Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Acting as a spiritual spin-off to the 2018 Chinese drama Story of Yanxi Palace, Princess Adventures is a bite-size dive into the world of C-dramas that does a pretty good job acting as a bite-size taster to what this region can produce. Given the original sits at 70 episodes and I, admittedly, don’t know an awful lot about the original beyond reading the plot synopsis and reading some episodic recaps, Princess Adventures does make it relatively straight forward for newcomers to jump into this with no prior knowledge and enjoy. Of course, fans of the original will undoubtedly get the most out of this one and there’s certainly some nice nods toward that one here.
Predominantly though, the story revolves around Princess Zhaohua, the daughter to the Queen who happens to be the lead character in Story Of Yanxi Palace. Promised to be wed to Lhawang, Zhaohua finds herself unwittingly caught up in a web of deceit, romance and backstabbing as Fuk’anngan helps her win over Lhawang’s heart, while Princess Siwan schemes to upset the delicate order of things.
All of this converges into a dramatic penultimate episode that throws everything upside down with a changing tone, questionable dabbling in horror, before bringing things back for a more consistent back-end in the finale. This tonal shift comes completely out of left-field but thankfully it’s not enough to tip the balance of the show but it’s worth bearing this in mind before you dive into this expecting a more straight-forward period drama.
Aesthetically though, the show looks fantastic. The rich colours, gorgeous visuals and the entire Chinese setting works so well here and this spills over to the costume design too which is authentically replicated and really helps give a sense of time and place. The characters all play their roles well too and the various cameos from characters in the original show is a nice touch, adding a sense of history to proceedings.
Despite the gripes I have with a couple of plot inconsistencies and issues for newcomers surrounding big plot reveals late on, this mini-series is the perfect accompanying piece for fans of the original and I’m sure this was the intention when the show was original scripted and plotted out. As a newcomer, this has enticed me to go and check out the original (which is annoyingly absent from Netflix’s roster!), especially given some of the history these characters clearly share that isn’t wholly explored here.
If you’re new to Chinese dramas and want something to dabble in but not spend a good chunk of time watching, Princess Adventures is actually a good option to do just that. The bite-size episodes are easy to digest and each one ends on a light cliffhanger to keep you coming back for more. It’s not perfect, and despite its short length, I found myself wanting more when the show did eventually roll across to the final credits. If you’re in the mood for something with plenty of romance, drama and historical fiction, Princess Adventures is worth a watch, even if fans are likely to get more out of this one than newcomers.
Verdict - 6.5/10