Episode 18 – Ranking of Kings

Kage as snapped and likely unlocking a whole new ability that looks ready to devour the immortal Ouken. Bosse comes clean about his deeply held feelings for Miranjo. Ranking of Kings also introduces a questionable setting to explain the events that set Miranjo on her path of destruction. The pieces don’t all fit snugly together this week, but its the kingdom of Houma, Gyakuza, and Ranking of King’s depiction of Gods that give us the most to chew on.

Our first introduction to a god was Satun, and it looks like these beings are by and large, cruel. Houma, a country of magic users, seek to displace the deity overlords. Interestingly, this history is disputed. Bebin brings up the accusation that the mages of Houma committed all sorts of horrific atrocities and Bosse doesn’t exactly dispute that. It may be a case of propaganda, as we learn that Houma wasn’t successful in the end. The victors always dictate the history books, after all.

I couldn’t help but find it darkly comedic that Bosse is relaying this history, but it’s not because he picked a side, at least not at first. He was stomping around as a giant trying to up his power level and picks a fight with Miranjo’s dad, killing him. There’s this historical context in the background but in reality, Miranjo’s dad died for no reason other than Bosse set out to antagonize mages for his own personal gain. I don’t know if the show will ever interrogate this or if these kinds of battles are just supposed to accepted as part of the narrative’s world. Either way, the story is also using these events to exemplify the kindness of Miranjo’s mother and, possibly, whether this trait was foolish. Through all of this, it’s never stated if Miranjo learned of Bosse’s actions; it’s possible even now that she doesn’t know he killed her father.

The framing gets iffy once the people of Houma seek to settle in Gyakuza as a part of an alliance against the gods. Bosse describes the people of Houma as good, kind-hearted people while the people of Gyakuza are the opposite. They’re deceitful, conniving, and violent. This is shown as a cultural difference and one that asks a lot of the audience. Outside of stories specifically written as propaganda to justify war and invasion, cultures that outright lack anything resembling humanity don’t…exist. The closest we get to justification is that Gyakuza is an area that is obviously poor economically and lacks any natural resources. Further, it’s been routinely exploited by other kingdoms, leaving the people distrustful and promoting a self-serving approach as a necessary means for survival. This makes sense, but what we see goes beyond trickery into abject cruelty. There’s also an underlying theme of positive colonization: Houma got this ‘backwater’ country into something that looked respectable with education and yet Gyakuza turned on them. It left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

There are still elements up in the air about Miranjo’s backstory. While Bosse was there for, seemingly, the rest of her life, we don’t know where the demon comes in. The villagers we see break into her home and kill her mother are the same as the ones we saw in Bosse’s mind; that cut off her hands and skinned her face. At some point those injuries are healed because the Miranjo that trained Apeas was not disfigured, assuming the mutilation isn’t metaphoric. I may actually rewatch the segment where Miranjo approaches Bosse about the demon because should also be after all of these events but when I originally viewed it, it felt like the first time they met. Basically the timeline feels a little wonky right now.

The “Part A” of the story’s questionable history aside, “Part B” belongs to Ayumu Murase who gives an amazing performance as Kage in this episode. The battle against Ouken continues in all its futility; It seems impossible to defeat an immortal whose ability extends to his armor and weaponry, leading to both Bojji and Despa gaining serious injuries. Up until this point, Kage has been the supportive cheerleader. He knows how to get redirect Bojji when he gets overwhelmed or doubts himself, can swoop in like a dashing rogue if they’re falling, or throw a weapon as a distraction. He’s a support character through and through but we end this episode on an emotional climax. If I had to wager a guess, Kage has some latent teleportation-like powers; like we saw of the unfortunate corpse being used as a portal. That might be just the trick the team needs to deal with Ouken.

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Ranking of Kings is currently streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

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