Kino’s Journey —the Beautiful World— (Kino no Tabi)

I hope that Kino’s Journey is considered a classic beyond my limited sphere, since I reckon it’s a wholly compelling series from beginning to end.

Ideally, I’d launch into my reasons for saying why I enjoyed it so much – but I want to instead start with some of my quibbles. And since they include spoilers, I’ll just place a pic or two here first.

Kino’s Journey —the Beautiful World— (Kino no Tabi) 2003

The series is really sparing with details about Kino herself.

I suspect I know at least a few reasons why that would be so, but I still wished there had been time to learn more. Even the episode that introduced Kino’s namesake could have offered us a little more – perhaps a double episode? That would have been great.

Oh well.

(My issue here is obviously something that would have been mitigated by a longer series.)

Secondly, I’m not sure how much I enjoyed the text cards throughout – I liked their function as prompts but I don’t know how effective they were.

Of course, that’s not a bad ratio – two complaints only, right?

So, onto the stuff I loved.

For one, the world building is great – each destination is enthralling and usually pretty distinct, and having Kino’s three-day rule is a perfect way to keep things episodic, which is in turn, the perfect structure for a traveller.

In fact, I wanted another season, another set of surprises and moments that had me pause to think, moments that caused me to question what I thought I understood about any given situation presented in the stories etc.

I guess it wouldn’t be inaccurate to call Kino… a pretty cerebral anime, but it wasn’t a static talk-fest by any stretch.

There’s enough action, movement and lovely visuals to probably keep even casual viewers engaged too – and not just the Colosseum episodes, which came to mind for me first.

One issue I have seen mentioned here and there is Kino herself.

She has a somewhat restrained or even emotionally detached personality (and voice – a delivery that suits her well), though she doesn’t lack compassion at all, I can see times where I wanted her to grow more involved.

It’s also a useful way to give the audience room to insert themselves into the ethical dilemmas, to potentially avoid being swayed by the main character’s choices or beliefs.

I liked the choice and I now find myself wondering about it – was it something unique to the anime, or is Kino similar in the source material?

And perhaps above all, her personality really makes the impact of that last episode a lot stronger, to actually see something really hit home for Kino – where previously she’d been in far greater control of her emotions, she’d been perhaps a little too sure in her role as observer of all that ‘beauty’?

It does seem a bit like a shield for her, and considering her past, it makes sense that she’d be pretty guarded.

Okay, I think that’s about it from me – time to end this review with a few dot-points that I probably could have fit elsewhere, but didn’t:

  • I really enjoyed the muted palette and the occasional use of sepia
  • ‘Persuader’ is an equally striking and troubling name for guns
  • Loved the Florence-like setting in the Land of Prophecies episode
  • Kino’s sense of self is strong, also being quite uninterested in labelling herself – simply claiming to be ‘Kino’ when asked at one point, which is an interesting contrast to her more impartial personality traits
  • Some other fav episodes were the opener and the finale, along with the Land of Wizards and also when we see the nod to Fahrenheit 451

I feel semi-confident recommending this to any anime fan. (Well, any one save for those few out there who only tend to watch a single, narrow sub-category of the medium, I guess.)

Maybe I ought to qualify that claim a bit more with a summary and a few extra bits… and so I think it’s time to bust out a non-essential table 😀 And so below there’s some reasons why I think Kino’s Journey is worth a shot, presented in a hard-to-read table format, lol

I know there was a remake/re-telling/another version of Kino’s Journey released in 2017 but I haven’t seen it. I’m curious… but maybe not enough to actually give it a shot in a hurry as I finished this iteration pretty happy, really.

Anyway, to finally actually wrap up this review, Kino’s Journey is another obvious contender for an update to my Top Ten list.

5 Stars

11 thoughts on “Kino’s Journey —the Beautiful World— (Kino no Tabi)

    • Thanks heaps 🙂 Yes! Strong parallels, huh? I’m really glad that I’ve finally reviewed it and found myself thinking about the stories often, during and after I’d finished it. Really nice to have something make that sort of impact on me.

      Any other favourite moments or episodes stand out for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome. It’s great that you reviewed the original series. I have revisited that series a few times and there were things I didn’t notice on repeat viewings.

        Good question. I’d say some of the prequel moments were interesting with the worldbuilding and the development of Kino’s dialogue. In the flashback scenes, she says “Atashi”, but in the present day, she says “Boku” when saying “I” in Japanese which is a great piece of subtlety given how she went from the strictly feminine way of saying “I” to the masculine way of that pronoun. Some other moments would be the Mechanical doll one for the tragedy in it, the humor of the country where they change traditions every day, and the Land of Prophecies to name a few.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Cool, I hadn’t noticed that – makes sense, considering Kino’s personality.

          And great choice – that mechanical doll, yes! And I felt the same re: the country changing its tradition, they seemed so disappointed when the cat ears didn’t work.

          I remember thinking with the opening episode, how logical a progression *isolation* was, when it came to the mind-reading.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s right. You usually don’t see women saying “boku” unless if they are tomboys in Japan.

            Thanks! Yeah, the cat ear reaction was a funny moment even though I did feel bad that they were disappointed while changing traditions.

            Great observation about the first episode!

            Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review! This has been one of my favourite anime for several years and personally I don’t mind the minimalism around information on Kino. A lot of these thought-provoking anime tend to do things like that to allow the viewer to fill in details themselves in a way they can relate with best. So it can be alright too depending on what you prefer really.

    Liked by 1 person

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