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Anime adaptation of Fuyumi Ono's novel "The twelve Kingdoms"

Overview


Unhappy teenager Yoko Nakajima is suddenly confronted by a strange man who says she is his queen and he is her sworn subject. He tries to convince her that she must take up her belong-by-birth-right sword and defeat the Yoma (demon) that is her and her classmates. Yoko and two of her closest friends are soon whisked away to a fantasy world full of danger. The 12 Kingdoms.

Artwork of the first English volume cover
Artwork of the first English volume cover
Based on a series of novels begun in 1991 by Fuyumi Ono, the first story arc in Twelve Kingdoms often plays like a new version of Escaflowne or Fushigi Yugi. We have, of course, a Japanese girl transported to an otherworldy kingdom-the early episodes coincidentally based on the book Sea's Darkness: Moon's Shadow, although they have no relation to the Chie Shinohara story of the same name. Yoko's "difference" is telegraphed from the earliest moments by her naturally red hair. Whereas anime hair colors are often wholly random and unrealistic, the script soon calls attention to Yoko's, when her parents urge her to dye it black in order to fit in. A brown-red deviation from
the normal black is what happens when you try to bleach Japanese hair and is often used in fiction to suggest a girl is something of a wild-child. This has led, ironically, to Japanese girls who genuinely do not have standard issue black hair being forced to dye their hair black in the manner to which Yoko's parents are alluding. Yoko, it is alleged, is one of the latter, a straight-A student who has been voted class president, but who is being led away from her previous childish things by the allegorical temptations of the twelve kingdoms.

By the sixth episode, however, the story has taken a radical departure, dumping Yoko into the company of a number of beast-like creatures in a more surreal setting. Yoko's adventures start to take on elements of The Wizard of Oz, or, more properly, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, as Yoko discovers that she really is fated to be queen of one of the lands and that only her successful ascension to the thrown can restore the sundered and ruined kingdoms. In another parallel with the Narnia books, or perhaps even John Norman's Gor series, the focus of the story leaves its original protagonist for long periods of time, concentrating on some of her associates. In the next story arc, based on the Ono novel Sea's Wind: Maze's Shore, there are also elements of the lost children of Haibane Renmei, in a series of fairytales that unite the stories of mundane, urban tragedy in our own world with the incarnation of fantastic creatures in the twelve kingdoms.
The Twelve Kigdoms
The Twelve Kigdoms

Later chapters, based on the novel Ten Thousand-League Wind: Dawn's Sky, see Yoko becoming ruler of one of the kingdoms and forced to deal with the aftermath of her less than illustrious predecessor, alongside politicking by some of her rival queens and long tangents that discuss some of their own backstories. A few final stories prepare the ground for a last battle, as Yoko rides off to save her newfound home.

The original novels presented a sprawling saga, distantly inspired, in the fashion of Like a Cloud, Like a Breeze, by Chinese history and mythology. However, it is worth noting that the stories have been shuffled and rearranged for this anime version. Two of them, "Correspondence" and "Ally of the Moon," were originally short stories, and are dealt with in just two episodes, while others stretch over many chapters. The final story arc, five episodes that draw on the novel Eastern Sea God, Western Ocean, almost exhausts the original source material featuring Yoko, although other books about other cast members still remain unadapted. As with Ironfist Chinmi, the exhaustion of the original material left the producers with the difficult choice of pressing on regardless and diverging from the original even further, or calling a hiatus with the vague hope of restarting if the material became available. Hence, although originally planned as a 68-episode series, Twelve Kingdoms currently grinds to a halt at episode 45 with some plot elements left unresolved; an unfortunate fate for an anime that has gained a large and appreciative following for its literally novelistic density and complex relationships. Two PlayStation 2 spin-offs also followed.

Music Themes


 Opening Theme:
"Juuni Genmukyoku " by Kunihiko Ryo

Ending Theme:
"Getsumei Fuuei" by Mika Arisaka
Episodes
Season/Ep# Name Airdate
1 - 45
Sea God of the East, Azure Sea of the West - Reminiscence Chapter
08/30/2003
1 - 44
Sea God of the East, Azure Sea of the West - Final Chapter
08/23/2003
1 - 43
Sea God of the East, Azure Sea of the West - Chapter Three
08/16/2003
1 - 42
Sea God of the East, Azure Sea of the West - Chapter Two
08/02/2003
1 - 41
Sea God of the East, Azure Sea of the West - Chapter One
07/26/2003
1 - 40
Ally Of The Moon
07/05/2003
1 - 39
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Final Chapter
03/11/2003
1 - 38
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Fifteen
03/04/2003
1 - 37
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Fourteen
02/25/2003
1 - 36
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Thirteen
02/18/2003
1 - 35
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Twelve
02/04/2003
1 - 34
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Eleven
01/28/2003
1 - 33
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Ten
01/21/2003
1 - 32
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Nine
01/14/2003
1 - 31
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Reminiscence Chapter
01/07/2003
1 - 30
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Eight
12/17/2002
1 - 29
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Seven
12/10/2002
1 - 28
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Six
12/03/2002
1 - 27
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Five
11/26/2002
1 - 26
A Great Distance in the Wind, the Sky at Dawn - Chapter Four
11/19/2002

View all 45 episodes »

Series Credits
Person Name Episode Count
Hiroto Tanaka
1
Tetsuji Nakamura
1
AkihiroYamada
2
Sho Aikawa
3
Takuya Sato
1
Kunihiko Ryo
3
Yuko Kusumoto
3
Yuichi Endo
1
Tsuneo Kobayashi
4
Fuyumi Ono
4
Jun Arai
1

To edit the cast, go to an episode page.

Original US Poster Art

General Information Edit
Name Twelve Kingdoms
Name: 十二国記
Romaji: Juuni Kokuki
Publisher Pierrot
Start Year 2002
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Aliases Chronicle of Twelve Kingdoms
Record of Twelve Countries
12 kingdoms
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