Kino’s Journey (2017) Series Review: Aimless Wanderer’s Journey Fails To Connect

Overview:

Kino travels from country to country with her talking motorrad Hermes. She stays in each country for three days and then moves on.

Review:

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for episodic stories (even highly formulaic ones) so Kino’s Journey was something I thought I could get in to. I’d never seen the original (hadn’t heard of it until this new series came out) so I didn’t go in with expectations or comparisons like some viewers, and yet after my initial fairly positive impressions during the first 2 – 3 episodes, the show essentially bombed. So what went wrong?

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A lot of the blame needs to be placed on the lack of cohesion in this story, which is a weird criticism to give something that is episodic and yet makes sense. When I think about something like Natsume Yuujinchou that used a fairly episodic approach through most of its seasons, each season still has an over-arching theme that is developed and most stories somehow connect us to that theme. Even something like Ghost Hunt has characters who develop over the course of their encounters and relationships that change so even though the individual stories can be viewed in isolation, watching in order adds something to the experience as there are solid narrative connections.

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Kino’s Journey lacks this. Kino is not an interesting enough (or explored enough) character to make their development (not that there is any) the linking thread (plus Kino is missing from a number of episodes of Kino’s Journey). And there seems to be no central idea other than one of selfish desire and even that isn’t really explored it just kind of is.

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As a result, individual episodes have to be judged on their own merit as stand-alone stories and not one of these episodes has sufficient depth or strength to really hold up. Some of them are outright badly written and completely pointless.

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That isn’t to say there are no good ideas or interesting moments in Kino’s Journey. There are plenty. However, the story isn’t interesting in delving into any of these or giving them the exploration they need to be something more than a throw away line or idea. You will swiftly be moved on to more mediocre moments and wondering just why you bothered to watch the next story at all.

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Overall, this one just wasn’t worth the time. It looks good enough but isn’t dazzling. The basic premise is solid but nothing is every really done with it. Some of the support characters we meet along the way are interesting enough but as this is an ongoing journey, none of them hang around long enough to save the show. And episode 12 is a joke gone wrong so just spare yourself. Definitely not one I can recommend.

Episode Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Kino’s Journey Episode 12: A Fittingly Bland End

Review:

We’re seriously going to end this fairly dull anime with an episode about Kino getting chased by sheep? Really? This is really what you want the audience to remember? And yet, I can’t say I’m overly surprised given this show hasn’t really done much of anything since the first handful of episodes that really seems like it is aware that it should consider the audience.

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Despite Kino being able to have avoided being pinned against the ravine by the sheep if she’d actually taken Hermes on an angle past the second herd, and despite the fact that they were sheep (okay, we find out they are fighting sheep but they’re sheep) Kino ends up getting a last stand style scene where she just mercilessly sets them on fire and shoots down any resistance. It is stupid, it is unnecessary, and the presentation is obnoxiously grandiose consider she’s fighting with sheep.

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Farewell Kino’s journey. I won’t miss you and the only revisiting I will do will involve writing a whole series review about all the ways you went wrong.

Lastly, a reminder to vote in the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season. If you haven’t voted click here.


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Karandi James.

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Kino’s Journey Episode 10: Pointless

Review:

You know, I don’t mind a story ending with ‘and then they all died’ as long as it feels like there was some message or point the story was trying to get across. Other than they stubbornly won’t evacuate, I really got nothing out of this and to be perfectly frank this whole episode just left a bad taste in my mouth.

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And that’s really all I have to say about this episode. It’s excessively happy and nice for three quarters of the run time and then, here’s a twist, we’ll kill everyone. Kino’s Journey is really not doing much for me at this point in time.


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Karandi James.

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Kino’s Journey Episode 9: Disjointed Fragments

Review:

The episode title claimed various countries and it wasn’t kidding. This episode we jump between Shizu, Ti and Riku and Kino and Hermes as they travel about. The end result is a fairly mish-mashed episode with ideas and countries fighting for your attention and the usual lack of subtlety I’ve come to expect from this show.

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The opening observations of the bandits of the groups passing by were amusing enough but ultimately just set up for a joke about Kino’s master and didn’t connect to anything else of serve any purpose.

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The country with the point system could have been really interesting if they’d bothered to actually explore the notion but instead they just explicitly lay it out, including the major flaw in the system, and then we just move on.

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Then we have some random cooking thing that somehow connects Kino and Shizu again, a random country where Shizu and Ti make a point about wishes. Again, that could have been interesting but nothing was done with it. And lastly a country we don’t get to see at all because Kino’s had their memory wiped on departure.

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While not one of these things was bad, the episode as a whole was lacking in cohesion and impact and overall just another meh moment in a series that hasn’t done much to impress during its run time.


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Karandi James.

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Kino’s Journey Episode 7: The Art of Reimagining History

Review:

Obi Wan Kenobi probably said it best when he told Luke, “So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view.” History is open to interpretation and two people given the same set of facts may very well draw different conclusions. It gets even muddier when you mix in people’s emotions and the pride of a country. And it is this perspective that this week’s Kino’s Journey looks to highlight and while it does it well enough, as always this show kind of lacks subtlety.

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It is almost as though they start from ‘and this week the message is’ and then find a way to shove that into the viewers face repeatedly throughout the course of the story. The story itself, this week, is actually kind of interesting as we have Kino relating a story their master once told them about a country with a clock tower and then when we get to the end of the story Kino arrives in the country. The man she speaks to their has a different version of the same story but just in case you were wondering who was lying there’s a fairly obvious visuals clue and then Kino verbally draws attention to it. Just in case you missed it.

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Honestly, I like this show well enough, but it would be better if they could just let the story speak for itself.


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Karandi James.

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Kino’s Journey Episode 5: A Little Dull This Week

Review:

This week Kino took us to two countries. The first where they memorialized the motorrad of a previous traveller who apparently became a great leader. The Motorrad was thrilled with being confined to a memorial mind you, asking Kino to smash it to bits after they said they couldn’t ride him out of there.

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Then we journeyed to a land of liars where we get told the story of an uprising against a tyrannical king. You kind of know you aren’t getting the whole story and then you get two further additions to the story putting it into a different perspective. It is interesting enough but essentially people sitting around and talking about something that has already happened.

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While the first couple of episodes of this were slow, they were pretty engaging. These last two episodes have been a lot flatter and I’m feeling my interest fading. Hopefully the next story is engaging again.


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Karandi James.

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Kino’s Journey Episode 4: We Can Fix It

Review:

At first I thought it was odd that this episode had Shizu as the main character visiting the country (Kino doesn’t appear until much later in the episode, though you kind of know they are going to show up and it isn’t much of a surprise when they finally do run into each other). However, given the nature of the story, it kind of made sense.

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Shizu isn’t passive or willing to take the not-my-problem approach to injustice that Kino seems to adopt at times and sets about investigating the Ship Country before deciding he needs to fix the problem. It is very reminiscent of shows like Stargate where they encounter a culture and then try to convince them they are wrong because their actions don’t agree with whatever personal philosophy the character has decided on for the week. So Shizu decides to confront those in charge.

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After trying for a peaceful solution, he straps on his sword and off he goes to be the hero before running smack into Kino, who being Kino is operating strictly under their own self-interest. Of course Kino chose to stay in the tower rather than become a worker. And of course Kino doesn’t care about the workers. But, when the tower decides to change the ship’s direction upsetting Kino’s travel plans… Suddenly Kino’s self-interest is in-line with Shizu’s. Probably just as well for Shizu. Nice guy but not the brightest bulb in terms of self-preservation or even social studies really.

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Yet, the end is fairly predictable. The people ‘saved’ didn’t actually asked to be saved and they kind of liked their status quo. It wasn’t perfect, but they never asked an outsider to mess it up. Then there’s another little twist but it isn’t overly significant so I’ll leave that alone.

I didn’t like this episode as much as previous ones. Mostly because Shizu is a character (or representative of characters) we’ve seen a million times before. Kino’s action in the first three episodes are interesting because they tend to deviate from what you would expect in a given situation. Still, the contrast between the way Kino travels and Shizu this week is quite well done.


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Karandi James.

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Kino’s Journey Episode 2: Story Crafting Done Right

Review – Episode Spoiler Ahead:

There was something magical about this episode even as we started with a vision of a woman speaking with Kino in an incredibly ambiguous fashion and then we get straight into a new country, one that Kino has apparently been wanting to visit. Yet on arrival, things are not as expected (which plays directly into the audiences’ expectations).

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For a set up so common, what Kino’s Journey then does is  take us through a rather thought provoking series of events that have us both backing Kino and question their choice in how to deal with the situation. Other characters similarly have ambiguous motives so while the plot progresses in a more or less routine fashion there is plenty for the audience to contemplate.

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What truly works though isn’t the shocking climax of the fights, because that was pretty telegraphed by Kino’s earlier question about stray bullets and a number of other hints, but rather just how well all the moments of this episode connect.

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Perhaps the most powerful scene of all comes after Kino leaves the country and is throwing rocks into the water. The conversation between Kino and Hermes is both illuminating and maddeningly vague leading you to speculate about the intentions of the characters involved.

All and all though, this episode really stepped up defied my expectation that this episodic series might be dull. This episode was truly a treat to watch.


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Karandi James.

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