…Well, that escalated quickly.
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series
(Kin’s Journey: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series)
Studio: EGG Firm
Genre: Adventure, Slice of Life
Something I’ve always found really underappreciated was the perspective of an outsider, looking in. I like it when a series can deliver that angle even once, let alone pull it off for an entire series. I like seeing X character go about their lives while taking in the lives of Y character(s). That’s more or less what the first episode of Kino no Tabi was. She was observing this fascinating new country she’d found herself in, and said country was well established and came with a very interesting twist. However, if you’re more interested in seeing your protagonist protag, and actually have some agency in things, then episode 2 is definitely the one you want.
In it, Kino finds herself dragged into a country where outsiders are essentially forced into One-on-One Deathmatch style tournaments for the sake of citizenship. What goes on from there I shall not say, but it was a very intriguing episode.
The core strength of it was Kino, herself. Kino is a very enigmatic character, from the onset. Not much is known about her. However, to anyone with a functioning level of curiosity, there are plenty of questions to be asked and very clear markers to indicate what questions you should be asking. As much as we want to know why Hermes can talk, it ultimately seems entirely irrelevant to the overall series as no one in it seems to think it a big deal either. It’s entirely possible that this is just a thing that can happen in this universe, and knowing the answer will change absolutely nothing. On that note, this universe does introduce the idea that some… other things normally incapable of speech can also talk. And in that case, it’s treated a little more like how a normal person would react.
However, the questions the series wants you to ask involve what happened to make Kino want to make this journey if anything at all. That is a question that could have a very satisfying or underwhelming answer. The kind of question worth asking. This episode introduces something else as well. It introduces us to a side of Kino we’ve not yet seen. She’s proactive, here, not reactive. We get to see what happens when she’s provoked. Calm as she is, when Kino isn’t immune to anger, and when she’s angry, she gets decisive. It leads to the desire to know exactly what happened in Kino’s past that made her respond to this event the way she did. That is something I genuinely want to know.
The episode doesn’t quite spend as much time setting up the atmosphere as the previous one, focusing more inward than on the journey, itself. However, it does still manage to establish a very uncomfortable sensation for a bit. Following that, however, this vibe is more or less dropped in favor of seeing Kino “fight,” which is genuinely entertaining. Probably because Kino fights with her mind since she’s clearly not going to be taking anyone down with her overwhelming power. She’s tactical, and fight smart, developing plans and the like.
However, if there is one fault I can find in the episode, it’s in how Kino chooses to resolve the situation in the country she’s visiting. Once she gets out of the tournament, she leaves the country in a very… interesting state. One that I’m not entirely certain she thought through the ramifications of. It’s entirely likely that things wouldn’t at all improve, and could even get worse. If she agreed to participate for the purpose of helping, I don’t exactly see how this helps. Still, she could’ve been deciding to just leave the country in whatever ruin it so deserves. There is very good reason to believe that’s actually what she was going for. If that were the case, then it’s just as interesting an angle, and actually kind of relatable in a sense.
All in all, this was an episode I really enjoyed. I liked getting to see a little more agency out of Kino, and there was actual potential for more supporting cast members. Her interactions with Hermes are still very amusing, and the series manages to somehow keep its relaxing quality, even when things do get a little tense. I’ll definitely be continuing this one. In the meantime, feel free to check out some of my reviews of other anime airing this season!
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 11:30am EDT.