watch that has pleasantly surprised not only me but many viewers as well, for most of the reasons mentioned earlier and perhaps some others as well. It may not be an epic masterpiece but it certainly holds its own against some of the big budget and highly anticipated C-historical productions that have been released this year. With only 36 episodes, it won’t take too much viewing time to savour this drama.

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Completed
PeachBlossomGoddess
52 people found this review helpful
May 23, 2021
36 of 36 episodes seen
Completed 11
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.5
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.5

A eunuch of a mystery.

After Word of Honor, it is such a delight to come upon another modest production that punches above its weight - 2021 must be the year of the diamond in the rough! This charming ancient crime solving drama is meticulously well written such that the disparate plot threads are tightly linked and hold up to close scrutiny.

This story is set in Tang Dynasty, during the reign of Xuanzong 宣宗. During this period, Xuanzong and his predecessors struggled to wrest back power from the hands of the eunuchs, who were erroneously given authority over the Shence army (imperial guards) to check the power of the generals who guarded the borders. The previous emperor Wuzong was not succeeded by any of his sons but by his uncle Xuanzong, whose ascent was aided by the eunuchs because he was considered more malleable. This is important background context to the story that will make the various motives and power dynamics more clear. [@Skibbies posted a more detailed historical background in the thread which I link below since she didn't review this drama herself.]

Aspiring young coroner Chu Chu heads to Chang'an to obtain her qualifications from the backwaters of Qianzhou.  Prince An, Xiao Jinyu who heads 三法司 or Three Judicial Office is impressed by this naive and ernest young coroner's  brilliant deductive insights and intrigued by her links to a missing person from a very old cold case hailing back to Wenzong's reign (Wenzong > Wuzong >Xuanzong). This leads to the uncovering of a much larger conspiracy with deep links to the past.

Although Chu Chu is the titular character, this is misleading as the character lacks complexity and gravitas. In fact, this is as much Jinyu's story as it is Chu Chu's and he is ultimately the brains who puts all the pieces together. I have some sympathy for viewers who abandoned this drama because they found Chu Chu's naïveté and simple facial expressions inconsistent with the intelligence of the character. This actress obviously has a lot of potential but in this role, was not able to convey the difference between guileless and gullible. But I put it mostly on her voice dubber, which in my opinion is the production's biggest execution error. The actress should have dubbed herself, she has the perfect voice for Chu Chu, young but not child-like. The dubber's baby doll voice especially took me out of the romance - in today's Stein age (Weinstein, Epstein), it just gives me the creeps to hear romantic exchanges between a baby doll voice and mature male voice. The way the romance is written does not get in the way of the plot, it is very sweet, intelligent and avoids the typical angst tropes but given the choice of voice dubber, I would have preferred they left it out altogether.

As a largely plot driven drama, most of the characters are relatively simple but the sum of the parts is greater than the whole because every character is smart and has something to contribute. Jinli and Lengyue are the muscle that protects the team and have insights on military and jianghu matters. Jingyi is the investigator, general dogsbody and court jester of the group. Even though the cast is obviously quite green, their collective chemistry and rapport is what makes this click. The entire drama is largely carried by this young but rather wonderful ensemble cast. If the main characters are not meaty enough, this is more than made up for by the two wickedly funny eunuchs Qin Luan and Sun Mingde. In fact, Qin Luan can give Lord Varys a run for his money and is by a wide margin my favorite, most interesting character in this drama. So don't miss out on one of the few really solid plot driven dramas out there just because one or two characters don't resonate with you.

What impresses me most with this drama is how creatively details more easily explained in a book are adapted. The autopsy re-enactments and visual presentation of hidden clues in chess matches, riddles, and ciphers convincingly portrays plot intricacies without getting mired in mind numbing detail. That said, we are not given the ability to solve any of the side cases, we just get to sit back and let Jinyu show and tell us the devil in the details.

When it comes to the overarching plot, even though all major plot points converge brilliantly with loose ends tied up nicely, it could have been better done. The mastermind is not the best, most convincing villain in the drama and I do not like how they are revealed so early on and abruptly without any hints or surprise value. Ideally we figure out their identity at the same time Jinyu does. And that is the second problem, the mastermind pretty much self combusts. This is a character that is super intelligent throughout that becomes less intelligent towards the end. When Jinyu returns to Chang'an he only has the solution to the cold case, he is far from onto who the mastermind is. Instead of accelerating their plan while hiding in plain sight, the mastermind panics and tips off Jinyu by fleeing in a way that makes no sense when they should know they can't fool Jinyu's genius coroner. This also cuts them off from their easy access to the palace which is their end goal and from then from then on, they continue to dribble clues that are easy for a coroner of Chu Chu's caliber to unravel. This makes the ending pretty much a foregone conclusion and even though the team takes some unnecessary risks in the final denouement, I didn't feel any build in suspense or a sense of imminent peril. The drama for me climaxes when they find the witch doctor and after that it is just a series of incrementally less interesting and exciting reveals. At the end of the day, they focused too much on the details supporting the sub plots and neglected the main meal.

Everything said and done flaws and all, I still enjoyed this drama immensely and am happy to strongly recommend it. I can only rate it an 8.5 because this eunuch of a mystery is missing its best parts.



A link to more detailed background history credit to @Skibbies:
https://mydramalist.com/50135-the-imperial-coroner#comment-6184389

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Recent Discussions

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Details

  • Drama: The Imperial Coroner
  • Country: China
  • Episodes: 36
  • Aired: Apr 29, 2021 - May 20, 2021
  • Aired On: Thursday, Friday, Saturday
  • Original Network: Tencent Video
  • Duration: 39 min.
  • Content Rating: 13+ - Teens 13 or older

Statistics

  • Score: 8.5 (scored by 5,102 users)
  • Ranked: #653
  • Popularity: #1367
  • Watchers: 11,739

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