Ranking of Kings is based on the manga written and illustrated by Sōsuke Tōka which has been serialized online via Echoes’ user-submitted Manga Hack website since May 2017 and has been collected in thirteen tankōbon volumes by Enterbrain as of April 12, 2022. The series is published in English digitally by BookLive on BookWalker. The anime, by WIT Studios, consists of 23 episodes of 22 minutes each.
The narrative starts off with an “Emperor’s New Clothes” (a classic folk tale) vibe and then takes the viewer beyond your “normal” storytelling of a standard underdog main character. This gem from a relatively unknown author offers teachings in morality, friendship, sacrifice, and so much more in a spell-binding tale that will tug on every heartstring. Ranking of Kings has a design style that makes it seem like it would be a series meant for younger children at first, but the episodes soon make it clear just how much depth there is to Bojji’s adventures. It’s a slow burn adventure, however, that really kicks into high gear with the second part of the series. While the first half has plenty of impressive moments, it’s more a setup for the high-octane kind of action we get in the second half.
The series takes as much time as is needed to foster the world around Bojji, and flesh out each character. In contrast to the assortment of strong shounen heroes made for battle is Bojji, an innocent, deaf prince who couldn’t even lift a weapon and happens to be the butt of everyone’s jokes. Boji faces various difficulties socially such as condescending looks and remarks coming from everyone he meets, Bojji’s only companion in this world comes in the form of Kage, a shadow being from an assassin clan who was forced by circumstances to become a thief who similarly lonely and shunned by society.
The connection between these two characters stems from Kage’s exploitation of Boji, at first. Kage eventually starts feeling sorry for Boji and decides to become his supporter instead. Kage being one of the only characters who can understand Bojji without using sign language quickly develops a strong bond with Boji and the way the series portrays their association and expands upon their silly dynamic is one of its assets. The growth of Kage from ridiculing Boji to effectively supporting him and shielding him from danger isn’t constrained, coming as naturally as possible within only a couple of episodes. All things considered, in a world where the greatest threat to your person comes from within your own family, having a friend would be a beacon of hope. Boji is such a well-rounded character that he’ll convince any viewer to become his supporter as well. Boji is a likable character and finds his way through the obstacles that cross his path through his yearning to become the best king, wanting to protect others, and sheer willpower. The main character is going to surprise you multiple times, but the side characters are just as surprising! Get ready to be thrown for a couple of loops. I’m still asking questions like “How could a father do that to his children?”, “Does Boji’s stepmother hate him or not?”, and “What is the actual relationship between Miranjo and Boji’s father?”
Rankings of Kings has really made quite the impact with its successful debut season that it will most likely be picked up for a second season. The good news is that if it shouldn’t be picked up for a second season the first season ended in such a way that a viewer can be satisfied with just that, even though it is technically only the beginning of Boji’s adventures.