Final Review: Kingdom Season 1

DISCLAIMER: Anime reviews on this blog will attempt minimal to no spoilers unless other noted. If a review seems dull or shallow, it’s because I’m trying to make sure not to go into too detail for those who are actually interested in the show before or after reading the review or those who have yet to finish the title. If you want further details, there are usually tons of reviews that can be found elsewhere on the internet. Furthermore, anime reviews in general are the sole opinion of the author writing it and thus differ across the users. There is no such thing as a “right answer” only a majority agreement. You are free to have your own opinions and thereby free to state and/or argue/debate in the comments section below or on the Fansub TV Forums. The review is not necessarily meant to serve as a recommendation but rather a personal opinion of having completed the series.

Kingdom is based off a long-running manga of the same name. The series follows Xin, an orphan in the China Warring States Period who strives to become the world’s greatest general. It is only through a series of both misfortune and fortune events does he finally get a chance to experience true war. The first 38 episodes of the series premiered between June 2012 and February 2013. Season 2 will premier in the Summer 2013. Kingdom was simulcasted by Funimation during its run.

Kingdom starts off as a really bland and uninteresting piece of work featuring what seems to be a typical shounen hero who will eventually overcome any trials thrown at him. Xin is the protagonist of the show, whose life is completely changed when his best friend is killed while acting as a decoy for the emperor of Qin. Coupled with terrible, inconsistent, and repetitive animation quality, Kingdom seems like a show set for complete disaster from the get go. Of course, if that was truly the case, a long-running manga for this series would have been canned a long time ago and this show would not have received more than 1 cour, 2 if lucky. That said, Kingdom does improve over time, albeit at a snails pace. The first half, if not 2/3 of the series is completely uninteresting. It’s really the last third involving Wang Qi’s confrontation with Pang Nuan and the state of Zhao does the show begin to show its true colors. The conclusion of the battle provides a nice and solid ending to season 1 for those who plan to quit after the 38 episode mark while leaving a solid foundation to work with for those who wish to continue with the show come June 2013.

Art is actually decent for this show. While plain in terms of scenery, the overall details are nice and colorful. Character designs could use some work due to the constant back and forth of 3D vs. 2D character models. As said before, animation quality is a huge negative for this show. It relied heavily on CGI early on in the series and gradually tapered off with blips of mass CGI every now and then. There are far too many inconsistencies in animation quality (including bobble heads like Symphogear) that made the show feel awkwardly animated 90% of the time. This is by far the worse I’ve seen from Studio Pierrot in a while.

OP is by Nothing’s Carved in Stone. They are an okay group given their more recent work in Zetsuen no Tempest and PSYCHO-PASS, but in Kingdom they didn’t really stand out as much. The ED themes are kind of a mixed bag. ED1 was forgettable while ED2 and ED3 were okay. Background music and sound effects are average. Seiyuu is also average overall.

Enjoyment? Kingdom was completely boring to begin with. In fact, very little of what was presented towards the end of the season had much to do with the contents shown at the beginning (if at all). As a result, the hook for the show is bad but once it gets going, it could potentially be a show that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, it really does take too long to setup to really keep an audience’s attention.

Overall, Kingdom is still a niche title mostly due to the period it is set in. Not many Japanese anime adapt China’s Warring States Period and instead re-enact the Three Kingdoms era instead. However, I doubt many people watching anime are actually in watching a history lesson so more intriguing titles that could substitute Kingdom are Sengoku Basara (set in Japan’s Warring States) or Souten Kouro (set in China’s Three Kingdoms).

Story and Character:

  • Premise (0.5/1): Too slow. Uninteresting. Set in China Warring States is more or less unexplored in anime.
  • Character Personalities (0/1): Bland and typical shounen protagonist
  • Character Development (1/2): Sparse but interesting when explored
  • Character Usefulness/Presence (0/2): Too many names to remember.
  • Pacing: (1/1): Nothing really wrong with pacing. A bit slow but a fitting way to approach.
  • Reasonable/Plausible (1.5/2): The strategies are actually thought out and executed in a realistic manner. Could show more than the tell at times.
  • Conclusion (1/1): Solid and leaves a good stopping point as well as a good pickup point for the second season.
  • Total: 5/10

Art and Animation:

  • Backgrounds (1/2): Plain scenery.
  • Character Designs (0.5/2): Inconsistent
  • Fluidity (0/2): Awful
  • Visuals/Special Effects/Flashiness (1/2): Colorful
  • Art and Animation “Expectation” (0/2): One of Studio Pierrot’s worse animated titles in a long time.
  • Total: 2.5/10

Sound and Music:

  • OP/ED/Insert Themes (1/3): ED2 and ED3 are decent. Others are forgettable
  • Background Music (1/2): Average
  • Sound Effects (1/2): Average
  • Seiyuu (1.5/3): Average
  • Total: 4.5/10

Enjoyment:

  • Amusement (0/2): None
  • Weekly/Next Episode Anticipation (0.5/2): Last third of the series is decent
  • Presentation: (0/2): Too slow of a start to really keep an audience entertained before it becomes watchable.
  • Re-watchable (0/1): None unless the manga becomes something spectacular.
  • Recommendation (1/2): Little to no titles roam this space so it has a niche. Souten Kouro and Sengoku Basara are its closest contenders.
  • Value (0.5/1): Has some due to different setting but not really something one should consider a gem title.
  • Total: 2/10

Preliminary Score: 5/10

Final Score: 4/10

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