All images in article courtesy of Funimation Films.

Funimation Films will be bringing the 2019 film “Kingdom”, based off of the award-winning 2006 manga series under the same name, to North American theaters on August 16th.

“Kingdom” focused on a slave named Xin (Kento Yamazaki, “Your Lie in April”) who recently sold. The young boy wasn’t alone serving the family for there was another kid named Piao (Ryo Yoshizawa, “Gintama”) working for him. The two forged a friendship with their dream of becoming swordsmen and fighting as generals. Their secret sparring sessions took notice by a traveling lord years later. It would be that very night that the man decided to visit Piao’s home and ask his master to take him to the king. Piao tried to bargain with the lord so that Xin can join him but the lord refused the offer. Though saddened by the sudden separation, Xin was happy that his dearest friend was getting closer to their goal. However, that happiness disappeared the next time the two met. In the middle of the night, Xin woke up to mortally wounded Piao arriving at their hut. As his breathing became shallower, Piao told Xin to run to a secret location. The tragedy would close a chapter in the slave’s life but it would bring him closer to the destiny he dreamed of.

The film takes artist Yasuhisa Hara’s tale on the Chinese Warring States era to a new level with a team with experience adapting manga and anime to the silver screen. Director Shinsuke Sato worked with other hit titles like “Gantz”, “I Am a Hero” and “Bleach”. He and the production team, including Hara as a script writer, filmed in China since they couldn’t find “epic landscape” in Japan according to an interview of Producer Shinzo Matsuhashi. The film spared no expense to show the different settings the characters go through and added some dramatic lighting and effects to highlight key points. 

Though Western viewers may not know much about the manga series or the Chinese history it is based off of, they might be able to appreciate the story that is similar to an epic narrative filled with theatrical fights of old action movies. Yamazaki does an excellent job being the brash and naive protagonist. There may be some awkward moments with his interjections but it adds to his unrefined character. Yoshizawa also has an amazing performance as both Piao and Ying Zheng. His portrayal as the king is impressive as he emits the coldness though his facial expressions. It is a clear difference to the eager and enthusiastic Piao.

At the end of the movie, it is noticeable that it is just the beginning of the grand story. “Kingdom” covers the first five volumes of the series.

For those interested in seeing “Kingdom”, do watch with some discretion. There are many violent scenes with blood though it seems not to be as graphic as others in the war genre. The film is rated “R”. To find a theater where it will be shown, visit Funimation Films’ site for more information. While Western fans do not have the manga translated to read, Funimation also has the anime adaptation available to watch on their website.