Kino’s Journey Anime Review | Should you watch it?

Kino's Journey
Kino’s Journey

I just watched Kino’s Journey recently, when it came highly recommended by a friend and I had it on hand. The same friend told me to review it when I asked what series I should review today. So…you know…I listen to my friends occasionally.

The Basics of Kino’s Journey

Episodes: 13Genre: Action, Adventure, Slice of Life (really MAL?)Aired: April 8, 2003 to July 8, 2003Directed by: Ryutaro NakamuraProducers: WOWOW, Genco, A.C.G.T., Studio Wombat (←plausibly the greatest studio name ever)Opening Theme: All the Way by Mikuni ShimokawaClosing Theme: Beautiful World by Ai Maeda / Hajimari no Hi by Ai Maeda

Review of Kino’s Journey

The Story of Kino’s Journey

I have given two people the same explanation of Kino’s Journey—it is about a girl named Kino…who journeys. And seriously, that’s what the series is about. Kino is a traveler (I honestly feel that would be called her trade) who basically goes wherever she wants, wherever sounds interesting. Her only company is her motorbike. That might sound like a pretty lonely life, and in some ways it probably is, but she’s not completely alone…her bike happens to be named Hermes, and he talks.

The series is an episodic adventure, focusing on Kino at different points as she goes to various places. The places are called “countries” though really, they come across more like cities, with their small size. Each one is different from the next—from the country with a library that holds books from all over the world to the one with the exceptionally excited people. Not to mention the things Kino comes across in-between countries, robots and workers and bunnies. (No that’s not a joke. There are bunnies. I swear to you there are bunnies.)
Despite the lack of an overwhelming plot, it’s very interesting to watch Kino do what she does.

The Characters of Kino’s Journey

I would first like to say that I like Kino. I truly do. She’s the sort of person I want to meet, have lunch with once or twice a year to hear about her adventures, and then write novels about. But I do have to say that as a lead character, she isn’t anything special. Sure, she’s kind of badass—you have to be kind of badass if you want to survive, traveling alone all over the place, especially if you’re a girl (I say this not because girls are weaker, but I figure girls are more likely to be raped). And she’s not a flat character; she is interesting. But there wasn’t anything about her that makes me see her as different.

Then there was Hermes. A talking motorbike. That is awesome in and of itself. Hermes does not need anything else to make him interesting. But really, his personality amused me. I’m pretty sure I have now seen what Kero-chan (Card Captor Sakura) would be like if he randomly transformed into a motorbike one day instead of a rather enormous cat.
Those were the only two major characters. Everyone else you saw for about the duration of the episode, sometimes less, and I really don’t want to go into detail on any of those people because I feel like it would be too spoilerish of me to do so. I will say though, that some of those other people who show up are distinctly brilliant. Even for the characters that you only met for an episode, I felt like I’d known them for a long time. That’s always a good feeling to get.

The Setting

In Kino’s Journey, the setting is an extreme standout. If she just stayed in one place the entire series, then no, I don’t think any of them would have stood out to me excessively well. Each place, as an individual location, while interesting, was nothing special. It’s like Clearwater, Florida versus Beaverton, Oregon (both places I have lived, both places I have loved). They’re both interesting and great places to be, but they aren’t anything spectacular in comparison to all of the other cities I’ve been to or passed through in my life.
Taken as a conglomerate though, it’s fantastic. When you get to see all the different places in this single world, see this one person travel to all of them and experience how different they are with her, that’s when it’s something awesome.

It’s kind of beautiful, even when some of the kind of place isn’t. In one country, for example, the one with the library, most books are restricted. It’s a matter of the books you may read. As a great lover of books, the censorship of reading material makes me rage. But there is also a group in that country who is determined to make the books accessible to everyone, and to me, that is spectacular. And realistic. In real life, you do have that combination of terrible and wonderful in the same place—heck, the same person.
So for being realistic and harsh, but beautiful, I applaud the setting of Kino’s Journey.

Conclusion?

The best word I can think to use for describing this anime is unique. Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it before. That’s something I love. These days it seems like everything is too similar to everything else. And I don’t mean that as much of an insult to current anime, as there are definitely series more recent that I love and enjoy. But it seems like people are running out of creativity sometimes, so seeing something like just made me so ridiculously happy I can’t even tell you.

I definitely recommend it as something you should go watch right now.
I’m trying to think of comparisons here. I can’t think of any direct comparisons, but…if you like anime that is simple, but also intense and powerful, you’ll like Kino’s Journey. If you want a series that has just one primary plot, not so much (though I’d still suggest giving it a shot) and…well really that’s about it. This series was so…its own thing, that I can’t even come up with anything to compare it to. Intense, bro.

Reviewed by Arianna sterling

If you liked this review read the Angel beats review.

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