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Anime: Kino's Journey
Friday, October 07, 2005
(Warning contains minor spoilers)

Recently I watched the full series of Kino's Journey (or Kino No Tabi if you prefer). Having seen the OVA prequel and bonus episode already and finding them "good but weird", I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. So read on and find out what I thought of this often overlooked title.

While I'd normally do a cast description here the cast pretty much consists of just Kino (pictured above) and Hermes her talking motorcycle (or motorad as the series calls them). So not exactly a huge range of names to remember ;). The rest of the cast are the range of rather unusual and sometimes wonderful people Kino meets on her journey.

Kino's Journey is quite unlike any show I have ever seen before, Kino and Hermes travel from country to country at a slow pace, seeing strange sites and meeting the residents of such places on their adventures. Kino herself admits there is no point to the journey and her motives for traveling are not known to her. She just travels. Its a rather odd philosophy and I can't help but think she actually is trying to atone for events she blames herself for in the past, yet doesn't quite realize this herself.

Along with the odd view on the world she has, Kino herself is rather odd, she is quirky and unusual coming up with the most bizarre yet evidently philosophical reponses to things sometimes when asked. Hermes works well with her, the two almost acting as a comedy duo at times keeping up banter with her. Hermes will often say a famous phrase or proverb, get it wrong be corrected by Kino then reply with "Oh yes that's what I mean" or something similar. This repeated rappor between the two made me laugh, and in a series that's so slow and serious at times that's a good thing. The rest of the cast are a mixed bunch, some characters I liked, some had suitably ugly character designs to suit their ugly personalities while others just seemed rather randomly ugly. I tend to not like shows with such strange looking casts, and its a testament to how good Kino's Journey is that this didn't bother me.

Kino's travels are certainly cover a wide range of genres and adventures. There are episodes with a very slow pace, such as when Kino meets a woman who's obsessed with building a flying machine, or when Kino visits a country where the people live in complete isolation. Some of these stories wouldn't feel out of place in a children book (although unfortunately some are probably too dull and simple), however there is a sharp contrast between this and the rather graphic violence that is in some episodes. Perhaps my favorite episodes in the series take place when Kino takes place in a coliseum tournament presided over by an evil looking roman emperor type character. The action is fast paced, lightning quick and at times bloody. Such episodes are certainly not for children and there are numerous more dark and adult episodes on the first two (out of the four discs).

The series seems to slow down for the final six episodes and after the excitement of the first two discs I was rather bored by some of the episodes on them. It would have been a better series if it had perhaps blended together the more exciting episodes with the slower more philosophical ones rather than seeming to bunch them together. That said, the last episode redeemed the series rather waning pace for me, it was sad and tragically portrayed wrapping up a series that does so well on just stand-alone stories with no over-riding plot.

Overall Kino's Journey is a must see, it "almost" entered my top 10 list and had it not been for the weaker second half it would have done. A combination of charming philosophical stories, blended in with strong messages to think about and occasionally graphic violence makes this something truly unique. On top of all this I did love the soundtrack and general "laid-back" atmosphere it gives. A real gem of an anime and sadly one without enough fans.

Overall Anime Score: 8.5/10
posted by Mangaminx On Friday, October 07, 2005  
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