Kino’s Journey (Kino no Tabi)

Genre: philosophy / science fiction (some)
Setting: various “countries”
Special Groups/Powers
: travelers & talking motorrads
Selling Point
: intellectual; tranquil & muted atmosphere; sensitivity towards / examination of different perspectives + cultures

Well, “Kino’s Journey” is one of those procedural anime like Jigoku Shoujo or Mushishi. In other words, all of the episodes follow a certain pattern, but each episode has its own individual story or adventure. In this case, every episode deals with Kino traveling to one or more countries on her motorrad (talking motorcycle named Hermes) and experiencing the different cultures or customs of the area. Most countries are charming, but with a catch — some are strange, some are unpleasant, and some are truly nice. Because this is one of those procedural anime, and because the pacing is rather laid-back without a lot of action, things can seem slow or repetitive at times. However, the stories and themes are all very interesting, and within each episode is something new to behold.

The tone of the anime is subtle and easygoing. The animation and graphics are fair, and the music is quiet. The overall atmosphere creates a sort of quiet look and feel — like a daydream or a peaceful stroll.

Some of the highlights of this anime are its daydream-atmosphere and philosophical/intellectual themes. Kino’s so-called journey is not so much a physical adventure as it is a journey of the soul; she’s not going anywhere in particular — she’s just traveling for the sake of traveling. Theme-wise, the morals of each story are slightly ambiguous, always leaving the viewer with something to think about. There’s never necessarily a right or wrong answer, and this anime portrays that fact very well. Speaking of which, one of the best things this show has to offer is a great tolerance for people of different lifestyles and mindsets. The “countries” that Kino visits are not based off of specific countries in the real world, so there aren’t any ethnic affiliations, but they still have their unique customs and quirks. The show is very respectful toward different cultures, carefully exploring them so as to give the viewer a more in-depth look on what may seem, at first, like a society of freaks. For these reasons, I consider “Kino’s Journey” to be a refined and compassionate show.

Now, Kino herself (yes, she’s a girl) is a very interesting person. At first, Kino may seem somewhat detached and emotionless, but that’s a misconception. It’s true that she makes an effort not to become too attached to any one location, but she’s not emotionless — far from it, she is a very warm, compassionate person. Kino has a quiet nature that masks both her warm personality and her incredible skill with a gun. And, well, the latter point may seem absurd or clichéd, but if you think about it, a girl traveling alone in the big-bad-world has to be strong enough to protect herself. This is made apparent during several episodes and the short movies.

However, the most prominent characteristic of Kino is that she is very open-minded, able to enter a country and abide by their customs (no matter how strange they seem), so as not to disturb or offend the citizens. She never tries to stick her nose into others’ business; she doesn’t try to change the way people are. I find this a refreshing point of view, contrary to many anime/TV shows, where the main hero is always right and basically goes around beating on people in the name of justice… until they have sudden changes in heart and decide to leave the dark side.



I’d like for them to try that in real life — see if they don’t get jumped within the first hour. Because, really, people have their reasons as to why they act the way they do. And do you live so flawless a life that you can tell others how to live? No. You don’t. That’s because there’s rarely ever an indisputably right or wrong answer.

Also. Hermes, the faithful motorbike companion, has a surprisingly cute personality. =)

Overall, “Kino’s Journey” is a pleasant, thoughtful soul-journey. I’d recommend it to anyone, especially if you don’t mind procedural anime. The pacing is leisurely, sometimes dragging a bit, but the stories are always something to think about. And Kino is a wonderful protagonist: she’d love to take you along for the ride.

Rating of Truth: 92/100


~ by sublunaryxsoul on August 28, 2008.

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