According to Kino’s journey, the world is a grim place filled with only despair and Hell is empty. Despite this negativity, Kino remains calm as she travels through different countries, killing and preaching her way through adversity. The bodies pile up with every episodes as entire countries get wiped out more often than not during the 20 minutes Kino is sightseeing in yet another country.
Over the duration of thirteen episodes, Kino’s journey sometimes shines and sometimes… doesn’t shine to put it lightly. But I wanted to add that if I had watched this series in one go, I probably wouldn’t even have noticed the ‘bad’ episodes.
In this despair-filled world everyone is crazy, motor-cycles talk and the average life-expectancy is twenty. It’s hardly surprising that Kino ends up with a complex or two, a split personality, and some dramatic flair.
Her whimsical nature and aloof personality make Kino unpredictable, which is a death sentence in this episodic anime. I don’t want a different Kino every episode.
If Kino says that taking revenge is bad, than she should still think that 6 episodes later. And when Kino regrets killing three bunnies, she should feel some faint sense of regret over killing people too.
Hermes calls it ‘having a change of heart’, but I know better. Kino gets regularly abducted by aliens and brainwashed (which is the official definition of character development).
This doesn’t mean, however, that Kino has no good points at all. Her indifferent demeanour had its charming aspects and at the end of the day, when all was said of done, Kino could summarise her feelings about the horrors she had witnessed in one simple question. It was one of the moments I always anticipated; Kino’s question. Besides, her skills with her persuaders are amazing!
After talking staffs, swords, and stones, we have a sentient motorcycle. Hermes’s sole purpose in this series is letting Kino talk about the situation so the watcher has at least an inkling about what Kino’s thinking. Unfortunately, Hermes never asks the really important questions, because those questions don’t have one single true answer to them or are too big to be truly comprehended.
In addition to his role of interviewer, Hermes is supposed to give comedic relief, which falls flat ever single time. I’m really sorry for Hermes, but his puns weren’t even funny -not ever. And what do you get when you have a talking motorcycle who makes bad puns? Yes, that’s right; an annoying side-character somehow landing himself the role of second main character.
Each episode of Kino’s journey is dedicated to a societal problem or controversial topic, taking advantage of Kino’s outsider perspective to show the absurdity of these situations.
Despite her aloof attitude, Kino often ends up involved in situations in which she was only supposed to be an observer. And it’s there that Kino’s character fails; every time she’s presented with a decision in a morally grey area, Kino acts shockingly out of character. Afterwards, Kino and Hermes take off again to a new country, the mess they have left behind already forgotten (not that I blame them with the incredible death rate).
Also, many episodes strongly reminded me of other anime I have already watched. However, instead of using one episode to deal with one particular topic, those anime used and arc or their whole 12 episodes to address it in a more satisfying manner. I won’t say that I’m disappointed, because I didn’t have any expectations going in (Ah, that was not very nice), but I do smell some wasted potential here.
The last episode was somewhat of a déjà vu, and I loved every minute of it. Oh, it wasn’t perfect and way too much time was, again, squandered on useless conversations with Hermes on ‘the meaning of live’ and ‘why Kino travels’.
But between those conversations was a compelling story with a surprising outcome, even more so considering the way Kino acts out of character this time. I wish the anime had paid more attention to Kino as character rather than using her as a tool to voice the author’s pedantic opinions. Kino deserved better than that and I would have loved to have got to know more about Kino.