Whenever I start a new anime series, my general expectation is to put it in one category or another. Will it be an isekai anime or a romantic comedy? A harem, a reverse harem, or a slice-of-life about cute girls doing cute things, perhaps with a surprise serving of yuri on the side? Or maybe some kind of hybrid, like the ice hockey/idol anime Pride of Orange? When I started Ranking of Kings (aka Ousama Ranking), I expected the story to fit inside one of these neat little boxes, but instead, I’ve been totally blown away by the utterly fresh and original story about the unlikeliest of heroes, a young prince who is deaf and must communicate with sign language.
But while the art is totally gorgeous, with a really unique visual style and excellent writing, I’m afraid some fans might miss it because an anime about a 4-year-old deaf prince who spends most of the first episode in his underwear isn’t the kind of thing that will attract lots of attention the way Sword Art Online did when it first appeared. We all say we want anime to move away from the same tired old genres, but we don’t always support creative and experimental shows when they arrive. Keep reading to see if the Ousama Ranking anime is for you!
The Story of Ranking of Kings
The story centers around Bojji, a deaf and powerless prince who was born to be king but is referred to as “the useless prince” by everyone because of his handicaps and youth. The story begins when young Bojji is out for a walk, surveying his future kingdom without a care in the world. He gets robbed of his clothes by a black shadow creature called Kage, but this turns out to be a good thing, as Kage will become his most loyal friend. Before King Bosse dies, he names his son Bojji as his successor, but Bojji’s (surprisingly not evil) stepmother Hiling nominates her own son
Joffrey Daida (who is Bojji’s half-brother) to be king instead, for the good of the land. Unfortunately for the kingdom, the new King Daida decides to take out some of the lords who supported his older brother’s claim to the throne, setting up a lot of conflict for the future. When Bojji’s life is put in jeopardy, he must go on a journey to learn to become the strongest fighter, so he can claim his place as the true king.
(The sign language in the show is all accurate, being overseen by the Tokyo Foundation of the Deaf.)
If Ralph Bakshi had Animated Game of Thrones…
Despite looking like an anime for children, Ranking of Kings is actually very dark, peppered with assassinations, plots, and interesting twists. The show is also loaded with feels, as each character is revealed to be more complex than we assumed at first.
The Characters in Ranking of Kings
The characters in the story have puns built into their names, including:
- Bojji, who is always alone, or hitori bocchi.
- King Bosse, who is the literal boss of the land. He’s such a boss, he’s an actual giant.
- Kage, the shadow creature whose name literally means “shadow.” He’s a member of a race of assassins who has mostly been wiped out.
- Queen Hiling, whose special ability is…wait for it…healing! She’s caught between genuine affection for her stepson Bojji and love for her real son Daida.
- Dormas, the loyal swords master, is where his name comes from. He’s so loyal, you will be amazed. Keep your eye on this guy.
- Apisu, another character in the story who fights with a spear. His name is “spear” (supia) rendered backward.
Ousama Ranking Figures are Already Coming
I’m happy to see that Studio Wit has commissioned figures of Bojji and Kage for fans to preorder now, rather than waiting 9 months until the anime is finished airing, as is often the case. To me, this shows a level of dedication to the story and its characters that fans hopefully pick up on, and respond to by supporting the show more. Find the first Ranking of Kings figures on J-List here.
We could all use a friend like Kage.
Thanks for reading this post on the outstanding Ranking of Kings anime. What do you like about the show, if you’re watching it? Post it below, or tell us on Twitter!
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