Anime Review: Ya Boy Kongming!

Welcome to our little corner of the Internet!  l’m Frost, and I would like to talk to you about a series that I really enjoyed, time after time I have watched it.  With it getting an English language dub, I figured that this is a good time to talk about it with others.

And of course, the usual warning of potential spoilers applies.

The series I am talking about is one that, I will be honest, I skipped at first. The premise was ambitious and sounded odd, and I was not sure if it would stick the landing. Then I heard the opening song, and it’s a real banger of a song.  After that, I checked out the actual opening animation, and I was intrigued. 

The first episode had me hooked, and now here I am, a fan of Ya Boy Kongming! It’s a newer series, produced in 2022 by P. A. Works.  

Where to start?  Well, let’s start with the music, since that was what initially pulled me in.  The soundtrack is amazing, with most of the songs being performed by Kuroneko and Laezel. I will admit, I am not usually a fan of this style of music, but the vocals combined with the series’ top notch animation and great characterizations drew me in. I am kind of obsessed over Dreamer.  It is one of my favorite songs from an anime of all time.

I would say it even beat out Flare and Dark Seeks Light.  

Now, what about the story?  

It is an unusual story, which is why I skipped it at first. Kongming was one of the greatest tacticians from the Three Kingdoms area, and he met his end in 234 AD. Now, in the series he is reborn as a younger version of himself in modern day Japan.

In Shibuya. On Halloween.

Needless to say, he thinks he has been sent to Hell. Understandable, considering.

He ends up at a club, where he meets the other leading character. A singer trying to make the jump into being a true professional. A young woman named Eiko, who works in the club and sings from time to time.  Her performance moves him, and I will say it caught my attention as well. Kuroneko did just an amazing job.

It is a story that really touched me. It is a comedy, yes. However, one that has shades of redemption, personal growth, and questions of morality. What will you do to make it big? What will you sacrifice?  What means the most to you, your integrity or fame? And how far will you go, to make amends for the mistakes you made in the past?

The writers did an amazing job on bringing this to light in ways that are very relatable.

Another factor I really enjoyed was watching the titular character deploy what were some of the most ruthless and innovative military strategies of all time…  To advance the career of a young woman that he found a worthy person to serve under.  

The supporting cast is another shining part of the story.  None of them are really throwaways, except for the true bit characters.  Even some of the supporting characters get their own time to shine, their own chance to confront their fears, their regrets, and rise above them.  

And let’s face it, everyone loves the Three-kingdoms nerd that is the owner of the club.  I really liked the fact that they show much more to him than JUST the gag trope.  He is a vital part of the story, from making sure that things are done, to giving Kongming help behind the scenes.  He even was the reason for Eiko to not just still be around, but to have decided to pursue what became her dream.

Okay, now I’m going to talk a bit about the bones of the show, as it were.

The animation style fits very well.  The attention to little details, like how Kongming walks in his robes, the use of his fan, and the little bounce that Eiko does before she performs really are great uses of animation to tell the story, and to set the characters.  Some of the insert animations that are used, especially during the rap battle, are just awesome.  I loved how they used it to portray the battle between two forces.  It really made it seem even more epic than it already was (and as someone who honestly doesn’t really like ‘modern’ rap, seeing the older style of free-form rap was very nice.)

The backgrounds and scenery are very nicely done, and truly make you feel like you are immersed in their world.  No matter how good the characters look, if you don’t have a good setting for them, they lose the impact.  The night time views of Shibuya are amazing, and the scene where they are atop the tower and looking down on the city?  Perfection.

The sound and music are honestly spot on.  They pretty much have to be in this kind of show, but let’s all admit, we have seen many musical shows where the music…  Really didn’t stand up to what it should.  The composition, pacing, and in-world use of insert songs was great.  It made me very eager for them to release the full soundtrack, not just the televised versions of the songs.  The ease that they used multiple styles and genres of music was masterful.  Honestly, I now have an appreciation for several styles of music that were never on my radar before.

I would highly recommend this series, in any format, for anyone that is a fan of great music, characters that you really feel for without the need to cry, and just some of the best feelings I have gotten out of a show this season.  Oh, and for Three-Kingdom nerds, of course.  I am hoping that they will announce another season, but I will definitely be reading this series just in case.

I hope that you give this series a shot, and don’t forget to dream big.

And don’t get lost in the Stone Sentinel Maze!

This has been Frost from The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest, and level grinds are par for the course, and we’ll see you next time!

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