Final Impressions: Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World

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Anime: Kino’s Journey

Season aired: Fall 2017

Number of episodes: 12

Genres: Drama, Adventure, Fantasy

Thoughts: Please keep in mind that I have not seen seen the original 2003 series, so my thoughts are completely independent of the older version. For all of the criticisms it received  throughout the Fall season, I appreciated the artistry of Kino’s Journey. Most of all, I admired its ability to open a discussion about different human philosophies through the exploration of unique countries.

This anime is heavily focused on plot, with its remaining attention given to the few main recurring characters. While some people may feel disconnected to the characters due to the lower emphasis on character development, others will likely forgive that oversight because of the fantastic job Kino’s Journey did at developing the backstory and culture of each country instead. It succeeds in giving the audience a wider story about the world and how humanity operates, instead of an individual’s story about their growth and struggles.

In fact, the attention to detail this anime puts into each country extends to the artwork. Beautifully illustrated, heavy emphasis is placed on the appearance of stores, scenic routes, and even background characters, right down to the details of their clothing.

Detailed clothing and architecture (Source)

An important thing to note though is that the anime, despite its focus on plot and countries, did not forget to explore Kino, our enigmatic traveler. The audience is eventually gifted with an extraordinarily interesting backstory. Even better, the anime chooses to reveal it near the end of the series, keeping the audience’s curiosity fueled up until the very end. It helps us understand her as a character and what motivated her to travel in the first place. And that kind of setup for her backstory made me satisfied with the anime.

However, as much as I enjoyed Kino’s Journey, this show is not for everyone. The pacing and style of storytelling is crafted to match the pacing of the real world, sometimes slow, sometimes fast, and sometimes just in between. As a result, I think it appeals to a niche group of people and not to the vast majority. The action, though beautifully animated and exciting, tends to vary depending on the country that Kino journeys to in each episode. There is also no overarching conflict, and only someone who takes interest in subtle details would catch the philosophical messages hidden behind how each country operates.

The small recurring characters (Source)

Because each country has its own plot and theme, the atmosphere changes and is never consistent. Though realistic with how the world operates, that is not how all people enjoy stories as the fluctuating tone can be hard to keep up with. So, if you are either looking for a much more easy-going travel anime or an action packed adventure with psychological themes that stays consistent in tone, Kino’s Journey: A Beautiful World will likely not satisfy your needs.

Rating

I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.

Plot: 8

Characters: 7

Voice acting: 7

Art/Animation: 9

Soundtrack: 7

Total: 38

Multiplier: 2

FINAL SCORE: 76

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