a.k.a. Kino’s Travels
a.k.a. Kino no Tabi
“The world isn’t beautiful, therefore it is.”
Kino is a young traveler, accompanied only by her talking motorcycle, Hermes. Spending just 3 days in any country and then moving on, these 2 bear witness to the variety of people and cultures that their world has to offer.
summary by Eek
Highs: Fitting protagonists; makes you think
Lows: Simplistic character designs; inconclusive
Based on a set of novels by Sigsawa Keiichi, Kino’s Journey is strongly reminiscent of Galaxy Express 999; by traveling, one comes to a better understanding of what humanity is. It’s a rarely used concept in anime, and it is pulled off very well here.
Kino and Hermes (the latter named after the Greek god of travel) fit very well with the direction this anime takes. Although some people may be taken aback by Kino’s sexual ambiguity and Hermes being a talking motorcycle, both main characters are very intelligent and tactful during their travels. Approaching each new situation and country with a humble demeanor, they have an unbiased view of each person and culture, thus allowing them to see parts of the world for all the good and bad that they are. While seeing what both protagonists experience, the audience is forced to think about the complexities of the new people as individuals and masses. With each new country comes a change in governing style, history, laws, morality and a whole host of other aspects; you’re forced to question if a country is doing the right thing or whether you’re merely looking upon them as being wrong with your own biases in mind.
Although I found the character illustrations from the novel and DVD covers to be breathtakingly beautiful, the anime’s character designs are lackluster and plain. When note is taken of the lack of detailed facial and clothing features, the designs feel as if they should be found in an anime aimed at small children rather than a mature audience. And while this anime might be episodic in nature, the end wasn’t really an ending. It’s understandable that the travels of Kino and Hermes are far from over, but the final episode should’ve at least been different than practically every other one.
For an anime about traveling, Kino’s Journey is deeply fascinating. You’ll eventually come to understand the meaning of the series’ tagline: “The world isn’t beautiful, therefore it is.” After discovering how disturbingly heterogeneous humanity is throughout the world, its true beauty can be seen for what it is.
Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.