Let’s Talk About the ‘Ranking of Kings’ Ending Because I Have Some Feelings
The season one finale was great, except...
Ranking of Kings was the breakout anime of the winter 2021/2022 season. For anyone who’s watched Ranking of Kings, the appeal of the show is clear. Bojji and Kage alone give the show more heart and empathy than most show’s entire casts. And somehow, that heartwarming vibe co-exists with an almost Game of Thrones-adjacent brutality. And its style looks more like 80’s He-Man meets Over The Garden Wall than… uh… an anime. In short, Ranking of Kings is a miracle that shouldn’t work, but everything really does. Well… everything except, perhaps, the arc of the relationship between Daida and Miranjo.
From here on out, this article is going to contain spoilers for the last two episodes of Ranking of Kings season one. I’m going to talk about events at the end of the season freely. If you don’t want spoilers, I recommend catching up before you read this article!
First, a little background
When Daida meets Miranjo—in what I’m going to assume is Bosse’s subconscious—it’s a very moving moment. And a huge shift for both characters. Daida, for one, starts to not be a little asshole—but more importantly, it signals the turn in Miranjo’s character from a conniving villain to someone much, much more complicated.
For me, Miranjo became, perhaps, the most interesting character in the entire series. She’s an excellent study in the resounding ripple effects of trauma into adulthood. The show understands that when someone is so brutally violated, that can twist their psyche and their sense of right and wrong. With that, Ranking of Kings posed a very poignant, delicate question: “How does someone’s past affect how we see their subsequent actions? How does it affect where we put the blame, and how do we feel about that blame?”
Upon learning of Miranjo’s past, both Bojji and Despa immediately become more empathetic toward her. On the other hand, Miranjo killed Bojji’s mother, Sheena. Quite brutally, in fact. In the River of Death scene, Sheena chews Miranjo out—and then forgives her. Bojji follows in kind. Bojji’s forgiveness, in particular, should be seen as nothing short of an act of bravery and immaculate kindness—which the show treats it as. Despa makes it clear that Miranjo can continue to live her life as long as she dedicates it to the atonement of her sins. All of that is very moving, and works for me.
But here’s where it gets iffy
Alas, this all occurs with the Daida / Miranjo relationship arc. The second Daida comes to in the real world, he rescues Miranjo. This tracks with his character development and how in Bosse’s subconscious, child-Miranjo was critical to teaching him empathy. So far, so good—although, I admit, I was expecting “Bojji and Daida adventure to rescue Miranjo” to be season two, and was rather disappointed it was immediately resolved. But no matter, I could get on board. Except that…once Miranjo comes to, Daida goes to her and announces something utterly shocking: he intends to marry her.
If you’re like me, and thousands of other Ranking of Kings fans, you immediately googled two questions after episode 22: “How old is Daida?” and “How old is Miranjo?” Frustratingly, you then discovered there was no canonical answer to these questions.
But with some sleuthing…
Okay, let’s review the facts we know. Miranjo was already at least in her late teens by the time Bojji was born. And Daida is younger than Bojji. Plus, Daida has had Miranjo in his bedroom as a mirror throughout his childhood and adolescence. You can then conclude that Miranjo has definitely seen Daida naked. As a child. Or at the very least, she watched him grow up. Look, I don’t like doing this math/thought experiment either, but the show has now forced me to, and my, God, why??
But even if you can shake yourself from this disturbing side-revelation, you come to an uncomfortable truth. Even though Miranjo is inhabiting a teenager’s (or twenty-something’s) body, she’s definitely at least 20 years older than Daida. Also, Daida is probably not 18. So, we’ve got someone in their late 30s or 40s marrying a teen—who they watched as a child. Yes, this show takes place in “Medieval times” or whatever. That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hit the modern viewer very weirdly. When Daida makes his sudden pronouncement, we were all Hilling in that moment.
If that’s not weird enough, episode 23 saw a crying Miranjo, embraced by Daida, look to the sky. There, she sees the apparitions of the spirits of Bosse, Sheena, and her mother, looking down upon her. First of all: what is this, Happy Gilmore?! We get the Hollywood-Style Nods of Approval from Bosse and her mother. But Sheena winks and gives a thumbs up. “Please, boink my stepson, who I have never met, and who you watched getting dressed when he was five! Good for you!”
Honestly, the thumbs up, in particular, might be in my personal top five Weirdest Moments Of Any Show, Ever. And I’m not alone in this reaction.
And that’s not all
Honestly, as I write this article, I’m realizing the age thing isn’t even what bothers me most about this turn of events. It’s not even the thumbs up (and believe me, that bothers me). What troubles me most is that I feel like Daida swooped in and circumvented Miranjo’s avenues for character development, even her agency. In these last episodes, it began to feel like Daida speaks for Miranjo. She doesn’t even get the chance to say “yes” (or “no,” for that matter) to his proposal. And Daida says that he “will accept her crimes and misery”—both as forgiveness and, from his tone, as a weight of responsibility. For such a powerful, moving character arc, having an (underage) guy swoop in and take over, even ownership, of that arc struck me as disappointing.
Plus, Miranjo’s original objective in eliminating everyone was to go on more adventures with Bosse. Bosse is now dead, and Miranjo has had her revelation via her conversation with Sheena and her mother. Even if her goal now is to be nice to everyone and atone, it feels like the resolution of her previous goal is Daida stepping right on in to fill the Bosse-shaped hole in her heart. But anyone who’s dealt with trauma would tell you it doesn’t work like that. It seems unhealthy. And why does Daida get to decide that for her, as she’s just coming to terms with coming back from the dead? And mirror purgatory, for that matter?
Who knows, though. Assuming Ranking of Kings gets a second season, Miranjo could regain the opportunity and agency to further her emotional arc. Every other character arc in the show has been highly satisfying. What I really want is for her to go on a solo mission to save the Devil, or maybe a mission with Bojji and Kage. I somehow feel like we won’t get that, though.
In any case, I hope that in season two, I won’t be able to draw a different comparison between Ranking of Kings and Game of Thrones. I do not need to know absolutely anything about Daida and Miranjo’s intimate life, thank you.
(Image credit: Wit Studio)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]