Ranking of Kings Episodes 14-15 Review
I’m back from vacation and it’s time to catch up with the unfolding coup in Bosse’s kingdom. I remain mildly disappointed in how little Bojji himself has played a part in these developments, but it’s hard to discredit a series that remains dedicated to writing a compelling supporting cast. This pair of episodes put Hiling, Desha, and Domas in the spotlight to great effect, even if I’d still like to see Domas fall into a pit.
The courtyard skirmish had just about worn out its welcome when Mitsumata emerged to give Dorshe and Hiling a much-needed advantage, and by time for Bojji to finally put his new swordsman skills to effective use: making friends. It’s a popular trope for the hero to defeat a lower-level villain and add him to his party, but it was still fulfilling to see the methods that were derided early in the series come back and have the exact opposite result for Bojji. There’s a very emotive flashback sequence where we see Bojji, unable to carry a full bucket of water, attempt to fight a fire in town by hurriedly carrying a small cup of water. It’s yet another instance where looking at the greater picture, you might say his efforts made little difference because he would have never have quelled the blaze, but his earnestness and sincerity still showed those around him that he was doing the most he could to ease their suffering, futilely or not.
That effort is what Hiling remembers when she sees Bojji fell his first foe and I think she, too, felt a sense of pride. We see this moment when she gives Bojji a pat and tells him to take more respect for himself and his abilities. It’s the first time where it seemed like she was just directing him not because his misdeeds might reflect poorly on his station, but because he’s someone who deserves acknowledgment. Hiling may very well be one of my favorite anime moms in recent memory. Even when she’s out of her element when confronted with violence, her determination as a healer is admirable. She truly accepted Bojji as her own child and while she hasn’t handled raising him perfectly, she’s not so haughty to realize when she’s done him a disservice. I also find her social awkwardness rather charming, like when she apologizes to Kage for misjudging him.
Ouken remains a dark cloud over all the various moving factions. He has no real allegiance and seems to view carnage as little more than entertainment. For a few times now, we’ve seen him suddenly fixate on someone out of curiosity only to quickly move in to kill them. This demeanor stems from his own immortality and the show’s writing posits that anyone who obtains the inability to die ceases to be human. This is interesting for a number of reasons, one of which may be tied to the unnamed treasure the #1 kings all choose to possess and seemingly go mad after obtaining. Early Ouken (who bears some physical resemblance to Desha) is shown to have served as a captain of the Underworld Knights who wanted to reform the order with a focus on “gentleness.” We now see a “man” with a child-like interest in torture. This all ties back to Miranjo’s continued machinations for Bosse which also have centered on expanding his power and extending his lifespan.
However, Ouken’s defeat was rather…lackluster. It makes sense that it requires magic to disarm him, but Despa essentially calls in an “airstrike” and Desha just zaps him remotely with lightning magic. I doubt it’s the last we’ve seen of Ouken, but it was an anticlimactic end for a character that was one of the biggest threats thus far.
Bosse remains conflicted. It’s shown that he initially wants to step in and rescue Hiling and could easily do so. His lock-up is mostly for show but his adherence to…Miranjo, I suppose, keeps him there. Bosse’s obtuseness doesn’t become much clearer in these two episodes, although we now know that he sent Domas and Hokuro specifically to close the entrance to the Underworld—the same entrance Miranjo herself has used to bring the criminals into the castle. I don’t know if he just wanted Domas to close the entrance to prevent Desha from utilizing it or to undermine Miranjo. I suspected the latter due to how Bosse was rather intentional about not being overheard when he tasked Domas in the first place. What was more surprising to me, though, is that Domas wasn’t aware that Bosse was inside Daida’s body until now. I thought he was present in the courtyard during Bosse’s big show of strength? Either he just missed it or the guy is dense (I suspect both).
“The Order of the Underworld” is pivotal in that it brings Bojji and Domas back together. Wit Studio shows again that the team has a very firm understanding of how to convey strong emotional content in a way that feels real and harrowing. Like Daida’s breakdown when he realized he’s trapped in his own mind, Bojji absolutely falls into what I would characterize as a panic attack when faced with Domas. This spurs Domas, as a sort of reenactment of what he did to Bojji, to dive headfirst off a set of steps.
My immediate reaction to this was that Domas actually killed himself. The sound of his head hitting the stone was startlingly realistic. Coupled with the delayed timing of his recovery, I honestly thought he was dead. So I was a bit annoyed that it was then played off as “haha I’m so thick-headed I can’t die.” The tonal switch didn’t work for me there but I also don’t know if there’s a great way to walk that situation back at all. Should he have remained passed out or suffered from a concussion? I think overall my continued issue with Domas is that he’s a pawn and too stupid to know it. The way his character is framed leads me to believe that the staff here feel similarly. He may have held his own against the Knights of the Underworld (somewhat diminishing their reputation, in my eyes) but in the end, he gets kicked in the nads by Waluigi and then bonks his head real hard. His entire fight with the Underworld Knights is mainly due to the fact that he has no idea what’s going on but lacks the diplomatic ability to figure it out (the knights are partially to blame for this as well). He, unlike seemingly every other adult in this story, doesn’t even know who Miranjo is.
Desha makes it known that his interest in taking over Bosse’s kingdom was meant to be peaceful with one exception. It’s implied that Ouken’s current status is tied to Miranjo and is a primary motivator behind his intent to kill her. Moving forward, I doubt that Desha will serve as a real antagonist toward Bojji during this continued conflict. Most likely he’ll finally get to see what Bojji is capable of and stop referring to him as “incompetent.” But before any of that, they’ll first have to track down where the remaining criminals have taken Miranjo, and how, if at all, that plays into her continued plan.
Rating: 4/5 Stars.
Ranking of Kings is currently streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.