“The world is not beautiful, therefore it is [beautiful].”
Kino’s Journey is a 13 episode fantasy anime series that centers around Kino and her travels throughout the very different countries that she visits. The countries range from places filled with only machines, places where prophecies are made and adhered to, and even to places where children are drugged at a certain age to turn into emotionless adults. The countries are creative and immediately draw you into the story. While character development is not the focus of this show, one still can’t help but feel a wide variety of emotions during Kino’s finest moments.
The animation is well enough to take the viewer on a visual journey throughout the different countries that Kino and Hermes (the talking motorcycle that accompanied Kino) travel to. The animation tends to be much more simplistic rather than ambitious or chaotic. However, the simplistic style of the animation functions well with the deeper philosophical tones of the show. While the animation was above average, it was not the main focus of the series.
The sounds of Kino’s Journey are crisp. Similar to the animation, the sounds play the role of enhancing the philosophical undertones of the series. The voices of the characters, background music, and various other sounds complement the curiosity that the viewer will likely endure. I have attached some of the shows music here:
The story is where the show really shines. Kino’s Journey is a unique collective of philosophical thoughts and explorations. The viewer is likely to feel uneasy at times towards Kino’s decisions. Kino is invariably pleasant to all, but doesn’t seem to go out of her way to meddle in other people’s affairs, even if it could mean a greater good to the society. The countries set up the deeper elements of the story and fit Kino in a variety of critical situations. My favorite is the final episode where Kino travels to a land where travelers are ‘shunned’ and frowned upon. However, on her arrival she is treated rather pleasantly and considers settling down in this town as she meets a young girl that reminds her of herself. The town villagers force her to leave after three days with smiles on their faces. As Kino walks away, the town is destroyed in volcanic ash and the villagers die. It was clear that the villagers had known about this terrible fate and did nothing to stop it, but gave Kino a trip she will never forget. One of the only times Kino shows an element of emotion is during this episode as she recalls the times with the young girl that reminded her of herself. A beautiful story to end the series on.
The only two characters that are in all 13 episodes are Kino and Hermes. The rest of the (minimal) staff of characters are all supporting elements to the various episodes. While there is little character development we see again that it is all to complement the main goal of the series. In the end, I still end up feeling connected to Kino, but in a much different way then in many other shows. Hermes adds in a nice touch of comedic relief from time to time.
Value and Enjoyment [9.5/10]
I thoroughly enjoyed this anime. At first, I was skeptical since I usually enjoy a show with more character development, but the stories in Kino’s Journey are extremely rare gems to find. It’s a rather unpredictable journey through countries and after completion of the series I wanted to rent a motorcycle and become a traveler myself. Kino’s Journey had a long lasting effect on me and will most certainly be re-watched in the future.