Ya Boy Kongming! – Episode 1

By: Meru Clewis March 31, 20220 Comments
Kongming in a crowd of Shibuya Halloween partygoers

What’s it about? Kongming, famous General of the Three Kingdoms, finds himself at death’s door with one wish: to be reborn into a peaceful world. He has no clue that said peaceful world will be modern-day Tokyo–namely, Shibuya, in the midst of a Halloween party full of party people. One of those partygoers will help him adapt to a new life where peace is the name of the game, and adventures await him.

Spring has sprung, and with it comes a bevy of new anime: Ya Boy Kongming! (stylized in all-caps as YA BOY KONGMING!, and hereafter stylized in mix case) is one of them, kicking of the series with just what I wanted: humor, heartfelt moments, and a lot of jokes surrounding the very real Kongming suddenly existing–in his full, historic garb–in modern day Tokyo. How does that all come together, you might ask? Well, let’s explore it in episode 1, “Kongming Descends Upon Shibuya.”

Kongming comments on the sound of Tsukimi Eiko's singing, thinking she's a songstress in the realm of Hell.

Episode 1 starts up in Shibuya’s infamous Halloween party with Zhuge Liang, i.e. Kongming sling-shotted into a second chance at life after meeting his demise in the Battle of Wuzhang Plains. Why Japan? Well, Kongming wished for peace, and… I suppose if we take this as a story set in modern day, Japan’s pretty dang peaceful. Kongming thinks he’s in Hell; and honestly, as someone who doesn’t like loud parties, Shibuya’s Halloween hoedown would be my personal version of eternal torture.

What’s not hellish, however is the fact that I got an AMV teaser IMMEDIATELY: I’m talking like… four minutes in. It’s the start of many of the show’s music moments, especially since Kongming is joined by “devil girl” Tsukimi Eiko, one of the many costumed party people that sweep him up into a second life of decadence, debauchery, and most importantly, a heck of a lot of fun as Kongming adjusts to the marvels of modern living.

Kongming examines himself in a mirror for the first time, only to discover he looks like he did in his youth, and not on his deathbed as a frail older man.

There’s so much to love about this show, but the first thing I’ve got to mention is Tsukimi Eiko’s VA, Hondo Kaede. Anime fans in the know might recognize Hondo as the VA for characters such as Minamoto Sakura (Zombie Land Saga), Laika (I’ve Been Killing Slimes…), and Kamado Shigeru (Demon Slayer). Video game fans can get in on the fun too, as Hondo is the VA for quite a few characters: the one  that jumps out at me most is Judgement’s Saotome Tsukino. In Ya Boy Kongming, Hondo brings her A-game in general to the emotionality of Eiko–but she’s not the one who’s singing. That honor goes to one of my favorite musicians, 96Neko, whomst I know from my on-going life as a Vocaloid utaite stan.

Now, you know me: I’m a devout idol fan, through and through. I live, breath, and eat idols. I love examining idol culture and gobble up new EPs and Singles and Albums like they’re my favorite snacks. But there’s something so enjoyable about a series centering a singer rather than an idol; and as a deuteragonist in this series, Eiko’s singing voice rises to the top as one of the best things about this premiere. It’s clear 96Neko’s put a lot of work into shaping Eiko’s voice into this really mellow, powerful sound. I really hope this series cuts an OST because I’d be all over it.

But this isn’t the only good aspect about this premiere: the entire premise is enjoyable, largely because Ya Boy Kongming just wholeheartedly leans into things. It’s goofy, it’s outrageous, and honestly, it’s all the better because the plot gives room for Kongming, a long-dead historical figure, to keep his man-out-of-time idiosyncrecies. Paired with the charming art and the genuinely solid sound design, you wind up with a premiere that you immediately want more of. And wow, did I want more of Kongming and Eiko’s friendship: in fact, I even rewatched the premiere, just to get a second taste of things.

Kongming mixes various drinks for the patrons of a bar after a quick lesson on bartending.

If you’d have told me that I’d be stanning a modern-music loving Three Kingdoms strategist come back to life in 21st century Japan, then… well, I’d have said, “Makes sense!” Kongming is hella fun, leaning into every gag it can in its twenty-four minute run. It’s sole flaw? I gotta wait an entire week for episode 2! I’m already craving more of Eiko’s growth, more of her friendship with Kongming, and I’m dying to see Kongming try on some Tokyo fashion, please and thank you. I’m also here for a show that’s quite frank about life’s hardships too, which Ya Boy Kongming’s premiere handles in spades, right alongside its more comedic moments.

Now, I will question one thing: why was Kongming, a Han (Chinese) person… isekai’d to Japan, a country with a pretty fraught relationship and history with China? There’s something there that bothers me, but as I’m Black, I can’t really speak to it. This might even be me reading too much into things, but… yeah, I did find it a bit weird, and kind of just had to handwave the plot, which… well, the plot also handwaves itself, so hey! Works out for us both.

That all said, I really liked this premiere, and am eager for more right now. Thankfully, there’s plenty of scenes living rent-free in my head that’ll tide me over until next week. The ones that come to mind immediately are:

  • Kongming’s confusion about the blockchain because… same
  • Kongming being surprised about getting isekai/second life language powers
  • Eiko getting VERY defensive about EDM
  • Kongming becoming the world’s most efficient bartender because mixing drinks is easier than making tea
  • Kongming reminding Eiko that her life and singing has purpose

In short: Ya Boy Kongming is easily in line to be my favorite thing all season. If you’re here for Three Kingdoms slice of life with lots of music and a genuine friendship that crosses time, space, history, and physics, then this is absolutely the show that you’ve been waiting for.

About the Author : Meru Clewis

Meru Clewis is a Queer Blerd JP-EN translator, transcriptionist, and writer. They're also a big fan of the manga Complex Age, the Etrian Odyssey series, the visual novel Raging Loop, and iyashikei/healing anime and manga.

You can follow their work as a professional Blerd at Backlit Pixels, read their thoughts on video games on Medium, support their work via Ko-Fi, get snapshots of their life on Instagram or keep up with them on Twitter.

Read more articles from Meru Clewis

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