Kino’s Journey – the Beautiful World

Kino's Journey Type: TV Series
Episode Count: 13
Genre: Drama / Sci-Fi
Vintage: 2003

Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 13 Feb 2012

Grade: A

Deeply introspective and metaphorical, but not opaque.

Plot Summary
A young traveller named Kino sets out to explore the world, going from country to country learning of each land’s customs and traditions, accompanied only by her motorrad, named Hermes.

The Review
Kino’s Journey is a very different kind of series. It is highly philosophical, yet not pretentious. It explores many serious subjects, but is never preachy. This is a series which looks inward rather than out, and does so in a way which is quite compelling.

As Kino travels the world, she comes across many different countries and people, each with their own way of life. It is through this journey that the series works on another level; each situation that Kino finds herself in reflects a different part of the human condition. There are stories of survival, war, communication, and other elements of life, one of which each country Kino visits represents. Kino seeks to better understand the world through the experiences of visiting each of these  very different countries. Though mostly an introspective drama, there is some light comic relief with Hermes, Kino’s talking motorcycle companion. More than just a way for Kino to get around, he is a fully-fledged character, complete with his own history.

Kino’s Journey isn’t a story told to get from point A to point B. As implied by the title, it is about the journey. Kino isn’t on a quest (other than for knowledge) or destined to defeat any foe. The story lies in what she learns of the world in each of the countries that she goes to. In these travels, we also see how some of the best – and worst – aspects of humanity are portrayed when interpreted as allegorical stories. With Kino there is no judgement of what is “right” or “wrong”, only observation and self-preservation.

The series is presented in a somewhat unusual way, as well. It is shown through a banded horizontal filter, much like watching something on an old tube television set. Perhaps this is meant to convey that Kino’s journey is not so much a literal one as an allegorical one. Through the people she meets, we the viewer learn more about ourselves as humans. Kino’s Journey puts the spotlight not on itself, but to those who are watching it. This is a series I highly recommend to anyone who seeks a little bit of philosophy in their entertainment.

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