Kingdom 2 – 05

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A new episode of Kingdom?  That must mean new cast members, then.

Once again Kingdom delivers up a big, sprawling episode that serves notice that this series is telling the story with the widest scope of any anime on the air.  There are times when I’m concerned it might be too big – especially the cast – and cause the show to lost a bit of its focus and narrative momentum.  So far though that certainly hasn’t been the case, and like the series itself, increasingly, this ep was split right down the middle between the two battlefields currently in focus – the military and the political.

The first half picks up right where the last left off, with Xin and his band of merry men (and one morose boy) still stewing in their own juices after their public pantsing by Wang Ben and the Yufeng Unit.  This is an age-old conflict that dates back as far as civilization and armies, surely – the class struggle is possibly the most elemental there is for modern humanity.  Given their considerable disadvantages against the Yufeng Unit, the odds seemed stacked against the Feixin Force (though if that’s the worst thing you have to worry about in a war, well – things could really be a lot worse).

Of course the truth – one the great Wang Qi (oh, the heart breaks at hearing that voice again) surely knew – is that a ragtag force on foot can do things and go places a loud and shiny mounted cavalry can’t.  And so here ingenuity defeats might, as the force hides themselves among the scattered remains of the dead in order to sneak behind enemy lines.  It’s not only a question of being an infantry unit – men like Wang Ben’s would be too proud to engage in such a tactic.  There’s a spectacularly tense moment when Wei’s soldiers are stabbing at corpses to make sure there are no survivors, with Ang seemingly next – heroically, no one moves and gives away the unit even as this is happening – but this scam works like a charm, allowing the Feixin to get the enemy General’s head first.

There’s a wildcard entry in this young guns derby though, and that’s Meng Tian (Hirofumi Nojima).  He’s the son of Meng Wu and the elder brother on Meng Yi, and he too is trying to make a name for himself with a 300-man force, the Yueha Unit.  While I can’t shake the notion that it’s little Meng Yi that’s going to end up the most important in that family, the story is setting up for Meng Tian, Xin and Wang Ben to form the main trio of climbers trying to be the great General of their generation.  We know Xin will ally with Zheng, of course, and Meng Tian’s father is one of Lu Buwei’s closest advisors.  But what of Wang Ben?

That gives us the cue for a scene change, back to the royal palace where Zheng’s loyalists are stewing in juices of their own – frustrated and angry that Lu Buwei continues to outflank them at every turn.  But the political war has a wildcard too, and it’s Shi Shi who brings it to the attention of the others – Zheng’s mother.  She rules over a super-secretive palace of women, keeps her own copy of the royal seal (which seems as if it would be treason) and has reached out to Shi Shi – either to offer alliance or a threat, seemingly.  Shi Shi makes it sound as if she’s a legit third power in the capital to rival Zheng or Lu Buwei, though as a woman she must operate more covertly by using her power to gain influence with one the others.  While it might be tempting to assume her natural alliance is with her son, not knowing the details makes it impossible to say for sure – and given the nature of royal family relations in Warring States China (and beyond) it seems entirely possible that she could oppose him overtly or covertly.

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  1. i

    Unrelated to Kingdom but the Taichi of Tennis has finally won Wimbledon, good on you Andy!

  2. R

    I really like how well Kingdom can blend history and fiction together in making an intriguing story — I think we should give kudos to Hara-sensei and the anime staff. Also, whoot whoot…the return of that voice and that face…and that lips…!

    Indeed, like you said, the cast is growing, and this week we are introduced to another important figure in history — Meng Tian. I think Meng Yi briefly mentioned his brother in the past, but I hardly took note at the time. In the episode, Meng Tian looks like a young Li Mu to me, and, indeed in history, both were ingenious generals who could defeat the Xiongnu while many couldn't. Meng Tian made a lot contributions to the future generations, but, like Li Mu, this loyal general met a sad end — he didn't die in war battles but was killed by corrupted politics. I don't know how far in history that the show will cover, but we may see the rise of Meng Tian, together with his brother and, of course, Xin, and how they will help Zheng grow his power.

    We are also introduced to the Queen Dowager of Qin and given hint that the odd-looking person — whom I thought was a woman — who spied on Zheng earlier could be a eunuch sent by the Queen. I think this is the start of a tipping point — we probably will see how the power in politics shifts and the horrible influence of the inner court before the 5-year limit.

    Just aside…I can't help but scream ouch by the idea of turning a person into a eunuch — this is one of the cruelest and inhuman records of history. Anyway, so far I am quite happy with how everything unfolds each week. While the creators are still laying the groundwork, both the political and military battles are certainly heating up bringing a level of excitement each week.

  3. e

    Go plebeians go show'em mwahaha! Also Ang my boy you have some balls of steel *patpat*.
    After Watashi ga Motenai etc. this felt supahinvigorating I must say. And Wang Qi oh how I've missed those lips of yours and every word falling from them :,)
    About the new players while Meng Tien and his weeping aide have this deceptively relaxed attitude Zheng's mommy has me intrigued. Between her sharp gaze, everyone in her court – included Zheng's pretty maid. Hmmm… – sweating at her appereance and the next epi preview titled 'Beautiful Venom' I'm expecting her to play for her own interests rather than being a true ally for any other party though.

    @Ronbb: think of the castrati too. You might wish to check the movie 'Farinelli'. Or you might not.

  4. R

    I immediately feel painful and sad when I think of the castrati…the sacrifice is too huge and damaging…geez, I have tears in my tears thinking of those young boys…

    Thanks for the recommendation. I have heard this movie but haven't never checked it out…I probably may :).

  5. e

    @Ronbb: oh you gentle soul.
    From what I remember the movie was among other things a bit heavy on the sexy so just mind your environment if and when you decide to watch.

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