Monarchies are definitely the most intriguing forms of government when it comes to entertainment. The combination of extreme, centralized power and the rigmarole of stifling customs create a unique environment for drama. The king is the figurehead and thus most conflict is centered around his actions, or lack thereof.
With great power comes great responsibility, and not everyone handles it the same way. We will take a look at the best and worst anime has to offer of those who fulfil their title and those that abuse their station. Just how will these kings hold up based on their attitude towards their people and their country?
Worst 5 Anime Kings
5. Gol D. Roger from One Piece
- Episodes: 757+
- Aired: Oct. 1999 – ongoing
Gold D. Roger, The Pirate King, was notorious for his power and wealth. Unlike other kings, he did not ascend to the throne based on his family. Only the strongest pirate in possession of the legendary treasure known as the One Piece, coveted by all pirates, may claim this title. He was feared and respected among pirates as well as the navy, even as they sought to bring this king of criminals to justice.
Gol D. Roger did not manage a kingdom or decree policy for the pirates, but there is an understood hierarchy. The title of Pirate King is decided based on power, which means his station was not assured. However, he would never run from a fight, and he considered it his duty to protect his crew no matter what enemy he faced. While devoted to his crew, he was merciless to his enemies. Even though he did more fighting than ruling, his loyalty to his crew and those he cared for land him at number 5 for our worst kinds.
4. Andragoras III from The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arslan Senki)
- Episodes: 25, 8
- Aired: April 2015 – Sept. 2015, July 2016 – Aug. 2016
Andragoras III is the mighty and fearsome ruler of Pars. Praised for his prowess in battle, he cannot be conquered by foreign powers. While his ascension to the throne was rumored to be the result of foul play, no one questions Andragoras III’s determination to protect his kingdom. He is a proud king, and he will do anything to keep his station.
Andragoras III definitely takes his duties seriously and wishes to bring glory to Pars. No matter what treachery he faces, he will not give up his crown to another, constantly striving to keep Pars under his control. Unfortunately, Andragoras III is only willing to see himself as the king, which causes serious problems for certain characters. Because he wishes the best for his country only as long as he is king, regardless if there are more competent candidates, he has earned his place at number 4.
3. Fuhrer King Bradley from Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi)
- Episodes: 51
- Aired: Oct 2003 – Oct 2004
Known as both Fuhrer and King Bradley, the leader of Amestris has lead his people through several wars and came out victorious. He is in charge of the state alchemists, soldiers who use alchemy for the good of the state. His subordinates see him mostly as calm and reasonable, so they tend to overlook some of his more violent actions.
King Bradley ruled skillfully over his domain, molding it to his agenda. While serving its purpose, most citizens enjoyed a peaceful existence. However, there are secrets in the shadows, and not everyone is given justice. Silencing those that oppose him, and using his power to achieve his ends, lands him at number 3 on our list.
2. Gilgamesh from Fate/stay night
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Jan 2006 – June 2006
Gilgamesh appears as a servant named Archer, but there is no will he follows above his own. Mighty and powerful, his title is The King of Heroes. Summoned through time to fight in the Holy Grail Wars at the behest of mere humans, he seems to only enjoy collecting treasures and attempting to possess the one woman who snubs him. He is considered the most powerful of the servants, with an arsenal of ‘treasures’, (powerful artifacts), at his disposal.
Gilgamesh does nothing to lead or rule a people, and hasn’t really done anything kingly since his first few years as ruler of Uruk 5000 years ago. He became extremely narcissistic and decided that as the perfect king, he would only concern himself with obtaining absolute pleasure. The only reason he is not number 1 on our list is that his apathetic attitude towards humanity deters him from destroying people unless it benefits him.
1. Molto Sol Augustus from GATE: Thus the JSDF Fought Here (Jietai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri)
- Episodes: 12, 12
- Aired: July 2015 – Sept 2015, Jan 2016 – March 2016
Emperor Molto Sol Augustus is, from the beginning, blatantly cruel. He barely manages to hide his foul motives from most of his subjects and seems to delight in seeing the horrified reactions to his nefarious schemes. When the Japanese military appear through the Gate, he immediately sends out his troops to try to wipe them out, allowing no chance for peace talks. He only wishes to maintain his power.
Augustus uses all of his kingly privileges against his own people. He lives lavishly and will not allow council from wiser men, as his only concern is what he wants. He goes so far as to send the men of his vassal states to war only so that most of their army will die, and they will not be powerful enough to rise against him in the future. He goes on to burn the land, and his own people in the process, just to halt the Japanese military from harmlessly exploring the area. For these reasons and more, he is crowned the number 1 worst king in anime.
Best 5 Anime Kings
5. Delzaine from Endride
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: April 2016 – Sept 2016
Once King Delzaine took over the land of Endra, he steered the country in a different direction. He wished to restore Babel, which would link this world with Earth. Long ago, Babel was destroyed in order to protect Endra from outsiders that were thought would bring nothing but calamity. All of King Delzaine’s attention went to restoring this tower for reasons he would not share with anyone.
Delzaine is not a terrible guy, but you wouldn’t know that from his perpetually pissed off expression and the cold manner he treats all his subjects with. It is discovered later that his seemingly heartless actions mask good intent for Endra’s people. Without giving too much away, the winner of our number 5 Best King spot, and also recipient of the too little, too late award, goes to Delzaine.
4. Mikoto Suoh from K
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: Oct 2012 – Dec 2012
Mikoto Suoh is one of the 7 Kings, humans with extraordinary supernatural abilities, that rule over territories in Japan. Kings have the ability to bring people into their clan, and these people in turn will develop abilities. Mikoto is the Red King and is known for being lazy, which his rival, the Blue King, often admonishes him for. When his clansmen are in danger or harmed, however, Mikoto’s violent side bursts forth, and nothing will quell it but revenge.
The Red King acts so aloof and unmotivated because he knows how easily power can be abused when emotions cloud one’s reason. He doesn’t want personal problems he might cause to affect the clansmen he cares for so dearly. He does understand the true weight of being a king, and resolves to not let that burden harm anyone else. For his secret sacrifices, Mikoto finds his place at number 4.
3. Souichirou Sakurada from Joukamachi no Dandelion
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: July 2015 – Sept 2015
King Souichiro rules over Japan, but with the help of 2000 cameras monitoring his beloved children, he is a very involved father. The royal family has super powers ranging from super strength to psychic abilities, as if the possibly of being the next king wasn’t enough to ostracize them. Having grown up with these hardships alone, Souichiro spares no expense to be there for his family. He takes his duties as king seriously, but he is first and foremost a family man.
Souichiro is unique in that he is so present and fatherly in the lives of his children while still being concerned and responsible for his citizens. Even crippling back pain will not stop him from trying to fulfil his royal obligations. He leaves it to the people to decide which of his children will become the next king, knowing it’s better for both the child and the country if the next ruler is chosen this way. Souichiro is our 3rd best king for his devotion to his family and concern for his country.
2. Sora from No Game, No Life
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2014 – June 2014
Sora does not have royal lineage. In fact, he barely has a family, which consists only of his step-sister. When the two are transported to a new world where reality is shaped by the outcome of games, it seems things would take a turn for the worst. However, after winning the right to be the new king of Elchea, he takes full advantage of his power to better the land and bring peace to warring factions. With Shiro, his step-sister-turned-queen, at his side, they take on numerous problems only a mastery of games can solve!
Sora is a fantastic king. He wasted no time setting off to understand the fantastic world he and Shiro found themselves in so that he could better his new kingdom. Pouring over books, meeting with other rulers, and using all his intellect and charm to win more power for his country are a few of the reasons he is such an effective ruler. Sora wants to learn what Elchea needs for himself, and to establish new alliances personally. Because of his hard work and commitment, he earns his spot at number 2.
1. Su-won from Yona of the Dawn (Akatsuki no Yona)
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct 2015 – March 2015
Su-won is the son of the deceased general and brother to King Il. King Il before him was peace-loving and gentle. Su-won, however, believes in the power of the sword and ends the king’s life in the night. He tries to capture and silence anyone who knows of this deed but his childhood friends Yona and Hak escape in the night. Instead of desperately pursuing them, Su-won becomes the new king with many changes in mind for this peace-loving country of Kouka.
While at first this all sounds bad, we have to look at the motivations surrounding Su-won’s drastic measures. The kind King Il may have been a sweet and doting father dedicated to peace, but it was not for the good of the country. He left many villages unprotected and at the mercy of invading forces rather than go to war. There was much unrest in Kouka and some of the generals had become restless. Su-won wants not only to avenge his murdered father, but to be the leader Kouka needs. When crowned, he announces it is not the gods he wishes to please, but his people. Pretending to be a young fool, he improves the economies and morale of the other tribes in a way that seems to be the doing of those tribes’ leaders. He strives not for validation or fame, or even forgiveness from the friends he hurt. A king that knows the true weight of his actions, yet determined to make his country prosper, he is our number 1 best king in anime.
Thus ends our look at the best and worst kings anime has to offer! With so many factors and responsibilities, no two rulers handle their power the same way. Some find strength from their family while others view them as burdens. Sometimes they’re right to, but other times it’s only selfishness and power-lust that encourages them. Through strength, coincidence, or birth, those that become king are faced with both great freedom and great danger.