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Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World

Based on a hit light novel series by Keiichi Sigsawa, the philosophical Kino's Journey employs the time-honored motif of the road trip as a vehicle for self-discovery and universal truth. Deeply meditative and cooler than zero, the series follows the existential adventures of the apt marksman Kino along with talking motorcycle Hermes as they travel the world and learn much about themselves in the process. Imaginative, thought-provoking, and sometimes disturbing, Kino's journey is documented in an episodic style with an emphasis on atmosphere rather than action or plot, though still prevalent.
User Count24287
Favorites Count650
Start Date8th Apr 2003
Next ReleaseInvalid date
Popularity Rank440
Rating Rank415
Age RatingR
Age Rating GuideViolence, Profanity
SubtypeTV
Statusfinished

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One of the biggest criticisms the anime medium constantly faces is that it merely a form of entertainment. With the abundance of shows, especially in the recent years, that are evidently nothing more than blatant attempts to cater to hormone-overflowing young men with endless amounts of fanservice, it is easy to see why many skeptics share this common misconception. And while there are numerous titles that break the mold and provide watchers with much more than just flashy action sequences featuring gun-toting, well-endowed girls, a great deal are quickly forgotten, destined to only be watched by a small fraction of individuals who are well aware of the true potential of this medium. Kino no Tabi – The Beautiful World fits these criteria quite nicely. It is truly a gem in the rough that many people are too near-sighted to be able to see and appreciate.At first glance, the premise of Kino no Tabi is remarkably simple. The female protagonist, Kino, and her anthropomorphic motorcycle visit numerous countries, sometimes several in the span of a single episode, each of which has its own traditions and customs. Over the course of her journey, Kino finds herself in the midst of these societies - some of which have downright appalling practices. The absurdity inherent in said cultures will undoubtedly raise an important question – could any of these societies actually exist in real life? However, it is important to keep in mind that Kino no Tabi is an allegorical work that, for the sake of being truly enjoyed, must not be examined through reality-tinted glasses. Its episodic nature may be an instant turn-off for some viewers, and although it is not untrue to say that it does not matter in what order one watches its 13 episodes (barring a two-episode arc), the will to continue the series does not come from the suspense established from cliffhangers, but rather from the curiosity brought about from wondering what kind of place Kino will travel to next. Unfortunately, like the vast majority of anime of this nature, Kino no Tabi’s episodes are prone to inconsistency. The fluctuation in quality is most evident in the two-episode Coliseum arc placed strategically in the middle of the series (whether or not this placement was intentional is anybody’s guess). Not only does this arc deviate from the standard episodic format, it is, arguably, not nearly as philosophically meaningful as the rest of the stories presented. While the arc does give the writers the opportunity to showcase the abilities of the highly skilled yet passive Kino through intense fight sequences, something that was undoubtedly in high demand after her expert marksmanship and competency with knives are revealed, it felt horribly out of place and negatively impacted the slow but consistent pacing of the rest of the series. Despite the lack of an overall sense of direction and consequently, a coherent storyline, Kino no Tabi fortunately does not suffer from the inability to connect and incorporate its many tales into an overarching theme. As Kino travels throughout the world and becomes acquainted with the people who inhabit it, it becomes clear that each of her encounters is essentially a separate journey into the labyrinth that is the human psyche to explore one of the many elements that make it up. The issues touched upon in the series range from the inherent pugnacious and competitive nature of humanity to the true purpose of altruism; from the tendencies of humans to blindly believe in prophecies to the consequences of not having a self-conscious. While there are a number of series that boast profound symbolism and powerful messages, only a small fraction actually manages to convey them effectively through their incorporation into the plot. Kino no Tabi’s success in performing such a difficult task lies in its subtlety. An unobservant viewer could easily sit through all 13 episodes and see nothing more than a biker girl traveling to different countries and meeting new people. However, at the same time, the ideas conveyed in the series are clear enough that one does not have to be a literature or film major in order to identify and comprehend them. In that regard, Kino no Tabi succeeds in reaching the middle ground that even some famous literary works struggle to attain.In philosophical works such as Kino no Tabi, characters often take a backstage role and are sometimes even demoted to serve only as plot devices. Although it is clear that neither Kino nor Hermes, the only two reoccurring characters, is the main focus of the series, together they play an integral role in its success. In terms of being a likeable character, Kino’s apparent indifference is perhaps her biggest strength and flaw at the same time. Kino constantly insists that she is merely a traveler and, as such, will not interfere with the internal affairs of any of the countries she visits. While it may be quite frustrating to witness Kino’s inaction in the face of imminent disaster, it is, ironically, also this complete personal detachment from the world around her that makes her quite realistic and likeable. In a medium plagued with hot-headed protagonists with a one-sided sense of justice, Kino stands out as a truly unique character. However, the decision to sculpt Kino into such an apathetic individual was clearly not motivated by the fact that it would make her unique. More often than not, anime that attempt to explore philosophical or social issues are prone to something known commonly as author’s bias – the writers may inadvertently implant their own values and views into the minds of the characters. Thanks to Kino’s impartiality, the problem of author’s bias is eliminated completely, allowing the viewer to draw his or her own conclusions about the many issues highlighted throughout the series. Hermes, Kino's talking motorcycle, acts as the perfect companion to his owner. Not only are his conversations with Kino thoroughly enjoyable to listen to due to the occasional humour, they also allow for further thematic exploration. In addition, considering the underlying theme of the series is the nature of humanity, his presence as a non-human makes their discussions even more interesting.For a series made nearly 10 years ago, Kino no Tabi's animation quality is impressive. While the character design is quite plain, the animation itself is surprisingly fluid for its time, especially during the Coliseum fight scenes where there is a great deal of character movement. Given the nature of the series, the scenery is constantly changing, sometimes even multiple times in the span of a episode. The environment designs are simplistic yet strikingly beautiful at the same time. Kino's travels bring her to countless different cities, many of which have unique and beautifully depicted architecture, from modest brick houses surrounded by picturesque gardens to futuristic skyscrapers. Interestingly enough, the soundtrack in Kino no Tabi is, for the most part, absent. Apart from the lovely opening and equally euphonious ending, the series does not boast any memorable tracks. However, Kino no Tabi uses this to its advantage, as what many people fail to realize is that sometimes dead silence is the best way to make an emotional scene even more effective.While Kino no Tabi is certainly not a series for everyone given its lack of a well-defined plot, limited character development, stagnant pacing, and questionable topics and scenes, it is a worthwhile watch for anyone who is looking for more than just pure enjoyment in the anime medium. Kino no Tabi may be a satirical work, but its true purpose is not to criticize humanity. As it does not attempt to draw any conclusions, it merely aims to make us aware of the negative, as well as positive, traits that we share as humans. While there are many aspects of human nature that are not at all beautiful, they are what differentiate us from other animals and make us who we are.The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.

Kino's Journey is a show that leans extremely heavily on its main character. This should be obvious, considering the only recurring characters in the show are Kino and her talking motorcycle Hermes, but more than that, Kino's Journey is invested almost entirely in presenting its world the way Kino sees it. The episodes are essentially independent from one another, with Kino visiting a different country in each one. Some episodes involve Kino and the random people she meets on the road. The show raises very few questions that it answers unambiguously, and Kino never seems to change her outlook on things. It's not really a show that chronicles an arc through which Kino goes as much as one that introduces a strange character and a strange world and tries to help you understand both piece by piece. The colors in Kino's Journey are almost invariably muted and earthy, and music is used sparingly. This, combined with how some shots and sounds linger for a while, make it fairly relaxing to watch. The show can get violent, but this style doesn't change too much when it does. The form of the show is rooted completely in how Kino sees the world: relatively unfazed by conflict, but not indifferent to it. In the second episode of the series, which questions the morality of helping strangers when it comes at the expense of another, the show doesn't offer the audience any concrete answers. The only unambiguous thing about that episode was the way Kino approaches others: optimistically, but with extreme caution. The individual episodes, through the different traditions of each country Kino visits, treat on a wide number of disparate themes, but in strange ways. They play like fables, not always logical, and occasionally presenting extreme situations that would in any other context be too oversimplified and moralistic. But Kino, when faced with such absurdity, responds by questioning it. She asks the people of the country why they believe what they believe, not because she has some alternative to offer but because she's genuinely interested. The things Kino sees do not make sense to her, nor do they make sense to us, but there is always a human element behind them, and Kino is less invested in making moral judgments against them than seeing the intensity of the emotional impetus that drives people toward even the most absurd things. The tagline of the show is "The world is not beautiful; therefore, it is," which sounds trite and too non-specific to actually be meaningful. But it goes to great lengths to define what it means by this, and as harsh as the world of Kino's Journey is, the one unambiguous thing about it is that Kino can live with mounting uncertainty and violence because she sees the full spectrum of what people can do and that whether the end result is moral or base, many people will put intense effort and passion into what they think is right. The show is never quite explicit about this, as Kino herself never fully understands the source of her own feelings. But she does what feels right for her, and I can respect that.

Kino’s Journey 13 Episodes 3 OVAs Sub/Dub Episodic Drama Premise Kino’s Journey is an episodic anime about a young traveler named Kino, as she explored all the various countries of her world. She also has a talking motorcycle named Hermes. The episodes are contained as individual stories about that specific country. Kino’s Journey is an episodic anime about a young traveler named Kino, as she explored all the various countries of her world. She also has a talking motorcycle named Hermes. The episodes are contained as individual stories about that specific country. Story Each episode of this show contains its own unique story that centers around the problems the country Kino happens to be in is facing. These range from a mechanical takeover, to a town not allowing a pilot to fly her invention. The main reason that the stories are contained into one episode is due to Kino’s philosophy that she can only stay in one specific town for 3 days. No more, no less. For the most part, the structure for the show is done quite well and keeps each episode fresh. One downside to all this however, is that the only characters that really get any development are Kino and Hermes. They are the same people in the end as they are in the beginning. Characters Kino is quite an enigma, as not much is really revealed about who she is once her back-story episode wraps up. All you ever really know about her aside from what is revealed in that episode is that she is a talented marksman and martial artist. I also appreciate how the artists didn’t feel the need to overly sexualize her like many a female protagonist. There are a plethora of other characters as well, but they are all gone after the episode ends. I’ll let you discover them for yourself. Enjoyment This series was pretty fun to watch, and the new stories did keep me very interested for the next episode. The tone of the stories reminded me of watching shows like Twilight Zone, and shows in a similar style to it. If you are looking for a comedy show however, you’re out of luck here. Kino’s journey takes itself pretty seriously. It’s a drama inside and out, but a good one. Some people might be turned off by the fact that is doesn’t have an overarching plot, but I can understand that. Animation and Music The animation for Kino’s Journey is nothing to special. There is a lot of brown…and….dark brown…Yea; color apparently doesn’t exist in Kino’s Journey. Believe it or not thought, it actually suits the show quite well. Having bright colors or crazy special effects probably would have ruined the atmosphere of the world. The music is also quite pleasant to listen to, but nothing stands out to much aside from the opening. Final Verdict Story:  8 Characters 8 Enjoyment: 8 Animation and Music: 7 Overall: 8 This show is a very interesting watch for anyone looking for a good show to just sit down and lose yourself in. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. I give it my full recommendation to watch this show sometime in the near future, but only if you think it is something you will enjoy. Pros: The episodic approach fits this show like a glove. Kino is an entertaining character to watch. The individual stories are quite interesting, and serve as very fun stories. Cons: Needs more episodes, and could have easily been twice as long. Some episodes can be confusing and or slow. Character development is nonexistent for the most part. None of the aesthetics really pop out, and can appear dull at times.

In a medium awash with generic supernatural shounen and school harems, it is nice to ocasionally be reminded that anime is capable of captivating things, and that it is worth defending. Kino's Journey is one of those rare shows that is capable of exploring a range of deep philosophical and moral issues, whilst still managing to be incredibly...mellow. The only show that really comes close to Kino's episodic travel stops is probably Mushishi, but that does not neccessarily mean that if you dislike Mushishi you will dislike Kino. The story is minimalistic, with Kino and Hermes going from country to country, sticking around at each just long enough to learn of the ideologies each settlement lives by, encountering both hospitality and danger as they continue on their seemingly aimless journey. While some may pan the story for being overly simplistic, such a setup ultimately works well with this show being largely character driven. The role of Kino as simply a traveller passing through any given country really shines in this series, with Kino rarely taking steps to change any established world orders that are present in any episode's current country, and this makes a welcome change to the established norm in anime of the protagonist being an all powerful entity that is able to control the world around them. This in particular gives viewers the impression that Kino and Hermes are largely powerless characters exploring a big world that is indifferent to their small lives, and is a welcome breath of fresh air in comparison to the old "chosen one" narratives. With regards to the sound and animation, the soundtrack is incredibly fitting, consisting largely of somber, toned back pieces that fit in very well with the mood the show tries to convey, and both the opening and ending are very good, with the opening's lyrics in particular inspiring thoughts of freedom and isolation which fit very well with the show's theme. As for the animation, it is nothing special even by 2003 standards, but for the purpose of the show it is perfectly good, as there are very few intense scenes with fast movement or flashy moves. All in all I would give Kino's Journey a big recommendation to anybody that is yet to see it, and it gets a 10/10 from me. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, since all reviews are essentially bias, but anyone who is on the lookout for shows that are a little different and doesn't mind slow burning anime that occasionally deal with some very deep questions would be remiss not to check this one out.

Kino is a wanderer that visits different countries and observes them. The show is episodic but deeply philosophical. Each episode explores the different aspects of human nature in one of the most unique ways I have seen. In each civilisation/country Kino is presented with a problem that she usually observes but sometimes prompts her to intervene. The show gets dark when exploring human nature but that is to be expected and adds to the realism of it all. Kino's Journey manages in one episode present a deeper story than most shows demand the whole season for.  Kino and the talking motorcycle Hermes are the main characters in the show and I don't know what to say about them other than that they are the perfect characters in this sort of anime. Kino is incredibly wise, skillful and unque. She is a characters with many sides that manages to travel on her own in a dangerous world.  The art is good and is consistent throughout the anime. Movements are fluid and each frame seems really carefully drawn.  The sound is really well done. The background music when it is there manages to capture the deep, philosophical feel you get when watching the show. The voice actors are amazing and manages to bring out that little extra to make the characters feel real.  All in all Kino's Journey is a deeply artistic, intelligent and surprising anime that will make you think and question many things. This is not a show whose main goal is to entertain you but it manages to captivate you even so. This show will make you think and question things. Just for that I think people should give it a shot since not many shows dares to do that.

**(WARNING: language)** Kino's Journey got me thinking, a lot. Not about anything in particular, but just some general, odd life questions. Lines of dialogue that had me pause to ponder them. *"When I wake up tomorrow, will the sky still be blue?"* Of course, with all its brilliant dialogue, and as much as I enjoyed basically every episode, it also brings some questionable characterization with it, which I believe to be its only major flaw. **THE FUCKING SIDE CHARACTERS:** Almost every character that wasn't extremely vital to the plot was extremely one-dimensional, usually existing to emphasize some sort of poignant idea. The King of the coliseum existed solely to represent falling to one's own madness and thanatos for example, without serving much else of a purpose. It was not at all subtle in relaying this message either, as he literally explained all of his motives and personality flaws explicitly in front of the main character. It felt off. Were this a one time thing it'd be fine, but this occurs multiple times. Characters pop up, state their purpose and motives to the letter, and then disappear, having done their job. Kino's Journey oftentimes just felt like an anime-adapted anthology of life lessons and interesting ideas, rather than a cohesive work of realistic characters. Whether they be generic townspeople or the main character that Kino meets in a given episode, their true intentions and purpose in the narrative were clear immediately and the "twist" was extremely obvious from the beginning; this really just leaves me wondering what the purpose was a lot of the time. For example, in one episode Kino arrives at a house with an old maid who is quick to announce that she's a robot, without actually indicating in any way otherwise that she's anything but human. When you meet the family that are supposed to be her masters, it's pretty apparent the second they appear on screen that they're actually the robots, and she's just insane. Here's where I truly take issue with this, though. The robo-family accidentally repeat an earlier line they said rather than answering what Kino had just asked, despite clearly being extremely complex AI capable of dynamic conversation, even understanding their own purpose for existing. Why would such a simple malfunction occur for any reason other than to further the plot and make their true nature obvious to the viewer? It felt so forced and strange, which took me completely out of the experience. Again, this sounds like a nitpick, but moments like this occur nearly every episode. Constantly characters behave in ways that either: **a)** don't make sense at all (with characters all resigning themselves to extremely strange "quirks" of the town basically every time) **b)** were way too obvious, but clearly intended to be a surprise **c)** adhere too obviously to one idea, and just exist to make a point (one village is straight up just one guy living in some rubble because they all executed each other, at one point just being a 2 to 1 vote where this guy and his wife voted to execute another guy. Why wouldn't he just leave? That's straight up retarded, I don't know how anyone can excuse this bit lol) As much as I love the dynamic between Kino and Hermes as well as certain members of the supporting cast, the large majority of the side characters fell completely flat on their faces. The entirety of certain towns felt so stupid, with one literally just revolving around a group of people who suddenly interpret some random prophetic book as armageddon-gospel because some guy showed up dressed as a priest and told them it was all true. Every resident of that town sincerely believed the world was going to end because someone told them it would. The backstory of this prophetic book is just ridiculous, with it coming from "sad country", where this poet guy was always happy and the king was pissed about it so he made him write a sad poem for some reason, just to watch him squirm I guess. The guy was too happy and didn't know how to write a sad poem from the heart, but he was gonna die if he didn't come up with something in 19 days, so his wife killed herself (???) on the final day because she couldn't stand to see him in anguish, and he wrote up a real good sad poem that they just repeat all the time so they "don't forget". Oh yeah, and the king got sick and died because it was so sad. Word. There are so many stupid things to point out here, and I'll try my best. First of all, if he was in such awful anguish because he couldn't come up with a sad poem that his wife fucking *KILLED* herself so he could do it, clearly that anguish was awful to begin with and it should've been more than enough for him to write a sad poem. Second, why the fuck did everyone in the entire city just agree that they'll all be sad forever? Why did they all rally behind this sad poem basically being their national anthem? Third, the king died because it was so sad? *REALLY*? And fourth, jesus christ, the prophetic book I mentioned before was just that sad poem, which was resold as a prophetic book. And people bought into it. WHY? HOW? WHAT THE FUCK? I don't know. I hope you understand what I'm getting at, everything just operates in extremes in Kino's Journey. Every village has a clear theme and purpose, as do all of the side characters. It's so jarring and unrealistic I have a hard time getting wrapped up in it. That being said, **I get it.** That's the point. Kino's Journey isn't really supposed to feel plausible or natural, it's odd. They emphasize that a lot. The world is a dangerous, strange, unpredictable place, and Kino's sifting through it for the sake of it. I respect the idea, and I certainly enjoyed a lot of the stranger concepts it was pushing for the viewer to mull over, but I don't think you can blame me or anyone else for being extremely thrown off by weird world inconsistencies and odd characters. Like, seriously, they have fucking hover cars and futuristic towns with supercomplex AI, but no one has invented the fucking plane yet? Really? They had to do an episode where someone invented the plane when fucking cyborgs exist? I don't know man. **POINTS OF PRAISE (EVERYTHING ELSE):** Don't let the review thus far give you the wrong impression; I love Kino's Journey, I think basically everything OTHER than the exact flaws I listed is worthy of massive praise. Both Kino and Hermes are fantastic, with Kino providing a medium through which the viewer can process a lot of the strange concepts the show juggles, and Hermes often serving as sort of an oddly observant but disconnected bystander, playing devil's advocate a lot of the time. Kino expressed almost the whole range of human emotion, despite staying stone cold and composed a good amount of the time. She felt very real in that she attempted to keep her composure and had a very clear method of carrying herself, without always succeeding. I very much enjoyed watching her navigate these odd settlements. The animation is also very good for its time, still more than serviceable today, and the soundtrack certainly eliciting emotion when it means to. Cold, metallic tracks set the mood for dark or uncomfortable situations, while whimsical melodies serve to set up casual dialogue and travel scenes. The world is also visually beautiful, with all sorts of oddities appearing before Kino as she travels, like a massive tower that extends into the sky out of view, or a town suspended on a massive mushroom looking structure, or even just a standard shot in a flower bed. I don't really know what else to say. I really dug what they were going for, the main characters were great, everything else meshed together really well, and ultimately the ideas were solid. I really just took issue with the way the show used side characters and set up certain villages, which is why I explained that at length more so than anything else. **SCORE:** All in all, I'd give it like an 8/10. No higher due to how frequently I was taken out of the experience by some dumb shit, but no lower due to how much I enjoyed the ride otherwise.  **FINAL THEMATIC INTERPRETATION:** One should always be seeking to change and experience new things, while attempting to understand why other people might differ from their mindset. It promotes independence and forward thinking, while also frequently reminding the viewer not to get comfortable with any one idea they pick up. It's a message I enjoy on multiple levels, and one I can certainly get behind.

Interesting places and characters. Zen like and disturbing at times.

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