Kino’s Journey: Country of Illness -For You Review

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It’s time for another Kino special. I’ve never been much of a Kino fan but the concept isn’t bad. Because the whole series is about watching her go to various lands and experiencing their traditions and customs, it means that there is always the chance you will enjoy the adventure or also dislike it by the same token. Effectively the franchise gets a blank slate each time. I’d say this one was the best yet mainly thanks to the Moped not getting to do much and Kino being a little less deadpan this time around. It’s short so the special doesn’t drag on or anything either.

In this adventure, Kino heads to a futuristic city. The inhabitants are worried about germs because they may prove to be fatal. Their way of society seems rather flipped from the usual norm. The wealthy and influential people live outside in the rugged desert as they make a home and defeat the outside elements. The poor and middle class live in the city where they can do whatever they want thanks to the tech. It seems like a paradise for them and an endurance test for the wealthy, but why is this? Kino becomes friends with a girl who is sick at the hospital and agrees to deliver her letter to a boy who lives on the outside. Is Kino ready for what she may discover there?

It’s not a Kino adventure without a few twists and the adventure should keep you guessing for a little while. You can probably imagine that things didn’t go very well for the boy when the girl explains that she hasn’t seen him in over a year. That’s always a bad sign and when Kino sees how desolate the outside world looks, it brings a few questions to mind as well. People rarely tell the actual truth to outsiders in these things so at least Kino is ready. It’s also fortunate that she always has her gun at the ready as well. You really can’t trust these guys.

While it’s a pretty somber special, it doesn’t go overboard. It’s sad, but not over the top with big time human experimentation or anything. People were effectively sacrificed though and the government looks shady as always. We don’t really get any fights in this special although Kino does get to fire a shot. Her recommendation to the girl to go check the outside world out when she is better is probably not the greatest advice though. The girl is certainly going to be in for a very rude awakening.

As far as Kino herself goes, the character wasn’t all that bad this time. She’s still not very interesting, but at least she tried to keep the girl’s spirits up and didn’t stand by as a bunch of people were murdered for a change. Her “no interference” policy still ensures that she’ll never be a hero though. At best she will always be a person who looks out for herself first and foremost. The Moped still tries to be funny in all of his scenes, but they never really work. I’ll give him some credit for the constant attempts though. He certainly never gives up.

The other characters in the special were okay although none of them got a particularly large role. They’re meant to be background elements as you focus on just taking in the land and how it works. The sick girl was reasonable although it’s unfortunate that she has to go along with all of the tests. I opt out of just about every shot at the doctor because most of them just seem so pointless. That’s definitely what she should have done here. The boy from the flashbacks was all right I guess, but he was a little generic and nothing really happened with his plot. The night guard may have tried to justify his actions with every other line, but they weren’t very convincing. He makes for a decent antagonist though.

One thing Kino’s Journey always does well is keeping everything very quiet. The towns always seem desolate as Kino walks around even when people are there. There’s something about the series that always makes everything seem hollow and fake even if the people are being jolly. It’s that elusive Twilight Zone effect and it certainly gives the series an air of mystery.

The soundtrack is really nothing special as it’s the same tunes that we have been hearing over and over again. I can’t even say that it’s all that memorable. I suppose the laid back feel of the music is supposed to go hand in hand with how mellow the special is in general, but I wouldn’t mind some fast tunes once in a while. The animation isn’t bad either. It’s below average as it definitely hasn’t aged well and much older shows look more impressive. There is no way that you’d guess this film came out in 2007 as it looks like something closer to the 90’s or very late 80’s. However, if you look at it in a vacuum without comparing it to anything else, then Kino’s Journey still looks fine.

Overall, This was the most enjoyable Kino’s Journey feature. It’s still held back by a number of issues like the underwhelming technical aspects and the lackluster main characters. The plot is still interesting though and it doesn’t drag on. At it’s core, Kino’s Journey is like a nice breeze that is fun while it lasts and is then forgotten. There’s nothing there to call it a bad film, but there isn’t much to make it memorable either. It’s a good film because it doesn’t make any mistakes is the best way to think about it. Hopefully the series can get a reboot/sequel nostalgia film which will energize the franchise. I think that’s what it needs the most, some energy. It’ll be difficult balancing that and the eerily quiet scenes, but I’m sure it can manage. I think this is it for the franchise at the moment though so it feels pretty good to be caught up. At least as far as the animated content goes.

Overall 6/10

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Kino’s Journey: Life Goes On Review

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It looks like Kino is back on the job with this prequel OVA. We’re back in the days of her youth before she became devoid of personality but still after the tragedy of the original Kino. At less than 30 minutes long, this OVA is fairly short, but it’s not bad. We get to see more crazy customs and a lot of pondering by the cast. In a way, you could say that Kino’s Journey is like a grim Charlie Brown…just think about it.

So, Kino wants to find the village where the original Kino used to live. After all, she may have taken his name, but she feels like she can’t properly use it until she wraps up these loose ends. Her master allows her to go, but gives Kino a gun just in case. Kino may run into all kinds of dangers and having some form of self defense has never hurt before. What could have happened to change Kino from the happy girl that she used to be into the emotionless person that she would transform into? It is all explained in this special.

We may as well get down to business right off the bat. The series likes to show a lot of odd superstitions and customs from the various places that Kino visits and this one is no exception. The villagers have decided that anyone beyond their village is someone who cannot be bound by their laws. As such, they decide not to do anything while an old lady murders all travelers who come by so that she can avenge her son. Many travelers meet an ill timed fate at her hands until Kino shows up one day and puts an end to it. Kino ultimately puts her gun skills to use and the taking of a life took its toll as she immediately became a different person. I suppose it’s hard not to get jaded after that, but Kino should have suspected something.

I figured that the old lady was approaching nut bar factor 6 once the animation gave her a red tint and she started glaring at Kino. Kino didn’t quite realize this even after she started to tell the lady about how her son was murdered by Kino’s parents. Probably not the best way to go about this although the lady was going to take her down anyway. Remember, never accept a tea from a stranger or it’s probably going to be spiked. I suppose the old lady was almost a decent antagonist, but I’d like to see another gun pro as the main villain at some point. It would give Kino more of a challenge.

I can’t say that I’m crazy about Kino’s animation. It’s not really my style as it goes for a more retro, grainy look. I suppose making it look older can help make the atmosphere a little more mysterious, but I’m sure you could do this with modern animation as well. There’s not much of a soundtrack since this is a rather quiet show, but it was neat to hear the classic sound effects from the show.

While this special was good, there is one area where the franchise could improve a lot and it would help future titles. The main cast needs a serious revamp. As it stands, there aren’t really any likable characters at all. I liked Kino until she reverted to her TV show form in the end, but nobody else stands out. The Motorcycle is a pretty bland character and the master didn’t seem to have a personality. The main villain probably stood out the most and she’s totally insane. Adding in good characters can definitely make a difference and it’s probably what separates this from Twilight Zone as the two have a very similar concept. This show just doesn’t have the cool alien episodes or supernatural adventures and prefers to stay old school. Not a bad decision per say, but it does limit its opportunities.

Overall, Life Goes On is a good way to continue Kino’s Journey. I clearly did enjoy it more than the show as this kind of series is definitely a case by case basis. If the story is good then we’ll have a winner, but if the traditions are too dicey then it won’t have the same effect. This special was interesting enough and the time went by at a good speed. If you enjoy adventures where you get to see different lands and situations then this should be up your ally. It’s a special that easily stands on its own so you don’t need to have seen the show to get what’s happening. It’s not the most exciting thing out there, but it’s good enough to warrant a watch.

Overall 6/10

Kino’s Journey Review

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It’s time for an anime review! It’s been a little while since I reviewed one so it’s time to get back in the swing of things. Unfortunately, Kino’s Journey is one of the weakest anime that I have seen in a long while and doesn’t hold up well. Despite the dated animation and unlikable characters, the show does have something going for it. Kino’s Journey is only 13 episodes. Beyond that, it’s a pretty tough ride and not a title that I would recommend for aspiring anime fans.

Kino’s journey is about a girl who drives around on her talking motorrad. She is a traveler, which means that she has no place to call home and simply visits towns as she travels the world. Her only rule is that she can never stay in a place for more than 3 days. She gets to see the worst of humanity and its best. Just about all of the episodes are stand alone adventures and some episodes even have 2-3 stories within them. As with most anthologies, this means that some episodes are good while others are really bad. Unfortunately, the latter is usually the case. Since the series is so short, lets take a look at most of the episodes.

The first episode has a Twilight Zone esque feel as Kino arrives in a town where machines do everything. Humans now live by themselves and avoid each other. The reason for this is that they have mastered telepathy and now know each other’s dark secrets. They are all so dark and mysterious that they can’t even look at each other. Kino listens to the sad tale and drives off, admiring the irony of how they originally just wanted to get to know each other better. This was a good way to start the series. It was an interesting episode and the plot was sound. It may not be very exciting, but it was decent enough.

Unfortunately, the second episode was the worst in the series and shot the series right into the gutter. Kino was driving across a snowy mountain when she noticed three human traffickers dying of hunger and thirst. She quickly murders a few rabbits and give them to these crooks, but not before they ate the people they were carrying. Kino quickly dashes off and realizes that she should have spared the rabbits instead of the humans, but 20/20 hindsight won’t be winning Kino any points. The episode is so dark and grim that it’ll just make you shake your head. Reading memes about Harambe is more thought provoking than this episode as Kino just proves that she has a lot more respect for saving humans than animals. The series really never recovered from this episode.

The third episode is an anthology inside of anthology. It was a little on the boring side since most of the stories didn’t have enough time to actually do anything. The first story is all right as a guy states that the world will be ending soon, but then another guy says that he counted the days wrong so it won’t be ending quite yet. Kino takes the opportunity to nab as much free food as she can and heads out. Another town showed up, which lived only to entertain travelers. Kino got out of there quickly to ensure the town’s demise. Well, the episode was a lot better than the second one.

Next was the episode where we finally saw Kino’s origin story. She lived in a twisted town where all kids had to undergo an operation to turn into adults. Luckily, a guy named Kino showed up. He was a traveler so he didn’t want to interfere, but when he saw that the town was going to murder Kino, he quickly stepped in. They murdered him and went to get Kino, but she escaped on the motorrad. This was the turning point where she lost her personality, design, and character in exchange for gun skills. It was a pretty fun episode and it shows how many towns are actually pretty twisted and you have to either get with the program of get out. I recommend the latter.

The 5th episode was fairly interesting even if it was a little repetitive. Kino discovers a land where there is an infinite cycle made by 4-5 guys. One guy spends his whole life taking apart the tracks, another guy spends his life putting them back, another guy polishes them, etc. They are all working together, but don’t see the other guys since they are a few miles apart. This means that none of them will ever make any progress or be able to return home to their families. It’s a shame, but they are getting paid so I suppose they should be grateful for that. Not to mention the fact that they technically could go home, but choose not to do so for some crazy reason. Kino decides not to mention any of this since she doesn’t want to change the customs and just tells them stories as she rides on. This was a good, calm episode.

The next two episodes contained the tournament saga. These episodes were the only ones with real action behind them so that was neat. Kino entered a tournament where she had to fight a lot of opponents to the death. Kino wanted to win without destroying anyone and steadily climbed the ranks. Then she realized that the leader was pretty corrupt so she decided to break her traveler law and shoot the guy in the face. A pretty dramatic Hunger Games esque ending to that event. Well, the tourney was pretty fun, but Kino was a jerk to everyone as per usual. She refused to keep anyone in the loop and just did what she wanted when she wanted to. At least this proved that she is certainly a very good fighter and someone who should be feared. It was a fun two parter.

The next episode had Kino be a supporting character for once as another character decided to build a plane. She did pretty good and completed the task. There’s not much to this episode, but there’s nothing wrong with it either. If anything, the main character was a definite improvement over Kino so that’s always a good thing. The one after that involved a land where books are forbidden aside from really family friendly ones. Naturally, that means that Kino didn’t like the books since she needs something with a little more edge to it. She meets a delusional author who believes that reality is fake and everyone starts chasing each other and the episode loses its sense of purpose by the end. There were fires and a lot of crazy stuff, but the episode was pretty jumbled and didn’t make too much sense by the end. It was all right I suppose, but Kino really needs to stop getting in everyone’s way if she’s not actually going to do anything to help.
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Episode 10 saw Kino head to a house where the family were robots. It takes Kino a really long time to figure this out, but at least it means that she will get free meals all the time. Kino ultimately decides to move on, but it was a decent enough resting place I suppose. Robots get more realistic each day eh? The next episode was another anthology esque episode where Kino remembers the good ole days. There’s a boat and a lot of stories, but we can skim over this episode as well. It wasn’t really an attention grabber. The last two episodes certainly are, but I’m afraid that this is not in a good way.

Kino heads to another evil country where two powerful lands have decided to band together and murder people for sport. Whoever murders the most people wins. The two lands do this every so often and are pretty proud of themselves. Kino doesn’t bother to stop them or do anything about it since she’s just a traveler, but she does take a few shots at the people who are being murdered. In her defense, they tried to murder her first as it’s their past time to let their aggression go after being hunted. It’s a pretty vicious cycle of violence, but as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t matter to Kino if her neck isn’t on the line. She just drives off. It’s another really dark episode that makes you really dislike Kino.

Finally, we have another really dark episode. Kino heads to a town that is about to be destroyed in three days. The adults know it, but most of the kids do not. The parents have decided that the kids have to die alongside them, but they’ll spare Kino. Kino doesn’t know about this until she leaves and sees that everyone has died. Well, at least Kino has lived so now she can go watch more tragedies and suffering with the strange traditions that people have. Not a bad plan eh? Kino’s Journey decides to end the series on this low note and I do have to question a lot of its decisions.

As you can guess, I really didn’t like Kino. She’s easily one of the worst anime main characters that I’ve come across. By visiting all of these lands and not actually interfering unless it’s something that personally offends her, Kino is basically an accomplice to the crime. She can fight and actually could help people out, but purposefully chooses not to do so. There’s really no point to her journey and she should feel ashamed for making all of these bad decisions. Injuring animals, Watching people die, chatting it up with the villains, you just have to wonder whose side Kino’s on. She seems to just be in it for the thrills. Her cold personality is certainly fitting then as she always gives very vague answers, acts rude to everyone that she talks too, and also has a pretty bland design. There’s really nothing to like about Kino and it’s a shame since she was fairly all right in the flash back episode.

The only other real character in the show is the motorrad. The motorrad is fairly bland was well though as half of his lines are just repeating what Kino just said or asking a really obvious question. The motorrad was always super annoying and the voice was so raspy that you just knew that he was doing it on purpose. I don’t blame him since Kino’s no mean all of the time, but I was never invested in any of the characters. I think the old Kino could have ended up being more interesting, but at the same time maybe not. The other Kino also didn’t like to interfere, but he did prove that he would help in a pinch when he saved the current Kino. That makes me think that he has a slightly stronger moral compass. A shame that current Kino couldn’t learn from his example.

The animation is rather sub par and certainly one of the weakest ones that you will be seeing. The colors are all pretty faded out and you’ll notice that they reuse a lot of scenes to save on the budget. Watch out for Kino’s daily gun practice and how she starts up the bike in every episode. It just gets annoying after a while and even if the animation isn’t great, the show could have used some nice backgrounds to bluff its way past that. The show just looks a lot older than it actually is. It came out in 2003 and yet the original seasons of shows like Pokemon and One Piece can take it on. That’s a little sad. The soundtrack is also not very good. The theme song’s a little on the boring side and the music inside each of the episodes is very lifeless. You’ll forget the tunes as soon as they pop up. That’s not a great way to make people more excited about the actual episodes. Not by a long shot!

The main problem with Kino’s journey is just how dark and depressing the whole show is. There is nobody to root for and Kino herself drags the show down. If it wants to go the Twilight Zone route and have episodes where we can see places with a lot of strangeness, then tragic endings can work a little better. It still shouldn’t go as extreme as Kino’s last two though. However, by having Kino around, it makes the whole thing worse since the victims have Kino right there to help them, but she decides not to do so. It’s like having a villain as the main character and that’s no fun.

Finally, the show tries to be deep and thoughtful in its own way with text in between the episodes and scattered at random points. Kino will also beat you over the head with a message at the end of every episode. The problem is that most of the dialogue ends up feeling very obvious or just like rambling. At least Serial Experiments Lain had aliens show up and cool conspiracies and fights. Lain also had a much better atmosphere and characters. I didn’t even like Lain all that much, but you can feel the difference. Lain is what Kino’s Journey wanted to be, but could never reach.
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Overall, Kino’s Journey is not a good anime. The animal violence is terrible and the episodes can get way too grim. If this show is supposed to be a calming experience, then it is clearly failing at that. The show also needed a far more likable pair of main characters if it wanted to get anywhere. Some plots never really went anywhere and just showed up to buy time like Kino training her gun skills every night. We get it, she can fight, but do we need whole minutes of her taking the gun out and putting it away again? That kind of training isn’t very fun if there’s no payoff and there should have at least been some music in the scenes. Ugh, I recommend watching just about anything else that I’ve reviewed instead. If you want a dark anime that handles itself well, watch Madoka Magica instead. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in the slightest.

Overall 3/10