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Manga / Kingdom

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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"...

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, and season 2 aired in June 2013. Funimation has all of season 1 here. They released it on DVD in 2016.


A live-action adaptation of the story is set to release in April 2019.

Kingdom provides examples of:

  • 3D Effects, 2D Cartoon: About half the time the characters themselves in the anime are CGI. Season 2 is improving on 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.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Ouki and Houken. Ouki hates Houken for slaying his fiancee and fellow general Kyou, while Houken lives for nothing more than to kill Ouki to right his only defeat. He succeeds, but the manner of his victory leaves him unsatisfied.
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    • 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: Ouki and Kyou.
  • Beauty = Goodness: Mostly true, characters who are evil at the core generally have ridiculously twisted appearances. Averted, however, with Ouki, 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.
    • Ranbihaku '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 Ouhon 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 Gaimou, Great Heaven Renpa and the entire Zenou clan.
  • Body Double: Hyou was this for Sei. Gohoumei 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 Ouki if she conquered 100 castles. Years later, she was on her way to siege her 100th when she was killed by Houken.
  • 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 Ryofui, though Sei is not in the position to prove it yet.
    • 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.
    • Riboku is undefeated in the Shiji, while in the manga he was defeated in the Battle of Sai by Yotanwa and Sei.
  • Cain and Abel: Sei Kyou and Ei Sei respectively(altough they are only half-brothers)
  • 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 Houken in one-on-one combat at the end of the Coalition War. Through a variety of factors he manages to achieve a draw.
  • 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 Riboku, a dejected Hi Shin unit limps to Sai to rest. The sight of Sei restores their fighting spirit.
  • Died Standing Up: Ouki and Choutou 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 and Rin Ko
  • Evolving Credits: New characters are featured in the opening as they are introduced.
  • Fat Bastard: Ketsu Shi, Shoumou
  • First-Episode Spoiler: Hyou dies.
  • 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 Ouki. 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.
  • Gorn: In the manga, the fight scenes can get pretty brutal.
  • Historical Domain Character: Many of the characters are.
  • Historical Gender Flip: Among others, the historical Yotanwa (楊端和 Yang Duan He) and Kyoukai (羌瘣 Qiang Lei) were men.
  • 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.
  • If We Get Through This...: Sadly, Bi Tou never gets to propose to his girlfriend.
  • Killed Off for Real: Hyou, Bitou, Ouki, Choutou, Duke Hyou, Mougou, Seikyou.
  • 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 Ouki'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 Ryofui 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.
    • Ouki after Houken kills Kyou.
    • Keisha has a mental breakdown when he realises 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.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bi has this expression when Ou Ki appears during the She Gan Plain battle.
    • Shoubunkun, after finding out that, the one in charge of the Zhao army is Houken.
    • Two episodes later, Shin when he quickly realizes his sword strike didn't do anything to Houken.
    • The Qin army, after Ouki is stabbed by Houken.
      • Shin after he failed to stop the archer from hitting Ouki, allowing Houken the victory.
    • Shin and the audience when a new rival states his name as Ou Hon.
  • One-Man Army: Houken has no problem taking on hundreds/thousands of Qin soldiers alone.
  • 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.
  • 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 Ouki,Sei Kyou.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: When the Zhao invasion army captures Retsubi, they very quickly found out that Riboku 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: Yotanwa, 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: Ryofui and Kanki
  • 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.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Ka Ryo Ten and Kyou Kai
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Episode 32 is centered around this.
  • Tagalong Kid: Initially, Ka Ryo Ten.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: At the climax of Act 1, Sei and Ryofui engage on an epic debate on their respective views on China and humanity. While the result is a stalemate, Sei's words struck Ryofui deep and gained his respect.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Hyou's sword and Ouki's lance and Duke Hyou's shield for Shin.
  • Training from Hell:
    • Ouki 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 OG veterans like Bihei that they would have never passed the new standards.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Sei Kyou and the members of his faction after Rankai's defeat.
  • 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.
  • 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. Lu Buwei'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.

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