Kingdom 2 – 32

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Check and mate.

The weight of history hangs heavily over every major arc in Kingdom.  It’s the story of young men trying to secure their place in it, and old men watching their place in it slip into the past.  There’s really a sad sort of vicious cycle that hangs over what happens here – youngsters like Xin and Tian fighting their way forward trying to make a name for themselves as merchants of death, knowing (but perhaps not thinking about, thanks to their youth) that their ultimate reward, even if they reach the pinnacle of their vocation, will be either to die in defeat like Wang Qi or lay down their lance in defeat like Lian Po.  But that’s war for you.

In a funny sort of way it’s Meng Ao who seems to have the most universal perspective here, perhaps because he less than anyone else at the center of this war doesn’t seem to have much of an ego.  There was an awful lot of talking going on atop that mountain, surely way more than there’d be time for in any real battle, but for the purposes of dramatic license it was certainly effective.  In truth, the real war wasn’t even happening on that hill, dramatic as it was – it was playing out between the Vice-generals, and the same one who had the upper hand at the beginning had it at the end.

I have no issues with the way the final battle on the mountain played out.  I would never expect Xin to back down, even against the likes of Lian Po, even if he’s seriously injured.  But likewise, I wouldn’t expect him to be able to do more at this stage than barely survive, and that’s exactly what happened.  The dramatic climax here was no doubt when Xin produced Lun Hu’s sword as the proof that he’d taken the General’s head (though not literally) – which enraged the Great Deva, yes, but also commanded his attention in a way nothing else during that battle had.

Meng Ao indeed had the essence of the moment figured out.  He knew why Lian Po had really entered the battle again, seeking some answers in the wake of Wang Qi’s death.  And the White Elder used this as leverage to save Xin’s life when Lian Po was just about to end it, revealing that Xin had been present at Wang Qi’s death and now held his lance.  The fundamental disconnect is apparent here – Lian Po could care less about the State of Wei, this is strictly a personal battle for him.  And for this reason he thinks nothing of throwing over the battle when it becomes clear what’s happened at the Wei headquarters, where he’s left his doomed puppet Bai Giuxi in charge.

We still don’t know where Bi is of course, of why he and his 5000 men were shown a few eps ago – but it appears the decisive moment was Huan Ji outflanking Jie Zifang yet again.  Jie seemed to have perfect timing in arriving at Meng Ao’s HQ, but in truth it was only because he’d given up looking for Huan Ji.  The thief-general had led Jie into the mountains and slipped out the back way with 4000 men, knowing the Wei HQ would be lightly defended.  The attack on the enemy king doesn’t always come from the obvious place on the board, but checkmate is checkmate.  It certainly seems that Huan Ji has left his competitor Vice-general Wang Jian in the dust, though I wonder if that cruel streak of his will eventually return to bite him.

I’m going to be very interested to see how the aftermath of all this plays out.  Lian Po surrendering is no surprise – he’s got no horse in this race now and no reason to keep fighting.  Does Meng Ao simply allow he and his men to leave?  I wouldn’t think Lian Po values his own life much at this point – the news of Wang Qi’s final moments seems to have resigned him to the fact that even he cannot fight time – but I likewise can’t see Meng Ao executing him either.  And then there’t the matter of who might now become the new Great General of Qin, as this is surely Meng Ao’s final battle even if he survives his wounds.  It might seemingly have been Meng Wu, but Zheng might not be so thrilled with that notion given that he’s one of Lu Buewei’s inner circle.  But can a common thief turned general like Huan Ji truly rise to the very top of the Qin army, no matter his brilliant successes in battle?

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  1. R

    Under normal circumstances Huan Ji probably would never be able to become a General. But considering Qins military success and that they were able to defeat one of the three Devas, I doubt that either Li Mu or any of the other Kingdoms will allow them to have their way much longer. Sooner or later they will make a Countermove against Qins Expansion and then that time comes, they probably won't have any other choice but to swallow their pride and make the Bandit a General just to prevail.

  2. My question is whether he's going to be the general, replacing Meng Ao. Right now he has the best case, apart from birth certificate.

    Li Mu has that treaty to consider, and I expect him to uphold it. But that doesn't mean he won't be planning like crazy for the day it expires.

  3. t

    well, "replacing" is considered if Meng Ao would die or retire in the end of the current war.
    still, he won't be "the general" simply because MouBu (Meng Ao's son and Tien's father) is the current strongest in Qin state. it was a title given to him bu Wang Qi after what happened last season…and it's quite clear that he is the dominant right now although he isn't participating the current war (for military reason as it was told before).
    so, I think the question is simply whether he'll be promoted to general or not.
    but does this even matter?sure, most likely he wasn't promoted because his past as a thief. not to mention he is still controversial persona (like when he slayed Bai Giuxi or at the beginning when he order to dissect soldier organs and send them to enemy). we know that Huan Ji is strong and clever in warfare. as Meng said, he is on par with Qin's 6 generals.
    what I am saying is that the question of general is just a formality matter and it doesn't matter. De facto, this person is serving as a general. he has his own army and has freedom to act on his own.
    Wang Jian is in a similar situation.
    sure, he didn't bring great achievements this time, but he got the skill. even Lian Po compared him with Qin's strongest general (out of the famous 6). and we saw it when he captured the most castles up to this point. it's no question that this person is also general de facto.
    plus, I think he had an important role in this war. although he didn't bring out his monstrous nature as it was told, he draw the fire(mostly Lian Po) even after it was Huan Ji who was the first to kill the old-general of Lian Po, thus allowing Huan Ji space to attack.

    well, war isn't over until it's really over. let's wait to sum up things later.

  4. R

    I wouldn't exactly trust in Li Mu to uphold the treaty. Afterall when he made it, he didn't expect Qin to make such fast progress and certainly not for them to win against Lian Po.
    I'm pretty sure he will break the treaty in a hearbeat if he decides that the cost is no longer worth the gain.

  5. We'll see. I think Li Mu is enough of a big picture guy to recognize that breaking treaties has consequences he might not want to deal with.

  6. R

    I'd agree with Enzo. Li Mu's getting into the contract actually buys him and his country time — that's quite in-character with the Li Mu in the story and what we learn from history. He isn't a hasty strategist and general — he would rather take the time to learn as much as possible about his enemies than showing his true colours.

  7. R

    I never insinuated that Li Mu was someone who would make hasty and irrational decisions without first propererly evualuating all posible consequences.
    I made my statement under the natural assumption that Li Mu would first make thorough Analysis of the situation and all it possible outcomes and base his decision on what might be more damaging to his long term plans: Letting continue its current course or breaking the treaty.
    Also I have perfect confidence Li Mu beeing smart enough to break the treaty without earning the scorn of the other kingdoms if he ever deems it necessary.

    BTW: Anybody knows what exactly happened to the armour that Xin bought in the first season? Is that thing just sitting back in his Shed putting on rust?

  8. R

    Well, I didn't say that you insinuated Li Mu as someone making hasty and irrational decisions, but I can see that it could easily be implied that way when we have different viewpoints. I was simply saying that because of who he is, he will choose to stick to the agreement. You know what…I don't think we are talking about the same thing — you were talking about him, and I was talking about what he'd do in his current situation… Anyway, I really like Li Mu, so I'm happy that he was discussed amongst us even though he hasn't shown up for a long while.

  9. R

    In my original post I only said that Li Mu might try to interfere with Qins Progress.
    And honestly why wouldn't he. The Alliance is only one of convenience not mutual friendship. Zhao will stick to it to get what they want but their really isn't any reason they would want to let Qin get their prize.
    And there are ways to interfere with Qin's plans without openly breaking the treaty.
    I think Li Mu is both brilliant and ruthless enough to come up with some "subtler methods" to sabotage Qin that won't leave obvious traces leading back to him.

  10. G

    This whole season has been one big battle for the most part. I'm getting burnt out on the endless battles. I want to also know whats going on back with the King, servant girl, and his evil mother as well.

  11. t

    I feel you. I mean, it started with a blast with all inner-politics stuff and royalty. but moved to this war which is very intense as we see.
    but Kingdom is sorta one of those endless shonen manga. sure, it's better than everything else and all. but pushing in the macro level is going from time to time in between wars and stuff like that. because kingdom suppose to be in the end one big creation.
    so yeah, I wished them to do more, but I understand..that's just how it is.

    I hope in the last episodes maybe things will get back to this after the war will end. but it won't over. that's how it is. same with Qiang who is still seeking for revenge and won't rest until it's done.

    surely, we still haven't finished this season, but I start to feel the final moments closing by, so I hope we'll have kingdom S3 as soon as possible.

  12. R

    That's what I suspected perhaps 10 episodes ago. To be honest, I love all the stories about politics in the palaces — it's so rare to see it in anime, and it feels even more intense. I personally hope to see Zheng finally unit China, and that will include Lu Buwei being taken down, Lu Mu's battle with Qin — that's quite a tragedy in history — and the fall of other kingdoms. I don't know where the manga is at but hope that we can see all these important stories animated…if only Kingdom were an on-going series… Having said that, I don't mind the extended focus on the current war — it's also an important one, and this season has shown us tons of different and interesting war tactics.

  13. S

    Meng Ao holds his arm as if Renpa has actually cut it off or something. Lol.

    >though I wonder if that cruel streak of his will eventually return to bite him.

    Of course not. Kanki is best general.

  14. A

    In the manga, he actually did cut the arm off. I had a feeling they were going to change that here, but I hope that it's amputated after the battle or something.

  15. t

    same thing happened with Lun Hu, when Xin faced him on the surprise attack, he cut off 2 fingers of Lun Hu. yet they avoid from showing that. same here.
    maybe it's a matter of censorship, after all they didn't show the organs of the Wei when Huan Ji army did it at the beginning…or maybe it's more interesting that way…I don't know.

  16. e *cue quiz show jingle*

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