There can be no doubt that the bubble of Youko is the biggest. She is the main character and this novel is talking about her adventure in the unknown world. Youko is regarded as a Kaikyaku after she went to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms. She was both hunted by the youma and the people in country Kou, because the king of Kou dislike Kaikyaku and Hanjyuu (a half-beast that has both a human and an animal form).
Youko is facing the youma.
And the second large bubble is Rakushun, Youko’s close friend, who is a shapeshifter. When Youko’s strength gave out and fell into a coma, Rakushun took her home, rather than reporting her to the local ruler. Though Youko was initially distrustful of Rakushun, he patiently took care of Youko. He is very intelligent and knowledgeable, teaching Youko essential skills on how to live in the world.
Youko went to the peaceful and prosperous country of En to find a way back to Japan, accompanied by Rakushun. During the travel, they became close friends. Also, the line between them is the thickest in the chart. The number is 117 times that they appeared together in the novel.
Rakushun took care of Youko.
The third biggest bubble is the sword, Suiguutou. It’s a sword that can be wielded only by the king of Kei. Its most dangerous ability is the power to present visions of past and future, and of places far-away to bewitch the wielder.
Sword and scabbard seal each other. The scabbard controls the sword's visions and prevents people from drawing the sword. The sword prevents the monkey spirit from getting loose. Youko loses the scabbard, and thus gets taunted by both visions and the monkey until she kills the monkey and picks up the dead scabbard.
Youko prepares to use the sword to kill the youma.
The fourth biggest bubble is Keiki, appearing 181 times and being highly related to Youko with 35 times when they show up together in the novel. As the kirin of the country Kei, Keiki should be more tightly linked with Youko. That’s because Keiki was captured and enchanted by Kourin, the kirin of Kou, according to the requirement of the king of Kou. In this case, Keiki is unable to speak, or return to human form. The king of Kou supported the sister of the previous empress of Kei as the fake empress. And Keiki remained a prisoner of the fake empress until Youko, aided by the King of En, rescues him and frees him from his enchantment.
After liberating Kei, Keiki and Youko focus on statecraft and politics. They are trying their best to rebuild this country.
Youko saved Keiki
Unlike the first novel, this one has three main characters. We can see the bubble of Suzu is the biggest, 634. The second bubble represents Shoukei, 553. The third biggest one is Youko, 464. Suzu and Shoukei wanted to see the empress of Kei because they are similar-age gils, so we can see their bubbles are linked by "Imperial Kei" and "girl".
At the beginning of the story, Suzu thought she was the most miserable person in the world, because she can’t talk with other people as a Kaikyaku. Then Suzu was forced to endure a great deal of abuse from her lord, Riyou. In the chart, Suzu and Riyou appeared together 42 times. She believed Youko can make her happy because Youko is a Kaikyaku too, and Youko is the powerful empress of country Kei. In this case, she left to see Youko.
She was changed by a young boy called Seishu on her way to the country of Kei. Seishu lost his parents by youma’s attacks. He was also heavily injured by the attack. The injury gradually grows worse and is the source of seizures and his failing eyesight. Even though his situation was so terrible, he always faced life with a smile. He pointed out Suzu made no actual effort to try to change those circumstances and only moped about how unfortunate she was. Suzu gradually recognized her mistake and they became friends.
Seishu and Suzu
However, Seishu is deliberately run over by the carriage of the prefecture's praetor, Shoukou, for collapsing in the carriage's path. Suzu swore to avenge Seishu by killing Shoukou and the empress of Kei for her inaction. She was quickly recruited by the leader of the Shisui rebels, Koshou. Suzu and Koshou appeared together 54 times. They fought together to overthrow the rule of Shoukou.
Seishu is run over by the carriage.
Shoukei used to be the princess of the Kingdom of Hou. Her father was killed due to Shitsudou. And she quickly became a poor, heavy manual worker, hated by Hou’s people. In the beginning, she deeply hated Gekkei, because Gekkei killed her parents. She thought Gekkei stole the throne, robbed her jewelry, beautiful clothes. She heard the new empress of Kei is a girl of similar age with her. She was very jealous. She wanted to take advantage of Youko. In this case, she stole some jewelry to make her way to Kei.
Shoukei met Rakushun on the way. She felt mortified and irritated when she found Rakushun knows more about Hou than her. Her father executed nearly 300,000 citizens in Hou for petty crimes and trivial problems in the final year of his reign. And she didn’t know about that. She recognized she just enjoyed the life of princess, but not took the responsibility as a princess. It’s more shameful than wearing in rags.
Shoukei feels shame.
After arriving Kei, Shoukei witnessed a man condemned to be crucified in the Wa Province. Reminded of her father's own brutality, she throws a rock at the executioners to stop them from killing the poor man. Then she was chased by guards until she was saved by Kantai. After that, Shoukei joined rebels revolting against Shoukou, the corrupt governor of Wa.
From the chart, we can clearly notice that the biggest bubble is Risai. Risai appeared 643 times in this novel. Because she fled to country Kei to beg Youko to find Taiki. When Youko agreed to her request, she fell into a coma due to terrible injury. When she woke up, she lost her right arm due to serious injuries in exile. But she didn’t care. Risai was more worried about Taiki.
Youko is talking with Risai.
You can see the number of times between Risai and Taiki appear together. It is the thickest line in this novel with 67 times. Risai missed Taiki so much. The second thickest line is the relationship between Youko and Risai. Youko keeps telling the progress of finding Taiki to Risai. And Risai is very grateful for Youko’s help.
Taiki is the second biggest bubble in the novel. Seven kings and kirins stood together to help the country Tai. They found out Taiki invoked meishoku, a special small Shoku, before Taiki’s missing. Meishoku happens when the kirin is under extreme stress or danger.
Taiki went back to Japan and lost his memory as a kirin after his horn cut.
In fact, Taiki’s horn was cut by Asen, the Tai's strongest military commanders, trusted by the king, Gyousou, as a brother. From the chart, we can find that the bubble representing Asen is linked with “Taiki”, “Gyousou”, “Risai” and “emperor”. Asen grievously betrayed the king, Gyousou, and usurped the throne.
Because Taiki’s horn was cut, and the horn is the source of kirin’s power, Taiki was so painful of losing his horn and created meishoku. And because Taiki was deeply hurt, he lost the memory as a kirin, regarding himself as a normal boy in Japan.
After seven kings and kirins deciding to help the country Tai, Rokuta, Keiki, Renrin went to Japan many times to find Taiki. Especially Renrin used the royal treasure of Ren, a bracelet called the gogoukanda to find Taiki. Because gogoukanda can open a portal to Japan without causing a Shoku, it is instrumental in bringing Taiki back to the Twelve Kingdoms.
Taiki went to Ren with Renrin on a diplomatic visit 6 years ago.
At the end of this novel, Taiki was successfully brought back to the world of the Twelve Kingdoms. Taiki and Risai were very grateful to other kings and kirins. Even if Taiki lost his power, he still decided to go back to country Tai to find his lord, Gyousou, and save his country. It’s a duty as a kirin. Risai was worried that she can’t protect Taiki since she lost her right arm. But Taiki persuaded her and they bravely took to the roads leading to the home.
As the most important character in this novel, it’s no doubt that Shushou appeared the most times, which are 713 times. At the beginning of the novel, Shushou pretended to mindlessly spill her soup on her servant girl’s clothes. Then she exchanged her clothes with her maid, Keika. Because she knew it would be dangerous to dress up to the nines as a child after leaving home. Because the country Kyou was very chaotic since the old king died.
Shushou is riding Hakuto for Shouzan.
After taking the opportunity to leave home, Shushou pretended to be a footman, who is sending the moukyoku, Hakuto , to her lord. The ride went off successfully until closing to Yellow Sea. However, the Hakuto was stolen by a group of criminals. Shushou was angry and disappointed. But she didn’t give up. Instead, she was looking for a goushi before going to the Yellow Sea. Shushou knew the road will be very dangerous in the Yellow Sea, full of youma. But she had to pass through the Yellow Sea to Mount Hou. Many people died on the way of Shouzan. Luckily, Gankyuu appeared.
It’s obvious that Gankyuu is the second important character in the novel, appearing 522 times. The link between Shushou and him is also the thickest, with 150 times. They are always staying together in the novel.
Shushou was forcibly hired Gankyuu to be her goushi.
Gankyuu is a youma hunter. He is familiar with the dangers of the Yellow Sea surrounding Mount Hou. During his first meeting with Shushou, she forcibly hired him to be her goushi when she insists on Shouzan. Unable to persuade her otherwise, he reluctantly went along with her, initially believing she will be intimidated into giving up upon reading the foot of the mountain because she acted entirely on the impulses of a child. Nevertheless, he was gradually changed by Shushou, and through she can be the new empress of Kyou.
The small group was joint by Rikou, a young man from Sou, who befriended Shushou before she hired Gankyuu as her goushi and decides to come along to protect Shushou as well. We can see the links among Shushou, Gankyuu, and Rikou are very thick. They supported each other and fought against youma to go through the Yellow Sea.
Compared with other competitors, like Kiwa, Shushou showed calm logic, clear wisdom. And she didn’t leave other people behind when the youma is tracking them. In fact, she let herself be bait and led those people to kill the youma. She came back several times when she was between death and life.
Shushou tried to escape from the youma's hands.
In contrast to our brave, wise girl Shushou, Kiwa showed a totally different picture. Kiwa appeared 116 times in the novel, showing up with Shushou 36 times. Though Kiwa seemed to be charitable and well-prepared at the start, he exposed himself as increasingly foolish and self-serving throughout the journey. He brought an excessively large retinue of servants and material goods to ensure his comfort and as gifts for Kyouki. Even in the most dangerous situations, Kiwa refused to part with the caravan that he travels in. He eventually fled with his caravan, abandoning his retinue to the dangers of the Yellow Sea.
At the end of the novel, when Shushou arrived in Mount Hou, the kirin, Kyouki, walked up to her and knelt down, telling her “I could sense your Imperial spirit all the way from Mount Hou.” Gankyuu, Rikou and other people were very happy. To their surprise, the little girl biffed the big man across the top of his head.
“Then why didn’t you show up when I was born, you darned silly fool!”
After that, Shushou has ruled Kyou over 90 years.
Shushou is talking with Kyouki.
Rokuta and Shouryuu
The answer is that Rokuta was kidnapped by Kouya. Kouya is Rokuta’s great friend when they were young. They were both abandoned by parents, hoping to live in a peaceful country. However, Kouya became Atsuyu’s subordinate. And Atsuyu attempted a rebellion against Shouryuu. To frustrate Shouryuu, Kouya dispatched Kouya to kidnap Rokuta to province Gen. But Kouya didn’t hurt Rokuta. They nearly stayed together through the novel. We can get evidence that the line between them is the thickest, with 76 times. Kouya is also the second biggest bubble, appearing 335 times in the novel.
Atsuyu took in homeless Kouya.
The third biggest bubble is the word "emperor". That’s because the story is around the fight between Atsuyu and Shouryuu. Atsuyu wanted to be above the emperor, while Shouryuu had to stop him. An interesting thing is that the relationship between Atsuyu and emperor is thicker than the relationship between Shouryuu and emperor, which means Atsuyu mentioned “emperor” more times, even if he said he never wanted to be a king.
The fourth biggest bubble is Atsuyu, appearing 269 times. Atsuyu was loved and esteemed in Gen during the period of no king. However, things were changed after the reign of Shouryuu. Other provinces became richer under Shouryuu, while the province Gen gradually fell behind.
Atsuyu hated the new king replacing his role, so he used an excuse to incite his people against the king. People supported him because of trusting Atsuyu. Atsuyu imprisoned the king's consul, Ribi, and Rokuta to Gen to threaten the king. Shouryuu didn’t agree with his terms. In response, Shouryuu’s army built levees for Gen, resolving the primary concern of Gen's people to win their hearts, instead of going against Gen. Atsuyu gradually lost support for his rebellion, then died in the one-on-one duel with Shouryuu.
I also want to mention Ribi, who was imprisoned with Rokuta, sacrificed herself to make Rokuta getaway. She appeared 69 times in the novel. Rokuta used to suspect the king will be a warmonger, destroying the country. Ribi told him to trust Shouryuu, because Shouryuu cherishes every En’s people.
Ribi snapped the thread on Rokuta’s forehead and sacrificed herself.
At the end of the novel, Shouryuu promised he will give Kouya a country En without youma’s attack, so that Kouya and his youma can comfortably live in En. He also promised to give Rokuta a prosperous kingdom with green mountains and fields, where nobody goes hungry and nobody freezes, where people live in houses that shelter them from the rain and heavy dews, where no parent ever has to abandon a child. After 500 years, that’s what the country En looks like.
Rokuta is running in En
Even through five stories are not directly linked with each other, we can still clearly find out that they focus on the kings and kirins.
Toei means winter glory. It’s set shortly after Gyousou’s accession to the throne. Taiki goes on a diplomatic visit to Ren to thank Renrin for helping return him to Mount Hou. Taiki asked the king of Ren and Renrin about how to help the king to run the country.
As the main character, it’s no doubt that Taiki is the biggest bubble. Even if Taiki is just ten years old. He also needs to help Gyousou with tons of political things, as the kirin of the country Tai.
Seirai is the second largest bubble because he is Taiki's Fushou, a personal tutor in politics. That’s why the relationships between Gyousou and Taiki, Taiki and Seirai are both close. Taiki feels himself useless. In this case, Gyousou tells him to meet with Renrin, learning from another kirin and king.The king of Ren, Seitaku, used to be a farmer before chosen by Renrin. He taught Taiki don’t be hasty, do things he can. His words relax Taiki. Gyousou is also glad to see his change.
Taiki, Renrin and Seitaku
Jogetsu means ally of the moon. It’s set shortly after the second book, A Thousand Leagues of Wind, the Sky at Dawn. Shoukei helped Youko overthrow the tyranny of Shoukou. Gekkei receives and reads Shoukei’s letter.
As the main character, Gekkei appeared 159 times. The second biggest bubble is Shouyou, who is the chousai of the country Hou. Gekkei refuses to lead the provisional government out of the guilt he killed the king to end the tyrannical rule. In this case, Shouyou is appointed in Gekkei's place.
However, Shoukei's letter changed Gekkei's idea. “I should be punished,” she wrote, “And I'm really ashamed with my dereliction of duty as a princess.” Shoukei hopes he can lead Hou’s people continue to live.
Gekkei is reading the letter under the moon.
After reading this letter, Gekkei decides to guide people as the temporary king. Shouyou is visibly pleased when Gekkei finally agrees to lead the court of Hou as a "court of the moon" until a new ruler is chosen.
Shokan means a letter. It’s set slightly after the first book, Shadow of the Moon, a Shadow of Shadows. Youko just accessed to the throne, while Rakushun became a student at the daigaku in the country En.
It’s a short story. So even the most important character, Rakushun , also just appears 62 times. Youko and Rakushun exchange letters regarding their new circumstances. Both of them met some troubles but they believe each other can successfully overcome difficulties. Youko and Rakushun are linked by the word “bird”. That’s because they used a typical bird to exchange letters. The bird can mimic, recall their voice and retell to another.
The bird is retelling what Youko said to Rakushun.
It'a the longest story in the book. Kashokada (華胥華朶) means resplendant branch of Kasho, which is a royal treasure of the kingdom of Sai. Its name, "kasho" (華胥), refers a dream a legendary Chinese emperor once had of an ideal country called the "Land of Kasho" (華胥の国, Kasho no Koku); the expression "kasho" gradually came to mean a "dream of paradise."
The treasure is a jewelled branch that allows the holder to see a vision of paradise. However, the visions presented by the kashokada are subjective; each individual who uses the kashokada will see what a paradise according to their own beliefs and desires for what an ideal world would be.
As the most important character, Shishou, who was regarded as an ideal king, presented the treasure to his kirin, Sairin, as a promise to create a kingdom that would match her dreams. However, Sairin became increasingly distressed that the kingdom failed to match the kingdom of her dreams and contracted shitsudou. Even if his great friends Shuka, Seiki, Junkou tried their best to help him, they still can't stop him losing his way.
Shishou is on the court.
With the indirect encouragement of his cousin Eishuku, Shishou's belief that the kingdom was on the path to prosperity was cemented from his own visions from the kashokada until Shishou realized his own follies and abdicated from the throne.
Until the death of Shishou, Shuka recoginzed why they lost their way, why they didn't contribute to build a great country, based on Shinshi's advice.
Kizan means the home to the mountain. It’s set shortly after the second book, A Thousand Leagues of Wind, the Sky at Dawn. It’s like the supplementary instruction for Rikou.
Rikou, the second prince of Sou, investigates the conditions in Ryuu in his current bout of travelling and encounters Shouryuu, an acquaintance Rikou has met several times during his travels over many centuries. Shouryuu used a fake name Fuukan for travel. After investigation, they both conclude that the king of Ryuu is losing his way. Rikou returns to Sou to reveal the current state of the other eleven kingdoms to his family.
Hisho no Tori means the birds of Hisho. It’s set shortly before Youko's enthronement as the new empress of Kei. Hisho is the main character, who is an artisan responsible for the ceremony called Sekichou, celebrating her ascension. As the officer who witnessed three monarch’s shitsudou, he tries a typical way to convey his thought through ceremony.
The biggest bubble is Hisho with 175 times. He works with his friend, Seikou, to prepare a unique Sekichou, creating beautiful bird ornaments to be flown up and shot down. Their mission is to warn the third empress, Youko, to take care of people. Because people are as vulnerable as those small birds. But they are also as beautiful as those birds when they can freely fly in the sky.
Hisho is watching flying birds.
Rakushou no Goku means the prison of declining light. It’s set in Ryuu. Primarily told through a bureaucrat named Eikou, officials in the Ministry of Fall struggle with whether or not they should revive the death penalty to convict an apathetic serial killer named Shudatsu.
As the main character, Eikou is the biggest bubble, then the second largest bubble is the serial killer, Shudatsu. Eikou, Jokyuu and Sotsuyuu are responsible for the case. As the officials attempt to discover Shudatsu's motives, they are increasingly alarmed and resigned that Ryuu's system of law is declining and no longer able to appropriately deliver justice.
Eikou is struggled with the case.
Seijou no Ran means blue-lined orchid. It focuses on Hyouchuu a minor government official in En who struggles to fulfill his duty to save his people and his country. The story is set around the time Shouryuu ascends the throne.
As the main character, Hyouchuu appeared 283 times in the story, as the biggest bubble. The second largest bubble is “tree”, not people. That’s because the beech trees got struck down by a strange disease. Since a lot of beech trees died, animals escaped from the mountain and hit people in the town, and the crop didn’t grow up due to the nearby land lack of the ability of storing water.
Hyouchuu, his friend Houkou, and a Yaboku hunter called Kyoukei, grouped together to find a solution. They noticed a blue-lined orchid can help to cure the beech trees. In this case, Hyouchuu steps on a long journey to send those orchids to their new empress of the country En.
Orchid is growing on the dead tree.
Fuushin means wind sign. It follows the story of Renka, a girl who is orphaned as a result of Jokaku's edict to exile all the women in Kei. She tried to pass through the tough time, winter, with officer weatherman, Shikyou.
Renka found out the spring is coming.
Bilibili is a Chinese video sharing website based in Shanghai, themed around animation, comic, and game (ACG). It’s like Chinese YouTube, but with a special feature—a real-time commentary subtitle system that displays user comments as streams of moving subtitles overlaid on the video playback screen. Such subtitles are simultaneously broadcast to all viewers in real-time, creating a chat room experience in which users feel like watching and playing together with others.
On-time bullet screen comments fly from right to left on the screen.
As for The Twelve Kingdoms anime, it has over 4,437,000 views in Bilibili. Over 106,000 screen bullets will stay with viewers when they watch the anime.
Usually, the comments will dramatically increase when that is the climax of the episode. In this case, I calculate the number of bullet screen comments per minute to get the answer. Below is the distribution of bullet screen comments in each episode.
Here is a one minute video with the largest amount of bullet screen comments in Episode 01.
In episode 01, it’s the first time Youko met with Keiki. Fans teased Keiki is the worst kirin in communication. And they call Keiki “cake” because the sound of Keiki is similar to cake. Also, some fans said we should cherish the time Youko is still girly. In the future, the role of Youko and Keiki will be turned around.