HomeAnimeANIME REVIEW | "Ranking of Kings" Rules Over Classical Storytelling Arcs

ANIME REVIEW | "Ranking of Kings" Rules Over Classical Storytelling Arcs

ANIME REVIEW | "Ranking of Kings" Rules Over Classical Storytelling Arcs


For generations, fairy tales have played a big role in the lives of everyone. Stories about noble princes thwarting wicked queens, princesses frightening off dragons, and even kings finding the unlikeliest of loves have influenced our imaginations and our viewpoints in life. They’re not just fictional stories to most people; they’re metaphors for the struggles we face in our daily lives. It’s this aspect that has made an anime like Ranking of Kings stand out as what could be a surefire classic of a fairy tale.

Based on the manga by Sosuke Toka, Ranking of Kings gives the hero role to Bojji (Minami Hinata), a deaf and mute prince who is seen as a joke to many in his kingdom. His step-brother Daida (Yuki Kaji) is being set to take over the throne, as his father Bosse (Kenta Miyake) nears death and his step-mother Queen Hiling (Rina Sato) watches over them. But Bojji finds a friend in Kage (Ayumu Murase), the lone survivor of a shadow clan and a former thief, who sees Bojji’s true self when no one is looking. However, Daida’s plans to rule may have some consequences, as evident by the Magic Mirror (Maaya Sakamoto) that advises him.

On the surface, Ranking of Kings seems to be a run-of-the-mill fairy tale. It has all of your usual suspects: the weak-but-noble prince, a wicked step-mother, an evil mirror who looks to overthrow the ruling party, and a bratty prince who’ll do anything he can to be the next king. And at first, viewers are treated as such. But then, just when you think you’re in for an average fable, it turns its narrative on its head!

Not only is Bojji seen as a loving prince, but is showered with love by everyone around him. Stepmother Hiling does all she can to protect Bojji, even going so far as to learn sign language so she can communicate with him. Daida attempts to shield his stepbrother from the cruel comments from the kingdom’s citizens, as he tries his best to become a strong warrior to keep him safe. As for the Magic Mirror, well, she’s still pretty damn evil, especially with what she makes Daida do when he’s given the throne!

The key player in Ranking of Kings is Kage, who is at first treated as a threat to the kingdom due to his clan’s background. But as the narrative goes on, he becomes Bojji’s Number One comrade-in-arms. Even when the people who are supposed to protect Bojji from danger seemingly turn on him, Kage is there every step of the way to make sure Bojji becomes the strong warrior that he wants to be. And there, dear readers, is where the true story starts to unfold.

All of his life, Bojji thought of himself as weak, as his inability to hear or speak hinder his means of acting like a member of royalty. But after he watches him duel with Daida, Kage discovers the true power that Bojji has. It’s not until he’s trained by Despa (Takahiro Sakurai) when he finds not just the ability to fight like a king, but win like one as well! And watching Bojji grow into a brave and mighty warrior is perhaps one of the most satisfying things you'll bear witness to!

There are a lot more complicated things that are on display in Ranking of Kings. The backstabbing, the uprisings, the back stories, and even the character evolutions cannot be summed up in one mere article. This is the kind of show that has layers, to the point where you can’t look at it as a mere fairy tale; it’s actually an epic! And just when you think Bojji and the rest of the characters have reached their peak, you’ll discover that there’s more for these heroes and villains to climb!

All of these moments are captured with great personality by Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, After the Rain). The visual aesthetic of Ranking of Kings has a classical feel to it, looking more like a kids cartoon from the 1970s than a modern-day anime. Characters’ facial expressions, movements, and even fighting techniques all have a rubbery style that fits in nicely with something like Astro Boy or even Moomin. But a kids cartoon this ain’t!

Despite its child-like visuals, the story and what happens is anything but childish. Blood’s spilled, body parts are lopped off, and even deaths are presented in a very gruesome manner. It brings to mind the original Brothers Grimm fairy tales, with its more violent aspects being showcased with a Disney flair. While it gets disturbing at times, it’s still showcased with a palette that’s more warm than dark.

A lot of emotion is brought to the characters from the Japanese cast. Despite being unable to speak, the way Hinata presents Bojji brings a lot of understanding, frustration, and even hope to a hero in the making. Murase has some good laughs and inspirational speeches as Kage, while Sato earns plenty of empathy as Queen Hiling. Perhaps the strongest performance comes from Takuya Eguchi, whose Domas teeters between being strong, sympathetic, and filled with great remorse for some of the things he has to do during this series’s run.

Ranking of Kings is a special kind of anime. It takes the fairy tale elements we’ve all come to know, and adds something new and refreshing to the formula. How it showcases its disabled protagonist is one of the most uplifting things you’ll see in any form in entertainment. It doesn’t pander to the audience with some able-bodied hero to come in to protect him; it makes him the hero that deserves to be ruler of all. Bojji and the rest of his Ranking of Kings comrades are worthy of any throne, as it brings forth one of the best anime adventures made in the last couple of years!

Voice Acting: (Japanese dub)
Final Grade (not an average):

Ranking of Kings can be viewed on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and VRV. It has been licensed by Aniplex of America. Episodes 1-16 were observed for review. Promotional consideration provided by Funimation and Ellation.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)