50,000. This is the number of copies sold for the premiere in France of Ranking of Kings released by Ki-Oon editions on April 7, 2022. But where does this literary hit come from? Imagined by Sōsuke Toka, 47-year-old self-taught draftsman, the manga was published three years ago in Japan, after a pre-publication on the web in 2017. Unknown until six months ago, it was propelled as the phenomenon of the moment of the genre seinen fantasy.
Ranking of Kings tells the story of Bojji, a deaf and mute little prince destined to become king of the kingdom of Bosse. Accompanied by a creature called Shadow, Bojji travels the world to try to win the trust of his people and prove his qualities to become the greatest of rulers.
Ranking of Kings plays with the discrepancy between his childish illustrations and the fairly mature background of his narration. Lmourning, the feeling of injustice, the lack of tolerance towards one’s neighbor and self-confidence: the book does not spare on its striking themes. Even if the main characters suffer with all their beings after intense moments of emotion. One could wait for the reading to become heavy, but the emotional moments are very well balanced and always remain in a certain narrative fluidity.
The strength of the narrative undeniably revolves around the story of its hero. MIn love with his family and his own people, Bojji seeks to give meaning to his life as an outcast little prince by wishing to embody the greatest of the kings of the kingdom of Bosse. Deaf-mute and unable to hold a simple sword, he will have to redouble his efforts to prove his worth. An original approach for a work sold in its form as a simple chivalrous tale.
Gradually, this whimsical universe will gain in richness and depth. In particular on the relationships between his characters, in particular Bojji and his friend Shadow, a creature-robber of a clan of assassins who saw his life change overnight without revealing the details too much.
The manga also stands out for its moving and empathetic protagonists.. Here, the progression of the heroes is expressed more by the acceptance of their emotions and the learning of self-confidence. To like other recent Japanese works such as the shonen phenomenon Jujutsu Kaisen which broke sales records both in France and abroad.
Beyond his status as a hero of history, theby force of the character of Boji lies in his exceptional empathy. We are faced with a child who is disarmingly kind and who is in permanent forgiveness. Throughout his journey, she enemies around him will gradually transform into the allies of tomorrow. As for Shadow, become a friend of the young prince by attachment to the being filled with love who embodies him. These two little beings, who seem quite opposite, will have to collaborate to get by in a world without pity where betrayals and low masses are commonplace.
Both Bojji’s allies and enemies are all based on storybook archetypes but are very quickly surprising by their ambivalence. Which makes them very human and touching. Domas, master swordsman in charge of Bojji, who makes the figure of the unbeatable warrior, will show himself as a man with a big heart attached to his young protege.
The success of ranking of Kings undoubtedly comes from the overwhelming aura of its adaptation, produced by the WIT studio. Even though the numbers from the Crunchyroll streaming platform have not been communicated, the 23-episode animated series has been making waves on the web since its broadcast began in October 2021.
The production remains in the worthy tradition of classic adventure series. Due to its epic narration, we can speak of more or less indirect homages to the series of the 80s in the style of the Mysterious cities of gold (1982) or even Princess Sapphire (1974). The show transpires in its quality of lively and spectacular staging, only sublimating the strong emotional moments of the manga.
But according to Brigitte Lecordieractress and artistic director lending her voice to the character of Boji, her success is due to much more than her animation: “The reasons for its success come from the themes addressed in the story. In it we talk about nuance of humans, evolution and learning from others. We learn in it that we must also fight to succeed and do good. We all want to see a better world and that requires transformation. Life is not often easy… With this story, we are told that we can all become a king in our own kingdom“.
The voice actress – who lent her voice to iconic animation characters like Son Gohan and Son Goku in the hit series dragonball, was particularly touched by the aura of little Bojji. “This little one is galvanizing… We face ba lot of emotions in this work and Bojji’s fragility makes it easy to get attached to him… And I got attached. He embodies kindness and could inspire many people in our world“, she exclaims.
With its sober style under a background of initiatory epic and moments of pure emotion, the adventures of Boji and Shadow do not leave anyone insensitive: the next volumes should also address ever more touching themes.
“Ranking of Kings”, from Sōsuke Tokaavailable at Ki-oon since April 7, 2022. €7.65.