Ousama Ranking is based on a Japanese web manga series created by Sousuke Tooka. The series focuses on Bojji. The first born Prince, Bojji is considered powerless because his inability to wield even a child’s sword and his deafness. Bojji is subjected to constant ridicule from the towns people, who snicker and gossip behind his back. While exploring the kingdom, Bojji encounters a talking shadow, Kage. It robs Bojji of all his clothing and convinces Bojji to return the next day to give him more expensive clothing.
Despite the constant attacks, Bojji has developed a positive if not naïve world view. Kage also insults him but unlike the townspeople is willing to do this to his face. In a perverse way this make Kage more honest than others. Regardless, Bojji believes he’s found a friend in Kage. Despite it’s resistance, Kage comes to see Bojji as a friend too. Bojji dreams of being the “Greatest King Ever.” Kage finds this implausible because Bojji is “deaf and stupid.”
Ousama Ranking can be a struggle to get through, at least for me. Bojji is such an innocent and sweet boy, but the adults and later children are so cruel to him. Several children learn he’s death then concluded that they can insult him. When he tries to speak, he lets out a series of “ungh,” which one kid thinks is so funny. Bojji flees, red faced with embarrassment. When he returns to the castle we are introduced to Queen Hiling, Justice Minister Sandeo, and members of the Big Four: Swordmaster Domas, Spear of the King Apeas, and Shield of the Queen Dorshe.
Domas is Bojji swordsmanship tutor, he also can use sign language. Queen Hiling also seems to understand Bojji but doesn’t share the idea he should be king. Domas tells Bojji to get dress and go see his father. In his room, Bojji begins to cry. Kage deduces that he’s not actually ignorant or okay with being mocked, he’s hurt by it. When Kage looks for Bojji he runs into the last member of the Big Four: Snake Handler Bebin. He reveals that Kage is a member of “the shadow clan.”
Bojji’s father King Bosse, is the 7th rank King and he’s a giant. King Bosse rescued the villagers form a horde of orcs. He’s sickly and coughs up blood. King Bosse tells Bojji he needs to get stronger and train with Domas. Elsewhere, Kage tries to flee from Bebin, who assumes he’s there to assassinated someone. As Kage hides in the shadows, Bebin sends his snakes to locate him. Domas and Bojji are training outside. Its clear the best swordsmen is frustrated by Bojji. He destroys the dummies and stakes use for training. Suddenly, the second Prince appears.
Prince Daida challenges Domas to a sparing match. According to Domas, Daida is “overconfident,” after he “clobbered” the Order of Bebin’s top captain. He accepts his challenge. Prince Daida attacks with a ferocity that Domas compares to King Bosse. He becomes excited and begin to fight back. Despite his talent, Prince Daida is defeated. Bojji having watched the entire fight, realizes Domas prefers to teach Daida. He challenges his brother. The fight between the two princes draws a crowd. Most of the audience assumes Prince Bojji’s defeat. However, on onlooker recalls witnessing Bojji survive being attacked by several snakes.
When Prince Daida strikes Bojji avoids his attack and the subsequent attacks from Daida. Bojji lands a single strike on Prince Daida to the shock of everyone. I mentioned earlier that some of the cruelty is hard to take because it is. Bojji sweetness separate him from almost every other character. His father believes in him and clearly loves him but he’s dying. Most of the other characters are not kind and have low expectations of Bojji. However, I expect their expectations to be upended in this series.
Ousama Ranking is set in a fantasy world but what’s the most important isn’t swordsmen and orcs but Bojji and how he handles his limitations and surpass them. The animation from Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, Vinland Saga) is well done. Ousama Ranking is stylized like a children book with bright colors and little detail. This series isn’t the type of anime I gravitate towards but this first episode was impressive and I’m rooting for Bojji.