Winter 2019 Anime: Official Twitter Hashtags & Pages
2018 is almost out, guys and girls, and that means that another anime year is ready to take its place.
Are you looking for more non-mainstream fantasy gems? Interested in stories about characters being the chosen one, and about plots which dive into serious yet interesting topics? Well then, look no further! The Twelve Kingdoms (Jūni Kokuki) is an amazing show with a world influenced by Chinese mythology and a story filled with action, drama, and wisdom! Let’s take a look at why this show, broadcasted back in 2002, was included in !
Nakajima Youko always wanted to please the people around her: her parents, her classmates, and her teachers. Yet, she still never seemed to fit in. Suddenly one day, a mysterious man named Keiki appears inside her classroom and bows before her, swearing his allegiance to her and her throne. As if that wasn’t weird enough, he brings her, along with two of her classmates, to a world different from their own. They end up getting separated from Keiki because they are attacked out of nowhere! Youko now has to figure out how to get her and her classmates home while figuring out how to survive in the world of the Twelve Kingdoms.
The way the story of The Twelve Kingdoms is written is the big package here, I assure you. The author, Ono Fuyumi, really thought through how her world works: how it’s connected to the real world, how rulers are chosen, how the kingdoms affect and relate to one other, and other stuff like that. She even put in effort in the smallest details: the lore, the geography, and way of life in each kingdom, province, all the way down to the individual towns and villages, and even the hierarchy of officials inside and outside the court. There’s even a map of its world, which plays an important role in the storytelling since most episodes don’t focus on one kingdom. She was clearly passionate about the story when she wrote it, and it bore such an excellent fruit. Every time I watched an episode, I felt as though if I was living in her world! The only downside of having a really well thought-out world is that it can get technical, especially when it comes to the positions in court. It might be confusing at first, but you’ll definitely get by.
It’s not part of the mainstream anime lists because it tackles serious topics not frequently discussed by most shows. Yes, most scratch the surface of topics like discrimination, morality, politics, or survival in an unknown world, but this is the first time I’ve watched something that handled all of these things at once! One of the topics that stuck to me explored the responsibilities that came with prestige, and it really changed my view of the fabulous life of kings and queens. Seriously, this show is just chock full of wisdom, exceptionally delivered through the wonderful stories of the different characters as they are interwoven with each other. Maybe it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and it might even seem boring to some, but those that do give it a try are in for a treat.
Speaking of characters, most of them are realistic and relatable. Most of their development is just outstanding! Youko alone started out as someone annoying to watch, yet I could also see my past self in her: a people-pleasing pushover. Then, as she journeyed on through her quest to get home, she was betrayed and helped by all kinds of different people, which eventually shaped her character. I want you to see for yourself how she grew so I won’t spoil anything, but what I can say, though, is that you’ll be so proud of her! And this is just Youko we’re talking about! Other characters whom she meets on her journey also get the chance to develop, especially the ones are the main characters in their arcs. It’s impressive because it makes you realize each person has their own amazing story to tell.
Unfortunately, since the anime only aired for 45 episodes, there was a lot of content from the novel that wasn’t covered. Even more unfortunate was that it wasn’t renewed for another season, which is really sad. I would’ve loved to see those other stories. Don’t worry, though. Except for one arc that was left at a cliffhanger even in the novel, the others all ended nicely. At the very least, it’ll leave you feeling bittersweet, wanting more.
The Twelve Kingdoms was made back in 2002 and thus the art quality is considerably different. Oh, don’t get me wrong. While there are some hiccups in the art here and there, and some shots tend to be quite stiff, overall it’s still visually pleasing! The backgrounds are wonderfully painted, capturing the world that the author envisioned perfectly, and a lot of the characters’ and creature designs are memorable, especially the main cast’s.
The show is available to watch in both Japanese and English dubs. The latter is just…okay. I personally prefer the Japanese dub since it sounds more natural, plus it features talented voice actors like Hisakawa Aya (Kero-chan in Cardcaptor Sakura), Yamaguchi Kappei (Kudo Shinichi in Detective Conan), Kugimiya Rie (Suzuya Jūzou in Tokyo Ghoul), and many more! Meanwhile, the background music is lovely to listen to, plus they amp up the feeling of being in another world so well!
Novel Adaptation: The Twelve Kingdoms light novel series was written by Ono Fuyumi, featuring illustrations by Yamada Akihiro. The seventh, and last, volume was published back in 2001, but then in 2012, a new volume was published. There was news that the author was planning to release , reportedly over 1000 pages long, but at the moment of the article, there are still no updates.
I actually first watched this when I was still in high school, a time where my love for drawing and storytelling started to soar. That’s why I consider this show as one of the main reasons I’ve been fascinated by fantasy stories with carefully thought out worlds, more so those revolving around royalty! It really had a huge impact on me, so much that I consider it one of my favorite anime. I actually don’t know how many times I’ve already re–watched this, yet it never gets old or boring. And even after many years, I’ve only found a handful quite like it. So please, do give it a try! I hope you also fall in love with its world, its story, and its characters the same way I have!
Do let me know what you’ve thought of this beautiful masterpiece once you give it a try! Meanwhile, for those who’ve already watched this before, help me get the others to watch this, too, by also sharing your opinion in the comments!