Q&A with Shinzo Matsuhashi and Kento Yamazaki, recipient of the Best from the East Award

For the legions of devotees of the Kingdom saga for the past five years—and newcomers as well—the historical juggernaut about China’s warring states era has officially reached towering new heights with its thunderous fourth chapter. Shinsuke Sato’s latest manga-to-film battlefield epic, whose previous chapters have reaped multiple awards, is a maelstrom of clashing swords, deafening cavalry charges, and Machiavellian court intrigue. Megastar Kento Yamazaki, this year’s Best from the East Awardee, is magnetic as the ascendant warrior Shin, finally leading his elite Hishin unit into their baptism by fire against the dreaded Cho forces while facing overwhelming odds. Grandly scaled action sequences are matched by an undercurrent of deeply felt humanity as Sato expertly intercuts the orgiastic spectacle of massive armies and rolling heads with quiet interludes charting Shin’s bond with childhood friend Eisei (Ryo Yoshizawa). The rousing battles hit like a war hammer, but it’s the stirring emotion that truly conquers. For manga fans and action aficionados alike, Kingdom: Return of the Great General is a gargantuan, soul-rousing wonder—a work of operatic grandeur where swords aren’t merely crossed but forged into immortal art.

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