The story of Kingdom is a fictional adaptation of the Chinese history period known as the Warring States period, which ended in 221 BC when Ying Zheng, king of Qin, succeeded in conquering the other states and unifying China.
Several of the characters are based on historical figures. Many times characters will take the names of people in history, and other times they will have completely different names. Oftentimes this is a result of Japanese Kanji borrowing from Chinese characters, meaning that some Chinese names have no equivalent characters in Kanji. For example, Ou Ki’s (王騎), the name is a slightly altered version of Wang Yi, 王齮, because the last character of his name, 齮, does not exist in Kanji.[clarification needed]
Born during the Warring States period of ancient China, Xin and Piao are war-orphans working as servants in a poor village in the kingdom of Qin. However, they dream to become the “Great Generals of the Heavens” and train daily. One day, Piao is taken to the palace for an unknown purpose by a minister and Xin is left behind. A few months later, Piao returns to the village on the verge of death, urging Xin to travel to another village. There, Xin meets a boy nearly identical to Piao, Ying Zheng the current King of Qin. Xin learns that Piao served as a body double for Ying Zheng and was mortally wounded in a power struggle for the throne. Though initially furious at Ying Zheng for causing Piao’s death, Xin decides to seize the opportunity and aids Ying Zheng in ousting his younger half-brother Cheng Jiao and reclaiming the Qin throne. Successful in this endeavor, Xin starts his military life as a Qin soldier and then commander on the battlefields of the warring states of China. He relentlessly pursues his goal of becoming the “Greatest General in the World”, also helping King Zheng of Qin achieve his dream of unification to end the incessant warfare once and for all.
Li Xin (李信, Ri Shin)
Voiced by: Masakazu Morita (Japanese); Cole Howard (English)
Xin (Shin in the Japanese version) is an orphan boy who grew up as a servant with his best friend Piao. Xin’s behavior is predominantly impulsive, however, he inspires his comrades and those around him. After Piao died in episode 1, Xin decides to help the King of Qin, Ying Zheng (Ei Sei), escape his enemies with the help of He Liao Diao. Xin enlists in the State of Qin army, and after demonstrating his determination and abilities, General Wang Qi (Ou Ki) appoints him as the leader of a special 100-man Fei Xin Unit (Hi Shin Unit). Appointing Qiang Lei (Kyou Kai) and Yuan (En) as his lieutenants, Xin joins Wang Qi in his attack on the State of Zhao. He develops great respect for Ying Zheng and their paths become interlocked. Following the invasion of the Wei State, he is made leader of a 1,000-man unit.
Ying Zheng (嬴政, Ei Sei)
Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama
Ying Zheng is the 31st king of the State of Qin. He states that he will unify all of China, but has only a few years to do so. There are enemies that lay beyond the Qin state (Zhao, Wie, Chu, and other nations) and internal problems with his political rivals, minister Lu Buwei, who plans to take over the throne, and the Queen Dowager. Although king, Ying Zheng has not been crowned, so his power is limited. His and Xin’s goals became unified when Xin declares that he would be Ying Zheng’s “sword” in the unification of China. He has a child with the servant woman Xiang (Kou) named Rei.
Li Piao (李漂, Ri Hyō)
Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama
Xin’s childhood best friend and fellow war orphan, Piao also aims to become a general renowned throughout all of China. His appearance is identical to King Ying Zheng and he is offered a position in the Qin palace as Zheng’s body double. He accepts the position, only to die fighting at the hands of an assassin hired by the Cheng Jiao Faction. Piao is a fictional character created by the author and does not exist in history.
He Liao Diao (河了貂, Ka Ryō Ten)
Voiced by: Rie Kugimiya (Japanese); Shannon Chan-Kent (English)
He Liao Diao (Ka Ryō Ten) is a young girl and the last descendant of a mountain tribe, but she keeps her identity a secret and dresses as a male. She joins Xin in helping Ying Zheng escape from Liu Bu’s soldiers. After witnessing Wang Qi and Xin’s war against the Zhao, she tells Shin that she will join the State of Qin Army, but he only laughs. He Liao Diao is taken in as an apprentice of strategic warfare, and later in the story, she becomes the strategist for the Fei Xin Unit. It is hinted that she has romantic feelings for Xin, however, he sees their relationship as more like brother and sister.
Qiang Lei (羌瘣, Kyō Kai)
Voiced by: Yōko Hikasa
Qiang Lei (Kyou Kai) is a superb swords-woman and an efficient killer. She is a former member of the Shi Yū (Chi You), a female assassin group in which they advance the expense of killing rival candidates. After the death of her older sister, Qiang Xiang (Kyou Shou), in a rigged series of deathmatches, Qiang Lei vowed revenge against the woman who killed her. She joined the Fei Xin Unit after its formation and became a vice commander, keeping her gender a secret. She is naive in the ways of the world but is much smarter than Xin and he relies on her for battle strategies as well as her sword skills. After Xin discovers her identity, she becomes more friendly and open towards him and she accepts her place in the unit, calling it her home. Her identity is revealed to the rest of the Fei Xin Unit after she is severely wounded in the battle against the Wei State. It is inferred that she may have romantic feelings for Xin.
Chang Wenjun (昌文君, Shōbun Kun)
Voiced by: Yutaka Nakano
Lord Chang was formerly a skilled warrior during the reign of King Zhaoxiang of Qin (King Sho) who worked his way up to be one of Qin’s Chancellors along with Lord Changping. He is also a senior adviser of the king. He is extremely loyal to Ying Zheng, aiding him in both reclaiming the throne and in the political struggle against Ying’s rival, Lü Buwei.
Bi (壁, Heki)
Voiced by: Koji Yusa
Lord Chang’s loyal subordinate. Initially, Bi was a 1,000-man commander who rose to the 3000-man commander and finally rises to the rank of General after contributing to many of Qin’s military campaigns along with Xin. Xin is shown to rely on him and he has had a crush on Yang Duan He (Yō Tan Wa) since their first meeting.