Follow TV Tropes


Manga / Ranking of Kings

Go To
Now run far
Your dirty shoes and footprints
Will head steadily into the future
Panting with exertion
You shine brighter than anyone!

Ranking of Kings (Ousama Ranking) is a fantasy adventure manga created by Sosuke Tooka. It began publication in the online anthology Manga Hack under Creative Entertainment in 2017, and from 2019 onward the series started to get physical manga volumes published by Enterbrain. In 2021 it received a 23-episode television anime produced by WIT Studio. A sequel series called Treasure Chest of Courage has aired in 2023, formatted as a collection of shorts occuring before, during and after the first season.

The story follows Bojji, the son of a mighty king in a world where it's expected for kings to be fearsome warriors who fight on the front lines. Unfortunately for him, despite being the firstborn son and thus heir to the throne, everyone expects and wants his half-brother Daida to become king because Bojji is physically weak and deaf.

His tireless efforts to beat the odds earn him the loyalty and respect of Kage, a Living Shadow and the last member of the shadow clan. The two of them must work together if Bojji is to have any hope of becoming king.

Ranking of Kings provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The anime chooses to unveil a few plot threads earlier than the manga did, but it keeps a few ones saved for later, the manga was quite quick to reveal Bojji's weak and small body, coupled with his disability, was the result of a curse brought upon him by Bosse carelessly making a deal with a devil to gain more power; however, the deeper motivations for why Bosse made a deal in the first place is a later story development in the manga.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Queen Hiling allowing Bojji to go on a little adventure to her parents' home has an extra showing of gratitude on Bojji's part in the anime, with him kissing Hiling's cheek. Originally, Bojji just jumped and screamed with joy after Hiling gave him the news.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Kage's caretaker in his past is a petty thug and bully who betrays Kage for the sake of short term profit. But in his dying moments, the man genuinely reaches out to Kage and cries as he realizes he hurt the only person that will mourn him.
  • And the Adventure Continues: How the first season of the anime ends. Bojji gives the throne back to Daida and reunites with Kage, with the new goal of founding his own kingdom.
  • An Aesop: Don't judge a book by its cover. Many of the character in the series are far more complex than they initially let on, to the point the entire series is pretty much a Decon-Recon Switch of many tropes usually seen in fantasy stories. Even the silly character designs and cutesy art style hide its darker story.
  • Art Evolution: Sousuke's artstyle is very minimalistic, giving the series the look of a picture book for children, and the early manga chapters look a little crude. It's only in later chapters that his artstyle solidifies itself, but the anime adjusts to Sousuke's later style from the get go.
  • Art Shift: The second part of Treasure Chest of Courage's 8th episode and the first part of 9th are animated in different paper cutout styles.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The art style looks like something you'd find in a children's picture book, everything from the characters to the backgrounds being minimalistic and colorful. It's also about the only thing childish in this story, which includes brutal fights, political wars, and horrific backstories, among other things.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: A major part of the setting is that kings are all expected to be physically powerful, with the protagonist being a prince who has to prove his worthiness despite his physical handicaps.
  • Balance of Power: One exists between the three most powerful physical fighters we see in the show: Bojji, Ouken and Bosse, with the three neatly forming a rock-paper-scissors triangle. Ouken defeats Bojji, because his immortal body has no vital organs and is therefore immune to Bojji's pressure point-based combat style. Bosse defeats Ouken, because his attacks are both too fast for Ouken to dodge, and too powerful to resist, effortlessly turning his body into a puddle with a single blow. While Bosse cannot kill Ouken, he can easily incapacitate him. Finally, Bosse loses to Bojji. He may be a Lightning Bruiser by normal standards, but in the face of Bojji's freakish agility, his attacks seem slow and telegraphed, allowing Bojji to outmaneuver him easily, Shatterpoint Tap his giant club to pieces, and overwhelm the king with a flurry of attacks faster than his eyes can track.
  • Bedsheet Ladder: Subverted. When Bojji tries to use one of these to sneak out of the tower his bedroom is in it doesn't even reach halfway down, and he's caught using it too.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Having been ordered by Daida to assassinate Boji, Domas attempts to kill Bojji several times while they travel together. After being pushed down a chasm to the Underworld, Bojji understandably can't look his swordfighting teacher in the face when they meet again.
  • Bowdlerise: The anime adaptation is faithful to the manga in all aspects, including and regarding violence, however, the anime toned down the very few scenes in the manga where violence was aimed at children, such as: when Ouken first randomly starts harming the civilians in the Kingdom of Bosse, he grazed a child's hand with his sword, the same children that mocked Bojji in the beginning of the series, said event is completely removed in the anime; Miranjo's terrible childhood where she was flayed and had her hands cut, was a terrifying scene in the manga, where she was left completely naked in humiliation, with only a small piece of pelt over her body, in the anime the same events occurred but Miranjo was left in clothing and her amputated hand stubs were covered with bandages.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The show absolutely thrives on visual storytelling and many background objects, characters and throw-away dialogues wind up becoming poignantly relevant at one point or another. Most notably:
    • It's mentioned early that kings who reach 1st place in the Ranking of Kings often wind up going insane. A few episodes later Bojji is hunted by a Mad King living in a cave in the woods, possessing an odd runic sword. The same man and sword are shown again in a flashback 8 episodes later, revealed as Kingbo's father. Then towards the end of the anime (and beginning of the manga's second arc), Desha is led into the treasury and shown the very same sword the Mad King held - and is told it's a treasure often chosen by the 1st Kings but which is cursed to only thrive when bloodied and drives its wielders mad.
    • While training with Despa, Bojji runs around the block and finds a tree on a hill- surrounded by carcasses and demonic crows. This later turns out to be the same tree under which Ouken killed his men.
  • Contagious Heroism: Kage became a jaded thief after living such a painful life, then upon meeting Bojji he first just finds the boy peculiar for being apparently so dumb, but after Kage gets to know Bojji for what he truly is, a determined boy who wants to rise above all the mockery and body limitations, Kage finds light in his life again, vowing to become Bojji's own shadow, as in the best friend and partner he can have to attain the dream of becoming a great king.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The world Bojji inhabits looks like a cute, watercolor, children's fairytale book at first glance but is really quite horrible. It's ripe with war, bloodshed, widespread poverty, disease, genocide and classism and most countries below the top 10 ranks of the Ranking of Kings are so decrepit it's hard to even call them countries. When peasants aren't starving to death they are ravaged by storms, bandits or strange beasts instead, all the while kings and queens who do put in the effort to make might right disappear or go mad at the hands of Jerkass Gods.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Daida!Bosse vs Ouken. Bosse literally crushes Ouken into a ball, then stuffs him into a rock, such that he has no room to regenerate, leaving Ouken screaming in pain as he cannot die.
  • Deal with the Devil: That's how King Bosse grew so strong in order to repel the Ogre invasion many years ago; the price to pay took its toll on his life expectancy, and consequently stunted Bojji's birth and growth, as the child of two giants he is not as strong as his father, nor big as his mother.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Ranking of Kings constantly sets up various Fairy Tale tropes only to deconstruct or subvert them later.
  • Determinator: Bojji's shining characteristic, he is limited by several barriers: his comparably weak body to that expected out of giant parents, his size, his hearing disability; yet Bojji does not give up on his dream of one day becoming a great king, no matter how many times he falls the little guy always gets up. Bojji refusing to give up is what earns him the support of key people as his journey goes on.
  • Disability Superpower: Noticeably averted so far. Bojji doesn't have any superhuman qualities. His one advantage over his rivals, his skill with reading people's movements and intentions, is viewed as a cowardly tactic because it doesn't use raw power.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Daida has nightmares about the mirror getting him to open Pandora's Box and being engulfed in darkness, and Bojji being the hope inside of the box and the only one capable of defeating the darkness.
  • Evil Chancellor: Daida's mentor Bebin quickly works to sabotage Bojji's progress and ensure Daida's rise to power. However, he's revealed to have long-term plans for Bojji and Daida's future and worked to protect them both from the Mirror. He also doesn't expect Daida's petty streak when plotting the assassination of any political rivals.
  • The Evil Prince: Daida shows shades of this, badly injuring Bojji in a sparring match when he didn't need to go so far and stupidly trying to have the advisors who favored Bojji as king killed despite how useful they are to the kingdom. He also orders Bojji's assassination.
  • Evolving Credits: A very minor example. In Episode 22, there's a half-second shot added of Miranjo's view of the demon's mental world her soul gets trapped in, with the demon devouring other souls and its younger self looking sadly at the camera. Episode 23 adds another one, showing Daida and Bojji rescuing her.
  • Fantastic Racism: Kage is presumed to be an assassin simply because he's a member of the shadow clan.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Bojji fights Daida, everyone who watches is shocked by how Bojji is dodging all of Daida's attacks. All except Bebin who seems mostly bored and disappointed. We much later learn that Bebin's snake servant taught Bojji how to dodge, something Bebin witnessed and allowed. Showing how far back Bebin's actually been stealthily empowering Bojji.
    • Prior to revealing the fact, there are several hints that Kage was hiding in Boji's travel bag after last being seen cornered by Bebin. After falling at an earlier point, Boji's travel bag happens to on just the right spot on the ground to cushion his fall when his Bedsheet Ladder fails. Weapons that are recognized as Bebin's turn up right around the time the character is known to be too badly injured to fight at best. The aforementioned travel bag randomly turns up with all its contents intact after clearly getting stolen. The last hint, the bag seemingly spontaneously shooting out a life-saving anchoring rope after Boji gets pushed into a pit, is outright Five-Second Foreshadowing.
    • When Ouken and Desha moved to kill their father in the past, he warned them that they will be cursed and miserable without him. They take it as their father being a Dirty Coward and flippantly ignore the comment - But it later turns out that he had been aware of Ouken's immortality since he was born, and probably knew it would leave him an Empty Shell to possess eventually.
  • Fragile Speedster: Even though Bojji isn't physically strong, he's quite fast. He at first manages to best his brother when sparring by dodging mostly, but in his country this fighting style is seen as cowardly.
  • Genre Blind: After having a nightmare in which ignoring his mother's advice and instead listening to the Magic Mirror causes him to unleash a darkness that engulfs him, Daida responds by still going ahead and doing what the Mirror had told him to do earlier.
  • Hate Sink: The entire kingdom of Gyakuza is framed as this, their citizens unscrupulously greedy and ungrateful, taking what was offered to help them and replying with betrayal and thievery. This way the viewer will not think too harshly of Bosse when he massacres the lot of them for what they did to Miranjo.
  • Healing Hands: This is Hiling's magic, and it's shown to be very physically taxing for her to use. She falls unconscious after pushing herself very hard healing Bojji, who had fallen out of the tower his bedroom is in.
  • The Hermit: Bojji encounters one in the forest on his journey. He seems to be royalty, as he's wearing a crown. He hunts animals to live off the land, and offers some of the animals he hunts to a mysterious cloud that repopulates the forest at night. It's heavily implied that he's a former top ranked king, as all kings who have achieved the top ranking chose the same reward and soon vanished thereafter.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Kage's mother sacrificed herself to ensure that Kage would escape the genocide of his people.
  • The Hero's Journey: Bojji undergoes a textbook example of one, up to an including a trip to the underworld.
  • Hidden Depths: The characters in general work like this. At first glance they are common fantasy tropes, but as the story goes many of them challenge their roles and end up being completely different. For instance, Hilling appears at first glance to be a classic Wicked Stepmother for Bojji who favors her biological progeny Daida over her stepson. Instead, she's actually a Jerk with a Heart of Gold with Healing Hands who loves both of her sons deeply and is merely stressed out over the difficulty of managing both of them while also dealing with the kingdom in the wake of her husband's declining health. Bojji knows this too, and it's clear that he loves her with all his heart.
    • Apeas might seem like a backstabbing, Extreme Doormat at one point - but in truth he feels an overwhelming gratitude towards Miranjo for helping him grow confident in himself.
    • The altruistic Captain of the Underworld is trying his best and overcompensating to fill in the hole that Prince Ouken left and is just as keen on getting him back as Despa and Desha. Desha outright states that without his guidance, his soldiers are just a ragtag bunch of ruthless thugs.
    • The silent, brute Gigantes warrior that Miranjo breaks out of Desha's prison turns out to be a former mercenary who joined the latter's army out of goodwill, but was forced to slay his own kinsmen and watch as Desha turned his eye when his men tortured their young and dances around their corpses. When he finally stood up for himself he was marked a traitor and locked up. It's also this event that had Despa finally distance himself from his brothers.
    • King Desha is an atoner who fights tooth and nail to make up for the war crimes he and his followers commited in their rebellion against his late father through being a fair king, all while grieving the loss of his younger brother and only confidant, Ouken, at the hand of a curse. It were these war crimes that distanced him from Despa, and he keeps Ouken's Empty Shell of a body locked up in his prison hoping Despa will find a way to restore him. Miranjo breaking Ouken out, using the once Friend to All Living Things to kill innocents, understandably puts Desha on the war path.
    • Despa is an empath and helps Bojji mainly because he sees the similarities between himself and the young prince - both being born the "powerless" sons of a godly king, being treated like they are disadvantaged, and losing their younger brothers to a curse / possession. He is furthermore implied to have extremely low self-confidence, which he glosses over by collecting wealth. Ouken mentions to Desha that Despa abandoned him in the middle of the war because he could not bear Desha's suffering as he was forced to kill innocents "for the greater good", Despa on the other hand saw Ouken side with Desha - and how happy Desha was in Ouken's presence - and took the blame when he was unable to save Ouken from his curse and Desha lost his Living Emotional Crutch. While Despa loved Ouken just as much as their older brother did, even planning on backstabbing Bojji to the demon to cure Ouken, he seems to think so little of himself that he believes Desha would be happier if he died and Ouken took his place.
  • Honour Before Reason: As a warrior, Bojji is disadvantaged as one would expect, due to his small frame and lack of physical strength when compared to his father. But when he starts to deal a Curb-Stomp Battle against Daida through expert reaction and dodging ability, instead of praising him and viewing it as a Hope Spot, those watching deride him as a "coward" for not fighting in a manner reminiscent of King Bosse, which is something he's clearly incapable of doing.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Daida's father is a giant big enough to hold a full grown person in his hand, his mother is a human woman of average height. Questions about the logistics of his conception easily come to mind.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: King Bosse's second marriage was like this. Bosse was a literal giant, able to hold some grown adults in the palm of his hand. His first wife was similarly huge. Hiling, the current queen, has the height and build of a normal woman.
  • Human Resources: King Bosse's body is turned into a potion that forms into a phoenix, which is then killed and refined into an elixir meant to give Daida the late king's physical strength.
  • Hypocrite: During Bojji's spar with Daida, the onlookers and even his sword instructor Domas are quick to disparage him for "not fighting like a king", that being expertly dodging Daida's strikes before retaliating instead of entering Blade Locks with him. When Bojji is effectively peer-pressured into doing that and Daida gets the upper hand, those same spectators, save a few, take no issue with Daida opting to attack Bojji while he's down and heavily injured, which is also (and more justifiably) hard to call very kingly.
  • Informed Attribute: Bojji's deafness is inconsistent at times. There are scenes where he reacts to what people say when he clearly doesn't have an angle to read their lips, for instance.
  • Jerkass Gods: According to Bosse's flashbacks, the gods enslaved country after country.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: This is Domas's attitude towards his leadership. In his mind, the leaders of nations have to make hard decisions and have a lot of pressure on them and knowledge soldiers like him lack. It's for this reason he thinks he should always carry out orders without question. This is why he agrees to carry out Daida's orders to assassinate Bojji even though doing so leaves him an emotional wreck.
  • Older Than They Look: Bojji's growth has been tremendously stunted, he is the child of two towering giant parents but Bojji as a pre-teen is as a tall as infant human children; Bojji's younger brother Daida, who only has one giant parent, his father, is already considerably taller than him. Bosse's deal with a demon plays part in this.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: Giants in this world are played as straight as they get: Massive humans with disproportionate strength and Extreme Omnivore tendencies. They are apparently a dying breed, as a giantess can only give birth once in her life. In a flashback (which may or may not be exaggerated by Despa) there's a giant as tall as a mountain, with a forest growing on his shoulders, that eats entire houses in one gulp. By contrast, King Bosse and Queen Shiina are not quite as big, but are still several times larger than all humans. Their son, Prince Bojji, is technically a full-blooded giant, and has the strong stomach, resistance to poison, and taste for otherwise inedible food (which explains his Lethal Chef tendencies) that characterizes them, but he is also somehow smaller than the average person. This is because of a pact Bosse struck with a demon, in which he would receive the strength of his son once he is born. As a result, Bosse becomes massively powerful, while Bojji was left stunted and incapable of building up muscle.
  • Parents as People: Reconstructed in case with Hiling. She was first shown to be strict and easily got annoyed with Bojji and seemingly playing the Wicked Stepmother trope straight. Except, she isn't. She does care for him and her strictness is more of an attempt for her to help Bojji understands his situation, along with the fact that she is one of few people who genuinely understands him and is shown to be pretty horrified at what her biological son did to Bojji. In fact, later episodes show more of her good side and she's aware of all of her flaws, but she still works hard for the best of both her biological son and adopted son.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The anime is following the manga's story progression faithfully but it shuffles the order in which some deeper character motivations are unveiled, raising the tension for anime viewers, making them wait a little while for what certain characters are really about.
  • Progressively Prettier: Bojji in the manga's humble and quite crude beginnings looked like a little acorn boy, a somewhat odd fellow; however, as Sousuke's artstyle started to improve Bojji's appearance steered towards the cute little guy side, which is what the anime adaptation is adjusted to from the start.
  • Punny Name:
    • Hiling, the current queen, has healing magic.
    • "Bojji" written in Japanese is just two dots away from "bocchi," which means alone, and he is quite isolated for a while, even with some vassals at bay Bojji only start to form true friendships after he meets Kage.
      • Additionally, the names of Daida and Bojji are a reference to Daidarabocchi, a giant from Japanese legend who was so large he was mistaken for a mountain when sleeping.
    • King Bosse/Boss.
  • Retool: When the series eventually got actual compiled manga volumes 2 years after its online debut, Sousuke made a special chapter to be retroactively included in the first volume, entitled Chapter 13.5; there it shows Bosse quickly grew to feel torn about selling the life force of his own firstborn to grow stronger to win the war after he sees little baby Bojji. In the series' original online run, the reader didn't have any idea Bosse would eventually be revealed to be a very layered character much later in the story. Back then, it seemed like Bosse selfishly made a deal with a devil without thinking. That new chapter hence prepares new followers right away for what is to come.
  • Rhyming Title: Ranking of Kings.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Both the castle guards at the Kingdom of Bosse and King Desha, ruler of Underworld, share the view that Bojji's Fragile Speedster fighting style isn't something he should do. However, whereas the formers' reasons are that it's contrast to the way Bosse fought makes them view it as not very kingly and even cowardly, Desha's criticisms are largely built on reason; while he doesn't encourage Bojji to emulate Bosse, realizing that he's likely incapable of such a thing, he points that while his style can help him survive, it's ineffective in that his strength wouldn't allow him to bypass an opponents armour and gives him very few avenues to win fights, merely prolong them.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kage's design draws inspiration from Pride and Backbeard.
    • The main entrance to the Underworld is based on the Darvaza gas crater.
    • Domas shares many traits with Jaime Lannister, as does Prince Daida with Prince Joffrey to a lesser extent. By extension, King Bosse and Queen Hiling bring to mind King Robert and Queen Cersei, at least at first.
    • Bojji's curse has similar origins to Hyakkimaru's of Dororo fame. Both being inspired by Ebisu, a Japanese mythological figure with Moses-like origins—except, unlike Moses, Ebisu was born without arms or legs (as well as deaf). Nonetheless, Ebisu persisted in the face of adversity and became the Japanese god of fishermen and luck.
    • The first chapter is a take on The Emperor's New Clothes.
    • The monster birds that Bojji dodges as part of his training with Despa are similar to creatures in The Thief and the Cobbler.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Bojji is spelled like that with two "jays" due an apostrophe in japanese kana, it is also a pun as simply removing that punctuation changes his name to Bocchi.
  • Underworld River: In Episode 19 Kage is stabbed by Ouken, then sees his diseased mother on the other side of the river and tries to take a boat. Miranjo stops him and asks if he's really sure to go without being able to return, and Kage tells his mother that he has unfinished business and needs to go back. Later Shiina and Miranjo's mother show up in attempt to persuade Miranjo from her crimes, but she rejects them and leaves as well.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Bojji doesn't have the physical strength expected of a boy his age, much less the strength expected out of King Bosse's first son, however, Bojji has become quite agile after being somewhat forcefully trained by dodging Bebin's snakes.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Subverted. Daida's mother strongly favors her biological son over Bojji, and she's very dismissive of Bojji. However, she's shown to be very projective of Bojji and uses healing magic to care for his wounds. Her unwillingness to accept Bojji as a king seems to be less out of spite, and more about genuine worry for him and the kingdom.
  • Wise Serpent: Mitsumata is a wise and kind giant two-headed snake that, after being saved by the protagonist as a small snake, offers him support and defense throughout the story.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Domas will do so if ordered to.

Alternative Title(s): Ranking Of Kings, Ousama Ranking