Title: 十二国記 (Jyuunikokuki)・The Twelve Kingdoms
Author: Fuyumi Ono
Release Date: September 25th 1991 ~ present
Publishers: Kodansha, Shinchousha
Overview (from Wikipedia): The Twelve Kingdoms is a series of novels that focus on a world inspired by Chinese mythology, where twelve kingdoms exist under the rule of an individual chosen by the Heavens. The series does not exclusively focus on one character, though the stories of Youko Nakajima, the protagonist of the first novel, and Taiki, the protagonist of the second book, are most prevalent in the series.
- Demon Child・魔性の子 Mashou no Ko
- Shadow of the Moon, Sea of Shadow・月の影 影の海 Tsuki no Kage, Kage no Umi
June 1992 (Volume 1); July 1992 (Volume 2)
- Sea of Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth・風の海 迷宮の岸 Kaze no Umi, Meikyū no Kishi
March 1993 (Volume 1); April 1993 (Volume 2)
- Sea God in the East, Vast Sea in the West・東の海神 西の滄海 Higashi no Watatsumi, Nishi no Sōkai
- A Thousand Miles of Wind, The Sky at Dawn・風の万里 黎明の空 Kaze no Banri, Reimei no Sora
July 1994 (Volume 1); September 1994 (Volume 2)
- The Aspiring Wings・図南の翼 Tonan no Tsubasa
- The Shore at Twilight, The Sky at Daybreak・黄昏の岸 暁の天 Tasogare no Kishi, Akatsuki no Sora
May 2001 (both volumes)
- The Dream of Prosperity・華胥の幽夢 Kasho no Yume
- The Birds of Hisho・丕緒の鳥 Hisho no Tori
Last edited by Asarii; May 13, 2014 at 12:06 AM.
This thread should receive more love.
Well, considering how it's on hiatus, probably it is just as well that it's kinda quiet.
But this series is just too amazing to be left like this!
Is there no one who will share their opinion about this series..?
This looks interesting, I'll be sure to check it out at some point.
Please do, thatguy3331! If you like fantasy, I'm sure you'll like TTK.
It's a good idea to reread this series while it's on hiatus. The world is so rich with political intrigue so I have to admit that I need to refresh my mind on those.
My favourite characters are the twelve year old girl who becomes the queen (I forgot her name!), Taiki, Enou and Enki.
I was randomly sifting through my bookshelf when I realized that there was a copy of The Birds of Hisho that my mom bought who knows when. I found it interesting how it was published through a different company instead of Kodansha. Perhaps the reason why things took so long was because Ono had some troubles with the publisher?
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I love Enki, Shouryuu, Youko, and strangely Keiki. I still can't believe why I am rather fond of him. Probably because of his constant
but amusingsighing? Well, actually there are more characters that I'm fond of, I find that many good characters in this series have their own charms.
Ah, yes. Shushou. I've indeed read Tonan no Tsubasa and was upset that the anime didn't adapt her storyline. Unlike other rulers, she chose destiny for herself by going to the kirin himself so that's one of the reasons why I like her.Quote:
A lot of characters are well-developed so one can't help being attached to all of them!
I'm still in the middle of reading Tonan no Tsubasa. Shushou is a pretty interesting character there, though she doesn't look so endearing in Kaze no Banri. The whole time I read about her in the book, I kept thinking, "Poor Kyouki". But when I read Tonan no Tsubasa, I think I'm starting to understand why she is the way she is.
Indeed! Not to mention that the character development is just so well-written. I used to hate Shoukei and Suzu at the start (who won't, with their attitude..), but after finishing the book, I really love them, especially when they interact with Youko. These three have really underwent great change and they have become better people. Some other characters are pretty adorable from the start, like Koshou and Sekki.
Another amazing thing about the characters is the diversity. It's just nice to see many different characters because that way, we can learn a lot more about the nature of people.
We also have to remind ourselves that she's only twelve years old. She can be a great ruler considering her age (she was chosen after all), but there will be times when her childish nature comes out. :P I don't recall what happens to one's mental age when they stop aging so it's possible that she will stay the way she is forever.Quote:
I love your last line. The thing I love about Twelve Kingdoms (and what I recently began to appreciate) is the fact that female characters are just as capable as male characters. This is true for the Twelve Kingdoms society as a whole where IIRC there is little to no gender inequality, and it's nice how Ono makes a conscious effort do develop her heroines just as much as the men.Quote:
I'm re-reading the series and just finished The Shore of Twilight; The Sky at Daybreak so I can contribute without relying solely on memory. I also added Demon's Child to the original post since it technically counts.
It seems to me that with Shinchousa republishing the series, Ono is trying to re-market to a wider audience. White Heart (Kodansha) is a publishing division that's primarily aimed at a junior/senior high school age group. Kanji for names had the hiragana beside it for obvious reasons, but kanji such as 膝 (hiza; knee) and 崩れる (kuzureru; to crumble) also had hiragana even though they are common words.
I'm reading Tonan no Tsubasa right now, and Shushou's primary reason for going to Koukai is because no one was doing anything about the ruler less kingdom. It's still unclear what kind of people get chosen as rulers given that many were unfit to be one in the first place, but it seems as if Shushou's willingness to do something about Kyou's dire situation helped.Quote:
I also pity Kyouki since he seems the most compassionate out of all the kirin. Rulers and their kirin tend to be opposites whether in age, sex, appearance and/or personality- Shushou and Kyouki differ in every category.
There are a variety of female characters as well: female kirin and Shoukei are traditionally feminine, and they contrast with Youko and Risai who fit the Action Girl trope.Quote:
Instead of having a character who was already born and raised in the Twelve Kingdoms, it's a great approach to have a Youko (a kaikyaku) be the main character so we can learn along with her.
How much have you read/watched, Yuki? I'd love to discuss some spoiler-ish things with you.
Is that so? Then I hope that means this series will gain more readers...
Yeah. Probably it's her conviction that made her chosen as the Queen. Not many adults possess conviction, yet a child like her does.
Well, the best pair is the one that comprises of two people that complete each other, so I think that's why Rulers and their Kirin tend to be opposites. Even though En-ou and Enki can be quite similar, aren't they?
I wonder if that's exactly what Ono-sensei intends, so that the readers won't be lost in the expositions.
I've watched and read everything, except for Tonan no Tsubasa (which I haven't finished reading) and the short stories Rakusho no Goku and Seijou no Ran.
I wonder what people's first impressions were when they read The Demon's Child when it was initially published. There are a lot of terms that would make sense to those who read The Twelve Kingdoms first but would sound foreign to someone who wasn't familiar with the series.
Someone who was Youko's age when Tsuki no Kage first came out would be in their late thirties now. I think Shinchosa is trying to bring back old fans and attract a newer audience at the same time. This cover seems a lot more modern compared to the cover in the original post.Quote:
There were actually many older people/men who were interested in reading the series at the time but felt uncomfortable purchasing something that came from a "shoujo" publisher. They were given covers like this, which definitely has a masculine feel to it.
Continue for Rikou at least! There was a place that was mentioned near the conclusion that would be a shame if Ono-sensei didn't go back to expand on.Quote:
Shouryuu and Rokuta are both extroverts and carefree even though they wouldn't want to admit they're similar. I think the main quality they share is that they both hate being tied down.Quote:
Since The Demon's Child came before Tsuki no Kage, Ono-sensei could have gone in chronological order and went straight to Taiki's perspective during Tasogare no Kishi. However, that would be too difficult to write because not only does she have to explain what the foreign names were in TDC (e.g. Houzan, Sanshi, Renrin), she would have to write about what happened to Taiki when he was spirited away and why he returned to Hourai.Quote:
In a way, Taiki could be seen as the true protagonist of the series whereas Youko is a device to develop the setting/politics of The Twelve Kingdoms. Personally I do see both of them as protagonists, but I can see why Ono-sensei decided to create an entirely new character for world building.
Someone on 2ch suggested that everything leading up to Tasogare no Kishi was to expand on what had happened in The Demon's Child. Now that Ono-sensei already reached that point -i.e., Taiki's return from Hourai- she ran out of steam, and it's why she hasn't published anything since.
A lot of people complain about George R. R, Martin not being quick enough to publish his sixth novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, but at least there's confirmation that he's still writing! The status of Ono-sensei is unknown, and I'm hoping that changing publishers and the release of Hisho no Tori implies that she's working on her series again.
Rakusho no Goku had quite a mixed opinion for Japanese readers, and I'm curious to see what your opinion of it is when you get around to it.Quote:
The reason why I want Ono-sensei to work on The Twelve Kingdoms again is because there are several loose threads that need to be tied up:
- Where did Gyousou go?
- Where did Houki go? Please don't tell me he's in Hourai/Konron or else it will be Taiki Part II all over again.
- Why is Kouka/Kou's new kirin taking so long to hatch?
- Where do youma come from? Why are they all male? How do they know when a country is starting to fall apart?
- Who exactly is Tentei? Why does he choose rulers who end up being incompetent/oppressive?
If Ono-sensei still feels motivated after Taiki's tale, hopefully she can work on a story where the purpose of the twelve kingdoms and heaven is explored.
I need to point out that I was quite surprised to see this very long reply.
Because I read Demon's Child before realizing anything, I was really confused with what's happening and I was kinda lost in the middle. I felt really bad for Takasato though. I knew how traumatizing his experiences are, but I did not realize how bad until I found out he's Taiki. I felt really sad that he had to endure that experience. He was such a sweet kid and full of hope. People expect great things from him, especially because he's a black kirin, but the cruelty of the people in Hourai has changed him so much, I am really afraid for him.
I totally forget when and how I first encountered the Twelve Kingdoms series (I think it was during the last year of high school), but I suppose I was initially interested because of the good review and the premise of the story even though it was not popular. I think it was during the time I read Saiunkoku no Monogatari, so I was really interested in stories about fantasy kingdoms based on Chinese culture.
Not everyone can read this kind of series though. Even though it is a light novel, the plot is really heavy with politics and cultures. Not the kind teenagers these days read.
Hmm. I'll try to read some more after this. It might take a while until I can finish it though... I was still busy with other things.
I like how Shouryuu and Rokuta interacts with each other. People do say that those who are similar are often at each other's throats. Shouryuu and Rokuta have proved that words. Which is why, I can totally understand why the ministers would not think it possible for them to work together, but it turns out that their desire to go out is greater than their dislike of each other.
I think it was quite unusual though, how a horror story can span into an entirely fantastical setting of other world. But I suppose that's what makes it so interesting.
Yeah, people often complains about things like that, not realizing how luckier they are than other fandoms that are dying. I really hope that she will write a true continuation though. These days she mostly write short stories. Not that I don't welcome it, it's just that they do not contribute much to the main story.
Actually there are more loose threads than those you list, but I suppose with series this complicated, some things may remain to be mystery. I am also interested about what's happening in Ryuu. There are so many hints that something bad is happening there, but so far no clue as to what. If Ono-sensei deems it important to insert these hints in the main story, then I hope she will resolve this.
I actually wish I read The Demon's Child before reading Kaze no Umi so I could have had the same "A-ha!" light bulb moment like you did. The connections Takasato makes with words made sense for me, but it must have been a mystery for someone who had no idea.Quote:
It's especially sad when you consider his own family has practically disowned him. His mother was the person he cried out for when he felt homesick at Houzan, and it's heartbreaking to find out that she wishes he were dead in a monologue. Sanshi and Gouran were trying so hard to protect him from physical harm, but it ends up emotionally scarring him instead.
It was actually my mom who got me into The Twelve Kingdoms so I got some insights from her as she was reading it. Right now it's 2ch, and most people on 2ch are adult men.Quote:
Ooh, I heard about the similarities 12K has between Saiunkoku (and to a certain extent, Fushigi Yuugi as well). In one of the afterwards, Ono-sensei mentions how there was a Three Kingdoms boom as she was writing the series so there's definitely an influx of light novels/manga/anime related to Chinese culture and mythology.Quote:
I agree. There's also no romance in the novels, which might be a good thing for the periphery demographic but might be disappointing for younger readers if they don't understand the heavy politics.Quote:
Rikou is very handsome, and it's too bad that he hasn't made an anime appearance. In the unlikely event that another season will happen, I could see Kamiya Hiroshi being his seiyuu.Quote:
Take your time to finish.
Rokuta is definitely the more boisterous kirin out of the bunch. There are times when he does exhibit signs of compassion though such as when he thanked Shouryuu for forgiving Kouya. In response, Shouryuu told Rokuta that he should be feeling compassion for Ribi, Ekishin and the baby instead. It reminded me of Shushou scolding Kyouki for showing compassion towards the wrong person- i.e. Shoukei.Quote:
Ha ha, that's true. The ministers treat their king and saiho in the same manner, and it actually helps Shouryuu and Rokuta stay on the same page. It's the opposite in Tai where people treat Gyouso and Taiki differently and understandably so. Both kings are military men and the kirin are children in appearance; however, the way the En and Tai courts treat their respective king & taiho are completely different.
You're right: having Taiki be the protagonist post-The Demon's Child would be tough to write, and it's probably why the novel followed the narrative of Hirose. If we're getting a new novel about Tai, it will most likely follow the POV of Risai.Quote:
The character development that Youko undergoes is phenomenal. The way she carries herself now is so different from the way she started out in the first half of Tsuki no Kage. She became a lot more masculine, which I find pretty funny.
Ever since Shinchosa hinted at a 新作 (new work) being published after their version of Tasogare no Kishi, fans have been feeling antsy and are anticipating a new novel soon. The 2ch thread (sorry for bringing up 2ch all the time) is relatively active and are still getting several posts a day.Quote:
I don't mind her short stories either, but I do wish she wrote something that contributed to the main story. The recent short stories that were published in Hisho no Tori were mostly events that happened in the past. Even a short story about Shun, which we know nothing about, would be nice.
I actually really want to read a short story about Asen and how he felt being compared to Gyousou. It would be a great lead up to the novel that would resolve the situation in Tai, and it might also give some insights as to why he rebelled against Gyousou in the first place.
Yeah, there are A LOT more loose ends that haven't been tied up yet. It seems as if Ono-sensei wanted to use those loose ends for other plot points after Taiki's story. As I'm looking at her Wikipedia page, there was a huge gap between 2003 and 2012 where she didn't publish a single novel so there was something that hindered her from writing anything, period... let alone a complex series like the 12K. Hopefully Shinchosa re-publishing the novels would get her motivated again.Quote:
Ryuu is an interesting situation, and I'll let you finish Rakusho no Goku first before going further. Once again, there's no rush.