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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 series of light novels by Fuyumi Ono. The first entry in the series ("The Shadow of the Moon, The Sea of Shadow") was published in Japan in 1991; the last volume was released in 2001. The series was published by Kodansha and contains illustrations by Akihiro Yamada.

The Chinese 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 are licensed in the United States by Tokyopop and the first volume was released in hardcover in March 2007 as part of their Pop Fiction line. 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 accessible through magic. 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, the reverse is not true.


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 Empress of Kei.
2 風の海 迷宮の岸 Kaze no Umi, Meikyū no Kishi "Sea of the 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 Emperor 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 Emperor 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[1]
Yoko, Suzu and Shoukei free the Wa Province in Kei
5 図南の翼 Tonan no Tsubasa The Aspired Wings 1 Volume
February 1996 ISBN 978-4-06-255229-5
Shushou becomes Empress 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 summoning 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: "Kasho" (華胥), "Toei" (冬栄), "Shokan" (書簡), "Kizan" (帰山), "Jogetsu" (乗月)

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?). 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.[2]

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 slated for release in March 2007.[3] The first four books have been released; the current schedule is for one book a year to be released.

Title Publication date ISBN Notes
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

On April, 2007, French publisher Éditions Milan started to publish the novels. All the volumes were released:

Title Publication Date ISBN Notes
Les 12 Royaumes: La mer de l'ombre
Tome 1
Tome 2
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
Tome 1
Tome 2
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
Tome 1
Tome 2
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
Tome 1
Tome 2
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

German release

On August, 2007, Tokyopop Germany published the first novel, which contains the first two Japanese volumes.

Title Publication date ISBN Notes
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.[4]


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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.
  • "?" (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 the 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, Azure Sea of the West), episodes 41-45
A story from the past about the Emperor of En and his kirin, Enki suppressing a rebellion. 45 is mostly a recap of the previous four episodes.


  • Opening Theme - "Juunigenmukyoku"
    • Composed and arranged by Kunihiko Ryō
  • Ending Theme - "Getsumei-Fuuei"
    • Lyrics by Keiko Kitagawa
    • Composed and arranged by Tomohiko Kira
    • Performed by Mika Arisaka
  • Other music in the series was composed and arranged by Kunihiko Ryō.


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 game is 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.

See also


External links

Official sites
Unofficial sites

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