Ranking of Kings

On a Saturday afternoon, while I was getting my sweat on at the gym, I decided to watch anime reviewers give their top animes for the fall 2021 seasons while on the treadmill. Out of all the animes they suggested, one stood out to me the most because of its art style Wit Studios used for its production. To me, that anime’s art style was reminiscent of how I felt when the The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was first revealed after playing Ocarina of Time and Majora’s mask.

At that time, the Wind Waker was discredited among gamers because it did not look like Ocarina of Time.

After the initial impression faded away and I actually paid attention to what the reviewer was saying, I was able to hear part of the description which stated:

A deaf boy who wants to be king.

Everything else that followed that sentence was mumbled because I immediately added it to my ever-growing backlog queue. What did that sentence was a series of accolades praising its art style, storytelling and character development but I was to find that out for myself later on.

I’m not crying, you’re crying …

Boji and Kage, Ranking of Kings

Time jump to the winter of 2022, I’m sitting on my coach browsing through my anime when Ranking of Kings, for some reason, catches my eye. As I move the cursor towards the title card on the anime streaming service, I get distracted by other offerings with much more captivating title cards, but I eventually, 15 min later, pressed play on Ranking of Kings.

At first, my initial impression was “Aww this is cute” so I let the anime play out before my eyes but by the end of the first episode, I found myself cheering for a character that I had just met. For the second episode, I was briefly pulled away from the main story for a little back story on Kage, during those 5-10 minutes, the writers successfully strapped me in for an emotional ride. With the conclusion of the second episode I felt loneliness be lifted from a simple but powerful sentence.

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The Plot

As mentioned earlier, the main plot of the anime is how Boji, a deaf and mute boy wants to become king. The side plot is the adversity he faces due to his “shortcomings” and an underlying mystery as to how the story came to be which genuinely has me intrigued. Having watched episode 15, I truly don’t know who the good or bad guy is in this story.

The Players

From the last episode that I watched, Episode 15, I have grown to like all the characters presented, even though at first I very much disliked some of them. Like in any story, the characters have their own motivations for their actions but this series, thanks to the animation and voice acting, illustrates the anguish some characters face thanks to their decisions. Since its set in a Medieval time period and we have characters aiming to become king I cant help but to make the connection to Game of Thrones. Like that series betrayal has been a running theme thus far.

Boji in pain, Ranking of Kings

The Production

When I recommended this anime to my brothers their initial reaction was “What is this Shin-Chan?! … Thanks but I’ll pass”. One of them actually gave it a shot only to text me later only to say he couldn’t get past the animation. When I asked him how far did he get, he said 10 minutes as background noise on episode 1. I knew that with them it would be an uphill battle, especially as they are more of the Shonen style anime. When I told them that the animation was key to delivering some emotional storytelling the conversation went silent. While true, the animation does get a bit of getting used to it should not be the deterrent from enjoying a quality piece of work.

The rage of Daida, Ranking of Kings
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Should you watch it?

At the end of the day, is this anime worth your time? My answer is a resounding YES. However, to truly enjoy this one it must receive 100% of undivided attention or the emotional beats will not deliver. There is a reason why this anime is slowly rising the ranks within the anime community and why anime reviewers regard it with such high praise.

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