Anime Spotlight: Kino’s Journey

Kino’s Journey is an anime based on the light novel series by Keiichi Sigsawa. The series was produced by A.C.G.T., and was directed by Ryutaro Nakamura. The series aired on Japanese television from April 8-July 8, 2003.

As of this writing, ADV Films holds the North American distribution license for Kino’s Journey.

Kino, the main character of the series, travels with a talking motorcycle, Hermes. At the beginning of the anime series, Kino’s gender is ambiguous; however, in the fourth episode, it is confirmed that Kino is actually female. While on their travels, Kino and Hermes visit different countries and forests. As she goes on her journey, Kino will only stay in a spot for three days; she refuses to make any exceptions to this rule. In Kino’s mind, three days is a long enough time to learn most of the important things about a place, but not so long that she’ll become attached and want to settle down.

During her journeys, Kino meets both evil and good people. Since Kino has the potential to run into trouble on her journey, she carries a couple of weapons for her protection. The first is a .44 single action revolver that uses liquid explosives instead of gunpowder.  The other weapon is a .22 automatic pistol. Before heading out on her journey, Kino learned about marksmanship from a woman calling herself “Shishou,” which is Japanese for “mentor” or “master.”

Hermes is a talking Brough Superior motorcycle. Even though the cycle can be reluctant at times, it is still very faithful to Kino. The relationship between the bike and its owner is symbiotic; Hermes provides speed, and Kino provides balance.

During her travels, Kino visits many places where the people are oppressed in some way, a tragedy of some kind has occurred, or the culture became strange due to actions made by people living there. A recurring theme in Kino’s Journey is whether or not the use of violence is justified. Another theme is communication and the inherent problems associated with it.

Kino’s Journey is a very interesting series, and it seems to rely a bit on allegory. While it’s a good series, it’s not something you can just sit and casually watch. Kino’s Journey is a series you find yourself thinking about as you watch it, whether you do it consciously or subconsciously.

There were two particular episodes that really stood out to me: one about books and being able to distinguish between fantasy and reality and one about how two countries decided to avoid having war between each other.

If you don’t mind watching an anime series that makes you think about what it is you’re seeing, then you might find enjoyment in Kino’s Journey. It may have a slower pace and not have much in the way of any real action scenes, but I still found it to be an enjoyable viewing experience.

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