It’s not often I watch an anime that completely transports me to another world. I used to get this feeling a lot more when I was younger. One Piece, Bleach, Naruto and even early Fairy Tail would make me feel like my worries are no longer an issue and let me just enjoy the world these characters are living in. It’s a fantastic feeling to have, and it’s the main reason why the fantasy genre will always be my favorite. I’ve recently started enjoying different shows a lot as well. Some of my favorite shows are now more dramatic and less fantastical. But that doesn’t mean the genre isn’t capable of making me feel things that no other genre can. And along came a little anime called Ousama Ranking. I knew nothing about this show, but on a whim I picked it up after the first three episodes had already aired, even though I initially dismissed it because the cover art looked too childish. Let’s talk about this masterpiece, shall we? This review contains spoilers for most of the anime!
Title: Ousama Ranking (Ranking of Kings)
Studio: WIT Studio
When I see the name Wit Studio, I immediately think of the grittier shows they’ve done, like Attack on Titan and Vinland Saga. Looking into the studio a little bit more, they’ve also done The Ancient Magus Bride, which, although definitely very different, does have a similar vibe to it. What they do great is solid animation and making shows look really good by looking unique. I don’t think any of the aforementioned shows look generic or similar by any means, and neither does Ousama Ranking.
Art & Animation
As I already mentioned, this show looks a bit childish from the outset. The art makes it look like it’s made for children and this is definitely on purpose. Ousama Ranking is a Fairy Tale for sure, but it’s like the darker fairy tales that we didn’t quite see as kids. Behind the surface of this boy going on an adventure lies a dark secret and a web of conspiracies. But although the artstyle can be a bit deceiving, it definitely fits the show really well. It makes it feel special and transports you into the world. The animation is also very solid for the entire show. It didn’t stand out as spectacular if I’m honest, but I also never found myself being distracted by it. Where shows like Demon Slayer are enhanced by the animation quality, for most shows having solid animation is more than enough.
The music and the OST
The music. My god, the opening and ending themes for this show are absolutely fantastic. The first opening is done by King Gnu, who I’ve heard some songs by, but I’m not super familiar. Looking a bit into it, they’re a very prolific artist. The song itself sounds very unique and if you want to do yourself a favor, look up the music video for the song. It’s definitely a wild ride. I know I’ll be looking into their music more. The ending is heart wrenching and I don’t even understand what she’s singing about. Oz by Yama was immediately added to my playlist. And when I saw they changed openings halfway through I was only disappointed for a moment, since Vaundy is a name I recently became familiar with and the song for the second half of this anime is also fantastic. It’s almost breath stopping? I can’t really put it into words well, but the sound makes me just wait with my breath held. If not for SiM’s The Rumbling these would be my favorite songs coming out of this past season.
The Characters & The Story
Alright, enough of the side dishes, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this post, shall we? I really want to dig into this story a bit deeper than I did last week. There will be spoilers ahead of this, so be warned. If you haven’t watched the show at this point, what are you doing? It’s amazing!
Before writing this, I’ve looked at some of the negative reviews about this show. I wanted to know what the people who didn’t like it think. Sometimes this helps me get new perspectives. Sometimes, which is the case right now, this just affirms that I love a show despite its flaws. Ousama Ranking, to me, is a fairy tale. In a fairy tale I won’t get mad about characters getting redemption even if they might not deserve it. The real world is cruel enough, if it’s well written I’ll allow my escapism world to have as much redemption and happy endings as it needs. This brings me to looking at the characters. With this out of the way, let’s talk about the characters.
Bojji as our main character is great. We don’t have enough disabled characters in fiction. I’m personally not deaf or mute, but I reckon it’d be great for people who are to have a character in fiction that runs into similar problems. And for me it’s fascinating to try and walk in that character’s shoes. His partner in (not) crime, Kage, is a great fit. He’s such a dork even though he thinks he’s so much cooler than everyone around him. Both their backstories are heartbreaking as a good backstory should be. Watching Kage’s mother strung up from that spear broke my heart and then all the shit he had to endure to finally find a friend like Bojji? By episode 3 this show has made me cry more than half the anime I watched last year combined did. Following them through 23 episodes as they slowly get embroiled in this grand conspiracy around them and watching Bojji become strong is such a joy. In a lot of shows, the side characters make a show great, and though the side characters in this show are fantastic, the main characters steal the show. Bojji’s training with Despa, Kage’s working with Bebin to protect Bojji, and eventually them helping save the kingdom from its doom is great.
The four strongest are arguably my least favorite characters out of the ones that get a lot of screentime. Bebin’s snake is more interesting than all of them combined and I actively dislike Domas. But his lovable sidekick, Hokuro, being one of the first people to properly believe in Bojji is so damn good that I can almost forgive Domas for being a backstabbing piece of work. Almost. Dorsche is probably the coolest of the four, surviving fights on pure grit and will. His duty to protect Hilling is so strong that it’s admirable. And Hilling. The evil queen Hilling who wants to make her own son king instead of Bojji. The evil stepmother who ended up being such a good person that I’m tearing up just thinking back to her healing people with potions hidden under her clothes. Just like Kage, she’s such a big dork and I am absolutely in love with her. It turns out she does care about Bojji, and has tried so hard to make this clear to him. She’s gotten caught up in all this drama unawares, and once she starts putting the pieces together she’s not the high and mighty queen anymore, she’s a powerful woman who will do what’s right and be on the frontlines to protect her family. She’s easily my favorite character in this show and she steals every scene she’s in.
When the show gets towards its final conclusion we get more information revealed about Miranjo. We find out she had a very sad backstory. The way her village and her family were treated is horrendous and it does explain her baggage. Her behavior afterwards is still unacceptable of course, but we gain a bit more understanding of why she is the way she is. She found one thing that made her happy and didn’t want to lose it. And she would do everything in her power to keep Bosse close to her.
I would have liked to see more closure on Despa, Vespa and Ouken’s arc. I would assume this gets handled in the source material at some point, which makes me wonder if there’s material for a second season. Bojji leaving in the end to journey with Kage is the only good ending we could expect.
I don’t think this show is perfect. There’s many things that could be done better. The animation quality during the fights could be better. The characters having two sides to them does get overplayed quite a bit. I also didn’t like the character of Bosse at all. He felt very much like a plot device who was overly difficult and vague just because the story required it. Having said all of that, I did enjoy every episode of this show tremendously to the point that this is a top 10 show for me without a doubt. The characters are all super interesting and the main duo is an absolute joy to watch. The music and animation are all of great quality and I love the fairy tale story that it presents to us. It’s different enough from the seasonal isekai shows. I watch too many of them so that it sticks in your memory for longer. I highly recommend this show and give it a passing mark. Thanks for reading.