Join Kino on her strange, melancholy journey.
I first read about the anime series Kino's Journey: The Beautiful World in an issue of Newtype USA. I found the animation style simple and kiddie, but after watching a couple of episodes on Animax, I found out that this unusual series is anything but. Produced by the same creators that brought anime the strange title Serial Experiments Lain, this short but sweet anime is something to see for those fans who think they've seen it all in anime.
Basically, Kino's Journey is about a somewhat mysterious and generally benign young traveller. Kino appears initially as a gender-nonspecific character... the child-like face could either be a pretty girl or boy, and Kino's body is slim and boyish, often covered by bulky travelling coats or jackets. Kino's voice is female, though this certainly isn't a conclusive point since male characters in anime have female seiyuu all the time. Still, Kino's mannerisms and empathy to other characters leads me to think that he's a SHE.
Anyway, Kino travels alone save for her sentient motorbike, Hermes. Early on we do find out that Hermes' voice is heard by anyone in hearing distance, so Kino at least doesn't have a few bats in her belfry. The presence of talking bikes in Kino's world isn't the most unusual thing- there are weird things happening in every place Kino travels to... stuff like wars, weird gladiatorial competitions, questionable morals and the occasional odd mystery. Of course, Kino is quite capable of taking on whatever comes her way- despite looking like a mild-mannered youth, Kino has some mad skills when it comes to defending herself... the times that Kuno shows off her deadly precision with firearms and other weapons provides the sharp bursts of action in this otherwise placid series.
For the most part though, Kino's journey isn't about some trailblazing pioneer or revolutionary- Kino is, as mentioned, a traveller, who comes and goes into a place for no more than 3 days (the reason for the specific deadline is revealed later on). She gets involved in the events with a measure of detachment, and little commitment, and then moves on. Kino is passive and a bit on the quiet side, but there's a lot of dialogue between her and Hermes. Despite not being your usual hero and having some peculiar thinking processes (in episode two she questions the morality of killing rabbits to help some starving travellers), Kino is an instantly likeable character, and you have to admire someone of such obvious competence (and lethality). What the point of the whole thing may be revealed in the long run, or it may be a moot point. Perhaps the old saying is true in this case- it's not the destination but the journey.
This is a pretty interesting series, though it certainly might not appeal to everyone for the lack of immediate gratifications like fan service, big action, mecha, magic and monsters. It's all about stories, some with a bit of danger, some with lots of thinking and often with a bit of sadness. It's a good title to visit, think about and then move on from. Which is pretty cool.
Join Kino on her journey with VCDs and DVDs at your favorite anime shops in the Metro.
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