WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Ranking of Kings Episode 12, "The Footsteps of War," now streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.
After taking a week off for the holidays, Ranking of Kings is back to give fantasy fans all the feels throughout the winter. The midseason premiere opens with a five-minute recap of Bojji and Kage's adventures thus far, resulting in an episode that's shorter on new content but teases exciting things to come in the battle for the kingdom. The incredible new opening sequence (directed by Shingo Yamashita, who directed the Jujutsu Kaisen openings) is already enough to bring in the hype, and the new ending sequence is also beautiful.
Miranjo shows up a lot in the new opening -- both as a child and an adult -- and is even positioned as being something of a maternal figure to Daida in a montage that parallels the two of them with Bojji and Hiling as well as Kage and his late mother. The biggest current mystery in Ranking of Kings is just what exactly Miranjo is plotting, and Episode 12 is still keeping this a secret.
The current step in her plot is simply to let the Underworld criminals loose in Bosse's kingdom to do whatever they want. The convicts are a chaotic bunch, and one of the first things they do when given this freedom is to kill the guards carrying Miranjo's mirror. Apeas is swift to try and defend Miranjo, but she doesn't need the protection -- her mirror can transform into solid diamond and is thus indestructible. Zokku, the smartest of the convicts, is apologetic about the whole mess.
Miranjo claims she's thought several steps ahead of where events are now, but for now the criminals are just making a mess. They certainly don't get along as a team. The armored swordmaster Ouken attempts to stop the disgraced prince Kingbo when the latter tries to take the throne, though he doesn't seem to mind when Zokku does the same. If Miranjo's motive is revenge, even this simple chaos might satisfy her, but there are already hints of how this all fits into something bigger: the incident has inspired Domas to try and destroy the gates to the Underworld.
By the end of Episode 12, Hiling and Dorshe are at the castle gates ready to confront Miranjo, while Bojji and Daida are on their way with Desha's forces. Despa is far behind, both due to needing to be paid off heavily to even consider joining the fight and because his horse has overeaten so much that it's become an absolute unit of pure chonk. This is basically how events were expected to turn out after Episode 11, but Ranking of Kings surely has some surprises in store.
New episodes of Ranking of Kings premiere Thursdays on Funimation and Crunchyroll.