What better to warm our frosty hearts this Winter 2022 anime season than the hottest show of Fall 2021? Ranking of Kings entered its second phase at the start of the new season, giving us the perfect excuse to rave about one of the best new anime in years. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
What is ‘Ranking of Kings?’
Ranking of Kings is a 23-episode serial adaptation of Sōsuke Tōka’s ongoing manga about an underdog medieval prince of the same name. Having first entered serialization in 2017 via the user-submitted Manga Hack website, the series has since been published into 12 collected volumes by Enterbrain.
The series follows the unassuming and kind-hearted Prince Bojji as he maneuvers political turmoil in his kingdom and earns the respect and gratitude of the people who look down on him. As Funimation describes it:
Unable to hear, speak, or wield a sword, Prince Bojji doesn’t seem like a typical heir to the throne — and his kingdom agrees. But his fateful encounter with Kage, a shadow on the ground, gives him his first true friend. The two set off on a grand adventure and, together, form a bond that can overcome any obstacle…even being king.
But there’s so much more to Ranking of Kings than children’s story-tropes of overcoming obstacles and your typical shonen power fantasies. Read on to learn more.
Ranking of Kings is directed by Yousuke Hatta (ep. director One Punch Man) and its stellar character designs are thanks to animation director Atsuko Nozaki (key animator Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, Eureka Seven), which stand out against gorgeous watercolor backgrounds. It’s like watching the coolest children’s storybook you’ve ever seen. All of that is brought to life by the studio behind Attack on Titan and The Ancient Magus’ Bride WIT Studio, whose animation prowess is on full display in the series’ fluid action sequences.
While Bojji mostly communicates through sign language and his bond with Kage, the young prince is voiced by Emily Fajardo (Wonder Egg Priority’s Tae Ohto), while the assassin Kage is voiced by SungWon Cho (Aggretsuko) — aka YouTuber ProZD — in his first lead role on a TV series. The theme music is by King Gnu and Yama (part one) and Vaundy and Milet (part two), bookending each episode.
Why you should watch
But really: Ranking of Kings came out of nowhere to contend with the likes of Attack on Titan, Demon Slayer, and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, dancing around the top spot on MyAnimeList’s top airing anime since its premiere last season. Since then, the series has proven to constantly undermine and subvert our expectations — much like Prince Bojji has.
It looks cute, but there’s bloodshed. Good people do seemingly bad things. Important characters can die — and the dead can come back to life. There’s so much more going on here than there ever seems as the narrative reveals itself through layers of conflicting motivations and grabs for power.
And while disability is not a main focus of the series, its hero is deaf. Bojji is positioned as an underdog for his stature, his strength, and his deafness, though there’s not outright ableism (so far) to warn viewers of. There is certainly prejudice, mind you. Ranking of Kings contends with how he is underestimated by everyone, even loved ones, but it doesn’t linger on abled perspectives like, say, A Silent Voice. Bojji does have to prove himself, but hearing is not considered one of his physical obstacles — even those that think he can’t be a king have learned to sign for him.
How to watch
Ranking of Kings is streaming on Funimation with subtitles in English, Spanish, and Portuguese and audio in Japanese, English, Spanish, and Portuguese and on Crunchyroll with subtitles and audio in Japanese, English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, and Russian. New episodes simulcast on Thursdays.
You can use Funimation in your browser, or download the Funimation App for Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, and Roku on your phone, tablet, or TV. The Funimation App is also available on smart TVs made by Samsung, LG, and Sony and can be downloaded on consoles from the Xbox Store and PlayStation Store. Funimation is available in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and Brazil.
You can use Crunchyroll in your browser, or download the Crunchyroll App for Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, and Roku on your phone, tablet, or TV. The Crunchyroll App is also available on some smart TVs and can be downloaded on consoles from the Xbox Store and PlayStation Store.