Tanner McEveety ‘22 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Studio Wit is becoming a legend among anime fans. Known for their spectacular adaptation of Attack on Titan, the studio has been landing critical hit after critical hit. Even their less popular shows, such as 2021’s Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song, are vastly underlooked and brimming with the potential to become cult classics. But their most recent adaptation, Ranking of Kings, is some of their most impressive work yet.
A quick glance at Ranking of Kings is all it would take to guess the premise: Bojji, a young boy and son of the king, is next in line to the throne. However, because he’s small, deaf, and unable to speak, the people of the kingdom look down upon and underestimate him. Bojji must stay determined and fight to be the best king he could possibly be, despite the odds stacked against him.
This plain, fairytale-esque setup is a trick, purposefully concealing the incredible nuance and character that the show is overflowing with. Every character looks at first to be little more than their archetype, only to later reveal hidden depth and suddenly compel the viewer to appreciate their perspective. The plotting is dense and surprisingly mysterious, driving interest not only through the viewer’s desire to see Bojji succeed, but also the conspiratorial intrigue surrounding the throne he aspires to.
The art style aids the premise in tricking the viewer about the show’s quality. The design is simple and straightforward, the coloring vibrant yet flat, and the character designs are full of personality, but frankly, often ugly. A still frame of this show might be mistaken for an illustration from a children’s book. But once the show starts moving, there’s no possibility for that mistake. As usual, Studio Wit’s animation is absolutely gorgeous, the simple artwork allowing every scene to be alive with animated personality and complex motion, lending a special flair to particularly dramatic scenes. The lighting is equally gorgeous, giving the somewhat flat visuals incredible depth. The sun bathes the characters in an angelic glow, shadows of individual leaves flitting across their faces, and the dark of night creeps in against dancing firelight.
Worldbuilding is the only area of this show that isn’t much more than what it appears to be at a glance. The generic setting doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from every plain fantasy story ever, and the few unique elements either play a minimal role or don’t quite gel with the rest of the world. Instead of traditional worldbuilding, the setting is carried by characters, whose highly distinct but thematically interwoven backgrounds and ongoing narratives convey that the world has existed long before the show began and will continue to exist long after it is over.
Far from the kid’s show it initially appears to be, Ranking of Kings is complex, mature, and infinitely captivating. Surprisingly complicated interpersonal relationships and dense plotting swirl around the central core of pure joy and hope that is Bojji and his desire to be the best king he could possibly be. It is yet another in Studio Wit’s ever increasing lineup of must-watch shows, and with an adaptation of the exceptionally popular manga Spy x Family currently airing, one can only wonder if the studio will ever stop pumping them out.