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Millions of years have passed since the times of legends, where men and gods lived together. In this era, it was human ambition that drove the world. It was the great age of war lasting 500 years, the "Spring and Autumn Warring States Period"...
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In the Warring States Period of ancient China (475-221 BCE), Shin and Hyou are war-orphans in the kingdom of Qin. They dream of one day proving themselves on the battlefield. One day, however, Hyou is taken to the palace by a minister. Winding up on the losing side of a power-struggle, Hyou manages to return to the village, barely alive. Shin then meets a boy who closely resembles Hyou, Ei Sei. For now he is the king of Qin; later he will become the emperor Qin Shi Huang.

Serialized in Weekly Young Jump, Kingdom is a manga series written and illustrated by Yasuhisa Hara since 2006. It won the 17th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Award Grand Prize.

Kingdom's anime aired starting from June 4th 2012. Its first season lasted 38 episodes, season 2 aired in June 2013, and a third season began in April 2020 but was put on hold due to COVID 19 concerns but has resumed airing since April 2021. Funimation has all of season 1 here. They released it on DVD in 2016.

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A live-action film adaptation of the story was released on 19 April 2019.

Compare the earlier 2001 Hong Kong manhua Ravages of Time, which earlier became notable for its emphasis on strategic warfare and political drama over legend, but retells the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.


Kingdom provides examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The symbols on the banners are using modern Chinese characters instead of the more historically accurate seal script.
  • All for Nothing: The reason why Ri Boku and his men are so loyal to the Kingdom of Zhao despite their declining state and less-than-stellar monarch is because they put their hope in the Crown Prince Ka, believing he would be able to return Zhao to greatness. However shortly after Zhao's defeat in Gyou the king choose to disown Prince Ka in favor of his equally depraved second son Prince Sen. Even after King Tou Jou's death, Zhao still can't catch a break.
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  • Alternate Character Reading: The characters' names are typically read with their Japanese readings, even though they're all Chinese. Conversely, Chinese characters that aren't used in Japanese kanji are replaced with an equivalent.
  • Amazon Brigade: The Shiyuu, a clan of women trained from childhood to become some of China's best assassins.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Ou Ki and Hou Ken. Ou Ki hates Hou Ken for slaying his fiancée and fellow great general Kyou, while Hou Ken lives for nothing more than to kill Ou Ki to right his only defeat. He succeeds, but the manner of his victory leaves him unsatisfied. Thereafter, Shin somewhat takes up the torch to strike him down in his stead, though it takes a long time for Shin to get to the level of being able to fight him anywhere near equally. In fact, it's implied that this very trope is part of the reason for Hou Ken's contradictory attitude towards participating in wars despite lacking any genuine patriotic motivation to do so, as a Bushin like him is supposed to be the World's Strongest Man, yet locations like a battlefield give rise of combat veterans who can face off with him despite down performing the insane training routines Hou ken goes through daily to maintain his level of strength. In effect, because there are those out there who can match him equally, thus invalidating his reason for existing as 'the strongest', Hou ken naturally develops a one-sided enmity with them and seeks them out to validate his reason for being.
    • Shin and Hou Ken, as a natural consequence of the previous rivalry. Shin eventually succeeds in slaying the man who defeated his mentor, although he nearly dies from the effort. It is hinted that Hou Ken was still mentally doubting himself after the way his previous rivalry ended.
    • On a national level, Qin and Zhao have a lot of bad history with each other. Things have gotten to a point where Qin is invading Zhao in an all-out invasion that will destroy one of them.
  • Armor Is Useless: Zigzagged: On one occasion, Ka Ryo Ten's life is saved when a court official stabs her because she was wearing Chainmail underneath her obscuring clothing, but many, many examples afterwards can make one can question why is it still needed when weapons cut soliders in half easier than butter. It can perhaps be attributed to the insane strength of the fighters, as in the case of Moubu, who mulches whatever he hits with his mace into paste regardless if its flesh or metal.
  • Badass Armfold: Ba Jio all the time. Even when riding a horse down a cliff.
  • Battle Couple: Ou Ki and Kyou.
    • On a smaller scale, Sou Ou and Shi Ryou, both vessels of Ou Sen.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Mostly true, characters who are evil at the core generally have ridiculously twisted appearances. Averted, however, with Ou Ki, who only looks like another ugly villain.
  • The Berserker:
    • Ba Jio. In his berserker mode he goes in such a frenzy he starts speaking gibberish
    • Zenou and his tribe are of similar bloodlust and implacability.
    • Ran Bi Haku 'The Berserk' is a mindless brute of frightening destructive power.
  • Blade on a Stick: The podao or guandao is the primary weapon of choice of most characters. Spear users, most notably Ou Hon and Earl Shi, are also fairly common.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Zig zagged in the anime. In duels between named characters, there is blood. But in large scale battles, defeated soldiers are simply sent flying.
  • Blow Gun: The Weapon of Choice of Muta. After his defeat, Ten takes it.
  • Blood Knight: Many generals crave war and combat more than anything, revering the battlefield. Notable examples include Wei Fire Dragon Gai Mou, Great Heaven Ren Pa and the entire Zenou clan.
  • Body Double: Hyou was this for Sei.
    • Go Hou Mei also has one in his place so he can escape from his HQ after defeat in Chiyoyou.
  • Bodyguard Crush: As a little girl, Kyou promised to marry Ou Ki if she conquered 100 castles. Years later, she was on her way to siege her 100th when she was killed by Hou Ken.
  • Brains and Brawn: Accounts for how a lot of armies operate, with the commander either being strategic or combative, and having a strategist or a strong warrior under them.
  • Broad Strokes: While the general arc of the manga remains faithful to the Shiji, the mangaka alters the details of it here and there so as to make the story more presentable to the readers. For example:
    • According to the Shiji, Sei's half-brother was killed when he unsuccessfully rebelled against the Qin. In the manga, he is framed by Ryo Fui.
    • The Shiji portrays Rou Ai as a conniving, stone-cold power-hungry fake eunuch who ruthlessly conspired against Sei. In the manga, he is still a fake eunuch, but he is actually a very gentle man who ends up the way he is portrayed in history because of forces outside his control.
    • Most important, Sei does not kill his mother's children with Rou Ai.
    • Ri Boku is undefeated in the Shiji, while in the manga he was defeated in the Battle of Sai by Yo Tan Wa and Sei and in Shukai Plains against Ou Sen.
  • Cain and Abel: Sei Kyou and Ei Sei respectively (although they are only half-brothers).
  • Call Thata Formation: Averted for the most part. In the larger scale battles, a disorderly army is usually going to be hit hard by their enemy.
  • Coveredwith Scars: Throughout the series mulitple characters are shown to be covered in hundreds of scars due to a lifetime of warfare and combat.
  • Civil War: Qin on gone through one of the Cold War type. Sei's faction wins.
  • David Versus Goliath: Shin takes on the gigantic and far more powerful Hou Ken in one-on-one combat at the end of the Coalition War. Through a variety of factors he manages to achieve a draw.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Hou Ken, who personally slays Ou Ki though the manner of death causes all including himself to feel like it wasn't his own doing.
    • Hou Ken himself is finally defeated by Shin in a duel.
  • Deathor Glory Attack: Qin's invasion of Gyou. If successful, shatters Western Zhao and is a huge step forward for unification. If unsuccessful, Qin loses a majority of their armies and top military figures, and puts a stop to their dream of unification. Naturally, it works.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • Sei's aim to unite China by destroying other kingdoms would be universally denounced in today's world.
    • Generals and politicians switching sides for fame and fortune is a common affair in the story.
    • Wiping out one's family as a form of capital punishment is still in use even by the protagonists.
  • Despair Event Horizon: After Duke Hyou was slain and on the run from Ri Boku, a dejected Hi Shin Unit and Heki limps to Sai to rest. The sight of Sei restores their fighting spirit.
  • Determinator: Nearly the entire cast is this to some extent.
  • Died Standing Up: Ou Ki, Chou Tou, and Gyou'Un die on their horse.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The "Nine familial exterminations" for capital offenses like treason, which involves killing five generations of your family from grandparents to grandchildren. It's something that's absolutely horrific by today's standards, but back then even the good guys use it, albeit sparingly.
  • Dual Wielding: Yo Tan Wa, Ba Jio, Rin Ko, Kaine, Fu Tei, and Shi Ryuu.
  • Evil Chancellor: Ketsu Shi is this who personally is willing to commit heinous crimes and even abandon his king to save his own neck.
    • Ryo Fui is this to Ei Sei, as he conspires to overthrow him and personally take the throne for himself. Eventually their battle comes to an end in Sei's favor, forcing Ryo Fui into relinquishing his title.
  • Evil Counterpart: Kou Yoku from Chu is this to Shin, also being a young, brash, new-generation commander capable of dueling people who should be above his weight class.
    • An inversion with Ri Boku and Shou Hei Kun.
  • Evolving Credits: New characters are featured in the opening as they are introduced.
  • Fat Bastard: Ketsu Shi, Shou Mou
  • First-Episode Twist: Hyou dies.
  • First-Name Basis: When nobody else is around, Shin and Ten call Ei Sei, Qin king and future Emperor of China, by his given name, since they first met when Sei was King Incognito. Shou Bun Kun and his army's officers are shocked upon learning this.
  • Foil: Multiple examples in series.
    • Ou Hon is the stoic, noble-born, spear-wielding, skilled fighter to Shin's brash, common-born, podao-wielding brute force fighter. This difference is evident in their personal armies and the strategies they use as well.
    • Kan Ki and Ou Sen, who both started their career as lieutenants to Mou Gou, generally look and feel more like villains, and have geniuses without peer - but they fight and behave very differently. Kan Ki is a high-risk high-reward gambler who relies on reading his opponent and getting into their mind. He is flamboyant, arrogant and fights out of a sense of rage against the world, preferring to kill even captured soldiers. Ou Sen, on the other hand, is a calculated schemer who always ensures he has backup plans, and tries to minimize the risks in any fight. He is quiet, cold, and fights out of ambition to gain power. He also prefers to spare the enemies he defeat, that is, if they join him.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • History tells us that the Qin state ultimately succeeds in ending the Warring State Period, bringing about the start of the Qin Dynasty.
    • Not only that. As most characters are Public Domain Character, anyone who has knowledge of the historical era could probably guess which one would die or survives.
  • Four-Star Badass: All of the commanding generals, especially Ou Ki. Shin definitely has a lot to live up to if he wants to be one of these.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Between the three special armies and their young generals. The amount of friendliness may vary.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: In ancient times the Shiyuu were a clan of dancers. Over millennia they somehow turned into nigh-superhuman assassins.
  • Frontline General: Nearly every commanding officer of some note fights at the forefront of the battle. Even those who prefer to watch the battle unfold at the rear most likely has moved to the frontline to reorganize the army if things go south.
  • Gorn: In the manga, the fight scenes can get pretty brutal.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: While some individuals might be leaning closer to either white or black, most of the actual conflicts in the story is between two greys. After all many of the enemies the Protagonist faces are simply soldiers defending their homeland rather than random villains, while the protagonist's faction is hardly squeaky clean.
  • Historical Domain Character: Many of the characters are, including Shin himself.
  • Historical Gender Flip: Among others, the historical Yo Tan Wa (楊端和 Yang Duan He) and Kyou Kai (羌瘣 Qiang Lei) were men.
  • The Horde: The Mountain Folk are believed to be this, though in truth they are far more complex and advanced than the eastern states would like to admit.
  • A House Divided: A central theme of the story. Whether it's Sei Kyou, Sei's little brother starting a coup d'état or Ryo Fui's faction plotting to seize power in the imperial court.
    • Is one of the fatal flaws of Zhao, as most vassals hold contempt for their previous king, Tou Jou, whose hedonistic and self-indulgent character makes him one of the worst rulers in China. It is his refusal and overall hatred towards Ri Boku that leads to Qin victory at Gyou, as it is noted by both sides that if had he sent the capital's army to support the Zhao forces that there was no chance of victory for the Qin.
  • How We Got Here: The story begins with an adult Ri Shin already as a renowned great general in the middle of an unknown battle. The story then moved to a 14-year-old Shin, a war orphan and a lowly servant as we follow his military career and how he slowly climbs up the military ladder of Qin. It took 642 chapters for Shin to finally become a General and it's made clear it'll be a while before the plot catch up to the first chapter.
  • If We Get Through This...: Sadly, Bi Tou never gets to propose to his girlfriend. However, it works out for Sou Ou and Shi Ryuu, who are able to spend the night together after successfully surviving the Battle of Shukai Plains.
  • Killed Off for Real: Hyou, Bi Tou, Ou Ki, Chou Tou, Duke Hyou, Mou Gou, Sei Kyou, Shou Sa, Kyuu Kou, Ko Zen.
  • Large and in Charge: Usually used metaphorically to represent character's strength, as most generals are higher than their subordinates and Great Generals can be twice as tall than everyone else.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Armies are very strongly tied to their commander's individual presence. Slay a leader, and the whole thing can very quickly fall apart. Even occupying someone through a duel can turn the tide of a battle.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: As expected of a manga of a Chinese war epic.
  • Long-Lost Relative: King Sho and Kyou wordlessly realize they are father and daughter when they meet for the first time after Kyou was taken away from her mother as a baby.
  • Made of Plasticine: In the manga, body parts tend to go flying. Taken Up to Eleven at one point when two generals were ripping enemy soldiers with studded clubs.
  • Manly Tears: Everyone regarding Ou Ki's death. Also whenever someone gives an impassioned speech.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Qin's entire royal court when they learn that all other six states are invading them. Even Ryo Fui loses his cool.
  • Not So Stoic:
    • Sei angrily stomps on his throne a bit after his meeting with Ryo Fui.
    • Sei bangs on his throne in excitement after learning that Shin had slain Man Goku. Seems like it can't catch a break.
    • Ou Ki after Hou Ken kills Kyou.
    • Kei Sha has a mental breakdown when he realizes he stares death- rather, Zenou- in the face.
  • Number Two: Tou to Ou Ki. He's personally promoted to commanding general before Ou Ki dies.
    • Kyou Kai initially acts as Shin's right-hand during the Hi Shin Unit's early years, though she eventually becomes more independent upon being promoted and Ka Ryo Ten takes her position.
  • Oh, Crap!: Heki has this expression when Ou Ki appears during the She Gan Plain battle.
    • Shou Bun Kun, after finding out that, the one in charge of the Zhao army is Hou Ken.
    • Two episodes later, Shin when he quickly realizes his sword strike didn't do anything to Hou Ken.
    • The Ou Ki army, after Ou Ki is stabbed by Hou Ken.
      • Shin after he failed to stop the archer from hitting Ou Ki, allowing Hou Ken the victory.
    • Shin and the audience when a new rival states his name as Ou Hon.
    • Ri Boku is normally so on top of things that it is an incredibly rare event when something catches him off-guard enough to do this. Three major events stand out - the Mountain Folk riding to the rescue of Sai which he didn't predict at all, Ou Sen's "Locust Plan" to siege Gyou which exploited a weakness in his strategies he never thought of, and Ou Sen arranging for food to be shipped by river from Qi which he predicted, but too late to act.
  • One-Man Army: Hou Ken has no problem taking on hundreds/thousands of Qin soldiers alone.
    • Downplayed for the rest of the cast. Even Shin and Kyou Kai are noted to require their personal units during battle despite their overwhelming strength, and have been caught off-guard on occasion only to be saved by their men.
  • Passing the Torch: An important theme in the story is the older generation making way for the new. Each state is grooming their own junior leaders that will mature by the time Qin starts its all-out drive for conquest.
    • Shin personally has inherited both the wills and armament of various generals, such as Ou Ki's podao, Rin Ko's sword, and Duke Hyou's shield.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Is Man Goku and his personal army's justifications for his cruelty towards the people of Qin due to the deaths of four hundred thousand prisoners of war by the leader of the Six Great Generals, Haku Ki, at Chouhei (Battle of Changping).
  • Pet the Dog: Sei does not kill his mother's children with Rou Ai—a major divergence with the real history.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Hyou and later Ou Ki and Sei Kyou.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: When the Zhao invasion army captures Retsubi, they very quickly found out that Ri Boku has designed the city to be indefensible. They are forced to abandon it which lets the Zhao forces retake it and cut them off from further supplies.
  • Race Against the Clock: The Qin army invading Zhao must capture Gyou before their supplies run out. Through a combination of Ou Sen's preparedness and the young trio's growth, they succeed.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The five-man squad that Shin is assigned to in his first campaign. This also applies to the entire Hi Shin Unit once he's promoted, growing into True Companions.
    • Episode 4 of season 2 drives it home when the newly introduced Gyoku Hou Unit (whose members are of noble lineage) laughs in the faces of the villager and militia-populated Hi Shin Unit.
  • Rape Pillageand Burn: Is a common occurrence due to the setting.
  • The Rival: Shin, Ou Hon, and Mou Ten with their respective units and later armies. Each of them have been marked by the Qin leadership as promising young officers with a lot of growth potential.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Hyou.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Yo Tan Wa, Ka Ryo Ten, Kyou Kai, and one of the six great generals Kyou.
  • She Is the King: Yo Tan Wa.
  • Ship Tease: Shin with Kyou Kai and Ten. Even his subordinates often join in.
  • Smug Snake: Sei Kyou and Ketsu Shi
  • Smug Super: Ryo Fui and Kan Ki
  • So Proud of You: King Sho to Kyou when he realizes she is his daughter.
  • Squad Nickname: Shin's "Hi Shin" (Flying Arrow), Ou Hon's "Gyoku Hou" and Mou Ten's "Gaku Ka".
  • The Strategist: Ka Ryo Ten makes steps to become this near the end of season 1, and has enrolled in a strategist school in season 2 and becomes the Hi Shin Unit's strategist by the end of season 2.
    • Shou Hei Kun acts as this for the entirety of Qin due to his position as the Chief Head of Military Affairs, being the one who coordinates most of the campaigns for the various armies.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Ka Ryo Ten and Kyou Kai.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Episode 32 is centered around this.
  • Tagalong Kid: Initially, Ka Ryo Ten, though she matures as time goes on and becomes a vital part of the Hi Shin Unit.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: At the climax of Act 1, Sei and Ryo Fui engage on an epic debate on their respective views on China and humanity. While the result is a stalemate, Sei's words struck Ryo Fui deep and gained his respect.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Hyou's sword and Ou Ki's podao and Duke Hyou's shield for Shin.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Ou Ki kicked Shin down a ravine to organize a local tribe beset by marauders, thereby teaching him basic skills required of a squad leader.
    • When the Hi Shin Unit organized a recruitment drive, they implemented a very strict testing course to weed out the numbers. Lampshaded by veterans like Bi Hei, Kei, and Kou that they would have never passed the new standards.
  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: About half the time the characters themselves in the anime are CGI. Season 2 reduces how much it's used though. And Season 3 looks to use only during large scale battles.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sei Kyou and the members of his faction after Ran kai's defeat.
  • Villain Respect: Ri Boku notably shows Shin this many times throughout the story, and is hinted at being one of the few to recognize his capacity at warfare.
  • War Elephants: Are utilized by Ka Rin during battle against the Tou Army, remnants of Ou Ki's army during the Coalition Invasion Arc. They are noted as being a rare sight and are stated to be from Indochina rather than Chu lands outright.
  • War Is Hell: When two instinctual generals clash the result is a bloodbath. Even if one side comes out victorious there will still be a large loss of life.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 32. The Hi Shin Unit is forced to retreat from a losing battle, ending in Bi Tou's death.
    • Chapter 263: Chu invades Qin. Then Wei joins up. And Zhao. And Yan. And Han. And Qi is apparently getting ready. Cue Mass "Oh, Crap!".
  • Wham Line: The end of the first episode of season 2, messengers inform Qin that Ri Boku is the Prime Minister of Zhao.
  • World of Badass: Downplayed amongst the general soldiery, though most named commanders will at minimum prove to be capable combatants due to the constant warfare of the period.
  • Younger Than He Looks: Rin Ko looks physically about as young as Shin, but is really in his thirties.
  • Your Size May Vary: A character's standing affects their size relative to the viewer. For example, Ryo Fui's faction appeared as giants when they are first seen but most got scaled down as the protagonists rise up in charisma and stature. Some of them are actually huge, though. Also very common in duels between generals.
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