I really didn’t expect a remake of this series, Kino No Tabi: The Beautiful World – The Animated Series. But considering the way the series is played out, sometimes it is hard to wonder if calling it a remake at is appropriate all as each story is independent of each other. However it is clearly stated that it isn’t a sequel whatsoever. Completely a remake. Either way it doesn’t matter because the basic premise is still the same. The titular character travels with his trusty talking motorbike companion from country to country staying not more than 3 days as they encounter different people and their country’s different and peculiar ways of living.

Episode 1
Kino and Hermes are ‘soon’ to enter another country when they see a young man resting by the river. They ask each other about the country ahead and it seems the young man believes it is a country where anybody can be killed and it is not considered a crime. He came from a country where there is such a strict order and he hated it. He also heard a serial killer named Regel is living there. As Kino registers his stay and being warned about the odd law, Kino finds that this cowboy turn is pretty normal. Everyone is interacting and living their daily lives as usual. Public order everywhere. Nothing to worry about. While buying groceries at a shop, Kino notices the owner’s shotgun. Is it to deter theft? No, it is to kill people. You’ll never know when you’ll need it. On the day Kino is to leave, he joins an old man for breakfast. He talks to Kino about settling down here because he suits the place very well. How so? Because he can kill others. Of course Kino declines. As he is about to depart, the young man comes buy and wants Kino to hand over his belongings so he could sell and finance his lifestyle. If he doesn’t hand it over, he will kill him. Kino won’t and hides behind Hermes. Before the young man could fire, an arrow pierces through his hand. Writhing in pain, he then notices all the townspeople converging around him with weapons. He is further confused when the old man says this isn’t a country that doesn’t permit killing but also agrees with him that murder isn’t prohibited. You see, those who have killed or tried to kill have been killed by all of them here. In other words, not prohibited is not the same as permitted. Think about it, if everyone is allowed to kill, nobody would be left, right? Therefore murder is only allowed on those wanting to murder. The old man reveals himself to be Regel as he stabs and kills the young man. Everyone returns to their daily lives. As Kino leaves, he sees another young man resting by the river. He asks Kino if the country up ahead is safe because he comes from a country where he had to kill to survive and is sick of it. Kino is pretty sure he would love it there. Kino leaves and Hermes asks why he only stays no longer than 3 days. A traveller once told him it is just the perfect length.

Episode 2
This is a condensed version of the original 2 part episode in the original series whereby Kino enters a country whereby he is forced to fight in a Coliseum. The winner gets to become a citizen and make a new law. We see this pattern of Kino facing off with a strong cocky opponent. Kino asks for them to yield but they refused. After being stunned by his quick draw, they surrender. Kino learns the current situation is brought about by the current king. The previous king was kind but strict to his son. All that stress exploded one day as the son killed his father to assume the throne. He also killed all those who stands in his way. His wife committed suicide and his children ran away. The citizens have become accustomed to this lawlessness ever since. In the finals, Kino faces off with Shizu who asks Kino to yield. He won’t. Shizu is able to deflect Kino’s shots until Kino pulls out a hidden gun. Shizu admits his defeat. With the crowd chanting for death, Kino then signals to Shizu who then ducks. Kino’s bullet kills the king. Too bad that glass wasn’t bulletproof. Kino then ‘apologizes’ his stray bullet killed their king but as the winner and citizen, he makes a new law for everyone to fight. The last one standing becomes the king. The entire country falls into further chaos as Kino leaves. On the outskirts, Kino stumbles into Shizu leaving. It is discovered he is the son of the current king. He was planning to slay him had he won. Shizu has a talking dog named Riku who thanks Kino that Shizu doesn’t have to dirty his hands. Hey, if you have a talking bike, why are you surprised if there is a talking dog? Anyway Hermes is jealous of Riku since Kino pets him. Kino asks why Shizu wouldn’t want to be the new king. He planned to assassinate his own father and thus doesn’t have the right. Shizu suggests travelling together to the next country but Kino declines. Riku whispers something to Shizu (probably about Kino being a girl) so Shizu understands and hopes to meet again somewhere on their journey.

Episode 3
Kino and Hermes enter a country that is literally a giant moving fortress. Greeted by the officer who also acts as a guide and policeman of his country, he takes them to tour the giant nuclear reactor that powers this country. This is the reason they have to keep moving as heat inside it will build up. Also, they are like Kino who love to see different sceneries in their travel. Their only regret is the trail of destruction it leaves but everyone has come to terms accepting that. The officer also shows them the top of the fortress as well as a group of students painting a mural outside. This was the last scenery they passed and after every 500 days, the next graduation class will paint the next mural. Soon the country hits an obstacle. They are going to collide with the walls of another country. As that country runs across the plains, it would not be feasible to go around it so they are requesting to go through it. The general of course will not allow them to. With that, the fortress is shielded up as the general orders the firing of missiles. Nothing happens. The fortress then fires its own super laser that easily cuts a hole in the wall! Then it goes over the agricultural land as the general lambasts their inhumanity for causing trouble to others. Soon, the army is trying to fire their puny missiles at the fortress but at the mural. As they don’t want casualties, Kino suggests sniping out their homing device. Hence Kino shows off his sniping skills to accurately destroy them and even stray missiles heading his way! Cool! The fortress finally leaves the borders of this country as the general wants them to pay compensation. No can do. Bye. Before Kino leaves, he asks the officer their country could easily take over the world. Certainly but they like their current lifestyle and do not want to make enemies of the world. Every country is like every man in the sense they cause some degree of bother by existing. After leaving, Hermes wonder which country was the troublesome one because that walled country sealed off the plains to extort money for those passing through. Kino is embarrassed by the fact that the fortress might paint a mural of his cool sniping.

Episode 4
Shizu and Riku board a ship country. They meet the rulers called Tower Clan. They want Shizu to watch over the citizens to prevent rebellion and will be rewarded. However he chooses to do the same labour as the citizens as he is a humble person. Hence the elder of the citizens is pretty much surprised over a kind traveller like him. He is given Tifana AKA Ti as his guide. Strangely she doesn’t talk and shows him around. When the ship shakes from time to time, Shizu could sense something amiss. There are some parts flooded. Asking Ti to take him to the place with blueprints and point out similar flooded areas, he has come to believe the ship is going to sink. When parts are damaged, they are not replaced. He goes talk to the elder who says the Tower Clan knows everything but the citizens are happy with their current lives. Shizu then decides to negotiate with the Tower Clan but is given the reply the citizens belong to them and whatever fate befalls on them is only theirs to blame. Shizu fights a member but loses. But he soon recognizes his enemy as Kino! When the Tower Clan decides to change route and will not be heading to land for a while, the duo team up to fight off the Tower Clan until they reach the final boss. Shizu is asked if he will be the citizens’ new king. If he has to. They leave it in his hands. Suddenly they ‘drop dead’. Puppets? Once the ship lands and Shizu tells them they are free, the citizens are not happy. They are not used to this and wants to go back. Even when Shizu says the ship will sink, they do not believe him. Shizu laments but accepts their path. He tells Ti to go back with them but she stabs him and for the first time mutters she has nowhere to return. Hermes then reveals as he heard from a Tower Clan about Ti’s background. About 600 years ago, this ship named Tifana drifted into an abandoned country. All the children went on board as the adults perished due to some disease. The citizens are their descendants. The Tower Clan is an AI system to manage and keep them alive. As these people don’t know how to live on land, the Tower Clan cannot guarantee their safety. Many years ago, a couple of travellers boarded it and gave birth to a daughter. When they left, they abandoned her. As she isn’t related to those citizens, she is treated like an outcast. But the Tower Clan named her after this ship, looked after and raised her. Shizu feels sorry for not knowing her past. He vows not to abandon her but as he lies there dying, ‘sad’ Ti doesn’t want him to abandon her. She plans to bomb themselves but Kino swiftly shoots the grenade off her hand. In the aftermath, Shizu is patched up and has taken in Ti. If Shizu has settled down in a country, he will definitely welcome Kino the next time.

Episode 5
A curator shows Kino and Hermes the items left behind and used by the country’s first president. Every single item. But the highlight is a bike similar to Hermes in which he used to travel even when he became president. It is believed it spoke too but after the president passed on, it probably fell into silence due to sadness. After the curator leaves, Hermes talks to it and he indeed can speak. It seems he views this museum as hell. As a bike’s existence is to be ridden and not be put on display. He wants Kino to help him out or destroy him. Kino will do neither and so the bike can only lament his cursed fate. As Kino leaves, a young boy is excited to become a traveller like him and wants to know how. Kino isn’t sure but maybe he should talk to the president’s bike and maybe something could come up from there.

Kino enters the next country whereby a young man suddenly asks him if he heard any message from his lover left him 5 years ago, had any messages for him. None. He goes back disappointed with his housekeeper. Kino then learns from the other townspeople about his case. This country was ruled by a tyrannical king. The people plotted to overthrow the royal family and that young man was in charge of assassinating them. A year before the revolution, he fell in love with a beautiful girl. It seemed they would have married and settled down. But when the revolution date was decided, they parted ways. It is believed he forced the parting as he did not know if he would survive the revolution. The revolution succeeded after he assassinated the royal family. However they discovered one of the princesses is his girlfriend. As he couldn’t handle the fact he loved the princess he should’ve hated or killed her with his own hands, he lost his mind. It got so bad that the doctor lied she went on a trip and to wait for her. So he started living in the woods near the gate in hopes for her return. As for his housekeeper, many couldn’t last being one for out of pity. But the current one was once a traveller. They found her on the verge of collapse 3 years ago and as an outsider, they thought she would a great fit. She has been doing a great job since. But he shows no signs of improvement so everyone will have to keep lying to him till he dies. After Kino helps the housekeeper’s carriage out from the mud, she thanks him by inviting Kino to tea. When she mentions somebody coming at the gates, the young man quickly dashes in hopes it is his lover. But this is just a lie so the housekeeper could talk to Kino. She is actually that man’s lover and the princess. She is currently happy living his life with him even if it is a lie. After she got info from her spies, she told her father about it. Their doubles played their part well and all their family members are living well in neighbouring countries. She heard about his state and decided to return to take care of him. She wondered if she was okay for him and it made her happy when he told her he will be happy to have her till she returns. Even though she has been lying to him from the start and will continue till he dies, at least she is happy. The young man returns dejected and wonders if his lover has forgotten about him. The housekeeper assures she did not. Never will. When Kino leaves, the young man tells him a little secret. It seems he is actually sane and was just acting! He knows his housekeeper is his lover and because he doesn’t want to ruin anything again, he keeps up with this charade. He is happy this way. And that completes the circle of everyone in this country is a liar.

Episode 6
A group of roaming merchants just bought a slave girl from the previous country. As usual, they abuse and mistreat her. Despite all that, she will not hate them because of teachings of her priest. She takes this as her future being challenged. She will not kill and would rather take her own life. While her tormentors try to tell her the rotten world of men, she still believes the world is a wonderful place. As the group prepares to eat dinner, slave girl realizes the herbs they collected is poisonous. Feeling guilty she couldn’t warn them at first, she tries to drink it to die along with them. However her bowl is knocked off by a brat. His actions are praised by all. He even wants father to sell her to him so he could kill her, detailing how he would do so. Something about becoming a man and strong. Everyone approves his actions! Slave girl then starts to scream. Before they could shut her up, the effects of the poison kills them. The only one left is an old man who didn’t like vegetables so he didn’t eat much of them. Slave girl feels guilty she killed all of them and wants to be killed. Old man will teach her how to use a gun but it is a trick to get her to kill him. Slave girl hears a voice teasing how sly she was to kill everyone for her freedom. It turns out to be a talking bike, Sou inside one of the carriages. As they talk, she still feels guilty and that she should have warned everyone when she had to chance. But Sou tells her straight that they would never have listened to her and will beat her up instead. Their luck ran out. It is her who is lucky. She still thinks she needs to die. Sou tells her to live. Because every creature who lives will one day die. Sou will teach her how to drive the truck and load all the essentials up. There are places Sou would like to travel with her. As she has no name, Sou will think up of one when the time comes. In the aftermath when Kino and Hermes arrives, they see only the corpses. Many years later, Sou narrates slave girl wandered and struck it big as a photographer. She settled in a country that took her in because of her vast wealth. She remains honest to goodness and her love for photography has people called her Photo. Sou notes she is living a very happy life now.

Episode 7
Kino tells Hermes one of the many stories his Master told him. She was travelling with a fellow traveller to this next country that is run with an iron fist by the corrupted military police. Soon they get arrested and her partner was thrown into the slammer on suspicions of possessing drugs. Master manages to convince her interrogating officer to exile her as punishment and will leave her partner behind. But she wants to talk to him first. Her partner pleads he has been set up but since she has no time to waste and wants to go visit another country, slowly face your trial here. Master takes his belongings but notices the money and other valuables are not there. The officer tells her they assume it is capital for drugs and confiscated it as evidence. Master checks the goods of her partner. It seems inside a suitcase there are assassination tools. Master is reported to have left so the soldiers are put on alert never to let her re-enter the country again. But that night she comes sneaking back. She causes a commotion by lighting up fire and bombs around the country. She goes to rescue her partner who is actually her apprentice. As it is impossible to leave right now, the option is to hide for a while. But Master has a better place to hide and that is the clock tower in the centre of this administration building. As everyone is distracted with the commotion, they load up ammo and food up the tower and destroy the only lift up there. They announce they will defend their position till they die and snipe every policeman in the leg who enter the compound. Short of killing them. This would create a shortage of manpower as well as resentment among the people for failing to stop this farce. So when the police decide to surround them and give them the ultimatum, the duo continue to tease and snipe. This goes on for some time until the police force grew tired of this and surrendered! Please leave! Master would take up their offer but would like to be paid to leave. Yeah, the government got extorted… Kino finally enters this country as he sees a memorial dedicated to 2 brave travellers who freed their country. An old man tells them how this led to the people marching in protest, forcing the government and police to be ashamed of their deeds and change their ways. The country is now peaceful and prosperous. Kino notices that many of the old man walk with canes like as though their leg is injured. He is embarrassed to tell.

Episode 8
How does Ti fish? Bomb the hell out of the water! In the next country, Shizu reminds Ti that they are not travelling for pleasure and that he is looking for a country that is suitable for them to settle down. This country seems okay so they decide to check out its other town. While filling up gas, suddenly a man soaked in blood approaches them as he carries a decapitated head. Shizu knocks him out. It is further discovered this professor killed his entire students in college. The police chief thanks Shizu before more there could be more victims. He then narrates the dark history of this country. Slaves were imported and the cruel king inserted some chip and have them do his bidding via radio waves. So this hideous killing could be its effect. Shizu is puzzled if the chip is handed down through generations but he is told they are historical facts. As for why they didn’t go destroy the radio post, one who goes closer to it will become crazier. Shizu offers to go take photos of the radio post. It looks rundown. Showing the police chief those photos that it could have not been in operation for decades and that people committing murders are from their own instincts, he and the other townspeople refuse to believe it. They think the photos are fake and Shizu is under the radio wave’s influence. Before they try to arrest him, Ti takes a baby hostage and threatens to blow up! She doesn’t care radio waves or what. Nobody will get in their way. Shizu pretends to be affected by the radio waves and needs to leave. But taking the baby with them? No. The police chief will be the substitute then. After leaving the country, Shizu throws the bomb away. Boom! He then tells the police chief those photos are of the old post. The new post is nearby and he put it to maximum output. The people will feel the effects tomorrow. It was their plan to take over this place but they failed. Bye. Riku wonders if the people will stop believing the influence of the radio waves if nothing happens tomorrow. Not sure. If only everything was easily transmitted as radio waves. On a lighter note, Shizu goes out to earn money so Ti is left in Riku’s care. Luckily she has his guidance or else she wouldn’t know how to eat the croissant with jam. At the end of the day, Riku tells Shizu how ‘talkative’ she was today. Shizu believes it is her first time spending the whole day with him so she has to be top of things. She thinks about a lot more than they assume she does. Riku feels guilty she was ready to kill her when she wounded Shizu but he is glad they avoided the worst outcome. Now they have grown closer and Ti considers Riku her friend.

Episode 9
A bandit apprentice and his master prepare to snipe at Shizu’s party. But the former asks if he is worth sniping. Yes says the apprentice. No says the old dude. Look at Ti. She has a hand grenade! And the dog would probably sniff them out too. Next, Kino passes. Is he worth it? Yes says the apprentice who thinks Kino is a beautiful girl. No says the old dude because for a girl who is capable of travelling alone means she is capable of doing many things. He reminds him that their goal is to target those who carelessly go after people stronger than themselves. He remembers an old story whereby his old team ambushed a pair of travellers. They were like the devil and killed everyone but him! They were Master and her apprentice! The old dude still reels from that trauma. Kino is in a country whereby an old man tells him you get points for doing good deeds. Of course you get points deducted if you do bad deeds and if your points reach negative, you will be thrown to prison. This system is better because there are times when one has done so many good deeds but one bad deed has others think you are a bad person, vice versa. However the old man seems to be in a dilemma. He has accumulated so many points in his life that it is enough to kill someone. But he can’t think of anybody to kill. He just wants to kill and is running out of time. It is his childhood dream. That is why he is telling Kino this and wants to kill him. Too bad he knows Kino already has his hand on his gun ready to take action. In the end, he couldn’t kill when a woman asks him to hold her baby. He thinks of killing him but realizes this innocent life has nothing to do with it. He whispers he hopes he will not grow up to be a failure in life like him.

A country with chefs are excited that a wandering chef will enter their country and leave his recipe. Because nobody knows that chef’s identity, they assume Kino who just happen to drop in. Kino obliges by making his curry chicken. Not sure if he killed all those who ate it but he thinks it must be good since they gobbled it all down. But the country likes it so much that it becomes their signature dish. But the next traveller comes and reproduces it with a few tweaks. When they try it, it tastes good too. So now they have 2 popular dishes. When Shizu visits, he is given a choice to try Kino’s original chicken or mild chicken. Kino? In a country where people write on a paper and stick on a statue for it to come true, Shizu gives it to Ti since he prefers to act rather than wish. Ti earns the admiration of everyone since she writes for everyone’s wish to come true. Her reason is that doing any of this does any good. Kino and Hermes are arriving at a country that Master once visited and can’t forget. However she refused to tell him the details. Kino enters and then when he leaves, he is in shock. He just arrived but how could he be leaving? Hermes says he entered, stayed for 3 days and left. But he can’t remember everything! Hermes points out to a letter Kino wrote to himself. It seems a condition to enter and stay in the country is to leave your memories behind. They don’t want what happens inside here to reach outside. Hermes remembers everything as he is not human. However as his promise to the country, he won’t tell Kino. He assures Kino was his usual self but notes this is the country he enjoyed the most. Proof? Another letter that contains his crappy drawing of the happy people. Of course he doesn’t remember any of that. Frustrating. Now he knows why Master wasn’t able to tell him.

Episode 10
Another remake of the last episode from the original series. The one whereby Kino and Hermes enter a country rumoured to be rude to all travellers. Instead everyone treats them so nice and good. They meet a little girl, Sakura who becomes their tour guide and shows them around. They learn it is her dream to inherit her parents’ inn and be a tour guide. Kino also sent his gun for repairs and the guy does it for free. He also gives Kino his gun he used to travel with. He wants to know if Kino knows about this traveller whom everyone calls as Master who travels and helps others, earning spite and respect. Kino says he doesn’t. Shockingly, Kino wanted to stay longer but is told to keep to his promise and leave after 3 days. As he camps outside, the volcano erupts and destroys the town. Nobody survived. Kino reads a letter by Sakura’s mom she packed for him in his lunch before he left. The town was informed of the eruption a month beforehand. They had a choice to leave or stay. They chose the latter because they have nowhere else to go. It is true they have been mistreating travellers but realized they wanted to leave good impressions on others. But that is when travellers stopped travelling here and Kino was the first with only 3 days left. She hoped to coax Kino to take Sakura with him but after learning of her dreams to stay, they couldn’t. After reading this, Kino is ‘happy’ he didn’t take Sakura with her. Do you think she could take it seeing her country destroyed? Plus, Hermes isn’t meant to fit 2 people. Not sure if that’s a joke. There is also a letter from Sakura hoping he would not forget about them.

Episode 11
Yet another remake but this time of Kino’s past. Those who watched the original would know Kino is originally a girl. A traveller named Kino came and stayed at her parent’s inn. She talked to him about his travels as well as the bike he is fixing. He gives her the honour of naming his bike in which she asks his old friend’s name. Hermes. Guess that will be it. She tells him of this country’s rules that kids turning 12 will undergo surgery to become an adult. They discuss what constitutes being an adult but there’s no clear answer. As she likes singing, she sings for him. Though beautiful, she cannot be a singer because of the country’s rules for a child to inherit their parents’ job. On the day before her surgery, she asks her parents if there is any other way than the surgery to become an adult. This enrages them as they scold her for being ‘defective’. They blame Kino and confront him. He is reminded that each country has their own laws and as a traveller he cannot intervene. Kino agrees and is about to leave but sees the girl’s father taking out a knife. He is going to kill his own daughter and it is his right since she is his property. Immediately Kino jumps to protect her and gets stabbed. She stares in shock when she hears Hermes asking what she should do next. She would rather die and live to undergo the surgery. Does she really want to die then? Not really. Hermes tells her to hop on his back and ride to freedom. She does so before father could have a chance to kill her. Hermes guides her how to ride him as they zoom past their walls. For the first time she sees the beautiful world. At a distance as they stop to rest, Hermes assumes she is called Kino. She decides to take in that name and travel together. To wherever it make take them.

Episode 12
Arriving at a field of sheep, suddenly they start chasing after them! Run! Hermes quips maybe they’re out for revenge since Kino did kill and eat sheep meat before. But ahead are more sheep. Taking an off road detour, they are stopped dead in their tracks as there is a deep ravine before them. Hermes wants Kino to leave him be and climb down. Kino can’t leave him but Hermes is definitely going to break apart if he is thrown down. No choice and with the incoming sheep, Kino takes his stuffs and climbs down. He can’t climb back up the other side as the rocks are too soft. Hermes suggests to walk upstream till he can find a way out. Kino vows to come back for him. As he walks, he notices the sheep also follow him and keeping a close watch. Creepy. Scary. That night he camps and the next morning, he notices the sheep gone. He manages to climb out and see the herd grazing the grass far away. There is also a truck nearby. He investigates and is shock to see a skeletal corpse. He deduces his truck was stuck in the thinning ravine. He broke his shin and couldn’t escape from the sheep’s wrath. Kino uses the ramp parts in the truck to cross over. After making a grave for the dead, he borrows the truck to return to Hermes. By now the sheep are alerted and continue to chase. This time Kino show no mercy because he bangs them! Bowling?! Got to give those sheep credit as they keep ramming the truck despite losing. If some sheep get too close, Kino opens fire! Kino uses fuel to encircle the area where Hermes is. He creates a fire barrier and then shoots more sheep who are caught inside it. Then he makes a makeshift ramp and is going to ride Hermes across. Seriously? Serious. A sheep gets in the way. Bang! Off Kino flies on Hermes and they miraculously land on the other side. They continue their journey till the next country in which the guard is happy to receive a traveller. None has passed this side of the country for so long. When asked if he saw any sheep, Kino says lots of them. He is relieved as he explains those were fighting sheep. The country’s past time used them to fight against each other in rings and went so far as to modify them not to fear anything. Of course animal rights protested and they had no choice but to release them into the plains. He is glad they are still alright. Kino enters the country and gets the best sleep ever on his hammock. I wonder how many sheep died during the production of this episode…

No Country For Travellers
Can’t remember the last time I saw an anime that has undergone a remake. But assuming my memory serves me well, this has got to be one of the best remakes that I have seen. Better than that Kyou No Go No Ni downgrade. As I have not seen the Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and the latest Hunter x Hunter remake (I heard they were much superior), I guess I can’t say. Maybe Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works but I didn’t see the original condensed movie version though the original and first season of the TV series was a completely different route. As for Kino No Tabi series, I can tell it has been superior and a lot better in every sense ever since I watched the first episode. So definitely the remake did a good job in rekindling some of my nostalgia. It didn’t ruin or replace the older one but somehow allow me to accept both the new and old Kino side by side.

As I have said in my opening paragraph about this remake doesn’t matter being a remake or sequel, I suppose I have my answer now why they call it the former. In addition in having some new episodes, a handful of episodes were remakes of the original. This is truly a remake as they have put in new animation instead of reusing the old ones. Obviously. Therefore it isn’t so much like that disappointing ‘cash grab’ repeat in Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi whereby the second half of the season were just replaying the same old episodes exactly the way they were without adding anything new. The remakes of the episodes in this season are mainly reserved for the more important stories and events in Kino’s life while the newer episodes for new adventures are very much welcomed. Having 1/4 of the series as remake isn’t so bad in that sense. So again the question if this show is entirely a remake is debatable because it only feels so for those remade episodes. Maybe the other newer adventures were also from the original but we did not have enough time to see them all. Besides, the timeline of Kino’s journeys are not very clear either. We don’t know if they happen before or after a certain date but most certainly some of them occurred after the Coliseum country.

While Kino and Hermes mostly remain the same character as we know before, reserved and keeping a low profile, this season does not entirely focused on them as we have Shizu and Riku (now with Ti added) as variety. I suppose that is why that Coliseum episode was redone so early this season. In the original series, that was Shizu’s only appearance. Now we get to see adventures of another traveller and this doesn’t make the season entirely boring. Sometimes an episode can be neither of them. Like that Photo’s episode. Kino rarely had any involvement in that and was just passing. Therefore with other characters in the travelling business, we won’t be just anticipating what kind of country will Kino and Hermes visit but also whose travels are we going to see next.

Therefore there isn’t anything much that I can say any more about Kino and Hermes as I have said they are practically the same as we have known them before. I don’t know how long they have been travelling but being a veteran traveller, I am not sure if Kino has seen his fair share of horrors on his travels to lose his emotions or he learnt the traveller’s code of staying neutral and not getting involved in a country’s affair and hence that poker face look. Because definitely the Kino of now is very much different than the lively and cheerful girl Kino. Not too sure if this is the price to pay for freedom. No self-expression. Sure, Kino does smile once in a while but that is if she needs to otherwise it’s that bored expressionless face. Of course Kino is no saint and if he needs to use his gun to kill for his own survival, he will not hesitate. Don’t think you can beat him in a quick draw match. But sometimes I do notice that Kino doesn’t stay to his 3 day stay rule only. There are times when he stays longer but often due to circumstances. Well, it isn’t an ironclad rule he has to stick to it and if he breaks it, it will be the end of the world.

A completely different story for Shizu’s party. Unlike Kino who is just travelling for the sake of travelling, he is travelling to find a place to settle down. After all, he has got his own family. A dog and a little girl can still constitute as a family, right? He might not have a talking vehicle but I guess a talking dog is good enough. Looks like he is going to take a while to find that country. I have this feeling that no countries are perfect, so they will forever travel? Despite taking different paths of travel, sometimes fate has them meet up at certain countries. As though this is a sign that they should be travelling together. But I mostly disagree in them doing so. Kino has always been a loner so it just wouldn’t feel write he would have another non-human companion. Kino and Shizu might look like they are the same type but we do not know much more about them because I believe you will start to see more of the other person when you travel together. There will be disagreements and different ideas and approaches. Eventually they might break off and travel solo again. That way they have more freedom in their journey and only themselves to blame if they screw up.

One of the charms of this series is the different countries and their very peculiar customs and traditions. It doesn’t leave you very deep in thoughts but it makes you think the funny and strange ways humans live their lives as a community. Some countries are totally okay with certain things but some are not. That is why certain countries love travellers while others hate them because for the latter, bringing in new unconventional ideas that go against their beliefs that will lead to the unknown for better or worse is dangerous. We can see how a society is shaped based on the laws of the country and some sure do give off very strange personalities. Stories that give you that heart-warming feeling and some stories feel like they are reserved for tales of the strange. It goes to show that the world out there is wide and being a traveller is perhaps one of the most eye opening and thought provoking professions there is. You don’t have to stay in the same place and do the same dead job till you die.

However with this said, I feel that this season didn’t really delve too deeply in the residents of that country of the episode. Sometimes missing the point of showing us what the flawed by beautiful world should be. Like the first episode about a country that supposedly allow murders. The somewhat twist comes at the end but it hardly makes you feel anything meaningful. Then there is that episode of a moving country that ‘trespassed’ another country. You don’t know anything more about the country except of what is being told and there are no interesting issues that would make you think that this is an interesting country and would love to know more about it. Instead they focus on the trespassing and what is being done currently rather than a character who has lived there and done something profound. And that country you are supposed to leave your memories behind? Feels like lazy writing sometimes because it is like telling us to just imagine yourself how great that country is. You don’t feel that the supposed character of that episode (if there are any) is telling his/her reasons from experience and the likes. Hence making a connection to the country he/she is living in and why he/she continues to do what he/she is currently doing.

One of the obvious biggest and refreshing of the remake is the visuals. The visuals are now looking gorgeous and the colours and hues are much brighter. If my hazy memory serves me well, the original has this bland and monotonous colour that paints the world in such a boring setting. But that was way back in 2003 when the original TV series aired. This means this season’s Kino looks way much better than the original one as he is slim and slender unlike the original one who just looks a bit chubby. Really. Heck, I think many of the characters are also like that. Some may argue that the original had very simple drawn characters (to the point they look cartoonish) compared to the latest one which gives too much detail. To each his own. Also I noticed that this new Kino prefers to wear his hat and goggles over his head more often than the original. Not to say I have not seen this new Kino without his head gear but to a lesser degree compared to the original whom I always remember his ‘bare’ head and hair. Taking over from A.C.G.T. who animated the original is Lerche who did Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, the Danganronpa series, Kuzu No Honkai, Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku and Carnival Phantasm.

One thing I want to note is the last episode’s use of CGI for the sheep. They look so odd and funny. Not the sheep themselves but the animation of ramming and being rammed. You know, when you ram into an animal like a sheep, I am not sure how to explain this force and motion thingy but certainly I can tell you that the physics of the sheep being knocked away are pretty hilarious and weird. Like as though knocking empty carton boxes away. It made me think if they are really sheep in the first place. Even though as explained they are modified, they are still very much a sheep so the way I see them fly away feels as though they are hollow. Another weird physics goes to how Kino shoots the sheep during the fire trap. They fly away and out of the fire?! From that angle and can that tiny bullet make the sheep fly like that? This isn’t some video game, you know. Poor sheep. RIP sheep. Sheep lovers gonna hate…

Also there are major changes to the seiyuus. The one drawing me to also watch this series is Aoi Yuuki who plays the titular character. I have a hunch of how she will voice Kino so it is no surprise she did justice to her character. Sometimes I can’t help think that perhaps the very laidback and relaxing sounding of Kino is due to the fact she screamed her head of as the main character in Aho Girl. Therefore she lost all that voice and energy and hence the perfect person to play Kino. Because in this same season, she too voiced another lead character who is devoid of all that screaming and spunkiness and is so ‘dead’ unlike what you hear her as in the Symphogear series’ Hibiki, Juubei in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls and Tatsumaki of One Punch Man. See Boku No Kanojo Ga Majimesugiru Sho-bitch Na Ken to see what I mean.

Oh, here is another fun fact. It seems this remake isn’t the first time for Aoi Yuuki. In fact, she did have a role in the original as Sakura! Wow. Talk about fate and rebirthing in another universe-cum-remake. This season’s Sakura is voiced by Amano Kokoa whose other debut role is Urahara’s Misa. Fact: She is only 13 years old when she voiced this role. Slightly older than Aoi Yuuki who was only 11 when she did Sakura! Oh, how time flies… Now I’m feeling so old…

For the rest of the casts, it would be their first time as they take over the roles of their predecessor. They are Souma Saito as Hermes (Kain in Kyoukai No Rinne – interestingly, he also voiced a character named Hermes in DanMachi), Yuuichirou Umehara as Shizu (Ushii in Juuni Taisen), Kenichirou Matsuda as Riku (Halter in Clockwork Planet), Lynn as Master (Maya in Sabagebu), Minori Inase as Photo (Rem in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu) and Megumi Ogata as Sou (Naegi in Danganronpa 3). The original Kino traveller is voiced by Daisuke Ono and I instantly recognized him despite not hearing him in quite a while. However I couldn’t make out it was Ayane Sakura behind Ti because of her limited and ‘retarded’ lines. Due to the nature of this series, the rest of the cast list is a very long one as many seiyuus only voice a cameo in a single episode.

This season’s opening theme also has that calming and easy feel although it has that techno beat to it. If Here And Here sounds quite familiar is because if you have heard some of Nagi Yanagi’s songs as the ones in animes like Ano Natsu De Matteru, Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru, and recently in Just Because, you’re going to feel a lot at home. She also sings the ending theme, Satoutama No Tsuki. A much slower ballad and not too bad either.

Overall, this remake isn’t perfect but it is still a good one. There are some that may argue the original is better because of the stories but for a casual viewer myself, they are still interesting in their own right. I wasn’t bored or confused so that itself is already a great sign. It still keeps its charm of telling a story that doesn’t need to have such crazy drama or a mind blowing plot twist to keep viewers’ attention. The updated visuals are pleasant to the eye unless you are hardcore lover of retro anime style. Not too sure if this series will get another season, or a remake or reboot or retelling, whatever you want to call it these days but Kino will stay Kino as long as he can travel. Have bike, will travel. Men and countries come and go but stories are legendary and forever. Somebody just needs to tell them.

Kino No Tabi

June 21, 2015

They say that travelling and going on journeys, visiting different countries with different customs opens or broadens your heart and mind. If you had a chance to travel to every country in the world and learn their local custom, would you? If you like so called short stories that aren’t related to each other, then I am sure Kino No Tabi would be a fine series to have a look. A young traveller on his trusty bike travels to many countries and encounters all sorts of people and their own unique-cum-peculiar customs. However he only spends no more than 3 days in each country. I suppose it is enough time for him to explore and learn about the place before moving on to the next. You can’t stay too long because you might get attached and never leave, which defeats the goal of travelling and role as a traveller. The perfect lifetime tour for someone who is eternally on vacation?

Episode 1
Kino rides through the desert with his talking bike, Hermes. He seems to have reached some monument but Hermes tells him starting a journey like this was impossible. If they leave now, they can return to their master’s place. However Kino has decided to travel. As he takes a rest, Hermes mentions being decisive is essential to a traveller but to Kino, it is what saves a traveller. And that is luck. It starts raining. Kino is before a chasm that leads to the next country and Hermes believes the map seller swindled them. However as noted, the world keeps changing and thus the map was supposed to be correct a month ago. Hermes thought if that is the case, there is no need to go on a journey but Kino believes a traveller’s destiny is to travel. A path emerges before them that takes them across the chasm. After registering at the inspection centre, this town seems void of people and only machines are around to serve them. Prices are also very cheap so much so Kino thought there must be a mistake in their stay since it is a luxury mansion. That night, Kino practises drawing his gun. Next day when they leave and ride around the place, they find no humans at all. However Kino soon spots some. However they have shut themselves in and are living alone, not with their families. Hermes reminds they have to leave this country by tomorrow as it is their policy not to stay more than 3 days. Kino says the reason is because that is enough time for them to figure out the country and if they stay longer, they wouldn’t be able to visit more countries. However the real reason is that if he stays too long, he fears he would settle in and cannot continue travelling.

As they pass several houses, they notice the people outside getting scared and running back in. When they go up to talk to a man, he too has the same reaction but he calms down when he realizes Kino cannot read his mind. Inside his house, he explains this is the Land of Visible Pain. Everyone is taught to be considerate of each other’s feelings. Long ago scientists created machines to help with their work. They also create some drink that would help them easily read each other’s thoughts and feelings. Everyone drank it so as not to be left out. Now, this guy loved a woman but couldn’t say it. After drinking the drink, it’s like they realize they love each other. But happiness was only temporarily. Her interest was in flowers and his was in music. Their difference led them to argue as they tried thinking of other things to keep the other from reading their thoughts. Soon everyone started fighting because when you can read other peoples thoughts and yours be read, hatred spreads like wildfire. There is nothing good in feeling the pain of others so people started living apart to not hear each other’s voices. It has been many years since and no new children were born. This town will probably die out and the machines continue to go on. Kino notices the beautiful music he was playing. He remembers his love also said the same thing but wonders how much of that was the truth. As Kino leaves, the guy is happy to have talked to him. He hopes he can stay and settle down here but he can’t. He would love to continue travelling. Hermes notes sarcastically they were staring at each other so long that he thought they were going to marry. Kino thinks he was wishing him not to die on his journey and his reply was thank you. But he doesn’t know if he got the message right.

Episode 2
Kino shoots a cute rabbit for food. Seems when he was riding through the snowy blizzard, he came across 3 guys who have run out of food and are starving to death. They have been here since the winter season started. He decided to help them and give them enough strength to dig out their truck. It is the best rabbit dish ever. One of them is grateful enough to give Kino a ring that was meant for his wife as thanks. As Kino makes his tent, he discusses with Hermes about the dilemma of killing the rabbit. Although his rations are made out of live animals too, it is different when he is hunting for his own. A life was taken away to help others. Although he was not obliged to help the rabbit or humans, he chose to help the latter because they are the same kind. If he was ever in the same situation, he wants to be helped by others too. Besides, a rabbit won’t help given the same case. Kino continues to hunt and feed the guys. They even talk about their Homecoming festival whereby men leave the country to do business and return during winter to celebrate with everyone their safe return and success in business. One of them is going to get married then and it is said those married on that day will find true happiness. The festival nearly didn’t happen thanks to this mishap but they are thankful for being alive. When Hermes asks what kind of business they do, they can’t really say.

When the snow has stopped falling, Kino helps the guys pull the truck out. They rejoice when the truck is up and running. The guys want to show Kino something and call him over. As he walks over, they suddenly point their guns at him. They reveal they trade humans and believe a person as young as Kino will have a good buyer. They are grateful for his kindness but note they are still wolves. Kino is told to throw his guns down (in which he coolly obeys) and one of them knows he has a hidden gun because that is the gun he used to kill the rabbits based on the bullets. Now he is forced to throw down all his knives. They’re everywhere. Wow. It’s like he is a knife dealer or something. When he is about to discard the final knife, the rustling of the tree leaves distract them. Kino quickly throws it at one, right in his face. He stabs the other in the back and uses him as a shield from the other’s gun fire. He picks up his gun and points blank at the last guy. Now what? He shoots him! No love lost. Kino retrieves his stuffs and mentions that was close. He was scared all this time. He checks out the back of the truck and a ghost girl flies away???!!! What the???!!! Seems all that is left is the human remains. I guess this is what used to be their ‘goods’. Kino returns the ring to the dead guy since he is unable to help them. As they get going, Hermes asks what he will do if he comes across the same situation. His reply is that these things will always happen because they are only human.

Episode 3
Kino arrives in a town where everyone is preparing for the end of the world. Which is tomorrow. They believe so because of some priest interpreting a line of the Book of Prophecy. Suspicious isn’t, it? And when tomorrow comes, they’re still here. How could this be? The priest thinks there must be a calculation error and it might be tomorrow due to some lunar eclipse last week. Then another priest rebuffs him that his calculations are wrong. The end of the world will not happen for the next 30 years. Kino leaves for another country whereby the guard is so happy to see him because there are no travellers visiting for some time. He even rings the bell to announce his arrival so that the people can make a grand welcome for him. Kino is invited to join in their feast and tradition of wearing cat ears. Of course he declines. After he leaves, the sad people put away those cat ears and think this didn’t work and will try out some other tradition. Kino stops shortly at a lone house at the outskirts. Talking to this man about that country’s tradition, he explains he is a scholar studying their traditions. They have tried various traditions when travellers visit. Their goal is to create a tradition and it is done so when the traveller participates in it. If they do so, it becomes their tradition. Otherwise, they move on and set up a new one. Long ago after they threw out the kind and abandoned all old traditions, they begin to realize they had no traditions to boast compared to other countries and resorted to this. Of course without realizing it, they have already created a tradition and may cease once they realized it. This guy turns out to be the descendant of the banished king and his generations will continue to observe them from afar.

Now Kino is in a country where sadness is past down as tradition. As told the story, there was a poet who preached happiness till the king with ill intent wanted him to compose a sad poem. He had limited days and was at his wit’s end for he did not know sorrow. On the last day, his wife who couldn’t bear to see him in pain killed herself to just him about that. The poet then composes his sad poem. So sad that the king couldn’t bear to hear and eventually died. Even after being thrown out, he continued preaching for years. After he died, the people thought they would be freed but his daughter continued the tradition for years. Ever since, it has become a tradition to pick a girl and recite the sad poem every day. Before Kino leaves, he is being told that another traveller said the poet’s words were recorded in some book called Book of Prophecy and passed to some faraway country. Outside that prophecy land, Kino sees an army making their way there. A soldier claims they are going to war and destroy it. Because a researcher interpreted a line in the Book of Prophecy that is the way to stop the world from ending (the country had that vague shaped of what the book described that must be destroyed). Hermes wonders if the prophecy was wrong or right. Like Kino knows. Yeah. Maybe they should ask the stars instead.

Episode 4
In this flashback episode… KINO WAS A GIRL???!!! In a time before he travelled and was in the country of his birth, he doesn’t remember his name because he was often teased about it. He met a traveller named Kino who is looking for an inn so girl Kino (as I would refer to him) brings him to the inn where her parents run. Next day, girl Kino watches adult Kino trying to make a motorbike. Something about creating a pact and take care of each other as they travel. Because the bike runs faster than him and needs somebody to keep him balance and steady, that way their journey will be easier and more fun. Girl Kino asks his job and she doesn’t believe he is a traveller because he is an adult and he is supposed to do things he doesn’t like. But adult Kino points out all the adults are doing their job with a big smile. Her reply? It’s because they’re adults. Confused? When a boy her age is seen being taken to a hospital, she explains in this country, kids who have reached the age of 12 will undergo an operation to take out the kid in them and become adults. That way, they are able to smile even if they do things they don’t like. Adult Kino thinks it is twisted and doubts if that is the perfect adult. I mean, doing things you hate? How do you enjoy life like that? Thus by girl Kino’s definition, adult Kino is neither an adult nor child. Just a traveller named Kino. He likes travelling since it’s fun to learn about different countries. He names his motorbike Hermes after his best friend. She asks his reasons of being a traveller. Someone told him when people see birds fly, they get the urge to travel.

Next day, girl Kino asks her parents if she doesn’t want to undergo the operation and if there is another way to become an adult. Everyone is appalled in hearing this and they start labelling her a failure and ingrate. The parents accuse adult Kino for putting weird ideas in their daughter’s head. Before the crowd becomes unruly, an inspector calms them down and reminds adult Kino about each country’s customs. They have theirs and thus problems not he can do something about. He agrees and will leave since he fears he might be killed. But the inspector assures his safety because he has filled his forms and all properly and will guarantee his safety till he leaves. Adult Kino says goodbye to girl Kino and although everyone has been nice to him, he cannot carelessly get involved in the customs of the land. Suddenly girl Kino’s father takes out a knife. He is going to kill her! Because children are the property of adults, they have the right to dispose of faulty ones. With a smile. As he charges, adult Kino protects her and gets stabbed. The adults aren’t panicking and trying to solve this in an adult manner. Yeah. They’re laughing and all. Hermes asks girl Kino if she wants to stay or become an adult. She doesn’t want to be killed or turned into something like them. Hermes offers a third option: Come travel with him. At this time her father has pulled out the knife and going to stab her once more. With a smile. Girl Kino hops on Hermes and with his guidance, she rides him like a pro. Wow. She’s naturally talented. I know she has experience in riding a bicycle and this is just like an upgrade. They ride through the streets and barge through the gates, out of the country. Do you feel different leaving that country for the first time? At the red flower field, Hermes thinks her name is Kino. Thus she decides to assume this name and calls Hermes so. In present time, Kino stumbles into a red flower field. When he tumbles over, he remembers the past and starts laughing.

Episode 5
As Kino travels along the railroad, he meets an old guy polishing the tracks. Seems he has been doing it for around 50 years! He joined the railroad company when he was 18 and they thought there was an old track that might be used so they send him to polish it. He has been at it as they never told him to stop! He believes his pay is being sent to his family back home whom he has never since ever since. Wanting to hear his travels, Kino then tells a story of his journey to a country where everything is automated by robots and humans do not need to work. However he found it odd that humans are still working. When he talked to one, he was told that they were working to develop some sort of stress. Eh, what? Because machines are never wrong and they’re doing past calculations by checking accounts, stocks, etc to match it, the logic behind this stress is so that they won’t become lazy and incompetent. So this is what this meaningless job is all about? I’ve got a suggestion. Stop using the machines! As Kino prepares to leave, he asks the old man how long he will keep this up. Till somebody tells him to stop. Another meaningless job? But when the old guy asks him where he is headed to, he can’t answer. Sounds familiar, eh? A meaningless journey? Travelling along, the tracks suddenly disappear! Kino meets another old guy who is removing them! Guess what? He has been employed by the railroad company since 16 and has been told to dismantle it since they might not be using it anymore. Of course he hasn’t stopped for 50 years since nobody told him to and believes his pay is help feeding his brothers. Kino tells that story of his. As he leaves, he asks if he finds it strange that the tracks are nicely polished. He doesn’t know why but it is a lot easier to remove. Oddly, he asks Kino the question of where he is going. Continuing his travel, the tracks are suddenly back! Another old guy is seen laying them. Yeah. Hired by the railroad company since 15, he has been working since then to support his ill mother. Can you guess why he didn’t stop? But this time Kino doesn’t tell that story and passes. However the old man still asks about where he is going.

Kino arrives in a decimated town. There is no living soul until he finally meets the only guy left. He explains this country was ruled by a cruel king who executed those who went against him. The people cannot take this anymore and formed a democratic process to oust the king. Their first decision was to vote what to do with the king. He was executed. As they use majority voting as their deciding factor, it becomes hassle and too long a process. Some suggested appointing a leader but the majority disagreed that the same fate like the monarchy will happen again. It soon becomes a habit. With any disagreements arising, the minority is always executed. This kept going until exactly a year ago where the last execution took place. This guy and his wife were against the last unmarried guy from leaving this country. 2 against 1. Executed. Half a year later, his wife died of a cold. Now all alone, he wants Kino to stay in this country and be a resident. Declined. He points his gun to force him but Kino wants to call for a vote about the legality of his action. You know what this means, right? Because Kino and Hermes are the majority… Quickly he agrees to let them leave this country. Ah, a unanimous vote. Kino and Hermes are at the crossroads and each decides a different one. Kino decides to go with Hermes because you’ll never know if you don’t try. Besides, they can still backtrack and take the other if they make a mistake. However Kino changes his mind and goes his way. Hermes thought he was tricked but Kino points out like he has said, they might as well try it out and it doesn’t matter which way they go.

Episode 6
When Kino enters the country, the guards instantly make him a participant of the Coliseum. Seems he will fight for his right to become first class citizen or become citizens of the sewers who will serve the first class for the rest of his life. But he is just a traveller. Unfortunately if he does not want to participate, he will go straight to become a slave. After Kino confirms the rules and the weapons he could bring, he agrees to participate. Because the guards continue to mock him, he whips out his gun and shoots one of them! That should shut them up. The plan is to beat up his opponent and then surrender to earn deportation. However Kino wins his match easily but changes his mind to participate in the next round. There are 16 finalists left and only 1 can become first class citizen as well as add a new rule to the country’s policy. Kino wants to take a look at the sewer citizens so a guard brings him down there as he sees the poverty life they live. The guard also has his family living here. Kino learns that the former king was a great man but after his son took over the throne 7 years ago, things turned out for the worst. A participant, Shizu reveals that the current king murdered his father and purged all those who went against him including his aides, family and children. Next day, Kino’s opponent is a pro assassin. He asks the assassin 2 questions. His reason of becoming a citizen here and to give up. No answer. Well then, let’s fight. Both are equally skilled and Kino is able to avoid his boomerang trick that killed many opponents off guard. Finally Kino traps him with his own boomerang and points a gun in his chin. One more chance to surrender. He explains about his life being brought up to be a first class assassin but heard about this country about giving a chance to become first class citizen. That was his plan and now he has failed, he is going to kill himself. Kino stops him and gives him a last chance to surrender. He does. The next round, Kino fights a mercenary. As usual, he asks for his surrender. Not only the mercenary has prosthetic limbs but he has a flame thrower that burns everything. Kino puts an end to his inferno spree when he shoots his hose. Now will he surrender? Never. Kill him instead. With the crowd egging Kino to do it, the mercenary explains he killed many to survive. He came here in search of someone stronger and now that he has lost, he believes the loser must die. Since he still won’t surrender, Kino knocks him out with his gun. In the end, 4 finalists make the cut. Apart from Kino, they are Shizu, Miss Rose and a detective gunslinger.

Episode 7
As generosity, the king (looking like a typical villain from fantasy genres) shows the finalist a play. Feels like a little history of how the throne was ascended. The former king was strict with the prince because of fear that he would kill him just like how he did to his father. However it backfired since the prince couldn’t take the stress and killed him in his sleep. It was the first time he laughed. The prince became the king and when the wife learnt he might do the same to his children in fear of that, she tries to betray him but got killed. I guess this tragic puppet show was funny enough for the king to laugh his ass off. Anyway the gunslinger finds it boring and leaves. Shizu too couldn’t take it and leaves but the king wonders if he has seen him before. As for Rose and Kino, the king offers to either one become his wife and will automatically make his new wife a first class citizen. They both refuse. Rose isn’t here for that and Kino is just a traveller. The king breaks down and laments about the path of destruction he brings. Ever since he killed his father, he can’t stop grinning or get his face out from his mind no matter what he does. He wants them to save him. I guess they’re not interested either. Kino fights Rose. They want each other to surrender. Not a chance. As they fight, Rose reveals her intention is to add a law. Her mother brought her up singlehandedly after her father left. Before she died, she wanted to have white flowers. Rose searched very long for it but when she returned, she died. This country has lots of those flowers. If she wins, she wants to make a memorial day whereby everybody pays her respects to her with those white flowers. Too bad that won’t happen since Kino corners her. The king calls for Kino to kill her but she surrenders. Kino accepts. Just when it all seems to be over, the king shoots Rose!

Shizu hopes for a favour from Kino if they meet in the finals. Please surrender. Why is everybody trying this approach? I guess they don’t want to see blood spill. But since Kino refuses, that about settles it. And as expected, Shizu easily defeats the gunslinger. Before the finals, the gunslinger advises Kino to surrender because the longer it gets, the higher the chance of getting killed by Shizu. Like that would happen. The gunslinger says he is bored of life and is seeking some thrill. That’s why he could understand what the king is feeling. As the fight starts, Kino is impressed that Shizu could deflect all his bullets. It is Shizu’s turn to strike but luckily Kino has metal wristbands to block. Eventually Kino hits away his sword with the butt of his gun. However Shizu won’t surrender now. He says even if he fires, he can still avoid it and beat him. But Kino is fine either way. I didn’t know Kino had some sort of fireball bullet in his gun as he shoots and kills the king! As Kino leaves the country, Hermes asks about that rule he made. Seems he wants all first class citizens to fight each other to determine the next king. The last one standing wins. Fleeing will result in automatic lost of citizenship and harming sewer citizens will also result in disqualification. So that country is pretty much in chaos. Along the way he meets Shizu who is also on a journey. Shizu is the king’s son and was planning the kill him when he receives the winner’s medal. Kino thinks revenge won’t do him any good. He agrees but now he has nothing left to do. He can’t be king as he feels he isn’t suited for it. He wonders if Kino would follow him to the next country but is turned down because he shouldn’t follow strange people easily.

Episode 8
When Kino enters this new country, a great fanfare greets him because he is the first traveller here in 5 years! Nimya is eager to get her dream going and today is the day. She narrates that this is the land of ‘mages’. It is their own term for founding fathers as they helped turn this marsh and swamp land into crops. Therefore anybody who can help increase its yield is very much welcomed. When Nimya was young, she and the other kids used to notice a weird old man living alone with his bizarre inventions. It is believed he went overseas to study but when he returned, he never spoke to others and it could be that he learnt something ‘useless’. Any technology that does not bring yield to their crop is ‘useless’. The old man met a sad end and he died without anybody knowing. As Nimya’s parents died due to an epidemic, she is taken in by her unscrupulous aunt who stole her fortune and then put her in a warehouse, which is that old man’s home. She discovered books containing sketches of many interesting inventions and became interested in it although she knows it is pretty much ‘useless’ in this country. She could understand how the old man felt. Ever since, she became a peculiar kid trying out many inventions in which many ended in failure. When her aunt was finally arrested and Nimya got her fortune back, she remembers her childhood dream: To fly. Of course she tried but all ended in failures. She was about to give up when she hit an inspiration. Now Nimya goes to see the chief (who is bragging to Kino about his crop increase by 3%!) but he denies her and has had enough of hearing it. Later Kino learns she wants a huge bronze statue in the middle of the road removed. Why? She takes him to her home to show a flying contraption. From her theory and explanation of how it works, the only thing left is a long runway and thus that statue is right smack in it. Kino is impressed she came up with the idea. Nimya wonders if Kino had seen such contraptions in other countries. Although he has seen many futuristic inventions, none were about flying. She might be the first.

The chief comes knocking on her door to inform her that he has received complaints from neighbours about her contraption. They will demolish it tomorrow. And she cannot object to it! She feels depressed but when she asks Hermes if it could really fly, she gets her confidence back when Hermes believes from her theory and calculations it could. But what about the runway? It is suggested to make a mound and fly over it. However her calculations show it is still not enough and will crash. Kino then suggests using gunpowder. At first she thought the explosion will destroy the plane but after thinking of turning that power into some propulsion, this might actually work. Early next morning, Kino helps pave the way for her first flight. Everyone remains sceptical but Nimya gets it going. The propulsion successfully lifts her into the air. Everyone is so freaking flabbergasted. Never thought it could happen, eh? When she needs room to land, everyone without hesitation moves the statue away! When she gets down, everybody bows down to her like she is God! Nimya wants to thank Kino but that kid can’t stay because it’s getting complicated (Nimya’s God status I figure). Nevertheless she will always be grateful to him and believes their meeting was destined. Otherwise she will always live a life filled with disappointment. Kino on his way tells Hermes that he didn’t think Nimya could actually fly. Hermes is surprised. Didn’t he suggest and help her? Sure. Based on the theory and calculations it would work but in reality, he really didn’t think she would. And when she did, it looked like magic. Moral: Never underestimate the potential of humans.

Episode 9
When Kino saves a traveller in a desert, he is given a book as reward. He tells him the next country he is heading to is the country of books where they have books from all over the world. Ironically, he just escaped from there because he can’t stand that place anymore. Another irony is that despite collecting books from all over the world, it is prohibited to write books. This guy wanted to be a writer. At the library, Kino meets the chief librarian who explains about the system of filtering books into harmful and harmless. They are done so by critics in a castle. Oh, they’re never wrong too. A librarian lady asks Kino about the book he has. She realizes it is from her former lover. She brings him to an underground place. These people are a group of resistance movement against the critics. All of them have written books and since they are distributed underground without passing through the critics’ screening, it is of course illegal by law. Because Kino has met that man, they wonder if he was told the entrance to the castle since his job was to pass books he collected to the castle. Of course he read many fascinating books which were ‘illegal’. They hope Kino can help but he declines since he will only be here for 3 days. Of course he won’t rat them out. Kino also learns they are looking for the Author whom was originally from the castle. He wrote a book about the world after reading all the books. When finished, he disappeared. It is believed that book is still in that castle. They add that all the books they’re publishing are written by him and there is something magical about them. Like it gives you the illusion of becoming a character in a story. On his way back, Kino meets a mysterious man. He is the Author. He asks Kino an interesting question if he realizes he might be just a character in a story. A guy from the resistance bumps into Kino as he is running away from the authorities. He wants Kino to give the key to the lady librarian. The Author will know what to do with it. When Kino turns back, Author is gone but he left behind his manuscript. Then Kino is confronted by an authority who tells him how people easily got influenced by books and committed crimes. Some to a point where they can’t distinguish between reality and fantasy. That is why the critic system was developed. But could it be down to the readers’ interpretation? Sure, but no matter how fun a book is, it isn’t real.

Next day as Kino is going to see the lady librarian, it seems the authorities have arrested her for having the ‘disease’. The kind where she can’t tell between fantasy and reality. She’ll be treated in a hospital. When Author sees Kino with the key, he believes his role has been decided. He rants about this world is just a story in a book he wrote. Maybe he got the disease too, eh? He says that itself is a fantasy humans created. Life is only a fantasy where everyone is the main character. However the world doesn’t recognize you as that. There is only one way to solve this dilemma: Become an author. He shows Kino the secret passage into the castle and if he wants to read his books, it is in the red bookshelf. Inside the castle, he sees several critics going through the books. The librarian lady and some of her resistance members are taken here to be part of the critics. When they hear Author’s voice claiming everything is imaginary and the world is a big prison, the resistance guys fight back. Kino takes this chance to pass to her the key and manuscript. As he goes to the red bookshelf, a woman claiming to be the minister and leader of the critics brings him to her room to explain. It seems they have set a n elaborate trap using that key to catch Author and lure him back here as he believes this world is just a fantasy he wrote so he will come back here as part of his role. She adds that the system was also developed for another reason. Since the critics are not your ordinary people, they are kept here to keep them away from normal citizens. They are crazy people that ruin other people’s pleasure. Yeah well, seems everybody here is book crazy. Uh huh. They got the disease, I guess. Suddenly there is panic because the place is on fire. All the books are being burnt! Then all this turns out to be a story that Kino is reading! The book that traveller passed him had only empty pages. He was okay to let Kino have it as he doesn’t need it anymore. He is going to write his own books.

Episode 10
Kino is lost trying to find the next country and almost bumps into a granny while turning a corner. She says there is no country in this heavily forested area and invites him back to her master’s home where she works as a maid. There, Kino stumbles upon a lab that creates mechanical dolls. Granny admits she is a mechanical doll created by her master whom she doesn’t know. During dinner as Kino meets the family, he finds it odd that despite there is no country around here, they claim thanks to the maid, they are able to go to work. And when asked about their job, they repeat that same sentence. Even odder is that they didn’t touch their food but dump them away in a secret compartment before granny gets back. Same thing next morning for breakfast. After they have gone to work, granny takes Kino to a valley. Looking closer beneath the water, there is an entire country submerged in it! She says it is an ancient country and must have fallen into ruin for some reason. Of course Kino also finds it odd because the buildings look new. When Kino is fixing Hermes, a meter is broken so granny helps to fix it. Man, she’s good. Suddenly she starts to collapse. She believes her time is almost up as the wear and tear is getting to her. Next morning, Kino finds her collapsed at the corridor. She knows the time for her to break down is here and wants to say goodbye to everyone. The family picks her up and put her to bed. She feels happy that she has been useful to them always and then stops functioning.

As the family buries her, they place 2 skulls beside her. It belongs to her husband and son. It proves granny is actually human. The family then reveal to Kino about the history. As I suspected, the family take off their head to show that they are mechanical dolls. The country at the bottom of the lake was always in conflict between 2 ethnics since its establishment. Granny was a scientist in her younger days and worked hard to create mechanical dolls to reduce labour. She believes by doing so, the conflict will reduce. Thus this family was created and as she is about to celebrate and show this success to her husband and son, they fell victim to a terrorist bombing before her eyes. She become broken and almost died when the ruin fell on her but the android family saved her. They took her to the lab and waited for her recovery and when she regained consciousness, she started believing she was a mechanical doll and made to serve others. At that point, the conflict escalated and they wiped out each other using powerful weapons. The family made the dam and submerged the country so as not to remind her of the terrible event. The mansion in the woods was also created so they could live happily as a family as she wished. It has been 54 years and 341 days since then. They want Kino to stay and willing to be anything for him (the son suggesting to be Kino’s lover sounded creepy) as they feel they were made to do something for humans. Otherwise what else use will they have? Kino is not interested and wants them to decide for themselves. And since Kino isn’t going to change his mind, the family jumps off the cliff and sinks into the lake. I can’t believe that after being so high-tech and all, they can get short circuited by the water?

Episode 11
In a bar, Kino talks to a reformed rogue that he is going on a journey with a woman of the fiancé he once killed. Instead of rotting in prison, she is giving him a chance to atone for the rest of his life. He asks Kino for travelling advice. It is the same as if you would live an ordinary life in a country: Not to lose your life. But after outside the country, Kino witnesses that woman shooting and killing him. I guess it’s all for revenge. She wonders why Kino didn’t stop her. He’s not God. She asks for travelling advice and the same answer is given. Along their way, they remember meeting a young travelling couple who travels without weapons. They have been travelling like this and have been lucky all the while. She plans to continue travelling like this to preach this idea even if it takes hundreds of years. She is pushing herself to do this ever since her fiancé was killed. She bears no more hatred for the killer since she heard he was also killed. Later the guy reveals to Kino that he was the one who killed that killer because he feared she would seek revenge. This is a secret she doesn’t know. He loves her so much and is willing to fight the world for her. After Kino turns the corner, he sees lots of dead men killed by that guy. He is so good that she doesn’t even know. Let’s just hope he won’t destroy the world at this rate. A short flashback about girl Kino riding Hermes till he ran out of fuel. Lost in a forest, a wolf is about to eat her but was killed by an old woman whom girl Kino will come to call as Master. Kino learnt many things under her but that is another story.

On a rainy day before Hermes runs out of fuel, Kino takes refuge in a house that a wise man is believed to be staying. The caretaker brings Kino underground where the ailing wise man is. She explains he got the name when he was living like a homeless person in a country. The king wanted to play a prank on him by giving him what he wanted. But he was told to move away because he was blocking his sunlight, the best treasure. The king felt his words were wise and that’s when his nickname came to be. However the wise man denies it. Kino thought he was a traveller but he explains he never had any desire to start with. He does not fancy material greed or fame so people become inspired to call him so. He came from a country where crimes were rife. He was imprisoned for it and since the authorities are trying to solve this problem, he became an experiment subject. As they believe self conscious is the root of all evil, they experiment to erase it. After many testing, the wise man developed immunity to self conscious but it was not the results the authorities wanted. Because he had no desire to work or do anything! As they don’t want many failures like this, he is kicked out of his country. One day a hypnotist heard his story and gave him a chance to regain his original self if he recalls a word that he wrote on a paper and placed in a bottle. The hint is that the words are the only true words in the world. Of course the wise man had no desire to return to his normal self and just followed the bottle’s drift. In the process, many people started revering him as the wise man.

Hermes wonders if the word is true blue sky. But Kino remembers something similar. A grandson told him before his grandpa died, he told him it doesn’t matter if you have found the blue sky. He thought and thought but couldn’t find the answer. Asking Kino’s opinion, he said there is no such thing because the true blue sky depends on many factors. Each is beautiful although they change. Thus He can’t tell which is the real one he has seen. The wise man starts going crazy. He remembers he has been tricked by the hypnotist. ‘There is no such thing’ is the word and there was no way he would have returned to his normal self. A barrage of emotions flow through him. When the caretaker manages to calm him down and Kino prepares to leave, Kino wonders why she didn’t kill the wise man then. She reveals she was from the same country as him. After the experiment failed, they continued with more although they improved as newer subjects are able to do simple jobs. Her job is to watch over him and kill him if he returns to his original self. But as for why she didn’t kill him at that moment, she doesn’t know. Since he has not much long to live, she will soon be out of a job. Maybe she’ll become a traveller and perhaps be called a wise man. Hermes thinks Kino is like the same like the wise man since they had no purpose or plan. But Kino says there is a difference: He is trying to live his life consciously.

Episode 12
Before arriving at the next country, Kino sees a huge hole with lots of mummies in it. This country is so peaceful that Kino is told that he doesn’t need his guns. Though, he can still carry them around. Kino observes war tanks and weapons being used as playthings or work or arts. He also sees a military drill and being told that there is war tomorrow although it is not the kind they went through years ago. To understand the country’s history better, Kino visits the museum as the curator takes him around from the country’s birth out of nothing to its industrialized and peaked periods. As it grows bigger, it wanted contact with other countries but thanks to their different culture and language, they couldn’t get along and war broke out. This happened so often and both sides lost many lives. It is only until 15 years ago that the war ended and peace as they see it today was achieved. To find out how, please come back tomorrow. Yeah, I guess it was such a long history that it took almost a day to cover! And Kino is in luck because there is war tomorrow. Next day, Kino joins the army as they head out to war with their neighbouring country. At first it might look like they are going to do a mock war. However they descend on a small village and start firing! Aren’t they destroying stuffs and killing the people?! In the end, the country with the most kill wins the war.

When Kino returns to the museum, he mentions that it looked nothing more like a massacre. The curator says that is their version of war. She goes on explaining she had a husband and 4 sons whom she lost to the war. After her husband died first, one by one her sons went out to avenge his death but all died. That is when she thought tirelessly on how to stop the meaningless war. That massacre Kino just saw was her idea. Telling them to just stop won’t do as it is human nature to be competitive and destructive. Both countries come to an agreement to fight this ‘war’ and kill enough of those little tribe without wiping them out. And that ends our history tour. Kino asks her about the massacred people (they are the mummies). She replies that their lost is minimal compared to past victims. Besides, if Kino has any idea as replacement, be sure to tell. And yeah, sacrifices must be made for peace. That ring a bell? I didn’t know they took it this literally and seriously. Kino is unsure if she is wrong now or the people in the past were right. She says when he has children of his own, then he will know how she feels. As Kino leaves, he notices stuffs belonging to travellers strewn along the path. It is those tribe people. They want him to come to their village and kill him! Because they know they can never stand up against those countries who massacre them without any reasons, to satisfy their revenge, they kill anybody passing by. Sorry, Kino doesn’t want to die. When they attack, Kino pulls out his gun. After he shoots and kills one of them, they run away in panic. Kino continues his journey.

Episode 13
In the next country they’re going, there are rumours its people hates travellers and do not treat them nicely. Only one way to find out. The people are alerted when Kino arrives. When the guards learn Kino will be here only for 3 days, they breathe a sigh of relief and welcome him. And then everybody welcomes Kino. When he asks for a place to stay, everybody offers. But it seems Kino is more inclined to a little girl named Sakura. In some ways they share similarities. Sakura’s parents run a hotel, she is often bullied by other boys and being called names. Sound familiar? Sakura becomes his guide as she takes him to her grandpa who can help fix his gun. At first grandpa wasn’t interested but when he takes a look at it, he will fix it. Sakura then brings Kino to the museum to learn about the country’s history. Persecuted people who have nowhere to go got lost in the forest and the forest spirit saved them. They started building a country of their own right here. Kino’s good treatment continues as the people gives him stuffs and one even invites him to his son’s wedding! Kino retrieves his gun and finds it even better when he first held it. Grandpa doesn’t charge him but asks if he knows a certain person. He had a brilliant female disciple who wielded a similar gun. She became a traveller and went on to stick her nose in other people’s affair and caused trouble. She was called Master by some. Kino declines ever knowing this person. Grandpa then shows him his own gun he used when he was once a traveller. He wants Kino to take it on his travels. Kino humbly accepts it. Later Hermes wonders why Kino lied to grandpa about knowing Master. It was what he was told to answer when people asked so. Sakura takes Kino to her favourite waterfall place. She reveals her dream to follow her parents’ footsteps by taking over their hotel establishment and becoming a tour guide. But mother allows her to go on a journey and become a traveller if she wants to. That way, she can learn a lot of things. However Sakura says she isn’t going anywhere because becoming a tour guide here is her dream. Hermes wonders about the nasty rumours about this country. Although it bothered Kino at first, now couldn’t care less about it.

Next day, Kino attends the wedding and even grabs some tree seeds that the bride is throwing and Sakura wants to get. It is believed that those who get them will become the next happy bride. When he returns to the hotel, Sakura’s parents remind him it is about time he leaves. But Kino surprises everyone that he wants to stay for a day or two! He is declined since the parents took the liberty to pack his bags and must leave as he said he would be staying for only 3 days. Before he goes, everyone gives him farewell gifts and even tell him of nice places to camp. Then off he goes. Kino camps on the mountain top where he could see an overview of the country. That night he suddenly wakes up in cold sweat. He has a bad feeling. Suddenly the volcano erupts and engulfs the town in magma! OMG! Everybody died! Is this Pompeii?! I believe I have never seen Kino’s face this shocked before. Kino reads a letter from Sakura’s mom detailing the events. A month ago, a researcher told the country it would be hit by the lava. They were given a choice to abandon the country. It may sound silly to travellers but since they were born here, there was no other way they could live. They chose to live their remaining days without cursing their fate. It was when they realized their country had been very disrespectful to travellers in the past. If nothing was done, they would be remembered as cold hearted people. Ironically no travellers came since they changed their attitude and Kino was the first since. They thank Kino and Hermes for giving them a chance. Kino calls this their ego. He also reads Sakura’s letter not to forget about them. Of course attached to it are the seeds as there is no use for her to keep it. There is nothing more they can do but for them to continue travelling.

Episode 0
This is a short movie and serves as a prequel for Kino before his journeys. Kino was still a girl but living under Master’s care. Master guides her well and she looks like a happy girl learning under her. They even have it all planned out what they’re going to do for the fine weather. Master also teaches Kino how to use a gun. Although calling Kino a genius, there is much more she still needs to learn in the long run. Master meets a gunpowder seller who asks about her living here forever. Master intends to stay that way and not leave the forest. As for Kino, it is up to her. Later he asks Kino about it and it seems she doesn’t mind staying here forever too. That afternoon, Master and Kino go to cut down a tree. They use a heavy chain gun to fire and cut it! Wow!!! Kino is still uncertain about using that name and practises. She thinks the masculine term is more suitable. Next day, Kino notices a group of people leaving Master’s cabin. She has noticed that people from the neighbouring country have come to seek a favour but all were turned down. Kino is still learning how to ride Hermes and as she goes to fetch water, she is surprised to see the original Kino at the river. Turns out to be somebody else. He was wearing a coat very similar to the original Kino. He relates how a guy gave it to him so Kino is interested to know where and which country he got it from. Then Kino talks to Master about wanting to go to that country but she cautions her that she doesn’t even know which country it is nor if that coat that person gave to was also given by somebody or bought from somewhere. However since this is Kino’s life, Master allows her to do what she wishes despite the uncertainty of things. This means more intense training using her gun and riding Hermes. Before Kino leaves on her journey, Master gives her a proper set of clothes for her travel. She also gives a coin as a charm. Master has a map of the country Kino wishes to visit and even the location of the home where that supposed person Kino wants to visit.

Riding along, Kino wonders Master’s name as strange till Hermes points out it isn’t a name and more of a title. She never knew, eh? Once Kino reaches the house, an elderly mother greets her. She thinks she is a friend of her son and that he is coming back. But Kino soon explains how the original Kino got killed so that she could leave. When Kino returns his coat, the mother starts becoming frantic. She snatches the coat and couldn’t stop uttering Kino’s name. Kino is left in shock. Once she has calmed down, she continues that her son liked to travel and she never knew whether he was alive or not. Inviting Kino to stay for the night, as Kino takes a sip of the tea, suddenly she feels weak and her vision blurs. The mother is going to kill her. She blames Kino for the death of her son. If it wasn’t for her, he would still be alive. Kino however still has the strength to avoid her knife stabbing. When she is cornered and mother is going for the desperate strike, the coin falls off Kino’s sleeve. That is when Kino has a complete change in character. She says he is Kino now and takes out her gun and shoots her in the heart. Kino collapses soon after. When she wakes up, she finds several people cleaning up the house. They mention this mother’s son died a very long time ago and even forgot his name. She considers all travellers who pass by here as her son and kills them. As she lives in the outskirt of the country, the law is beyond their reach. That is why they have sought Master’s help but Kino turned up instead. When Kino sees her hair tainted with blood, she cuts it short. She returns to Master with a new look. She also returns the gun and coin and wants a couple of favours. Kino wants to be strong so Master agrees to train her harder. Also, she wants to hear more stories about Master on her travels. I think it is going to be long so she’s starting right now! Oh heck, she doesn’t even know which one to begin with.

Special: Tower Country
In this special that lasts only for 14 minutes, Kino enters a country that seems to be centred on building a very tall tower stretching into the sky. Is it because they are scared the sky will collapse or are they trying to reach God? Kino has gone around asking but all the people could answer is that it is their duty and just doing their job. Nobody knows the actual reason why the tower that has been built for 230 years and still in progress. Well, it is like asking why Kino travels, right? But there is another problem for Kino: There are no inns. So he makes do in some small room. As he retires for the night, a boy sneaks in but Kino already anticipated this and overwhelms him. Kino points his gun as the boy quickly explains he is not here to rob him. He is here to ask him of something. He wants Kino to take him away on his travels. As the people of this country has never travelled before and only focused on building the tower, those who don’t help will be labelled traitors and sacrificed. You can’t do anything else (thus no inns whatsoever). It isn’t that he doesn’t want to help build the tower, he can’t see spending his life on that. Kino understands but can’t take him along as he only travels with Hermes. If he wants to, he can travel by himself. The boy feels disappointed and leaves. Next day, Kino continues to observe the country building the tower in full force. On the day of his departure, he notices everyone panicking. They hear the tower ‘moaning’ before collapsing. And then… Everybody rejoices! They are happy to see the tower collapse in their generation. What now? Build a new one! The boy then goes up to Kino and ask his opinion doesn’t he find it all strange? Kino says he is unsure if everyone is crazy or only him. The boy becomes disheartened but Kino suggests if he doesn’t want to build towers, maybe he can build coloured bricks and engrave on them. The people also like this idea as they go draw up plans to make a new tower. Although Kino hasn’t decided the next country to visit, it is time to leave as always.

Movie: Country of Illness
In another short movie, Kino enters a seemingly wasteland but taking a look around, he finds the entire city fully sheltered within the valley. He is welcomed but first needs to clean himself. Hermes’ gear clutch is also fixed and they even give his exhaust a super upgrade! Such service. After being given a map, Kino is being told that many of the citizens live here. Those who live outside are considered elites because they are a team trying to go for land reclamation. As this is an enclosed and purified space isolated from external pathogens, most of them yearn to live outside under the real sun and sky. Kino’s lodging expenses are even on the house although Kino could smell a faint anti-septic smell of this city. Then the hotel owner calls him. No Hermes, it’s not about paying the hotel bill. He has a sick daughter, Inasha and hopes he can tell her about his travel stories. The next day he pays her a visit and starts telling some of the stories. I don’t know how long this will take. In the end, she asks if he knows about her illness. He has heard that certain people get them and there is no cure. But recently there is a breakthrough in the research to slow it down. Seems she wants to go outside. It is mainly to thank a boy, Rouge whom she met a year ago. Inasha brings Kino to the rooftop where the supposed meeting took place. He was energetic and optimistic about going outside. Eventually he became part of the reclamation team. They started exchanging letters. She read in excitement the happenings and new discoveries outside. His ripened tomatoes sounded fresh and delicious. Ironically the medicine she takes makes her feel sick. But reading his letter, it makes her feel better. She has a request of him. Due to the rules that they can only exchange a letter per month, she has made a bird out from paper after learning what it is from his letter. She also made a brooch as his present. She hopes he can give it to him on his way out.

Kino leaves but when he reached the supposed village, it seems abandoned. A guy named Cole from some special defence forces wonders if he is lost because this is an abandoned reclamation village. Cole brings him back to his underground base. This is a post office. After Kino gives Inasha’s present, Cole explains that Rogue has already died 6 months ago. He explains the truth. The country is doing all it can to fight the disease. As time is running short, they are using humans as test subjects to develop vaccine. Those selected as part of the reclamation team are those families which are healthy and have no other relatives besides themselves. Cole is almost breaking down from the guilt. He continues that Rogue is actually beneath Inasha’s feet, in a small lab beneath the city. He thinks his death is not in vain because it helped contribute in fighting the illness. He believes Inasha and other sick people are able to receive the benefit of the vaccine. Now that Inasha has a present, does this mean he has to write a reply letter? But as far as Kino is concerned, he has already delivered the gift and will take his leave. However Cole attacks him. They play cat and mouse before pointing their guns at each other. A shot is heard. Meanwhile Hermes is waiting outside and is trying to hit on a buggy! Doesn’t he know that is just a normal buggy? Awfully quiet, isn’t it… After Inasha takes another awful medicine (reaction from the doctor and nurse doesn’t look good), she takes out her latest letter from Rogue. All lies but it gave her hope. Kino continues his journey as Hermes asks his next destination. A country with people living happily? But Hermes plays it down that he won’t be happy if he doesn’t face reality. In that case, a country with good food.

This Ugly/Strange Yet Beautiful/Curious World
And so the journey for Kino continues. Where he goes and where he ends up depends where the wind (or Hermes rather) takes him. With so many countries existing in the world, it just makes you wonder how many more there are. Some of which may never be discovered. Even though it is a small world but from the looks of it, it is still huge (assuming it is the same planet and perhaps alternate timeline if you want to go that far). I don’t know about the status and role of a traveller but from the way I see it, they are viewed and treated differently from local citizens in the sense that they are guests or observers from a foreign land and are given their due treatment in turn for respecting their laws. Well, at least most of them. And isn’t it odd itself that many citizens of a country do not move. They born, raise, stay, work and die in that country. Hasn’t anybody ever thought of travelling? Maybe that is why genuine travellers like Kino are rare.

Having each episode standing alone as itself is both a good and bad thing. It is good because viewers do not need to remember and care about the plot that might be carried forward and thus you can easily enjoy the episode. What happens in that episode, stays in that episode. You can move on to the next without any worries. The shorter something is, the less confusing the plot or other factors there are. However being episodic is also bad because it lacks a sense of continuity and thus a direction that we could see. Because basically every episode is just following the same formula of Kino arriving, exploring and finding out the truth before setting off. Sometimes the stories are interesting but there is no more to the revelation than that has been explained. It leaves you wondering because you thought there would be more to that but it just ends there with the simple revelation that even a kindergarten kid could write and that’s it.

However the fate of certain characters as well as the ending of each episode is such that it leaves you open to your interpretation. For Kino, it is at it is. What he has seen and experienced for the last 3 days is already enough. He doesn’t get too deep into the politics and culture of them because as an outsider, what right does he has even if some locals plead for him to get involved. So I think what Kino does is the best. Just observe and enjoy his stay, then leave. Therefore what happens in that episode may look like as though it is left hanging and without any valid conclusion. How would you want it to end anyway? There is no end. Life for that country has to go on.

Kino and Hermes are the only recurring characters in every episode and despite them being the stars, it doesn’t feel like they are very imposing on the series overall since Kino is quiet and more of the observing kind. He doesn’t intend to leave very big footprints behind. His emotionless and monotonous character may add to the mystery of his being but I suppose this is the only attitude to employ when you are a traveller. Emotions are a dangerous thing and could be the thing that costs you your life. So it’s fine for Kino for him to stay deadpan and the ever observant not wanting in meddling in the affairs of each country. I am not sure what is the big deal about Kino practising drawing his gun before he goes to bed. I guess he needs to keep his mind sharp. There are scenes that show Kino does not hesitate to use his gun when necessary but only as a last resort. Sometimes he looks like trying to calm down, breathing heavily after pulling the trigger like as though he has committed and inevitable but necessary act. At least it shows that he has his side of emotions too. And when he had a change of heart of wanting to stay in a country for more than 3 days, it could have been a matter of life or death! Had he stayed, he could have died! So now you see when you have a policy, please stick strictly to it. That is what happens when you get too attached. You stay and become part of the culture, forgetting your role as a traveller.

I have always been wondering about Kino’s gender. Although it has been pointed out in an early episode that Kino is a girl, however I myself is uncertain if I should classify Kino as that. Because Kino often speaks in masculine form and even his outlook is quite boyish. Even when asked by some if Kino is a boy or girl (although some characters outright referring Kino as a girl), Kino himself doesn’t clearly answer and says that Kino is just Kino. Neither a boy nor a girl. Yeah. Kino, the third gender. Therefore, I just decided (on my own basis) to classify Kino as a male. Because despite he was once a female, Kino has discarded his past and moved on to being somebody new.

The mind boggling thing is that I don’t see Kino taking notes or having a camera with him. So how the heck does he remember all the countries he has visited? I know we can say he has got a good memory but I thought with notes and photos, at least there is proof and record of all the countries he has visited. Because at this rate if he is going to write a story about his life’s travels, it will take decades to complete and a great amount of forests have to be sacrificed just for him to pen it down. But then again, Kino is not doing this travelling for anybody else but himself. So all the adventures he will take them to his grave. Because, if you want to know a country, it is best you go there and experience it yourself.

Hermes is a funny machine himself. If I should describe him, he is quite a frank motor. In the sense that he doesn’t beat around the bush and says his thoughts that comes to mind. And he says it in that gentle tone that is what makes it funny. He also has a penchant of misquoting sayings and Kino had to play the straight guy in correcting him. The only thing that is not convincing about Hermes is his speech. No, it is not the way he talks. But rather Hermes looks 100% like a motorbike. Despite it may look comical, but I thought having at least a mouth somewhere to show movements when he speaks would be more convincing that the motorbike is alive. I mean, he is still a machine but at least to show there is life. Now with Hermes looking just as a vehicle, it looks like whenever he speaks, his voice may have come from somewhere else. I don’t know. From the sky? The ground? The wheel? The exhaust? So it feels like animating Hermes is the easiest job ever because you don’t need to animate any movements of his body parts when he speaks.

As the characters of each country only appear for that particular episode, it makes no sense to give many of them names so most of them are just simply identified as their looks or generally named as they are. Heck, they have no names so sometimes it is hard to tell. But would you care because you’re just passing and not going to remember them all anyway. Well, I suppose this is good for people who aren’t good in remembering names. Seriously. And even if you could remember those that are name, what good would that do? Because they don’t appear ever again.

The art and drawing although it is old school and perhaps an excuse not to ‘complain’ when you compare it to animes these days, but sometimes I feel that even certain characters have this strange and one kind look in them. Overall, the character designs are simple and nothing very elaborate while the background and sceneries also feel okay with some of them looking like water colour art. Well, this is an old production after all. 2003 is such a long time ago. The colouring also feels dull and I would say they aren’t as bright or vivid and just dull but I am sure the reason is to give a realistic feel of this seemingly dystopian world. But the Country of Illness movie employed CGI effects and it looked really different, being smooth and different from its previous style. At least the colour hues are brighter than before although the story remains grim.

The opening theme is All The Way by Mikuni Shimokawa. Personally I think this is quite a nice and lively song that ironically fits the series and Kino’s journey despite many of his journeys have this gloomy and mysterious feel to it. This is one of the old anime songs that I would love to sing along to. The ending theme by Ai Maeda (who is also the voice of Kino), The Beautiful World is also another lovely piece albeit it is slower and sounds a bit like medieval music. The ending theme for the prequel is Hajimari No Hi by Ai Maeda whereas for the final movie, Mikuni Shimokawa sings Bird. I don’t really notice about the soundtrack but if there was one that strikes me, it is the one whereby words or thoughts pop up on the screen. They play this very creepy and hollow string or voice that just creeps me out each time.

Sometimes to think that each country has a weird culture of its own may look and sound funny that you may think it is just plain silly. However in reality if you stop and think, isn’t every country in the real world also as quirky and weird? Each with their own local customs and culture that would really shock and surprise foreigners with what they see as unusual from their own. It all pretty much depends on our influences. Therefore what we consider normal and the norm may look ridiculous in the eyes of those who are not familiar. It is the same for this anime. That is why it is important for Kino or any other traveller to not deeply get involved unless you know what you’re getting into. In view of this, it brings me to a point about the connectivity of the countries. Each country is so isolated from one another that it is as good as being on a different planet. I guess if you’re assuming a dystopian world where internet doesn’t exist. If it does, wouldn’t it make sense to connect to each other? Or they would rather be happy in their own little world…

Overall, this series is interesting and amusing with each episode as short and independent stories. It may not evoke the greatest emotions of any kind but some episodes keep you thinking and pondering but in the end, it is all up to you on what you want to think it is. Because you yourself as an individual are just like any traveller, decide your own journey. After all, everyone’s life is a big journey for them to travel. So many roads lying ahead and diverging paths to choose from, maybe that is why life itself is interesting because it takes you to different places. Even if you can’t travel, your imagination will take you to places. But be careful not to daydream too much. Your mind might wander and never come back…