- Genre : Slice of adventure, surrealism, drama
- Episodes: 12
- Studio: Lerche
The world is full of pain. The ground eternally bloodstained from endless generations of violence, conflict and disasters. Even at their very best, humans are flawed creatures. Petty and scared, prone to cruelty. The world is a cold, lonely place and if you are to survive it, you better learn to fend for yourself. Unless you happen to be lucky enough to meet a talking motorcycle that is. Still the world, littered with the many countries of men, is not to be trusted. If you let your guard down for even a second, you’re likely to get swallowed up, or worse. And the world is ever so beautiful. Filled with color and sights full of wonder. Brimming with kind and generous strangers. Powered by love. Truly the world is filled with miracles mundane and grand. And if you can, you should try to go see all of it.
Have you ever gotten fascinated with something you knew next to nothing about? I saw a piece of promotional art for the original Kino’s journey and I was hooked. This happens to me a lot. I went into the anime not knowing what kind of story or even genre I was about to sit through, but fully expecting to love it.
***This is weird. You’re going to go through this in real time with me. I finished the series yesterday, and as I’m writing this very paragraph, I realize that my feelings and impressions of Kino’s journey – the beautiful world, are changing. Now I’m not even sure where this review will go. Join me on the ride?
Studio Lerche is sort of a mixed bag when it comes to production. Kino certainly looks great. The designs are attractive and classical. The vehicles are detailed and perfectly proportioned. Every scene comes alive with brilliant colors and palettes are carefully chosen according to the countries Kino visits.
On the less impressive side, voice acting is decent but not exceptional. Sound design is dull with uninteresting environmental sounds, and considering how much time is spent travelling and exploring the countryside, the lack of interesting environmental sounds is a real missed opportunity. For me it was even a drawback. Most notably, animation is a bit jerky. Action lacks fluidity and you can tell the show knows it as it avoids overly animated scenes, even when they would have been called for.
It seems I’m going the compliment sandwich route… Even though the environmental sounds thing is a bit of a bummer, the painted backgrounds were gorgeous. It bluntly showed us all that Kino was indeed journeying through a beautiful world!
This said, Kino’s journey is also weird! I don’t know if this comes from the source material, but having read up a bit on it, I would bet it does.
The narrative construct is simple enough. Each episode Kino rolls up to a new country, explores its history, learns it’s rules, meets some of its people and moves on. Some episodes feature more than one country. Some follow other travelers around. But the template stays basically the same. This allows the authors to create brand new eccentric and unique worlds each week, usually with some type of hidden or blantan menace.
A coliseum country where rights and citizenship are earned through public gladiator fights. A floating boat country whose citizens have never known dry land. A pleasant hospitable country with an inexplicably bad reputation and a heartbreaking secret.
One of my favorites featured a country with a morality points system. Some details are given in the episode but basically, in this country good deeds of any sort, grant you points whereas actions that are considered a nuisance to society or criminal, subtract from those points. As long as your point total stays in the positive, there are no repercussion for bad deeds, other than people thinking you’re kind of a jerk. However, as soon as your points fall in the negative, there are legal ramifications.
There Kino meets a very nice old gentleman who, having been kind, generous and helpful his entire life had now acquired an impressive amount of points. Just enough to let him kill one person without consequences. He finds himself torn because he has no one he wants to kill. It says something about how humans think. This man was very kind by nature and would have probably led the same type of righteous life without the points system and not given it a second thought. However since he lived in a society that commodified morality, he now feels as though he would have wasted all these good deeds if he doesn’t spend his points somehow. Nothing much happened in fact. The episode showed us this old man interacting with the staff of a coffee, greeting various people on the street and stopping to make funny faces at a baby in a stroller. However, because if the context and presentation, I was waiting for him to just strangle that newborn out of the blue.
And there are more than a few very interesting quandaries throughout Kino’s Journey that really make you think. Safely if the series excellent at interesting premises, it drops the ball at execution. Because of the traveller conceit of the plot, pretty much every episode consists of a stranger flatly giving Kino, and by extension us, all the information about whatever country they were in, then a single event to illustrate the theme.
Kino’s journey is told almost completely through flat delivery by characters we never get the chance to care about or even know. Kino herself remains largely underdeveloped. Unfortunately this delivery can get rather boring even with fascinating, intricate and ever changing world building.
Speaking of which, this is sort of how I’ve been feeling about my reviews lately. I’m getting comfortable with getting the information across but lately I feel like they’re missing a sense of fun. They seem rather devoid of personality. Sure my Natsume posts are glaringly biased and my reverse harem reviews instantly devolve into barely coherent squealing in text form, but at least they got heart. Little to no utility, but…heart…
I’m just saying that I haven’t quite found my reviewers vibe yet but please continue to humour me, I’ll get there! I’ve also been watching a lot of o.k. shows lately that don’t necessarily inspire gushing…
Um… Review over!
Favorite character: Hermes
What this anime taught me: Beauty is relative
Alcohol is just liquid photoshop
Suggested drink: a Beautiful
- Every time Hermes and Kino say goodnight – take a sip
- Every time Kino draws or cleans a gun – take a sip
- Every time someone needs to use their skills to the fullest – take a sip
- Every time Kino brings Hermes indoors – get a snack
- Every time strangers want to talk to Kino – take a sip
- Every time someone other than kino is the mc – take a sip
- Every time anyone gets killed – moment of silence
- Every time kino eats – get a snack
- Every time anyone says “traveler” – take a sip
- Every time Ti talks – listen!