Hey, kiddos! It’s me, your favorite non-aniblogger, mefloraine! The one who only appears once a year to talk about a random show and then vanishes off the face of Scamp’s blog until the next time Christmas rolls around? I’m like a less anticipated and much less jolly Santa Claus. Ho ho ho.
Anyway, it’s secret santa time again, and I am here to talk about King of Bandit Jing, because this is the torment my secret santa decided to unleash upon me this year. I’m disappointed, really. When I mentioned my anime options on Twitter everyone told me Jing was pretty great, so I went into it expecting a lovely romp through the world of banditry. Or at least to be able to keep my eyes open.
From the moment we meet Jing, the bandit king, we have him all sorted out. He’s a kid, so everyone underestimates him. He doesn’t talk a lot–got to keep up that air of mystery!–but when he does it’s pretty easy to predict what he’s going to say. He’s a bandit king, but he’s pretty clean cut; he wants to steal things, see the world, and that’s about it. He moves from pretty gem to pretty gem with grabby hands.
What really gets me about Jing is the way he never loses, never misses a step, never falters. He is good at everything he does, and he comes up with solutions for the problems he faces out of thin air. Watching him succeed over and over is incredibly boring, and we only root for him because the “bad guys” are so over-the-top evil and stupid that Jing seems “clever” in comparison. Jing can do no wrong. Even when the show does try to potentially tarnish Jing’s sparkling appearance in our eyes, he winds up redeemed.
If that doesn’t scream “bad guy” I don’t know what does.
Jing’s partner in crime is a talking bird named Kir. In one episode, Jing and Kir get into a fight, and Kir ends up leaving for the duration to solve some problems on his own. It should be a big moment for Kir: he’s away from Jing, proving that he can do things without the bandit king’s help. Unfortunately, the reason for their argument had been so petty (Jing was trying to make Kir sing, and Kir didn’t want to) that the solution just makes both characters come across as pathetic, and Kir’s shining moment is ruined by the addition of Jing back into the show before Kir can get anything done.
But what did I expect? Kir exists only to be the silly half to Jing’s serious nature. He lives to ask questions that the bandit king answers with a knowing smirk. Kir was fun, but only because I was clinging so desperately to any shred of excitement in an altogether dull show. After this, I gave up hoping to see any improvement in the characters, and they delivered excellently to those expectations. Jing continues to be a genius, Kir continues to be an annoying sidekick (his defining trait is his hitting on every woman they see), and all the ladies continue to swoon over the bandit king.
I just feel like an adult who was tricked into watching a kid’s show playing dress-up. It wants to tackle big, adult ideas, and it’s fairly violent at times, but it’s so flat that it can hardly be considered adult entertainment (and I don’t mean the naked kind).
I’ve seen people say, “well, maybe you didn’t like it because it’s episodic” in response to other reviews, but I love episodic shows. I gleefully watch Smile Precure!, so I’m no stranger to this sort of enemy-of-the-week format. Seeing the main character succeed isn’t the problem in itself. In a way, Jing reminded me of Kino no Tabi, but with a much less interesting world. Kino and Jing travel from place to place and look for the wonder in the world around them, but where Kino is inquisitive and interesting, Jing is “clever” and can do no wrong. There’s no weakness there; nothing we can relate to.
By the time the show got around to its final arc I was so bored that I couldn’t bring myself to care. Finally, we could find out what all of the masks in the opening and ending song meant! Finally, everything would be revealed to us! Who is Jing? Who is the woman in the crystal he carries? Why does he do what he does?
And then nothing. I came away entirely unsatisfied. Apparently there are OVAs that discuss Jing’s past, but I have little interest in delving into them at this point.
So in conclusion? Occasionally funny, mostly dull. If I hear “Give us a Kir Royale!” one more time I will punch someone in the face. Surprisingly good dub though, and the por vora are cute.
Cuddly as hell.