I… I already used the Cell clip, this week, man! But I’m so confused!
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series
Studio: EGG Firm
Genre: Adventure, Slice of Life
So we’re back to the Episode 1 format of Kino being a passive observer. This episode breaks the format a bit, though, by not exactly having the prelude segment. Instead, it’s right to the OP, and then a glimpse at Kino going through some sort of memorial exhibit. Unfortunately, try as hard as I might, I… can’t really make sense of that segment.
The opening bit is a bit of a foreshadowing moment, letting the audience know that kind of thing Kino is going to be dealing with in the episode. But as far as I can tell, it was strictly thematic. I have no idea what else it has to do with anything. It certainly doesn’t seem to, though it is connected to another scene immediately afterward that teases a little bit of Kino’s background, which was certainly done in a rather nice way. That much I appreciated.
The main crux of the episode is fairly simple and easy to follow. In this week’s country, there used to be a tyrannical monarchy. There’s a man who lives in the woods on the outskirts of the country, frequently stopping travelers to ask if they’ve run across his lover, who’d apparently gone missing 5 years prior. And here is where things get a little… convoluted. See, the opening wasn’t the only confusing thing. The entire episode was a bit complicated and did require repeated viewing.
From there we get a tale of revolution, espionage, and heartache. The basic hook of the story is in the title of the episode, itself. This is a Country of Liars. Now based on that title, one would naturally assume something malicious or sinister is going on. There isn’t. The episode is more about lies told with good intentions. I’ll spare you the “road to hell” quote because things ultimately turn out… decently. But the point of the matter is that the entire country is lying to this man, telling him his lover will return. When, in fact, they believe she died. I won’t get into the exact reasons they believe she’s dead, because… well… here there be spoilers. But it’s pretty interesting, given the direction things go.
Honestly, all of the confusion comes from one fragment of a line, at the very end of the episode. A character is revealed to have been a spy during the time of the revolution (and presumably is still one, thereafter). Yet we were never given the information to infer that said character was a spy. Nor is it actually entirely clear that they’re referring to the character I think they are, but it’s the only conclusion that can really be reached, based on what information we get.
My point is that these things could have been made clearer. But that’s hardly my only criticism of the episode. In fact, it’s actually my smallest one. Because as stated, just watching it again cleared some things up. The more pressing concern of the episode is that there really is no… problem. What you’re hearing is, indeed, a story. Yet there’s no beginning, middle, or end.
Also, Kino is by far at her most passive, here. Perhaps a little too passive. For as passive as she was in the first episode, she was still actively involved in things. No, she didn’t show a lot of initiative or agency in things, but she did things and talked about them with Hermes. This episode, however, is absolutely nothing but Kino soaking in stories of the past. The ‘Outsider Looking In’ perspective is a great tool, but that outsider does still have to contribute to the story in some manner. Kino doesn’t contribute to anything in this case. She’s just… there. The tease in the early moments of the episode was only worth so much and wasn’t even connected to the main arc.
The other issue I had with the episode was frankly the focus on lies. The very concept of a country of liars is indeed interesting. Everyone lies, and this explored a side of lying that’s seldom explored – the kind not made out of self-interest. The lies are dominantly all made in the interest of protecting the feelings of others. The issue is that you eventually come to find a logical flaw in all of it. You come to find out by the end of the episode that there is literally no reason some of these lies to keep going on. At the very least, two of these characters could just stop lying to each other while keeping up their lies to the town, itself. And when you learn the last character’s reasons for lying in the first place, they really don’t add up.
In all, this episode struck me as a little clumsy. I think that they could’ve managed by using some extra time to elaborate on the lies being told and everything. However, that also would mean cutting the part of the episode I liked the most since it does prove to be the most extraneous aspect of things. Kino didn’t really have a reason to be there at all, this go around, and the episode mostly struck me as a little… uneven.
Otherwise, the artwork was as beautiful as ever, and as harsh as I might seem to be, the story itself was fine. It just could’ve been tighter. The resolution (if one can call it that) wasn’t satisfying, but the episode was still fundamentally interesting. I’m disappointed in the episode, personally, but it’s not really “bad,” either. I’m not going to say it affects my attitude towards the entire series or anything, so I’d say while you can probably Pass on this episode, it’s ultimately Harmless viewing. There are plenty of other things to watch this season, though! And we have reviews of a lot of them. Check ’em out!
Or, if you do still want to check out this one, Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 11:30am EDT.