The second cour of Ranking of Kings (Ousama ranking) has started with a bang with episode 12, and the second opening has received just as much praise as the episode itself.
True, Ousama Ranking's second opening is different from the first one, Boy by King Gnu, in both mood and setting. The director has also packed the opening end-to-end with hidden clues and foreshadowing.
The second opening of Ranking of Kings (Ousama Ranking) is darker and more polished
The second opening theme song for Ousama Ranking is Naked Hero or Hadaka no Yuusha by Vaundy. The OP is directed by Shingo Yamashita, whom readers may know as the director of both intros of Jujutsu Kaisen anime.
The second opening of Ousama Ranking starts with Kage and Bojji casting shadows on the wall in the shape of a crown on a curly-haired head. It then shows Bojji walking through the streets of his kingdom as people either ignore him or turn away from him.
Kage is similarly walking, or slithering in his case, by himself, but he is actively ostracized by people throwing things at him. He stops to look at a pair of mother and child, and remembering his own mother, starts to cry.
The OP then moves through flowers rapidly growing, symbolizing how Bojji had befriended Hokuro and Hiling by bringing flowers to them, and then a day passing through a landscape where the kingdom of Bosse was established.
A giant hand is shown offering a piece of diamond to someone; this is referring to when Bosse first impressed Hiling by turning a piece of tree into a diamond when they first met. Years later, he proved his identity when he was occupying Daida’s body by performing the same trick in Ousama Ranking part 1.
The next two scenes are self-explanatory; the Knights of the Underworld charging ahead, and Bojji looking over his kingdom as the sun rises, illuminating his profile.
The next scene is interesting, Daida is sitting inside a dark void, with the child-Miranjo lying on his lap. A source of light breaks through the darkness and the former looks up. It seems the Miranjo is either sleeping or injured, and Daida’s attitude towards her is that of a protector.
The source of light then transitions into a lantern that Bojji is carrying as he walks up the hill by himself and comes across the broken fragments of adult-Miranjo’s mirror.
The shards reflect Bojji’s face as he looks into them, slowly turning back into an unbroken mirror, now reflecting a child-Miranjo smiling at someone. This scene draws attention to the similarities in Bojji’s and Miranjo’s appearances, and the element of ostracization that they both share.
It was foreshadowed in Ousama Ranking part 1 that Daida’s compassion towards child-Miranjo might be a gateway towards the mending of his bond with Bojji, which is reaffirmed here.
The OP then shows a row of puppet-like soldiers, which transitions into Bosse fighting an army by himself with his gigantic club. Child- Miranjo is seen once again, running through the forest with a red-skinned child who bears some resemblance to Bosse.
Since Miranjo was from a human village, it could be theorized that this is how she met Bosse or any non-human entity.
The intro then shows Blood being spattered at someone’s feet before showing the face of Ouken, Sword King of the Underworld.
Ouken’s face transitions into the red-skinned child putting his hand over child-Miranjo’s eyes, which turns into the latter's adult form being caged within two large, red hands. This could be an indication that the red-skinned child was Ouken.
The OP then shows in quick succession, King Desha, an unknown mustachioed man who could be related to Desha, Domas and Hokuro, Apeas standing within the shadows carrying Miranjo’s mirror, and finally Dorshe.
The unknown character has been speculated to be Ouken as well, but hopefully later episodes of Ousama Ranking will clear that up.
In the next part, Miranjo, still inside the mirror, is shown reading bedtime stories to Daida. Apeas is shown caressing Mitsumata, the three-headed snake. Kage’s memory with his mother comes next, before finally Hiling is seen hugging Bojji.
Clearly the theme is parental bond, but interestingly, Daida has this bond with Miranjo, not Hiling, and Mitsumata has it with Apeas, not Bebin. Once again, the strong bond between Hiling and Bojji is reaffirmed.
Ousama Ranking has always maintained that when he thinks of affection, Bojji’s first thought is always of Hiling.
Encouraged by Hiling, Bojji brandishes his sword, channeling everything he has learned from Despa, who appears as a visage behind Bojji. In a call-back to how the red-skinned hands were covering Miranjo’s eyes, two hands seemingly move away from the camera to reveal different landscapes, all of which either have or will have a significance in the story.
Miranjo’s mask breaks apart, and Bojji moves away from Hiling to look behind him, where Kage emerges from the shadows. Coming full circle to the beginning of the intro, Kage and Bojji have made their journey towards each other, and their hands finally touch.
The second opening of Ousama Ranking has a more polished and serious aura than the first opening. The choreography, the theme, the symbolism and hidden meaning seem more mature and more layered.
The art-style is more three dimensional, the animation more fluid. The song Naked Hero by Vaundy seems to be made for Ousama Ranking, and the lyrics fit the poignant and mature mood of the new arc.
The full version of Naked hero is now available on YouTube and can be streamed on Spotify as well.