The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kino’s Journey

Title: Kino’s Journey aka Kino no Tabi aka Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World
Genre: Drama
Company: A.C.G.T./Genco/Media Works/WOWOW
Format: 13 Episodes
Dates: 8 Apr 2003 – 8 Jul 2003

Synopsis: It is said that when people see birds flying through the sky they get the urge to go on a journey. Kino is one such traveler, who, with her trusty motorad Hermes, travels the world never staying in a country more than three days. While learning about the cultures of the land Kino meddles in their affairs. Sometimes this is appreciated, sometimes not.

The Highlights
Symbolism and Philosophy: Very thought provoking and deep.
Ending: Could have been more than it was.
Character Designs: Some irritating ones.

Fans of thought-provoking anime need look no farther than Kino’s Journey to whet their appetites, as few, if any anime are more thought provoking. Each episode is packed to the gills with food for thought, sometimes giving the viewer as many as two or three different things to contemplate within a single episode. Not all of the messages are immediately apparent, and some are presented in as few as two lines. This is definitely a “watch it twice and discuss it” show if there ever was one; think Twilight Zone. Like Twilight Zone, the anticipation that builds while you wait for everything about the situation to be made clear will have you on the edge of your seat. These situations and themes are the main focus of Kino’s Journey, and those expecting a linear plot will be disappointed.

Often when an anime focuses more on relaying a message than telling a story, giving the characters background and development becomes secondary to the message. While Kino’s Journey doesn’t spend copious amounts of time developing Kino and Hermes, we are, on several occasions, given insight into their pasts most notably in episode 4. Despite this, Kino is still largely an enigma, heck, for a while I wasn’t even sure what gender Kino was. Some will complain about how difficult it is to relate to Kino and Hermes, but that’s like saying you go to Hooters for the wings.

All it would have taken to make Kino’s Journey perfect would have been for the producers to have made better use of the ending. Don’t get me wrong, the ending wasn’t bad or unsatisfactory by a long shot, but instead of tying the series together and stepping out from the standard format of the series, or even leaving us with some sort of verdict, all we get is a few words of parting wisdom. Some of the character designs bothered me as well. The art and animation in Kino’s Journey are simplistic, which while fitting, makes it very hard to have good-looking character designs. Some of the characters were done well, but most of the character designs were just poor.

Kino’s Journey will make you take a good look at humanity and think about the way you live your life. The world is not beautiful (and yet it is), but Kino’s Journey itself is an elegant masterpiece. Do not let the character designs or the lack of a strong plot cause you to miss this unique and intelligent work of art.

The Rating: 9

Reviewed by: Kuma

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