So this is how Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World ends. Not with a bang, but with a “…huh?”
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series
Studio: EGG Firm
Genre: Adventure, Slice of Life
My disenchantment with this show after about the first half can’t really be understated. It started off so interesting and just gradually became mediocre. It still had its gems even after that decline began to take hold, certainly. I do genuinely like the “Photo” episode, and honestly wish we’d gotten a little more of that character. Again, I don’t mind the odd episode where Kino isn’t the focus of things. I just wish they’d make those episodes a little more intriguing. This episode, though? This episode is a hard left from even that.
In what I can only call an exercise in trolling, the final episode of the season was pretty much nothing like any of the previous ones. Kino doesn’t even make it to a country until the very end. She spends 99% of the episode dealing with a herd of – get this – murderous sheep. Yeah. Now just to be clear about what I was expecting, read Crunchyroll’s description of the episode:
Framed by the warm sun, Kino passes through verdant, rocky plains. Beside the road, Kino spots some peaceful, napping sheep… who stand up and charge. A heated chase ensues until Kino is driven off a cliff by the violent sheep.
The last sentence of that description is one of the most unabashedly manipulative thing ever. As a writer, let me just say that word choice matters. We, the audience, know that Kino drives a Motorrad around. The term “heated chase” implies that she is, in fact, driving him. Thus the phrasing “is driven off a cliff” implies that she legitimately drove over the side of a cliff. She didn’t. But given this series and its insistence on trying to wax philosophical at every possible chance, some sort of “and then Kino died” ending is not something I’d even remotely put past them. And especially after the absolute trainwreck that was episode 10 (seriously, screw that episode with the rustiest pipe), I halfway expected it.
What actually happens is Kino drives to the edge of a cliff, sets Hermes down (at his suggestion. Don’t worry, she doesn’t abandon him of her own volition), and climbs down. The plan is for her to walk downstream until she can find a way out because she couldn’t manage to climb back up the other side. The vast majority of the episode is spent at odds with these almost supernaturally violent balls of fluff. That’s it. No hidden layers, no food for thought, or anything. Just… Kino vs. Nature in the most literal of ways.
There is one considerable plothole, however. After Kino goes to sleep for the night, she wakes up and the sheep are gone. What does she do? She just climbs up the cliff she was previously unable to climb so she can check on the animals with her spyglass. Yep. The entire reason for her staying at the bottom of the ravine was that she couldn’t climb out. But for the sake of moving things along, let’s just ignore that when it’s convenient. After that, Kino manages to spot another vehicle. Not a Motorrad, just a fairly modern-looking truck (We’ll talk about this world’s worldbuilding when I cover the series in full, I think). Once she figures out what happened to its driver and sees what it was carrying, she hatches a plan.
The climax of the episode is Kino doing what Kino does. She swoops in to retrieve Hermes, leading to an action scene… an action scene where the lead is standing on a truck, shooting at a bunch of feral sheep while the field around them is set ablaze. Unfortunately describing that scene is far more awesome than it actually is. Which isn’t surprising. The series, in general, skews more realistic when it comes to what it dubs “action.” One shouldn’t hope to expect anything like the visual spectacles we’re used to getting out of anime (when we can see them…). Though this probably works against the episode’s favor. Many people were wanting Kino to “do something,” by that meaning “get in a fight.” But, really, the series simply isn’t designed for that. So when it does decide to hone in on that element, it winds up being painfully dull.
Kino gets Hermes and they eventually make it to the next country, where they discover the reason behind the evil sheep. A reason that’s ultimately completely unimportant. Yet again I find myself in a position of questioning why Kino hasn’t been to a genuinely non-idiotic or insane country since the earliest episodes of the show. The reason is unbelievably inane. And to make matters worse, it’s ultimately meaningless. Yeah, sure, it’s a message about animal cruelty and all that, but by the time we get here, there’s scarcely enough time to do anything meaningful with that information aside from having Hermes make a small joke about it.
The last few minutes are what really bring it home, though, as the series indulges in what may be the literal laziest sequel-baiting I’ve ever seen. It’d probably have been charming if it didn’t go so long and generally just come across as ironically dismissive. If you can’t be bothered seeming excited about your own sequel (which we have no confirmation of), then why should we?
Overall, this episode was disjointed between the various ideas they tried to incorporate. The complete tonal shift from the rest of the show doesn’t save it from being rather dull to watch. It just made it a little confusing (from a creative standpoint) and highlighted the majority of the show’s key problems. There weren’t any intriguing ideas to think about. The action was just kind of stiff and lackluster (but at least pretty to look at, I guess), and it generally didn’t seem to go anywhere or accomplish much of anything. It was just a momentary diversion. And for being the conclusion of the show, it was rather underwhelming. So at the end of it all, this episode was Harmless, but not really in a good way. It was basically just a “Nothing” watch, completely devoid of any value in both a positive and negative direction. At least if something’s bad it gives you something to talk about. Bob didn’t seem to care much for the final episode of Inuyashiki, given his latest recap… which you should definitely be reading when you’re done here. I don’t particularly agree with his take, but at least it’s something that people can have a “take” on. Check it out. If you don’t… well…
But if this Slice of Life Adventure has managed to keep you consistently charmed, then more power to you. Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World is available in full on Crunchyroll.