What could possibly be better than an episodic show that features a girl with deep thoughts and deadly guns who rides a motorcycle? Try adding in a motorcycle that thinks and talks. It is a crazy, out-there idea that spells insta-win for just about everyone. In fact, it works so well you might almost think that every series would be greatly benefited by having a motorcycle with a personality.
It might be tempting to write off Kino’s Journey as a show that simply rides its intriguing concept for all that it is worth. But the series doesn’t really treat its motorcycle (named Hermes) any different from any other character. At the same time, it isn’t so disconnected from reality that it doesn’t throw other characters for a loop when he talks. It is a great mix and one that should be made note of by those who want to use non-human characters effectively.
Kino’s age is never really stated, nor is the gender made a point of until a sudden, surprising flashback episode. All we know initially is that Kino is on a journey with a talking motorcycle. More-or-less each episode takes place in a different locale, each country acting as an isolated area that seems like a different world from its surrounding areas. Thus Kino is able to visit a wide variety of places with different kinds of people. They go around talking to the people to find out what the country is about, enjoying the local color.
The interesting thing about the show is that it rarely tells the viewer what they should think about the way other countries do their thing. Instead, Kino asks questions and discovers, but unless the country directly affects their journey (like the one that takes all visitors and puts them in a Rome-esque Gladiator tournament), they tend to not pass judgement or let things prevent them from having a good time. That doesn’t mean they don’t ask tough questions of the inhabitents. While they could be constrewed as being indictive of a certain moral judgement on Kino’s part, they tend to come across as more logical curiosity–they let the countries make their decisions without interferring unless it is thrust upon them to do so.
A few clunker episodes during the first 1/3 of the series can make this a slow one to get into, but it is definitely worth it. Seems like the sort of series that would do better on a replay, too. Still, it is slower paced and a lot of viewers might get impatient with it. However, it is a work of art that is a must-have for anyone who likes ponderous anime series that asks some deep questions.
Title: Kino’s Journey
US Distributor: ADV
Number of Episodes: 13
Availability: Quite available as both a reasonably priced thinkpack (especially when a RightStuf sale rolls around) and singles.
Links: ANN Encyclopedia