TV (38 eps)
2012 - 2013
Summer 2012
3.938 out of 5 from 3,675 votes
Rank #1,150

Shin and Hyou are war-orphans in the kingdom of Qin. They dream of proving themselves on the battlefield until the day Hyou is captured by a minister. The boy manages to escape and return to his village, but he is badly injured. Shin then meets a mysterious youth who bears an eerie resemblance to Hyou—a boy who will one day become emperor!

Source: Crunchyroll

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Set during the Warring States period of ancient China (475-221 BCE). Xin and Piao are war orphans in the kingdom of Qin who each dream of being world re-known generals by proving themselves on the battlefield. However, Piao is taken to the palace by a minister and Xin is left behind in their village. This, of course, becomes the first step on a very harsh journey for Xin. Fast forward a bit and Xin meets Zheng ... a boy who could be his friend Piao's twin. Zheng turns out to be the king of Qin and their meeting sets Xin on the path to his dream ... but will he ever reach it? First off ... let me just say that yes, the animation is a pain in the ass to get used to because the CG effects suck ass, but ... it is very much WORTH watching. Why? Simple! For the plot, the characters, the action, and the complete and utterly satisfying feeling it leaves you with. I would like to say that the animation gets better ... and I guess it does in some sense as they start to remove the frequency of the CG but, mostly, there isn't a huge change in animation but you WILL get used it and it will eventually stop bothering you as you get sucked into the plot which is the silver lining that makes this anime shine brilliantly. The plot is incredibly touching and addictive ... and exciting as hell! It will leave you on the edge of your seat, desperately wanting more as you hit the next episode button as you have your world shaken at the magnificent story playing out before you. You see Xin mature before your eyes as he evolves from a very arrogant teenager to a true leader as you watch him struggle to attain his dream. I really loved this anime and highly recommend it to people who can overlook it's iffy animation and enjoy the brilliant plot. Kingdom truly deserves far more recognition than it's gotten ... it's an incredible anime!


THE STAFF - Animated by Studio Pierrot, which automatically means a shounen show with average to bad production values. In this case, very bad. - Directed by Kamiya Jun, who has a most unimpressive roster. His best work was Blue Seed and even that was just an average watch. - Based on a manga close to nobody knows about, written by a guy nobody cares about. There didn’t seem to be much to expect from this show and as soon as it began WHAT A SURPRISE it was indeed nothing. This anime is the perfect example of what a blunt anime is all about. 1) Boring title Kingdom??? Just kingdom? Why not the Seven Kingdoms? Why stop there with the trimming; how about just King? 2) Horrible CGI The series is made with cell-shaded polygons and it looks completely low quality. Everything feels crude and artificial, from body motions to action scenes. It’s like you are watching cut scenes from a decade old videogame. I give them a credit for trying to experiment on 3D effects in order to better use them in later shows but this leaves the show as nothing more than a crude and eventually failed experiment. 3) Unimpressive soundtrack and dumb dialogues There are no interesting songs and the dialogues are all very silly and typical shonen fare. Nothing to bother listening to. 4) Lame action There are lots of action scenes and they are all very basic. Despite having huge armies clashing with each other, you hardly feel any excitement coming out of that. Aside from how the soldiers move in a very crude way because of the terrible CGI, they also never get any wounds despite occasionally bleeding a bit. Call it cencorship because this is aimed at young teenagers, or lack of budget if you prefer, the result is lame battles. Heck, the mooks don’t even have eyes most of the times to the point they don’t look like people but rather like mass produced blind robots. Even when the main characters are fighting, you hardly get any actual battle choreography, as it is mostly static people jumping around with a few rays of light to substitute motions. Doesn’t that render the whole use of 3D pointless? You are supposed to have polygons for elaborate perspectives and complicating body motions and instead you get the usual frozen cardboards. This doesn’t look any better than your typical 2D shonen show. 5) Basic story - The story takes place during the warring states period of China and plays out as basic as possible. If you happen to have watched or read The Romance of the Three Kingdoms or at least be aware of a few well made Chinese war films, this will feel completely dull and childish. I mean the setting is better suited for an epic saga full of politics and hundreds of characters and all you get is a simplistic fighting shounen revolving around a dozen people.- So what is the story you may wonder? Well, there this bunch of nations fighting each other. A prince is hunted by his usurper brother and befriends a villager boy whose best friend was used as a look-alike for the prince. Together they fend off some assassins and head to the mountains where they ally themselves with the mountain folk and they storm the usurper's fortress. These three lines of text took 15 whole episodes to happen and everything else in-between was either dead time or shounen bs. - The second arc is supposed to make things more interesting by including battles with thousands of warriors. There are absolutely no significant politics, mind games, field tactics, or common sense; it’s just some imba guys attacking and winning, and then calling that smart. I guess it may seem smart if you still think Naruto is an intelligent series but for someone like me who has watched stuff like the live action Romance of the Three Kingdoms series, this felt more like kids playing cops and robbers. Calling it shounen as an excuse still doesn’t change the fact that the setting deserved to be seinen. 6) Annoying characters The cast is as generic as it gets, separated to black and white, with each character easily described in two lines of text, and behaving in a most immature way. Which makes sense since this is a shounen story. But then again the setting is making you think it will be dark and complicating, when it hardly is and everybody behaves like angry dumb teenagers, even if they are adults. It just doesn’t feel plausible. - The villains are complete assholes with absolutely no depth or redeeming qualities to have a reason to like them even for being evil. - The way everybody acts during fights is lame. They are mostly talking than fighting for their lives. Especially when it comes to mini bosses, they kill mooks in seconds without exchanging a word but when they face the hero they just can’t shut up and just kill him. They also constantly don’t try to slay him in one strike but keep playing with him, as if this is not a duel to the death but a childish game. - The hero is not any better. He will constantly be acting like a delinquent who loves to scream for no reason and will be winning against elites who have decades of experience. He trained a few years with wooden swords by playing cops and robbers with another kid, and that magically made him a million times stronger than men who were training with REAL weapons in REAL camps with REAL trainers and who fought in REAL battles. Basically, he wins all the time with nothing more than willpower, which the show will constantly try to present as skill and tactics. - Even the reactions of the characters feel completely bullocks. Imagine a scene where a professional assassin kills someone. All you see is a ray of light (since the show is not making use of its own technology) followed by a most ridiculous remark by the victim’s friend. “Hey, I know this style of fighting; let me describe it to you in 5.000 words.” Aside from the fact this nobody magically recognizes a fighting style just by looking at a simplistic ray of light, he also does nothing more than infodumping us instead of saying something more natural, such as “OMG HE KILLED MY FRIEND!” Thus all you get is a big zero of a show. I know many who like this show and constantly try to make it seem like it’s awesome because the setting looks interesting and the premise sounds cool. That doesn’t save the show from being a run of the mill shounen with 2D characters and the power of friendship winning over brains and cunningness. Since we have shows like FMAB and HxH, I see no reason to consider this as anything more than a time waster. And now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 4/10 General Artwork 0/2 (shitty 3D) Character Figures 1/2 (generic) Backgrounds 1/2 (basic) Animation 1/2 (basic) Visual Effects 1/2 (basic) SOUND SECTION: 6/10 Voice Acting 3/5 (corny) Music Themes 3/5 (average) STORY SECTION: 4/10 Premise 1/2 (typical) Pacing 1/2 (erratic) Complexity 1/2 (not much) Plausibility 0/2 (none) Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy) CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10 Presence 1/2 (generic) Personality 2/2 (rather cheesy but well founded) Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there) Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) VALUE SECTION: 1/10 Historical Value 0/3 (none) Rewatchability 0/3 (no reason to rewatch) Memorability 1/4 (no reason to remember) ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10 Art 0/1 (shitty 3D) Sound 0/2 (sounds meh) Story 1/3 (as basic shonen as it gets) Characters 0/4 (they are annoying) VERDICT: 3.5/10


Tl;dr: Show is good, animation is bad. Story: Set in the Warring States period in Chinese history, Kingdom presents a vaguely historical tale about the unification of China, told primarily through the eyes of an ophan named Xin. It is a distinctly shounen anime, featuring sprawling battle scenes and characters proclaiming the glory of warfare and engaging in the intrigues of the royal court. The plot revolves around Xin and his rise to fame, along with his involvement in the actions of the royal court. Animation: The show uses that oddly unnerving pseudo-3d style that has been popular in recent years (IMO, Knights of Sidonia is the only one to get this right, but that's a tale for another day). It's not the worst ever (I usually give that to the show my friends affectionately refer to as "Boat Harem", i.e. Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio) and at times the animation looks quite acceptable, but often it is downright ugly. Particularly in close-in shots where characters turn their heads or large macro shots (and horses, oh my god derp horses), the animation quality suffers. This is especially prominent in the early episodes, but they tone it down to a still persistent but lesser level as the show proceeds. Sound: Some stuff came out of the speakers when I watched Kingdom. It was neither memorable nor offensive, that's about all there is to say about it. One notable oddity for you Japanese-speakers out there is the discrepancy between the spoken names and the names subtitlers use. The characters tend to use Japanese versions of names, while all the subtitles I have seen use the Chinese romanizations. This can make it a bit confusing if you're trying to reconcile the names spoken with what's in the subs. Characters: Kingdom has a fairly large cast and features a few memorable characters with fairly sophisticated motiviations whose interactions largely drive the show. On the other hand, character design is rather bland. Some characters are downright weird looking (Wang Qi, AKA Lips Dude), while most are just kind of plain and immemorable. Another example is Xin (essentially the main character); even as he gradually becomes more and more famous, he still continues wearing the same rags he wore when he was an orphan slave. At one point he even buys a suit of armor, which he apparently just leaves on a display in his home because it is never seen again. It probably would have come in handy in a later episode when some asshole hits him with a sword. Summary: This review may sound rather unenthusiastic, but overall I actually rather enjoyed watching Kingdom. It's got some exciting moments and its straightforward plot provides enough substance to be satisfying without crossing into the territory of more cerebral large scale military themed anime like Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Its biggest pain point is the animation, which is extremely jarring in places, but overall I found the show to be pretty enjoyable. I found myself at several places totally absorbed and marathoned quite a few episodes, making short work of the first season. Conclusion: Recommended. I'm working on the second season, so check back later.

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