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Viewer Debates Resurface Arounds Alleged Japan-Korea Colonization Allegory in Ranking of Kings

posted on by Kim Morrissy

Note: This article contains spoilers for Ranking of Kings episode 18.

Ranking of Kings's original web manga inspired debate in 2019 when some readers argued that the countries of Houma and Gyakuza can be read as analogs for the historical relationship between Japan and Korea.

In the series, the Gyakuza are depicted as deceitful people who betray the Houma's kindness. Later, history is rewritten so that the Gyakuza only remember the Houma as one-sidedly evil oppressors when they were simply trying to help by giving them magic. However, the Gyakuza have no answer when asked why the Houma built schools and hospitals if they were so apparently evil.

One comment dated from December 2019 described Ranking of Kings as "a poorly thought-out manga that projects an internet right-winger's image of Korea onto a group of fictional people." Another wrote, "I hope Koreans read this and see the truth about themselves."

However, other comments disagreed with the interpretation, with one user remarking: "At first glance, I did not see the parallels at all. This says more about the reader [than it does about the work]."

Manga creator Sōsuke Tōka issued no comment on the chapters in question.

These debates have resurfaced as Wit Studio's anime adaptation covered one of the corresponding manga chapters in episode 18. Some viewers have pointed out that the background art depicted in the anime appear to resemble historical photos of Korea before and after Japanese colonization.

Sōsuke Tōka has been serializing the manga on the user-submitted manga website Manga Hack and other venues since May 2017. Kadokawa published the 12th compiled book volume on December 10, and BookWalker Global is listing an English release by e-book publisher BookLive.

The manga inspired a television anime that premiered on October 14, and will run for two continuous cours (quarters of the year). Funimation is streaming the anime as it airs in Japan and is also streaming an English dub.

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