Review: Kino’s Journey


Anime: Kino’s Journey
Animation Studio: Studio Wombat
Number of Episodes: 13
Length per Episode: Approximately 24 minutes

Having watched so many shows recently that were your standard otaku-pandering deal, it was nice to wind back the clock and watch a show that didn’t need to rely on overly-cute girls with extreme rack sizes (on either side of the spectrum). Plus, Kino’s Journey is a show that makes you think, which I love.

Oh, and before I start, you might have noticed that I have now added a banner to the site (that is, if everything goes according to keikaku). I actually have multiple banners thanks to the awesome Marina and Nadja, and they’re randomized for whenever you load a page. However, I’m turning my laptop off the second I’m done writing this (IT’S TOO HOT), so I can’t check that everything is running properly.

Kino’s Journey has no real plot to speak of. I mean, yes, each episode has its own story, but there’s no real overarching plot to speak of other than, “Kino journeys to places.” There’s only one exception where a story spans for two episodes, but that’s the only one. Each episode is standalone and doesn’t need any information from previous episodes to understand (except for a few tidbits about Kino which get revealed over time).snap2



Each episode is essentially an allegory. There’s usually a dominant societal or political message in each one, but there are also many, many more messages to be deciphered from what goes on in each episode.

What gets me most about the show is the fact that it was made back in 2003, yet nearly all of the messages are still applicable to the world today. In fact, it’s pretty funny that I watched the show recently, given what one of the plots was about.snap5

For an example of what I was saying earlier about messages, this episode’s main point was on the harms of religion (or, maybe more accurately, blind faith), but other messages included: not realizing what you have until you lose it, how emotions (especially sorrow) are contagious, and how blind faith can turn one thing into something else entirely.

Those are all pretty basic messages, but they’re thrown in so tactfully, that you won’t be able to see them all if you don’t think about it. Occasionally the show will also somewhat break the boundaries of realism (even by the show’s standards), but it’s always to make a point or deliver a message.

Also, I was reading threads on the episodes, and people occasionally got mad at Kino. This is because for the show, Kino plays the role of the observer. It’s not Kino’s job to fix people’s lives or anything of the sort. In fact, there’s only one time when Kino breaks from the observation role and does something to directly affect a country. Any of the other times Kino does something to someone, it’s in self-defense.

Well that was a decently short review. But the show really is something that should be experienced, rather than read about. Kino’s Journey is an instant classic, and if you like thinking, especially philosophically or politically, there’s no reason you shouldn’t watch this show.

RATING: 10 out of 10.



6 Comments on “Review: Kino’s Journey”

  1. Marina says:

    I greatly enjoy Kino no Tabi and definitely see the value in all its themes and lessons. You should try reading TWWK’s post on that End of the World episode; I found it highly interesting and somewhat humorous.

    While I do like this show quite a lot, it was a bit hard getting into since it has such a slow, slow pace. I’m pretty used to slow since my favorite series are the ARIA seasons, but still, Kino no Tabi felt like it was moving at a snail’s pace. I actually dropped it for a bit before coming back to it. Another thing about it that kinda irked me,was how a full screen of would pop up and Kino would repeat aloud what’s on the screen. It happened too often and I thought one or the other was just redundant and stupid. I can read, thanks! Or, I can hear, thanks!

    Other than those minor annoyances, I left the show with fairly positive reviews. I also own the anime on DVD since I got it on impulse, so I’ll have to re-watch it sometime.

    • Riyoga says:

      Sounds good, I’ll take a look at his post when I get the chance.

      Agreed, the show has a slow pace. Like you, it was a bit tough for me to get into at first due to that. However, after a few episodes, I realized the joy wasn’t in paying tons of attention to the plot, but rather just following it as basically as you can, while trying to spot all the messages being stated. The plots are meant to be very basic, it’s the care they put into inserting the messages which I greatly respect the show for.

      I actually ordered the DVD after finishing it. It was on sale for $23.99 on RIghtstuf, haha.

  2. Nadja says:

    I haven’t watched Kino no Tabi yet, but I have been planning on it for a long time. I’ll try to get around to it soon; it sounds like a very interesting show.

    Oh, and thanks for putting up the banners. They look really awesome at the top of the page, all official and everything. The banner that Marina made looks really, really fantastic as well. I wish I had the official photoshop, so I could make things like that.

    • Riyoga says:

      It was a really good show. What I’d actually recommend doing is looking at the MAL thread for each episode after watching the respective episode. They’re usually pretty short since it’s an older show, and some of the messages/interpretations that people spot are very intriguing.

      No problem. I can’t thank you guys enough for making the banners for me. I love all of them.

  3. sensualaoi says:

    I enjoyed the mood of it, but I would never say it was deep. Any lessons learned are very simplistic.. Little Prince had more depth, more exploration of the themes.

    • Riyoga says:

      It was never meant to really explore the themes though. They’re just brought up so that you can think about them. I actually think shows that take a side lose depth due to it. I don’t know if Little Prince did that since I haven’t watched it, but still.

      People often compare Kino’s Journey to Aesop’s Fables, which is basically true except whereas Aesop’s ends each tale with the message to be learned, Kino’s doesn’t do that.

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