One of the truly underappreciated series of this world
Very soon now, one of the truly underappreciated series of this world is getting a reboot. Kino no Tabi (Kino’s Journey) will be back on TV for the first time since 2003 starting on October 6th, 2017—in other words, this Friday.
To properly elucidate why this news should excite you, let me provide some well-needed context. Kino no Tabi was (and is) a series of light novels by Keiichi Sigsawa, which received an anime adaptation almost 14 years ago. The story is based on a unique premise: Kino, a terse, young (and rather genderfluid) woman in her early teens, travels in a strange world with her erstwhile companion Hermes. Hermes, of course, is a sentient 1920s Brough Superior motorcycle. Every adventurer should be friends with one.
Following the series’ anthem of “The world is not beautiful…therefore it is,” Kino and Hermes travel from place to place in their unusual world, never staying longer than three days. The show, therefore, has a more episodic tone, with each episode comprising a self-contained story always set in a wildly different country from the last. The show’s itinerancy is honestly reminiscent of Star Trek, or one of the wagon train westerns of yore. The content, however, is novel. Every place Kino visits is full of both its own beauty and its pain, the balance of which lends both a consistency and a pervading sense of unease to the overall tone of the show. Much like the unsuspecting visitor to a haunted house, you never really know quite what lies around the corner for Kino and Hermes, and the show uses this psychological house of mirrors to great advantage. The high points are beacons of hope and show us just what humans can achieve if we set our minds to it, while the lows hit you hard in the feels—exposing the ugliness of themes such as greed, thirst for knowledge, war, and everything else Thomas Hobbes warned us about.
If this all sounds a bit cerebral…well, that it is.
All this thunkin’ is balanced somewhat, however, by the fact that Kino would put the collective cohort of Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and any other cowboy you like to shame in a shootout. Kino is adept with both a .44 Colt revolver and a .22 automatic (named “Cannon” and “Mori no Hito,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to the .22 Colt Woodsman pistol, respectively), and both guns get quite their fair share of action over the course of the series.
The 2003 series was simplistic and stylish, with an impressionistic art style and a sparse soundtrack that made every note count. The new series, (trailer for which is here), looks to take advantage of more modern animation methods and character design, while remaining true to the fuzzy half-reality that is at the heart of the series.
Overall, Kino no Tabi remains one of the most stylish, unique, and thought-provoking anime series that nobody has ever heard of. Hopefully, the upcoming 2017 resurgence will do something about that last part. We at Around Akiba will watch and see, and we hope you’ll follow along as we do!