Taking a play from an old ad campaign that use to run here in the states to discourage parents drug habits from having a transitioning influence on their kids; I can only start off by saying that I can imagine some unsuspecting adolescent quietly watching Kingdom in the comforts of his own room until his father busts in on him:
In the Warring States Period of ancient China (475-221 BCE), Shin and Hyou are war-orphans in the kingdom of Qin. They dream of one day proving themselves on the battlefield. One day, however, Hyou is taken to the palace by a minister. Winding up on the losing side of a power-struggle, Hyou manages to return to the village, barely alive. Shin then meets a boy who closely resembles Hyou, Ei Sei. For now he is the king of Qin; later he will become the emperor Shi Huangdi.
Pierrot Studio is known for establishing the animation series Bleach, Naruto, and Naruto Shippuden. They’ve also been involved in dozens of other animated series and films dating back to the 1980’s. For most fans this should be a sign of a smooth transition into their next big project known as Kingdom.
Sometimes it’s easy to tell when a studio takes on a project that’s to big for them to handle, Kingdom is a cgi/animation hybrid that incorporates illustrated characters similar to that of the Motion Picture Appleseed (Digital Frontier.) Unfortunately not everyone can produce high quality cgi equal to Pixar, Square-Enix, and Dreamworks. This becomes evident after a few minutes of action in Kingdom where a large battle is taking place between two sides. The only real difference between the two is the color of their armor; otherwise they’re technically clones of each other with matching facial features and expressions.
I know that if people wait for a job they’re ready for they’ll never get it. Sometimes people have to do a job they’re not ready for and gain experience along the way. No one is 100-percent ready for a job they start on day one. This translates to how Pierrot Studio seems to have handled the Kingdom project. The series itself starts off feeling as if it was a bit rushed on a time line scale. They created a 50 minute first episode with the feeling as if it was originally a 20 minute episode that had to be reworked and extended after they found out it was suppose to be a longer opening special. The reason behind this is some scenes feel as if they are limited in background, music, and dialogue. Then others appear to have a higher amount of content rich animation. An example would be a daytime duel Hyou and Shin are holding that lasts roughly ten minutes and seems quite out of place; while other night time scenes seem to be thought out and more detail oriented.
Quality over Quantity
Do they do a good job making up for lack of detail in some areas? Yes, the 360 degree camera movement is an example of how they spin things around during dialogue and battles. There are also layers in the clouds, where the audience is given MULTIPLE chances of being able to tell the difference in size, movement, and patterns. In fact they seem so proud of this accomplishment that they try to make sure the viewer gets a taste of it every few minutes.
Another odd moment is when Hyou comes back to give Shin a map to follow as his last wish before he dies. The fasted flashback that I can ever remember in an anime happens 2 minutes after he died and transports the viewers right back the same death scene. I suppose that would be beneficial if the viewer gets up to fix dinner, do homework, and hits the gym before resuming the video. Otherwise; it felt like a complete waste of time.
The good news is that second episode didn’t waste any time dragging its feet like the first episode. The first real battle of the series took place which was interesting enough that I didn’t even realize almost half the episode was over all ready. Afterwards this propelled the series to take a drastic turn in a much better direction. The action sequences are enjoyable, dialogue seems to have filtered out its previous flaws, and it maintains a much smoother progression through the next 3 episodes. Pierrot may not have been ready to take on the project of Kingdom on day one, but they seem to have stepped up after a few minor flaws to create a smooth transition into the series.
If viewers can make it through the first episode of Kingdom which is extremely dry and lacking in content, then the series starts to take a turn in the right direction to have potential that previous series Pierrot Studios has been much-admired for producing. I wouldn’t recommend saving up for the collectors edition Blu-Ray box though.
Episodes 1-4 of Kingdom
- Video: 4/5
- Voice: 4/5
- Music: 3/5
- Plot: 3/5
- Overall: 3/5