Kingdom 2 – 01

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Kingdom slips quietly in on little cat feet, almost unnoticed…

Kingdom is a series I’m really torn on as a blogger.  I kick myself for dropping it, because I did so just when it was getting really good and mostly missed out on talking about one of the bravura seiyuu performances in years, Koyama Rikiya as Wang Qi.  On the other hand it’s an incredibly frustrating show to cover because its release schedule is so irregular.  The best I can about this season, I guess, is “we’ll see”.  We’ll see how regularly it’s released and how insistently it compels me to cover it in the absence of what was its best character.

Then there was the matter of the incredibly ugly animation, full of bad CGI and the main reason a lot of viewers never gave the show a chance.  It did improve towards the end of the first series, and I’m happy to say the premiere of the second looks just fine – nothing exceptional, but Kingdom is so well-written that all it needs to be is average in terms of art and animation and it’s solidly in the black.  The only CG is where CG should be, in some big action sequences and panorama shots, and the character animation is solidly adequate.  That’s certainly an encouraging sign for the second series.

Another encouraging sign is that the first episode is a cracking good one, despite containing a fair bit of recap.  It felt OK to see that here, given how big the story was and how many folks there are to keep track of (confusingly referred to by the Japanese and Chinese readings of their names at various websites).  There’s plenty of new footage too, as the show checks in with all the major characters (and some minor ones) who survived the first season.  A year has passed: China is in a state of perpetual war, with Qin under threat from all sides with the news of the demise of Wang Qi spreading like wildfire.  Xin is now a 300-man General, trying to make himself a general worthy of carrying Wang Qi’s lance and beating up on small fries in the company of Qiang Lei (less and less convincing as reverse trap #2, though the nimrods in Xin’s unit don’t seem to have picked up on it).  Reverse trap #1 Diao is now at a strategy school with her bishounen friend Meng Yi, son of Buwei’s General Meng Wu (and who reveals that he has an older brother Meng Tian, who seems ticketed for an important role).

Zheng meanwhile is making peace with traitorous adviser Shi-si (Takase Akimitsu), who aided his younger half-brother’s rebellion but whose brains Zheng now needs desperately with Qin facing external and internal threat.  That internal danger comes in the form of Lu Buwei, still manoeuvring behind the scenes to seize power for himself.  Zheng has also assigned himself a pretty little maid (Nakatsu Mariko) to keep him company in the bedroom – though at this point, all he has her do is sleep next to him.  Meanwhile Zhao continues to consolidate power under its new Prime Minister, master strategist Li Mu – who appears to be paying a surprise visit to Qin.  It’s a big, complicated story chock-full of blood, politics and personal drama – exactly the sort of story Kingdom excels at.  I’m looking forward to the second series.

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4 comments

  1. R

    I am 1000% impressed by this premier. I like the first season a lot — yes, there were melodramatic moments, but also moments that totally held me tightly in the story and the characters — well, mostly Wang Qi. While I am a bit sad that he (or Riki-san) is not in the story anymore — or he is most welcome to pay visits through Xin's memories of him, I am quite keen to find out more about how Li Mu and Lu Buwei play in the story and how Zheng goes about with his internal and external threats — seriously, these are all big names in Chinese history. This first episode had me glued to the screen — simply by the dialogue and Li Mu's surprise visit to Qin. I am definitely in for season two.

    Also, Enzo — don't beat yourself too hard. You were relocating and settling in a totally new environment, plus it was really busy with last Fall schedule. It's absolutely reasonable to drop it. For season two, hope that it lives up to, if not better than, season 1 and that you can find time to blog it or include it in one of your weekly review…or even series review. Much much much appreciated.

  2. G

    I loved the 1st season. Whats funny is I like the side caracters just as much if not more then the main 2 (Xin and Zheng). A rich sweeping story full of colorful characters all woven like a beautiful tapestry. Those that just looked at the CGI and turned their noses up at it are the ones that lost out.

  3. R

    Completely agreed with you, and I am happy to see in the premier that the problem with CGI is no longer a problem at all.

  4. e

    First thing first: visual upgrade is much appreciated. But I liked s1 OP and ED songs more.
    Xin looks taller if not bulkier, but most of all his nose got potential for a super manly profile now, eeeh :D. Yes, I like well defined noses in my anime even for younger characters. I'm that old-fashioned.
    The Feixin unit parts were funny – I admit after those I actually groped my underarm, ohoh – . And finally some practicalities were addressed (a.k.a Lei and her best laid plans of following the call of nature behind the nearest bush). And is that some romance bait I see? And has the bishonen quota risen? We even got one moonlight bathing beauty of seemingly male persuasion.
    On a slightly more serious note this episode was a good start and I'm pretty curious about the new characters. And Li Mu – damn youuuuuu – is coming. Can't wait.

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