This week’s Kino was a refreshing surprise in all the right ways.
Episode 3, A “Bothersome Country,” finally hits that nice balance of allegorical cogitation and gunslinging action that the new Kino had lacked up till now.
“A Bothersome Country” deals allegorically with that old Boy Scout axiom “Leave No Trace.” Just as that is difficult to achieve for even the most conscientious Eagle Scout, so it is difficult for the country Kino finds herself literally swept up by this week. The country du jour is a mix between the technodrome and Laputa: a massive, futuristic mobile Japan on wheels (or treads, as the case may be). This highly advanced country travels from place to place much like Kino herself—an itinerancy driven by both ideological and technological concerns. A nuclear reactor (or at least that’s the obvious implication) which will overheat if the great rolling tank of a country stays in one place for any length of time powers the nation. The citizens of this mobile fortress have integrated this traveling lifestyle into their very culture, however, preferring to use their highly advanced technology to view the beautiful scenery they pass through, rather than to conquer or destroy the lands they visit. Massive tire treads the fortress leaves are viewed with a sense of resignation by said fortress’ citizens…but possibly less so by the citizens of the other countries that they are forced to steamroll through—cue conflict and a chance for Kino to use her persuader.
This episode is the best so far of the new Kino, and the first to hit its stride.
The storytelling is well paced, giving us a detailed look at our country-of-the-week in the first half, and some political intrigue mixed with impressive action and good animation in the second half. Best of all, Kino herself has made a welcome return to the role of the listener: we can see and feel for the people of the fortress-country through her eyes, without Kino’s moralistic commentary from the previous episode(s). This leaves us, as viewers, much more free to draw our own conclusions about what we’ve just witnessed—a powerful storytelling tool which the old Kino had in spades, and which is truly gratifying to see implemented in the new Kino.
As usual, Kino and Hermes don’t stay long in this advanced country, choosing instead to move on and continue their journey, much like the country itself. Still, they leave their mark—just like this episode. Hopefully, this newfound, balanced tone will continue into future episodes—if it does, we may have the makings of a great show on our hands, instead of just a good one.