Completed View: Kino’s Journey (5)

03Jan08

Kino and Hermes 

Also known as: Kino no Tabi -the Beautiful World-

Media format: 13 Episodes of dubs

Last viewed: 1 years ago

I believe Kino’s Journey is based off of a light novel series if I remember correctly.  What I do remember correctly is that the storytelling in Kino’s Journey is amazing.

Plot and Storytelling:

Kino is a “traveler”, someone who travels from country to country, usually in the company of a “motorrad”, a sentient motorcycle named Hermes.  While travelers and motorrads are commonly accepted everywhere it their world, they rarely meet other travelers or motorrads.  The young traveler and company wander through some of the most beautiful and fantastic lands and towns, but are never unprepared for the danger ever present in the world.  Armed to the teeth, Kino always has several trusty “persuaders”, the word for gun in the world, in reach as well as an assortment of other knives.  Atleast that seems to be the basic premise, Kino’s Journey doesn’t really explain anything to the viewer.  It just drops you in the story and goes from there.

The story from episode to episode is just another small section in Kino’s journey though never the destination if there is one.  No hint of grandeur through mysterious foreshadowing.  No epic fight with the source of all evil.  It’s just a simple little journey through a beautiful and twisted world. 

The thing that stands out the most to me is the contradictions in the world.  Probably the most quoted line from Kino’s Journey is “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.”  This one line reflects the general tone of this anime so well.  The world is more beautiful because of all the ugly, dark intentions in it.  The world is perfect because it is not perfect.  Some of the worst countries and tragedies are due to people trying to be perfect.  From the Land of Adults to the country ruled by majority vote, each step towards ‘perfection’ is another step towards insanity.  There are plenty of wicked people in this anime.  At the same time, there are plenty of well meaning people doing horrible things.  

For example, the woman who wants to prevent war by advocating the competitive slaughter of a weak nomadic people instead of all out war.  The reason she advocated this was because her family have all died to the war effort.  At the same time, the weapons of war were becoming more and more destructive.  By adopting her brutal suggestion, the two countries probably avoided mutual destruction as well as greatly lowered war spending so it was a win-win situation for the two countries.  

Was her suggestion right?  It saved two great countries and greatly improved the standard on living for the people of both at the cost of the slaughter of a weaker third party.  The anime doesn’t really judge or say.  There isn’t an opinion forced onto the viewer.  Everything about the anime just is.  No moral, no lesson.  It is just Kino’s personal journey through an imperfect world that is beautiful because of its flaws.

Characters:

The biggest quality of the characters has to be their believability.  All of the characters are all understandable even the inherently insane ones.  Despite the craziness of the world around them and despite damages deal to them, the people (friendly or fiend) in Kino’s Journey continue forward to struggle and survive.

Animation and Audio:

When it comes to fight scenes, the action is amazing and always fresh.  Nothing is censored in Kino’s Journey, yet at the same time, nothing is graphic and violent for shock value either.  From the fight scenes to the flashbacks, there isn’t any needless animation reuse if any.  The term “flashback” might be inappropriate for this anime since most flashbacks are of events not shown to the viewer anyway.

Additionally, the animation is beautiful.  Th world of Kino’s Journey has a surreal feel to it where it is not uncommon to see a land with advanced technology like hovercrafts and old technology like phonograms.  The world might not have heavier than air flight yet talking motorcycles are common place.

The audio is appropriate.  Since the story is told so straight forward and plainly, there isn’t really a theme song for the anime.  Most events have no background music, just background noise.

Afterglow:

This was probably one of the few animes that consistently made me feel depressed after each episode.  Still, clocking in at 13 episodes, I wanted more when it ended.  There wasn’t really any thing left over to conclude or anything since Kino’s Journey seems like an eternal journey.  I just wanted some more time watching it.  Luckily, there is an OVA and a movie out too so I have a bit more to look forward to.

Conclusion:

Depressing and thought provoking, Kino’s Journey is a beautiful story full of contradictions delivered plainly and without pretense.  Words failed me in trying to get my feelings for this anime across.  All I can say is go watch this anime.  It is the best storytelling I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.  

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