Kingdom 2 – 17

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I didn’t think Kingdom was that sort of show, but now I’m only about 95% convinced instead of 99%.

With everything that’s going on in Kingdom – and it’s enough that important characters and plot threads disappear for weeks at a time – one of the last things I would have expected is any romantic development.  But in point of fact there was probably more of that in this episode than in the first two seasons combined.  I still don’t see this likely going anywhere concrete, as there’s just too much else going on, but that final scene leading up to Xin actually calling Qiang Lei cute (let’s be honest, he’s not wrong) had to be a pure delight to the Lei fans in the audience.

In a vacuum, what happened between those two might have seemed incredibly vague, but in context those moments on the hillside seem quite significant.  First off they were surround by fireflies, and we all know that in anime any scene with hotaru is loaded with romantic subtext.  You can add to the fact that Xin is spectacularly dense, even by anime M.C. standards – it’s not annoying in his case because it’s the essence of his character, but it’s still a fact.  For him to be as tuned in to Lei’s feelings as he was and then call her “pretty cute” is a watershed moment.  I also thought it was quite significant that she hesitated when she said that was putting off her revenge because “this place is…”  She settled on “the only place I can call home” but I think what she really wanted to say is, “by your side”.  Sorry Diao, I think your ship has sailed – but buck up, the Mengs are a great family to marry into.

We’re seeing some real evidence of Xin’s growth here, and in more than just his interactions with Lei.  When presented with 700 new soldiers to win over, he really stepped up to the plate with a rousing speech that hit all the right notes.  Of course the White Elder did Xin a huge favor by giving him the soldiers from Guo Bei’s force – men used to fighting for a commoner in an era where thousand-man generals were invariably nobles.  But this sort of thing is the old man’s specialty, so it should be no surprise that he got it just right.  Xin still had to convince Vice-captain Chu Sui and this men that despite his appearance and demanor, he was a man to be reckoned with.  Xin is still playing the fool as well as anyone – he and Meng Tian gleefully calling each other “Thousand-man General” to Wang Ben’s annoyance was highly amusing – but it’s his unspoiled and unpolished nature that ultimately earns him the loyalty and trust of the men he leads.

There’s another interesting angle developing with the Meng Ao army, and that’s the development of the two vice-generals who’re defying even the great Li Mu’s predictions by their success in seizing Wei castles.  We’re not being told yet who these generals are, but it’s a good bet they’re major historical figures (most likely Bai Qi and Wang Jian – the latter especially likely as Meng Tian obliquely referred to “famous fathers” when referring to the reason young nobles like he and Wang Ben either end up being flakes like him or tight-asses like Wang Ben).  The vice-generals have already seized the high ground by arriving at the key battleground of Shanyang, which Qin needs as a staging ground for its conquests of the other Warring States.  This is the place where the two great armies of 140,000 men will clash with the future of Zheng’s unification dream on the line – and it would be fitting if Meng Ao’s victory over the “unbeatable” Lian Po is made possible not by his own military genius, but by his talent for putting more ingenious people than he is in key positions.

For the first time in a while, the camera steps away from the Meng Ao and Lian Po armies to give us a glimpse of what’s happening on other fronts.  As mentioned Li Mu is perturbed by the success of the vice-generals, because he’s bound under his alliance with Qin not to come to Wei’s aid.  Back in Qin the differences between the Yu Buwei and Zheng factions are temporarily deferred by the immediate issue of the crucial battle in Wei, as advisors loyal to both camps weigh in on the coming events.  But Lu Buewei is clearly becoming aware that his son the King has grown into a young man too formidable to easily control, and in his reaction I believe I can see a bit of pride in addition to annoyance…

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9 comments

  1. e

    Yes colour this shipper delighted to the max :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. Also because… aw Xin is hitting emotional puberty at last. And we got a lot of close-ups of Lei's phenomenal eyes and of her elven ears. Ah<3 And I'm a sucker for fireflies. If it wasn't a giant spoiler I'd link a certain '70s anime scene that I suspect contributed a lot to the romantic fireflies moment trope.
    More seriously I think we can agree her revenge is unfinished business and that must have been conflicting with her current role and loyalties for a while. So it was to be expected she'd leave to deal with it sooner or later. In some ways her sister was to her what Piao was to Xin and that added a bit more poignancy to the sequence. Also yay bonding.

    I LOLed at Meng Tian and Xin being such dorks together. I suspect Wang Ben is being a bit tsun and he's actually finding a bit of relief with such… merry colleagues. Being a tight-ass is suffering.

    Still no Diao on-screen indeed but we toched base with some other long-absent characters. Plus the highly satisfying bonus of witnessing Zheng unleash a bit of his intensity and the effect that had on basically everyone in the room. Ohoh 8D.

  2. t

    LOL
    one "cute" word doesn't necessarily mean that things have/will be changed. we saw that in Hunter when Gon and Palm went on a date and there were fireflies and blabla.
    rest assure, kingdom will remain itself's unique about war, strategy, politics, history and stuff. I think that scene was to show some of Xin's growth. besides, we have seen complicated things like that with Ouki (Wang Qi) and his lover/wife, so it's only natural to imply us about those things before Xin will be full-time general.
    since you said something, I am pretty disappointed about Diao..we barely see him or what he has been through all that time.

    let's admit it – Kyoukai's(Qiang Lei) declartion about leaving didn't surprise or something, we see her scenes in the opening all the time, so it's only natural for this to happen. yet it will be great loss for Xin's unit. maybe that old-new-vice general (sosui=chu sui) will fill her spot, but obviously Kyoukai is irreplaceable.
    I guess we won't see Xin going to revenge journey with her =

    well, actually this week was the episode of "the calm before the storm". the next episodes will be clash of armies. can't wait.
    I think those vice generals of both Lian po and Meng Ao will play an important role in this war.

  3. Diao is a she, BTW…

  4. t

    LOL actually I know that. or supposed to know…
    I must have missed/forgot somehow. my bad.
    probably because we didn't see her this season except for a glimpse at the beginning when Xin was at the captial with all the alliance's stuff.

  5. I love this season but if there's any complaint, it's that there's been barely a glimpse of Diao or Meng Yi and I'd like to see both. Diao because she started out as the second lead, and Meng Yi because he's a hugely important historical figure.

  6. t

    I couldn't agree more!

  7. R

    "Sorry Diao, I think your ship has sailed – but buck up, the Mengs are a great family to marry into."

    Lol — that's a very good suggestion for Diao.

    Good to see Xin's growth. Now, show us some quick wins, please, Xin — you've made a promise to Zheng.

    To be honest, I don't know how far the story will go, but I actually want to see how Zheng takes down Lu Buwei and how Li Mu defends Zhou from Qin. Judging from the progress, I'm unsure if season 2 will cover both stories. Anyway, I will be happy if I can see some battlefield tactics before this season ends.

  8. G

    At the pace this series goes it seems it could last for 20 years (as long as the manga keeps being written).

  9. Let's try to keep our hopes realistic!

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