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Kingdom 5 – 05

Kingdom is most obscure show on the LiA schedule, at least as far as traffic is concerned.  But that’s been the same pretty much since Season 2.  You’d never know Kingdom is a huge deal in Japan, with multiple live-action movies and volume sales in the all-time top 20, if you went by its profile in English.  No English license (it has a French one, but France has always been miles ahead of the English-speaking world where manga is concerned), almost no attention paid to the anime, and no translations for the movies.  It’s almost as if it were a sports manga.

The sad state of the battle for Heiyong is… not much change.  And that’s the reality of land warfare, especially in the olden days.  Lots of people die but if the two armies are evenly matched and have competent command, not much changes.  Diao’s risky stratagem does pay off, thanks to Lt. Yuan vindicating the faith she and Xin had in him.  He manages to make it across the river (barely) and his ragtag and exhausted squad causes enough of a distraction for Xin’s men to make a beachhead (after turning the river red with their losses).  Because most of Zhao’s forces along the river are archers – a bit overconfident in hindsight but logical – they aren’t exactly suited for close-quarters melee.

Using two forces, including a fake distraction, as a distraction for a third, which then causes enough of a distraction to let the first become the actual main force – it is a brilliant plan, however dangerous.  Xin has repaid his debt from the first day, and solidly established a front line on his side of the central hill.  On the opposite side the tide is slowly starting to favor Xin’s forces under the female general Hei Ying (sorry, I can’t find a seiyuu anywhere).  They have the Zhao forces in retreat on all fronts, as Ze Nuo’s wildmen stage a staredown with their Zhao counterpoints, both under orders not to make the first move.

The tide turns when a new figure enters the fray – the Zhao general Ji Hui (Ishii Kouji).  He seems to be an unknown figure to the Qin forces (including Huan Yi), but his mere presence on the battlefield sends a palpable wave through the Zhao army.  Especially when he uses the name of the local province to refer to them – nothing stirs an army like a reminder that their enemy are invading their home.  Ji Hui is clearly a formidable leader who commands great respect on his side of the front, and Zhao immediately begins to push the enemy back.  Hei Ying finally calls for a full retreat, which prevents Qin from being routed on the field but leaves any gains made that day largely spent.

A drawn, a staredown, a general status quo – that’s what’s been bought with the lives of the men who died on the first two days.  As for Qian Lei, Xin is still deeply worried about her absence – and she’s alive, but wounded and (seemingly) under the protection of a local village.  Perhaps because she took the initiative to warn them that war was about to reach their doorstep.  No good deed goes unpunished, but occasionally they are rewarded – and this appears to be one of those occasions.

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