Ranking of Kings: How Queen Hiling Sets a New Standard for Female Characters

Ranking of Kings has established itself as one of the best ongoing anime for numerous reasons. From its complex narrative to the care it takes with Bojji's deafness, this story has a lot for anime fans to be excited about -- and it might be making bigger waves with its treatment of one particular character. In a lot of media, female characters are seen as lesser than their male counterparts. They get supporting roles while the boys are protagonists, or they're love interests the male lead gets to have after completing his mission.

Those who are tired of this formula want a female character who isn't treated as a set piece or an object to be won. They want women who have their own important role to play in the story, who make their own decisions and reach for their own goals. Ranking of Kings has a woman who fits this description perfectly. While she isn't the protagonist and her first impression is that of a stereotypical evil stepmother, Queen Hiling has shown to be anything but a cookie-cutter woman.

Ranking of Kings Queen Hiling

One popular complaint about writers who try and fail to create strong female characters is that they throw femininity out altogether. The audience is told that this woman is strong because she doesn't want a man or because she isn't emotional. Many say this choice defeats the purpose, because it implies that femininity is weakness.

While there are women who act and present in a masculine manner, finding strength in independence, that is not the only way a woman can be strong. My Hero Academia's Uraraka can hold her own in a fight against the most powerful boys in her class, Emma is the heart of every plan in The Promised Neverland and Sarasa chases her dreams wholeheartedly in Kageki Shojo!!. Each one balances masculine and feminine qualities in their own way, but Ranking of Kings' Hiling still stands out.

Hiling has her own brand of regal femininity, looking and acting the part of queen flawlessly. Her first priority is the kingdom: how they see the royal family, what will be done after the king's death and who is best suited to the throne take precedent. The decisions she makes are taken seriously and have weight. She is not just some woman; she's the queen and will be treated as such.

Ranking of Kings flashback with Hiling and Bojji

More importantly, she's in touch with her caring, motherly side. Instead of dismissing Bojji when she became queen, Hiling went out of her way to get him to like her. She talked to him, tried to get involved in what he was doing, and even learned a new language to interact with him. She was patient and gentle because she knew Bojji was still mourning his mother, but showed frustration at her failures behind closed doors. When he finally accepted her, she became his mother.

Even strong anime women stumble at this point. Classics like Dragon Ball and current hits like Boruto do this. Powerful female characters like Chi-Chi, Android 18 and Hinata become nothing more than humble housewives once they've had children. They don't take action anymore unless it's for comedic effect. With Hiling, however, motherhood is her drive.

Hiling's love for her children pushes her to further extremes with every episode she has a big part in. In Episode 3, she jumps out of a castle window after Bojji. In Episode 9, she cares about nothing more than finding where Daida is, even if it makes her look like she's lost her mind. Come Episodes 12 and 13, she's leading a group of her most trusted allies to confront Bosse and get her son back. She will move mountains for the sake of her children, even if she gets scared and hurt along the way.

With Ranking of Kings moving into its second cour, there are still plenty of questions to answer and character moments to be had. If Hiling keeps pushing for what she wants, she will become the new standard for anime women.

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