That was… anticlimactic.
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series
Studio: EGG Firm
Genre: Adventure, Slice of Life
In case it wasn’t made clear, last week’s episode left such a bad taste in my mouth, I opted to not talk about it, purely in the interest of fairness. Because I would have crucified it. And no one wants to read thousands of words of my ranting. So just know that if you haven’t watched it already, I highly recommend steering as clear of that episode as possible. I nearly dropped the show entirely on principle after watching it, myself. I’m only sticking with it because it’s almost over, really, and the show has such an estranged relationship with consistency anyway that it’s unlikely they could annoy me so thoroughly a second time in the same way.
This episode was decidedly better. In fact, one could argue that it does the one thing that anyone watching has been asking about this whole time. It gave us some background on Kino. Not all of it, mind you, but we basically get her origin story. I also will state that I like the opening scene and closing scene of the episode, though that’s generally because I like when an episode is bookended this way. It’s more a personal thing than a point of critical praise or anything like that.
The thing about this series is that it has a way of misdirecting you. It’ll have you thinking about one thing that’s supposed to be important, or one mystery to solve, then it throws a curveball by drawing your attention to something that was only suggested by some small detail. The first episode is a good example of this. It set up that she was a country where murder was perfectly legal. But by spending all of your time focusing on that and when things would turn bad, you overlook the details brought up later that show you how things are going to go. This episode, unfortunately, doesn’t really do that. So a lot of the intrigue isn’t there. And because of that, you can plainly see literally everything coming from a mile away. Right from the moment you hear (or rather see, since we’re talking about the subbed version) the words “My name’s Kino.”
The episode plays out exactly how you think it’s going to, once that sentence comes up. Frankly, I think they should’ve saved that part for later. It’d have been far more effective if that “reveal” was one of the last things to come up. And given this series’ tendency to avoid having Kino be the center of an episode, it would’ve been a subversion of expectations. If the name hadn’t come up, we’d have had little reason to suspect that this episode was legitimately about the Kino we all know and lo-… are relatively indifferent to. For all we knew, this other person could’ve just been yet another new character, who they decided to introduce in the final two episodes. Instead of focusing on “Oh, so how is she going to wind up becoming the ‘new’ Kino?” we would’ve been focused on this “surgery” she and everyone kept going on about. It would’ve thus been a much more effective scene to later have this guy save her, tell her his name, and send her off with a Hermes who perhaps could’ve only been teased up to that point. That would have made the whole of this episode more interesting. Unless I’m missing some subtext that makes the whole thing more flavorful.
And let’s take a moment to talk about that “surgery.” That is actually kind of a fascinating idea. Obviously, there is no surgery in the world (shy of something fictional, like that one episode’s suggestion of putting mind control chips in people’s heads) that could “make people into adults.” This leads me to believe that this government ultimately controls its populace with some sort of placebo. It’s a fascinating idea. Instead, we get them halfway dedicating to that whole thing with vague symbolism like the candies and whatnot. Why? Best as I can tell, they did want us to focus more on that than the Kino origin story bit. But that bit was so ham-fisted and un-subtle that it didn’t work.
That being said, how did the episode work as a Kino origin? Well, it was fairly effective in a few ways, as you’ve already heard the ways it wasn’t. It didn’t really get into any of the things I was most curious about, such as Kino’s finding “Master,” and the relationship between them. But it did get into why Kino travels (sort of), and does actually provide a little bit more character for her, which is nice.
Overall the episode isn’t going to blow any minds. At least not anyone who has a nose for storytelling. And while it’s a bit sloppy, it does pose some interesting enough ideas. It’s not really offensive in any way. And while it certainly isn’t the most intriguing of episodes due to its storytelling failings, it does a decent enough job of establishing something of an arc. My main gripe with the episode is the rather abrupt fate of the ‘original’ Kino. I understand the situation that our Kino was in, but there wasn’t really any closure on him. Thus that final scene more or less came across as a bit of an anticlimax. With all that in mind, it’s hardly a bad episode, but nothing particularly impressive. I’d go as far as to call it Harmless and little else. If you’re looking for something maybe a little more… involved, then does EvilBob have a show for you. Check out his recaps to see what I mean.
But if Kino is still managing to hold your attention (for good reasons, at least), then Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World is Simulcast on Crunchyroll, Fridays at 11:30am EST.