The Twelve Kingdoms
|The Twelve Kingdoms|
Cover of The Twelve Kingdoms DVD volume 1
|Written by||Fuyumi Ono|
|Illustrated by||Akihiro Yamada|
|Imprint||X Bunko White Heart|
|Original run||1992 – 2001|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tsuneo Kobayashi|
|English network|| ImaginAsian TV
GMA Network, QTV, Hero TV
K3, Canal Sur
JET TV, Super TV
|Original run||April 9, 2002 – August 30, 2003|
The Twelve Kingdoms (十二国記 Jūni Kokuki , also known as "Record of 12 Countries" or "Juuni Kokki," a common alternate reading) is a Japanese series of light novels written by Fuyumi Ono and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. The first entry in the series ("The Shadow of the Moon, The Sea of Shadow") was published by Kodansha in Japan in 1992; the last volume was released in 2001.
The Japanese mythology-influenced books were adapted into an animated television series in 2002. The Studio Pierrot production aired on Japan's NHK from April 9, 2002 to August 30, 2003, totaling 45 episodes.
The novels were licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first four volumes were released between March 2007 and November 2010 as part of their Pop Fiction line. Subsequently, the English license reverted to Kodansha USA. The entire anime series has been released on DVD in the United States by Media Blasters.
The Twelve Kingdoms tells several stories from the world of the Twelve Kingdoms, located on several islands in another dimension accessible from our world through magic (though the other way around is normally impossible). On the islands, magic works and societies similar to classical China exist. While the inhabitants of the Twelve Kingdoms are aware of the existence of our world as the lands of Hourai (Japan) and Kunlun (China), the reverse is not true. The inhabitants of the kingdoms speak a different language than the language of our world, both of which can be learned by ether side. Only extraordinary circumstances can enable the two worlds to affect each other for certain periods of time.
In this world, there are a total of thirteen lands. At the center of the world lies the Koukai (the Yellow Sea) and Mt. Hou, where the Gods communicate their will to the twelve kingdoms of the world. Each of the Twelve Kingdoms possess their own ruler and its own Kirin, a divine creature which embodies the will of heaven and is entrusted to choose a kingdom's ruler. The ruler will have immortal life as long as he keeps the kingdom healthy and their heads are not severed from their body.
The Koukai, known as the Yellow Sea, is surrounded by four inland seas: the Black Sea in the north, the Blue Sea to the east, the Red Sea in the south, and the White Sea to the west. Eight of the Twelve Kingdoms (Kei, En, Ryu, Kyou, Han, Sai, Sou, and Kou) border at least one of these four seas, extending from the center like the petals of a flower. The remaining four kingdoms (Tai, Hou, Ren, and Shun) are not part of the central mainland and are isolated by the Kyokai (虚海) (Void Sea) which surrounds the lands of the Twelve Kingdoms.
One of the major stories of the series centers around a girl named Yoko Nakajima from Japan who is suddenly transported to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms and searches for her destiny. However, neither the series nor the anime concentrates solely on Yoko, and they do tell stories of other characters. The anime uses Yoko as a framing device for telling other stories, while the novels do not.
The novels focus on several characters other than Yoko, including Taiki, a timid rare black Kirin who serves the ruler of Tai, and Enki and Shouryuu, the kirin and King of En, respectively. Other major characters include Keiki, the blunt and apparently cold minister of Kei who brings Yoko to the Twelve Kingdoms; Gyousou, a general chosen by Taiki to become King of Tai; Shushou, the Queen of Kyou; Shoukei, the disposed princess of Hou, and Suzu, a peasant girl who is unexpectedly transported from Japan to the Twelve Kingdoms.
Each of the Twelve Kingdoms has a monarch and a kirin, a mythological beast who first selects, and then serves, the monarch of his or her kingdom, and can assume human form. Though only a few rulers and kirin are in the main focus of the story, many are encountered in the series and play a significant role.
There are seven novels in the Twelve Kingdoms series, including one short story collection. The novels are illustrated by Akihiro Yamada. Some of the novels have been published in two volume editions such that the total number of volumes consists of eleven books.
|Book||Kanji title||Romaji title||Original title, literal translation||Notes|
|Publication date||ISBN||English publication title|
|1||月の影 影の海||Tsuki no Kage, Kage no Umi||"Shadow of the Moon, The Sea of Shadow"||2 Volumes|
|June 1992 (Volume 1)
July 1992 (Volume 2)
|ISBN 978-4-06-255071-0 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-4-06-255072-7 (Volume 2)
|The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow|
|Yoko becomes the monarch of Kei.|
|2||風の海 迷宮の岸||Kaze no Umi, Meikyū no Kishi||"Sea of Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth"||2 Volumes|
|March 1993 (Volume 1)
April 1993 (Volume 2)
|ISBN 978-4-06-255114-4 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-4-06-255120-5 (Volume 2)
|The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind|
|Taiki chooses the ruler of Tai|
|3||東の海神 西の滄海||Higashi no Watatsumi, Nishi no Sōkai||"Sea God in the East, Vast Sea in the West"||1 Volume|
|June 1994||ISBN 978-4-06-255168-7||The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas|
|The King of En suppresses a rebellion.|
|4||風の万里 黎明の空||Kaze no Banri, Reimei no Sora||A Thousand Miles of Wind, The Sky at Dawn||2 Volumes|
|July 1994 (Volume 1)
September 1994 (Volume 2)
|ISBN 978-4-06-255175-5 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-4-06-255178-6 (Volume 2)
|The Twelve Kingdoms: Skies of Dawn|
|Yoko, Suzu and Shoukei free the Wa Province in Kei|
|5||図南の翼||Tonan no Tsubasa||The Aspiring Wings||1 Volume|
|February 1996||ISBN 978-4-06-255229-5|
|Shushou becomes ruler of Kyou.|
|6||黄昏の岸 暁の天||Tasogare no Kishi, Akatsuki no Sora||The Shore at Twilight, The Sky at Daybreak||2 Volumes|
|May 2001 (both volumes)||ISBN 978-4-06-255546-3 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-4-06-255550-0 (Volume 2)
|Risai meets Yoko to request help in finding Taiki.|
|7||華胥の幽夢||Kasho no Yume||The Dream of Prosperity|
|September 2001||ISBN 978-4-06-255573-9|
|Five short stories, set in Tai, Hou, Kei, Sai and Sou: "Toei" (冬栄), "Jogetsu" (乗月), "Shokan" (書簡), "Kasho" (華胥), "Kizan" (帰山)|
Before she started work on Twelve Kingdoms, Fuyumi Ono wrote The Demonic Child (魔性の子 Mashō no Ko ) (September 1991, ISBN 978-4-10-124021-3), a horror novel about a boy from another world. She later worked certain events from this novel into the Twelve Kingdoms series. Short stories set in the various kingdoms include Kasho (華胥), Toei (冬栄), Shokan (書簡), Kizan (帰山) and Jogetsu (乗月); these stories have been collected into one volume, Kasho no Yume. One short story, Drifting Ship (漂舶 Hyouhaku ), published in 1997, accompanied the drama CD for Higashi no Watatsumi, Nishi no Sōkai and remains uncollected elsewhere. In February 2008, the new Twelve Kingdoms short story, Hisho no Tori (丕緒の鳥) was published in Shinchosha's Yomyom magazine, followed by Rakusho no Goku (落照の獄) in September 2009.
U.S. release 
On May 11, 2006, U.S. publisher Tokyopop said in an interview with comic book news website Newsarama that it would be publishing the novels under its "Pop Fiction" imprint. The first book was released in March 2007. The first four books have been released; after the licencing rights to the series reverted to Kodansha, the English publication status of the fifth book and onward will be dependent on Kodansha USA.
|The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow||March 2007 (Hardcover)
February 2008 (Paperback)
|ISBN 978-1-59816-946-1 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4278-0257-6 (paperback)
|The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Wind||March 2008 (Hardcover)
February 2009 (Paperback)
|ISBN 978-1-59816-947-8 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4278-0258-3 (paperback)
|The Twelve Kingdoms: The Vast Spread of the Seas||March 2009 (Hardcover)
November 2009 (Paperback)
|ISBN 978-1-59816-948-5 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4278-0259-0 (paperback)
|The Twelve Kingdoms: Skies of Dawn||March 2010 (Hardcover)
November 2010 (Paperback)
|ISBN 978-1-59816-949-2 (hardcover)
ISBN 978-1-4278-0260-6 (paperback)
French release 
In April 2007, French publisher Éditions Milan started to publish the novels. All the volumes were released:
|Les 12 Royaumes: La mer de l'ombre
||April 2007 (both volumes)||ISBN 978-2-7459-2045-4 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-2-7459-2460-5 (Volume 2)
|Les 12 Royaumes: Le rivage du labyrinthe
||June 2007 (both volumes)||ISBN 978-2-7459-2046-1 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-2-7459-2461-2 (Volume 2)
|Les 12 Royaumes: La majesté des mers||September 2007||ISBN 978-2-7459-2059-1|
|Les 12 Royaumes: Le vent de l'infini
||June 2008 (both volumes)||ISBN 978-2-7459-2060-7 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-2-7459-2462-9 (Volume 2)
|Les 12 Royaumes: Les ailes du destin||June 2008||ISBN 978-2-7459-2061-4|
|Les 12 Royaumes: La rive du crépuscule
||November 2008 (both volumes)||ISBN 978-2-7459-2062-1 (Volume 1)
ISBN 978-2-7459-3177-1 (Volume 2)
|Les 12 Royaumes: Le Royaume de l'Idéal||April 2009||ISBN 978-2-7459-2063-8|
|Les 12 Royaumes: L'être de l'autre monde||June 2010||ISBN 978-2-7459-3307-2||This is actually the translation of Mashō no Ko (魔性の子)|
German release 
In August 2007, Tokyopop Germany published the first novel, which contains the first two Japanese volumes.
|Die Zwölf Königreiche: Der Schatten des Mondes ~ Das Meer der Schatten||August 1, 2007||ISBN 978-3-86719-191-3||This contains the first two Japanese volumes|
|Die Zwölf Königreiche: Das Meer des Windes ~ Am Rande des Labyrinthes||February 21, 2008||ISBN 978-3-86719-192-0||This contains volumes 3 & 4 of the Japanese edition|
|Die Zwölf Königreiche: Der Östliche Meeresgott ~ Das Blaue Meer im Westen||August 17, 2009||ISBN 978-3-86719-193-7||This contains the fifth and sixth volumes of the Japanese original|
|Die Zwölf Königreiche: Tausend Meilen des Windes ~ Himmel im Morgengrauen||April 15, 2010||ISBN 978-3-86719-194-4||This contains the seventh and eighth volumes of the Japanese original|
Anime adaptation 
The anime casts Yoko Nakajima, a Japanese girl who is suddenly transported to another world and eventually discovers that she is the empress of the kingdom of Kei, in the role of the main character; however, in the novels, Yoko is only one of many main characters and her story is focused upon in only two novels.
The anime focuses on the Kingdom of Kei and the events surrounding it. Several of the other countries are introduced, the most prominent being Kou, En and Tai, while Kyou, Hou, Sai and Ryuu play a minor role compared to the other three. The rest of the kingdoms are only introduced by name and a brief description of the current ruler and taiho. The anime also introduced the characters Asano and Sugimoto to accompany Yoko to the Twelve Kingdoms. Their role is to externalize some of Yoko's problems that were internal in the novels.
|This section requires expansion. (January 2009)|
The anime closely follows Yoko and is divided into the following parts:
- "Tsuki no Kage, Kage no Umi" (Shadow of the Moon, Sea of Shadow), episodes 1-13
- Yoko travels to the world of Juuni Kokki, develops as a person and starts to embrace her new destiny.
- "Tsuki no Kage, Kage no Umi Tenshou" (Shadow of the Moon, Sea of Shadow: Chapter of Recollection), episode 14
- Mostly a recap of the episodes 1-13.
- "Kaze no Umi, Meikyuu no Kishi" (Sea of Wind, Shore of the Labyrinth), episodes 15-21
- Partial story of the black Kirin, Taiki.
- "Shokan" (Correspondence), episode 22
- Yoko and Rakushun correspond by bird, and we see how they settle into their positions in Kei and En. Based on the short story Shokan (書簡).
- "Kaze no Banri, Reimei no Sora" (A Thousand Miles of Wind, The Sky at Dawn), episodes 23-39
- The story of Suzu, Shoukei, and Yoko as they struggle with a rebellion in Wa Province of Kei.
- "Jougetsu" (Ally of the Moon), episode 40
- Short closing of past events in the Kingdom of Hou. Based on the short story Jogetsu (乗月).
- "Higashi no Wadatsumi, Nishi no Soukai" (Sea God of the East, Vast Sea of the West), episodes 41-45
- A story from the past about the King of En and his kirin, Enki suppressing a rebellion. 45 is mostly a recap of the previous four episodes.
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
- Opening Theme - "Juunigenmukyoku"
- Composed and arranged by Kunihiko Ryo
- Ending Theme - "Getsumei-Fuuei"
- Other music in the series was composed and arranged by Kunihiko Ryo.
Kunihiko Ryo's instrumental opening theme “Jūni Genmukyoku” has been praised for its "sweeping score" that suits "the high fantasy series very well." The end of the song has also been praised for having an "exciting" sound similar to later "swashbuckling main themes" for the Pirates of the Caribbean (2003-2011) film soundtracks and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006) video game soundtrack.
Kodansha printed a fifteen-volume "animanga" series in 2002-2004 by combining images from the anime series with printed dialogue and sound effects. To date, this has been released only in Japanese.
Konami has released in Japan two games based on Twelve Kingdoms, both produced by Takashi Shimomichi. They are Juuni Kokuki: Guren no Shirobe Koujin no Michi and Juuni Kokuki: Kakukakutaru Oudou Kouryoku no Uka. Both games contain footage from the anime and many stills of the characters are used during conversation and during battle. The games are sprite-based, with small sprites used on-screen and larger, highly animated sprites used during battle.
Juuni Kokuki: Guren no Shirobe Koujin no Michi was released for PlayStation 2 on August 28, 2003. It follows Yoko's journey to becoming Empress of Kei. While classified as an RPG, it is often described as an adventure game. The game was re-released in Konami's The Best lineup on June 9, 2004. Yoko is capable of summoning Keiki's Shirei into battle as well as having additional party members.
Juuni Kokuki: Kakukakutaru Oudou Kouryoku no Uka was released for PlayStation 2 on April 4, 2004 and is a sequel to the first game, continuing with Yoko's problems after she becomes the Kei Empress. Game data from the first game can be loaded into the second. This game contains more RPG elements than the first with party-/menu-based battles becoming standard. Many of the event scenes are pulled from the novels but there are also scenes made just for the game.
- Official English release of volume 4 uses the title The Twelve Kingdoms: Skies of Dawn
- The 40-page story that accompanies the drama CD of "Higashi no Watatsumi, Nishi no Soukai (東の海神 西の滄海)"
- Yom Yom Official site
- "More on Tokyopop's YA Fiction Line" from Newsarama.
- "Translator Notes by Yamamoto Davey", Twelve Kingdoms - Chapter 3 - Coup, Media Blasters.
- Griffith, Jennifer (27 June 2012). "Awesome Anime Openings". The High Notes. The G.A.M.E.S. Blog. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- Official sites
- Unofficial sites
- The Twelve Kingdoms (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- The Twelve Kingdoms at the Internet Movie Database
- The Twelve Kingdoms Wiki, an external wiki