Funimation Brings Us a New Anime with Potential
Kingdom is a refreshing new anime for those of us who are becoming a bit bored with the same ol’, same ol.’ Unique graphics, fluid movements in fight scenes, and emotions that are striking in their raw strength pulled me into the world of Kingdom seamlessly. After acquiring simulcast for this series, Funimation has made the subbed version (which I prefer) available on their website.
Spoiler Alerts Ahead!
Set in the Warring States Period of China, this historical manga turned anime begins by following the life of Xin and Piao, two orphans turned servants who dream of more than a life of servitude. Piao takes Xin under his wing immediatly after he is added to the household staff, and the two bond through their shared dream of becoming generals who will go down in history as great conquerers.
Piao is the inspiration of their duo, acting as moral compass and voice of reason in times of hardship. Xin is more likely to fly off the handle, and needs his adoptive brother to pull him back to reality at times. It seems at first that between the two of them, Piao has the true strength of character, though towards the end of the episode Xin shows us what he is truly made of. Practicing swordplay everyday, the two boys honed their strength and skill through determination and hope.
Tragedy strikes when Piao is mysteriously brought to the palace by a high ranked minister. A month later he appears at Xin’s door with a mortal wound and a last request – to go to a village of outlaws that no one ever seems to arrive back from alive. Pioa assures Xin that he will not truly die – that the two of them are so alike that he will live on through Xin, and the two of them will still conquer the kingdoms together.
Xin’s reaction to Piao’s death is much deeper than wailing and crying. He completely loses it, throwing himself headfirst through a door while screaming that he will ‘rip Piao’s killers to shreds!’ He continues to scream and slam his head repeatedly into the earth until the boy of the family they work for reminds his of Piao’s last request. Though the little boy seemed awful throughout the first episode, picking on and berating Xin, he states that he truly loved Piao, and did not want his death to be for naught. This part was particularly difficult, because Piao truly was a lovable character and his death was disappointing. Kudos to creator Yasuhisa Hara for creating a bond and understanding with Xin through a well placed character death!
Xin regains his focus and after hugging the body of his best friend and only family goodbye, takes Piao’s sword (presumably acquired at the palace) and his old wooden practice sword that he spent hours practicing with, and runs on foot relentlessly towards his destination.
When outlaws try to stop him, he easily disposes of them with his old wooden sword (our sword, he calls it), never once having to draw the real thing. It is in this moment that we truly see the strength behind Xin’s exterior. Determination to succeed in this mission given by Piao, he lets no one stop him in his quest.
Episode 1 leaves us serious cliffhanger style with a creepy assassin on Xin’s trail and a peek at what lies in the shack in the outlaw village. Kingdom has a lot of potential to be a great anime that I continue to enthusiastically watch every Monday. The pain of loss, the strength that same loss gives a person, determination, true friendship that lasts through even the separation of death and the duality of human nature will probably be strong themes in this anime. This will lend gravity and a sense of depth to the storyline along with (hopefully) continuing to provide bad ass fight scenes with a character that we can root for. It will also be fun to learn some fun cultural facts about China 2500 years in the past, assuming Yasuhisa Hara kept it pretty legit.
If you haven’t seen Kingdom yet, check it out, and let me know what you think in the comments! Do you think it can keep the interest of the audience long term?