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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. 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.


Kingdom provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: The symbols on the banners are using modern Chinese characters instead of the more historically accurate seal script.
  • 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 fiancee and fellow 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.
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    • 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 attack that will destroy one of them.
  • Badass Armfold: Bajio 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, one of the 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:
    • Bajio. 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 Berserker' is a mindless brute of frightening destructive power.
  • Blade on a Stick: The glaive or guandao is the primary weapon of choice of most generals. 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 Choyou.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Civil War: Qin is currently going through one of the Cold War type. Sei wins.
  • David vs. 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 Southern Zhao and is a huge step forward for unification. If unsuccessful, Qin loses a majority of their armies and top generals, 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 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 and Chou Tou 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: Bajio, Rin Ko, Kaine, and Fu Tei.
  • 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.
  • Evolving Credits: New characters are featured in the opening as they are introduced.
  • Fat Bastard: Ketsu Shi, Shoumou
  • First-Episode Twist: Hyou dies.
  • First-Name Basis: When nobody else is around, Shin and Ten call Ying Zheng, Qin king and future Emperor of China, by his given name, since they first met when Zheng was King Incognito. Shoubunkun is shocked upon learning this.
  • Foil: Multiple examples in series.
    • Ouhon is the stoic, noble-born, spear-wielding, skilled fighter to Shin's brash, common-born, glaive-wielding brute force fighter. This difference is evident in their personal armies and the strategies they use as well.
    • Kanki and Ousen, who both started their career as lieutenants to Mougou, are geniuses without peer - but they fight and behave very differently. Kanki 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. Ousen, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 units and their young commanders. The amount of friendliness may vary.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: In ancient times the Shiyuu were a clan of dancers. Over millenia 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.
  • 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's little brother starting a coup d'etat 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 current 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 had he sent the capital's army to support the Zhao forces that there was no chance of victory for the Qin.
  • If We Get Through This...: Sadly, Bi Tou never gets to propose to his girlfriend. However, it works out for Dansa and Shiryuu, 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.
  • 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 Sei 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 Ryofui.
    • Sei bangs on his throne in excitement after learning that Shin had slain Mangoku. 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 man during the Hi Shin Unit's early years, though she eventually becomes more independent upon being promoted and Karyo Ten takes her position.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Is a common occurance due to the nature of the work, with both friend and foe alike engaging in wanton cruelty throughout the campaigns.
    • After the capture of Kourou, Shin personally interupts one of the massacres perpetrated by a 1000-Man Commander, which he is punished for and is only spared through Mou Ten's generocity. Both Mou Ten and Ou Hon didn't get involved due to the duo believing it is only when one becomes of high enough influence that any real change can occur.
    • During the Battle of Koku You, Kan Ki's army pillages and massacres the local population in an attempt to scare the Zhao forces to withdrawl to their homes. Both Shin and Kyou Kai nearly kill the general for the act, but are whaved off as not realizing such affairs are bound to happen when uniting China.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bi 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 Qin 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 Tribe 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 offguard 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 glaive, Rin Ko's sword, and Duke Hyou's shield.
  • Pay Evilunto 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 Force once he's promoted, growing into True Companions.
    • Episode 4 of season 2 drives it home when the newly introduced Gyoku Hou Force (whose members are of noble lineage) laughs in the faces of the villager-populated Hi Shin Force.
  • Rape Pillageand Burn: Is a common occurance due to the setting.
  • Reality Ensues: This does take place in the middle of a war period.
  • The Rival: Shin, Ou Hon, and Mou Ten with their respective units/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 Ten and Kyou Kai. 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) Force, Ou Hon's "Gyoku Hou" and Mou Ten's "Gaku Ka".
  • The Strategist: Ten makes steps to become this near the end of season 1, and has enrolled in a strategist school in season 2 and becomes Shin'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 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 glaive 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 organized a recruitment drive, they implemented a very strict testing course to weed out the numbers. Lampshaded by veterans like Bi Hei that they would have never passed the new standards.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sei Kyou and the members of his faction after Rankai'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 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 Force 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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