King of Bandits Jing is a series of short, usually disconnected stories starring the young boy who calls himself Jing, the Bandit King. Although Jing's reputation seems to extend throughout the universe of the series, many enemies underestimate him, not expecting the "great" King of Bandits to be a "little kid".
The stories vary a great deal, especially between the initial manga series and the sequel series, King of Bandit Jing: Twilight Tales. In the initial series, stories often border on comical and cartoonish. Each arc includes a new treasure or object that Jing is seeking, a woman or girl (affectionately referred to as "Jing girls") who accompanies him somewhere along the way on his quest for this item, and an enemy that either wants to protect what it is he intends to steal, or get to it before he does. Settings also vary; Jing travels to a clockwork city, a desert with living lava, and even deliberately gets himself arrested to steal something from inside a maximum security prison, among other fantastic locales. He always escapes in the end of each arc, and always manages to steal his target, although not always in the way that the characters or the reader expects. Each arc also features the upset of some restrictive societal norm thanks to Jing's intervention; rulers are dethroned, prison riots are caused, an entire corrupt religion is reduced to shambles. This could be taken as a look at the "benefits" of lawlessness and chaos when faced with corrupt and stagnant law, but it is left up to the reader to decide--at no time is Jing described as anything other than a thief. There is no doubt that Jing leaves the lives of more than one person shaken in his wake, often inverting their world views. Additionally, none of the Jing girls ever follow him out of their specific arc--but there are occasionally implications of continued contact, such as the end of the Pompier arc when Fino receives a letter from Kir via post mail.
Twilight Tales, a series of six volumes, takes a great leap in terms of both art and writing for Kumakura. The alcohol-themed names are more obscure, the stories take a more serious tone, and the art is much more mature and highly contrasted and dramatic. There are far fewer super deformed expressions, and Jing seems more composed. Ages are never given for any of the characters, so it is impossible to tell how much time passes between the original series and TT, if any at all. While there is still typically a Jing girl in each arc, they are no longer as prominent as they were before, and Jing's relationships with his 'enemies' become more complicated and are no longer so clear-cut (many are "redeemed" rather than defeated). The theme of disrupting corrupt social structures, however, remains, which is interesting considering that Jing no longer manages to steal every treasure he sets out after in the arcs. In Twilight Tales, more often than not, Jing actually winds up fighting the sought object, or having to destroy it in some way. There is also a short arc featuring Jing's past that contains no Jing girl at all, nor a treasure, unlike the other "childhood" arc in the original series that featured both. In both these childhood arcs, Jing is already calling himself the King of Bandits.
There is no fixed ending for either series. Presumably Jing continues about his life much as he has throughout the series, and the reader is left with the feeling that the storyteller simply chose to stop narrating at that point, and that there is no "real" ending to Jing's tale.
Both childhood arcs, in both the original series and in Twilight Tales, seem more for the purpose of developing Jing's character than for providing any concrete information on his history. It is discovered that he has lost his mother in some fashion that is never explained, although it can be assumed from various bits of Jing's dialogue throughout both series that she is dead. His father is never mentioned. The original series arc does contain the story of how Kir and Jing met, but also contains a confusing event that seems to involve Jing having been born with a crippled right arm that is mysteriously restored to a fully-functioning limb with the help of a gun. The gun is delivered by Postino, who was told by Jing's mother to bring it to him on his tenth birthday "at any cost", "not one day late," and that it "will be needed for your right hand." How exactly the gun restores his arm, however, is unclear.
Jing also carries around with him a crystal, imbedded with the image of a woman's head with long hair, already in his possession from the beginning of the series. The crystal, too, is never explained. All that is known is that it is of great importance to Jing--when robbed by another thief in the first volume, Jing corners him and allows him to keep the jewels he stole, provided he returns the crystal. Fans have speculated that the crystal may be connected to his mother somehow, increased by scenes in which he thinks about her (such as after he released Cidre, the first Jing Girl and half of the Double Mermaid, where he looks at the crystal while doing so) however, as of yet there is no concrete evidence that this is the case.
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