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!
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.
I'm working on the second season, so check back later.
I just love KINGDOM.
Simple, direct, fun, and with a lot of action. If you are looking for some adventures as the ones you enjoyed as a little kid, this is your anime.
I'll be clear, animation sucks, characters are quite plain, and if you want a deep, meaningfulll story, you may need to look some where else. Fortunately this anime ain't about any of thouse, it is about an epic adventure than may last for years (in emition), an action movie with lots of posibilities to develop.
Tells us the story of a slave kid on the feudal china who is trying to become a great general, to acomplish his and his best friends' dreams. As most shounen is rough, and straight to the point, but alway showing us the improvment of the main character as he strugles his way into the achievments of his dreams. And this is what get you into the story, and what keeps you on the verge of your seat as you watch and waiting with a lot of anxiety for the next chapter.
This anime makes me feel like a dumb kid having fun again, and I love that, realy glad I gave the chance inspite of the animation and the fact that it comes from an unkown manga.
Soooo god that it has 3 continuous seasons and it seems it is going for a lot more (or at least I hope)
I honestly cannot put into words how often I look forward to new episodes. I really wish this would last forever.
I will start by saying that the story of this anime is absolutely amazing. It's your typical weak to strong hero journey but it's truly well done. I haven't read the manga but it seems like it goes even deeper into the plot. Now that that's out of the way, let's focus on other aspects.
The weakest aspect in my opinion is obviously the quality. 3D cgi simply does not work. There's no way around it. It doesn't matter how great your stories or characters are, if the delivery is weak, it will definitely impact the overall quality of the show. If a studio can't properly make a show, don't do it. Stop with the philosophy of milking huge manga/LN while delivering trashy content just to please your boards members. Corporations need to put fans in the creative side of the production to make sure that we don't end up with this travesty.
But that didn't prevent me from enjoying the show. The fight scenes were, for the most part, pretty decent and well done. The animation was clanky at times and amazing at others. We can clearly see that they mixed 3D and 2D animation from time to time.
The strongest point of Kingdom so far, and that I didn't expect while starting it, is the characters. I have my own issue with the MC but I won't dabble on that. But the rest of the characters are simply well defined. Be it the main cast close to the MC or the background characters, none of them feel like archetype or cliche. They each have their unique personality and view on things. They handle things differently and very rare in a fantasy, the villains aren't one dimensional. They are fully fleshed out and have a purpose, feelings, you can empathize with them.
This show is truly a masterpiece. I hope that S2 has better animation.