Looking at Ranking of Kings - I couldn’t help but keep putting off watching this show. I thought it was going to be some kind of childlike fantasy story that wouldn’t keep me hooked. What I got instead was Studio Ghibli presents’ Game of Thrones. This story is packed to brim with betrayal, political intrigue, and some horribly complex characters. And I love it.
But above everything about this show, one thing is the most clear: I would die for Bojji. The central character of the series is this leel guy and I love him as if he were my own child. Not only do I just love the way the animators have presented him as a character - I think I love Bojji because he reminds me a lot of the ideal follower of Jesus that Paul talked about over and over again. Yes, I’m serious. No, I will not apologize for making this comparison. Bojji is a better Jesus follower than I could ever be - let’s talk about it.
Welcome to Checkpoint Church - where nerds, geeks, and gamers come together to talk about faith, games, and it’s not enough to say that *this* is just a shadow clan person. What is Kage?. I’m your Nerd Pastor Nate. If you like these weekly deepdives, be sure to sub and hit that bell to find out when our next one drops.
Romans 12:14-19 (NRSV)
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
So what even is Ranking of Kings?
Well, it’s one of the new anime debuting for the Winter season this year and it’s remained a pretty solid entry in the charts of worldwide rank.
The story is a Coming-Of-Age Fantasy Comedy - wait, does it really say that this is a Fantasy Comedy? (Show a scene of Bojji crying when Kage comes to find him) Yeah, hilarious. This show has made me want to cry so many times. Fantasy Comedy. Ptttb.
Anyway - The story is about a little prince named Bojji who is deaf-mute and a bit naive.
Regardless of that, he’s set forth as the oldest son to inherit the throne of his giant king dad whenever he dies which is going to be very soon
No one believes in Bojji. Like, no one. His mom, who I guess is dead? Maybe she believed in him idk.
Even with the doubt in his ability to be king, Bojji never once loses his belief in himself and continues onward towards being the greatest of king.
Which, by the way, is a thing in this universe. Essentially someone is sent to your kingdom whenever a new king is instituted and put to some kind of aptitude test to see what their ‘king rank’ might be.
As our story begins, Bojji meets the last known survivor of the shadow assassin clan, who again, looks like this and everyone acts like he’s just another bro - and not some homunculus lookin’ dude. His name is Kage and for reasons I have yet to learn - he understands Bojji crystal clear despite his being deaf/mute.
Okay, from this point on we’re going to have to talk about some of the major plot points and twists in the show in order to understand what makes Bojji such a Christ-like figure. So… spoiler alert.
Pretty much nothing goes exactly right for Bojji from the very beginning of the show. His dad is one heckin big boi and Bojji is quite a small and round one.
His stepmother Hiling starts out the story as being quite against everything that Bojji does.
His half-brother Daido just gives off those real Geoffrey vibes, know what I mean?
His personal swords-trainer Domas prefers the pure raw strength of his half-brother.
Even his dear ol’ giant dad gives off the vibes that he sees Bojji as being crazy weak, but that he keeps Bojji as the first in line because he just loves him so much as his firstborn.
Basically - when I say no one believes in Bojji - I mean no one.
But then Kage comes along and things begin to change. Kage mugs Bojji the very first time that they meet, but then the two begin to form an odd sort of friendship and mutual respect for one another.
After developing a soft spot for Bojji, Kage then witnesses how the royal family treats Bojji and decides that he will be the one person standing in Bojji’s corner. The first person that we get to see finally believe in Bojji, at last.
However - just believing in himself is not actually enough. Despite Bojji proving that he is very, very fast and has some downright Daredevil-level amplified reflexes, when push comes shove Bojji is ousted from his rightful place as King when dear old dad kicks the bucket.
Worse yet - they don’t even tell him. In front of the whole kingdom, Bojji learns that Daida was selected as the next King.
With this bold declaration, things start to get real weird. Daida is being clearly influenced by a third party and determines a way to send his brother Bojji away to get killed by Damos.
Which Damos does - he does. Bojji should not be alive by any means. Damos yeets Bojji off the cliff in a town forever away from the kingdom and reports back to Daida that the deed has been done.
But Kage had been secretly storing himself inside Bojji’s bag and was helping protect him along the journey covertly. Now that Damos and Daida and the kingdom believed Bojji to be dead, Kage came out of hiding and is now determined to help Bojji become strong.
So they go to someone who will train Bojji, who says no. But then they go to another guy, who also says no. Well, not exactly no. The second trainer that they meet, Despa, agrees to work with Bojji out of greed, but then learns that Bojji has literally no aptitude for any strength at all. He’s 100% weak and 100% repressed - maybe by a curse idk we gotta get more episodes!
The point of all of the summary is to say this: things don’t go well for Bojji. Over and over. He gets betrayed and backstabbed constantly. He deals with a lack of belief from everyone he meets. The viewers along with Bojji genuinely have no idea who to trust. I’m on episode 13 and I think I know who the ‘big bad’ is at this point, but this show has pulled the rug out from under me enough times at this point that I just don’t know what I don’t know.
And, due to all this mess, it would be more than fair for our dear sweet Bojji to be angry. To be hateful. To want revenge. But instead he presses onward with absolute determination and - maybe not forgiveness - but an unabashed tenacity.
That’s where we find our scripture. The text for this video is a selection from the letter that Paul wrote to the churches in Rome. He wrote these letters because he was concerned he might not be able to make his usual pilgrimage to get things started from the ground up. So Romans serves as a letter of Following Jesus 101 for the early church peeps.
This chapter in particular is about living the Christian life as a living sacrifice
This is a way of relating to the religiosity of the time. Animal sacrifices certainly were not as popular during Paul’s time as in the Old Testament, but the concept remains the same. Something is offered up as an atonement for the sin and evil that has been done
In Levitical tradition, it would be extremely specific, but Paul isn’t exactly referring to tradition. Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice, as the true atonement - the ultimate atoner who would be able to take the sins of the world as the only begotten son and wrap up everything with a bow.
So we don’t need sacrifices anymore… what is Paul talking about?
Paul is saying that being a living sacrifice is our truest form of worship. It’s the way by which we actually honor God.
Now the question becomes what in the world is a living sacrifice?
As Paul begins to describe in this chapter and throughout the entirety of his penmanship, being a living sacrifice is literally changing the entirety of the way that we live our lives into a life of service to the other.
We are to become servants to those around us. This is all a reflection of the teachings of Jesus throughout the gospels. Humble service is the hallmark of Jesus’ walk as a minister, leader, and teacher. And so, if we are called to be Christians or ‘leel Christs,’ then we are also called to walk that life of humble service
But service isn’t just doing for others. After all, as Jesus said, if we were only to love those who love us, what are we really doing? You have to love those who hate you. Paul takes that idea and expands upon it in this chapter.
Blessing your persecutor, weeping with the weepers, associating with the lowly, never repaying evil for evil, never avenging yourself - living peacably with a few- nope- with some- nope -with many- nope - with ALL.
Them’s big britches to fill and Paul is clear about it. It’s no easy task - it’s a sacrifice. It means taking the natural and sometime fair reaction and throwing it out with the bathwater - go beyond the expected and be better than what others deserve. Why? Out of humble and radical servitude.
This is so amazingly exhibited in the life of Bojji. Bojji keeps pushing forward. He’s humble in knowing what he can and cannot do, but he’s also determined to push himself in every way and lean on those around him, even when they betray him. Now, he’s only human - giant - humanoid bebe giant. He’s going to fail, he’s going to have trouble trusting again, but his perceivable naivete comes across to me as being genuine and deep trust in others to the point of absolute service.
I think Bojji would actually end up being the best king in the king of rankings not only because of his sneaky-sneaky-ness, but also because of his humility and belief in the humanity of others - even when they look like this (Kage).
But what does this downright naive life of humble service mean for us today?
Well, if there is one thing that we are NOT naturally tuned into as human beings, it’s serving others. We really do have trouble putting others before ourselves, even if we think we’re good at it, odds are we have fallen short before.
Bojji can serve as an excellent example for those who have been betrayed before. Bojji never stops believing in himself. And his self-confidence leads him to have that same sense of trust in the next person that he meets. He doesn’t bring baggage along with him from those who have hurt him before. Instead, he maintains his sense of self as a gift of service towards others.
What would it take for you to drop that baggage of past trauma and move forward? Maybe you need to forgive that past person or maybe you don’t, if not you can let God deal with that mess on God’s own time. But for you - you deserve to move forward and the people you’re going to meet deserve to meet you - the whole you. The awesome you that you are, without the trauma hurting your heart.
And that’s the kind of healing that can only happen in a safe and trusted space. That’s what we want to create for nerds, geeks, and gamers over at Checkpoint Church on our Discord. So whether you’re a Giant, Leel Giant, or Shadow Clan thingy, know that you are always welcome at Checkpoint Church.
Question: What’s your favorite anime out of the Winter 2022 season so far? I’m weirdly enjoying Dress Up Darling more than I thought I would and I’m NOT enjoying Platinum End. I had such high expectations for that show. Such a bummer.
God loves you
We love you
You matter -