Click Here For The Top 10 Ranking Of Kings. Number 5 Will Shock You!
Ranking of Kings has me very conflicted. For the first 14-16 episodes it was very, very good. I was all but certain this would be one of my all-time favorite anime series. But the way it ended was… disappointing to say the least. The climax of the series fell flat, and I can’t help but feel down about that. On the other hand, I shouldn’t forget how good it was originally. This isn’t a case where the ending ruined the core of the story. I should also refrain from hyperbole – it wasn’t terrible. It’s simply that the bar was raised so high that an unsatisfying ending is a major letdown.
There is so much to love about Ranking of Kings, but first and foremost it’s the characters. At the center there’s the heartwarming friendship between Bojji and Kage. They support each other so well, in ways that are sometimes easy to overlook. It’s hard to overstate how important those two were in making the show good. You really want them to succeed and be happy.
But the supporting cast is great as well, although it takes some time for them to develop. The show likes to play with your expectations, and many of the characters are more than what they seem at first. Sometimes it lays it on a little thick, such as when Hiling is introduced as your typical evil stepmother but turns out to deeply care about Bojji, but I’ll forgive it since she’s one of the best characters in the show. Although trying to subvert expectations too much can come across as cheap, the way it’s done in Ranking of Kings adds depth to the cast.
The story also did a lot to get me invested. What seems like a simple fairy tale at first quickly grows more complex and keeps you guessing. It was unpredictable, but not without justifying its twists. Whether it was Domas’ betrayal or Bosse’s resurrection, they were unexpected but made sense in context.
And of course, the show is just really well made. The character animation lends so much personality to Bojji in particular, and the action scenes looked great (well, except for one episode). High production values can’t save a bad story, but they can certainly elevate a good story to greater heights.
Some flaws did start to appear in the second half. Mostly, these weren’t deal-breakers, just things that made me think “This is still good, but not as good as the first half”.
The pacing seemed simultaneously too fast and too slow. The fight(s) with Ouken, which span several episodes, feel like they go on forever. At the same time, events follow each other in rapid succession and without much time to build up, to the point where major story events like Bojji’s fight against his father happen before you even realize they’re happening.
Perhaps there was just too much action in general, at the cost of character development. Bojji in particular spends most of the second half fighting. Personally I don’t have a problem with the fact that he became the strongest person in the world halfway through the story. It’s fine for a series of this length, and it worked because he got put up against Ouken, an impossible opponent for him to beat. And there were still some good chararacter moments in there, like when Bojji chose to stand and face Ouken rather than escape and leave everyone else behind.
Another minor qualm I have is how the story kept trying to make you think important characters would die, when they never did. Now, it’s fine to have a story where everyone survives, especially one as fundamentally optimistic as Ranking of Kings. It’s also fine to pretend someone is going to die when they’ll ultimately be fine. But the second half started taking it rather far. Up to that point, Hiling’s healing powers were always there to bail people out if they got hurt. But during one of the fights, she had to do so much healing that she ran out of magic juice. This seemed like an important sign that things were serious now, and that the cast was truly in mortal danger.
But then Mitsumata is saved because Kage brought extra potions. And then Apeas gets saved after basically having a whole death scene. There’s nothing wrong with either of those things in a vacuum (Kage having those potions was established earlier on), but it felt like it was breaking its own rules. You can’t raise the stakes, and then ignore that immediately after.
And so, when a little later everyone is on the verge of death, I couldn’t quite feel like they were in real danger. And of course, that proved to be correct, as Bosse ended up healing everyone. Again, justifiable. Bosse is using Daida’s body, and as Hiling’s son it’s believable that Daida would also be able to use healing magic. But it all just happened too many times in too little time, and it hurt my investment in the story.
But again, these weren’t fatal flaws. Just small issues that, on their only, may have only kept it from being at the very top of the anime rankings.
But there is one problem that I can’t forgive, and that’s how the Miranjo plotline got resolved. Her backstory and motivation (along with Bosse’s) were the biggest mystery of the series, and big questions demand big answers. We got several hints along the way that only deepened the mystery, and with all the goodwill the show had built up it was reasonable to expect something complex and satisfying.
Instead, it was shockingly simple.
Let’s take the scene where Daida meets the young Miranjo inside his mind. It raises a lot of questions. What happened to make those townsfolk view Miranjo as a monster? What moved them to do such awful things to her, and feel justified in doing them? Was this somehow related to the devil we’d seen? Did she, in her childish innocence, unintentionally get involved in something sinister?
As it turns out, the answer is no. Those people were just cartoonishly evil, and tortured Miranjo for no reason at all. That’s literally it.
And that’s not the only example of a disappointing explanation. Why did Miranjo kill Bojji’s mother, and seek to destroy their kingdom? Well, she just liked travelling with Bosse and didn’t like how he’d stopped doing that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that’s all that’s there. It does suggest there’s a little more at play. Miranjo was grateful to Bosse, and wanted to do something back for him. She had the devil grant Bosse his wish of becoming the strongest man, even though she’d promised that devil never to ask for anything. As such, when Bosse grew tired of fighting and settled down, she may have felt compelled to convince him otherwise. Otherwise, if this was truly all that Bosse needed, what did she betray the devil for? And if she didn’t want to believe that this was Bosse’s desire, then the only explanation is that it’s his family’s fault.
But this is all just speculation on my side. The show was in such a rush to get to the ending that there was no time to show how those two really felt. A short montage is all we get. It’s not enough to truly understand her. Let alone feel enough sympathy to forgive her.
Now, there was never a doubt in my mind that Miranjo would get her redemption arc, given the nature of the show and the hints about her tragic past. But for it to work, it would’ve required time, understanding, and remorse. None of these things were adequently present, and as a result, it simply feld undeserved after all she’d done. It all just happened in the blink of an eye. Everyone simply decides she’s good now, and Ouken’s chance of salvation is taken away to save her instead. I won’t even get into the ridiculous idea of Daida deciding to marry her. What was that all about?
Compare her situation to Domas. He betrayed Bojji and tried to kill him, on Daida’s orders. It was clear he was conflicted about it, and regretted it immediately after the fact. He later tried to make up for it, and help Bojji as best as he could. He then straight-up asked Bojji for forgiveness, and didn’t get it, at least not right away. Which is good! His betrayal cut too deep and Bojji wasn’t ready to trust him again, which makes perfect sense. He couldn’t expect things to go back to how they used to be, but at least he showed determination to do better. But Miranjo, who did worse things and showed less remorse, gets a free pass from everyone. And now she’s the queen, taking the place of the previous queen (who she tried to murder), and the queen before her (who she actually murdered).
It would’ve been very sad if series had just ended there, celebrating an event I couldn’t care less about. If it had, it would’ve been hard for me to look back on it fondly. Thankfully the final episode shifts the focus back to Bojji and Kage and the last 10 minutes are wonderful again. It didn’t make up for everything else, but at least it was a nice way to end it. As much as Ranking of King dropped the ball on some things, there is too much heart not to like it.