Ranking of Kings or “Ousama Ranking” recently hit Crunchyroll and it has somehow subverted all attention this season so I wanted to shine a little bit of light on it.
For those of you which enjoy the animation style of Studio Ghibli – and perhaps the art direction you see in something like Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, this is a targeted anime for you.
On the surface, Ranking of Kings might seem fairly family friendly – the colour palate of this anime is very bright and the character designs are fairly simple and almost Pendleton Ward-like.
However, it’s surprisingly violent – you’ll often have moments where the juxtaposition of the brightly coloured world against the on screen brutality create this sense of warped tonality. And I actually really like it.
Some anime go for violence as a method of ‘shock’ but Ranking of Kings uses it as groundwork in an attempt to accurately depict what could happen in such a world.
You only have to look at what happens to Kage’s entire clan to understand what I’m talking about. It deals with serious topics that seems all too apparent judging by even today’s standards.
Talking about characters, Prince Bojji is a fairly under-represented archetypal hero in the story with him being deaf. At first I wasn’t sure whether the depiction of his deafness was tasteful enough for me to accept however, that changes quickly. With many emotional moments delivered by Bojji using his limited vocal range.
There is much this character shows via his facial expressions alone – and more credit to Wit Studio for doing such a fantastic job here.
Bojji isn’t the only character that goes through some kind of arc during this first season. I could speak of a handful of characters at this point but the most prevalent I feel is Bojji’s step mother: Queen Hilling.
She steps into the anime, sold as a cold hearted step mother who only seeks to prevent Bojji from fulfilling his role as an older brother to the son she bore with the current King, Bosse. As you watch the show, you are slowly revealed moments of true warmth from their relationship and you begin to understand her choices as a parent.
Stepping into a child’s world after they have lost their own mother must be very difficult and it’s a theme you don’t often see in anime.
At the heart of it, Ranking of Kings is an emotional rollercoaster and one that shouldn’t be slept on.
I would argue (and perhaps an unpopular opinion) that Ranking of Kings outshines Wit’s most recent hit Spy x Family and I fear it’s being crushed as a result of there being an unwavering flood of support for the latter.
Ranking of Kings is available to watch on Crunchyroll today.
If you enjoyed this look, why not check out one of our other anime reviews such as Sabikui Bisco.