Author(s): Keiichi Sigsawa (Story), Kouhaku Kuroboshi (Art)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Slice of Life
You may think that Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World – the Animated Series (boy, that’s a really long name) is a sequel to the Kino no Tabi TV Series released back in 2003 but in fact, it’s actually a remake! I didn’t manage to watch the original series so I decided to give the remake a try as I’ve heard good things about the 2003 version. Bonus points for it being slice of life! Upon watching the first three episodes, this anime feels somewhat different from the other slice of life anime that I’ve watched thus far. How is it different? Well, read on to find out!
‘Destination is a state of mind. A tale of one girl and her bike and the road ahead. Kino wanders around the world on the back of Hermes, her unusual, anthropomorphic motorcycle, only staying in each country for three days. During their adventures, they find happiness, sadness, pain, decadence, violence, beauty, and wisdom. But through it all, they never lose their sense of freedom. They discover that because of the world’s imperfections, it is actually a thing of beauty.
“The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.”‘ (Source: Tokyopop)
Following an episodic format – meaning that each episode can more or less be watched on its own – Kino no Tabi (2017) consists of fan favourite episodes from the 2003 version. As a watcher of the 2017 series, I don’t know firsthand how the original version was like, but I’ve learnt that the it was not an episodic anime which brings up the fact that one episode in the 2017 version may be equivalent to a few episodes in the 2003 version. There are definitely some effects to this change especially in regards to side character developments, background information of each country, action scenes and so on. For example, in episode 2: ‘Colosseum’, TL;DR, Kino had to go through a couple of fights and they were honestly very anti-climatic. Usually, the matches before the finals help to build anticipation and hype, and in the original version, it was said that Kino was an extremely talented marksman. Sadly, they did not do justice in showing her skills though and the actions scenes were quite underwhelming. With that being said, we have to remember that as the entire Colosseum arc is being compressed to one short episode, it is understandable that the production studio had to do what they did – focusing more on the plot rather than the action.
Each episode, we visit a different country which have their own set beliefs and rules. Through Kino’s eyes, we observe how those beliefs affect the inhabitants of the particular country as well as other countries or travellers. Despite its overall simplicity and light-hearted tone, there seems to be an darker undercurrent to the storyline premise. Plenty of ethical issues are brought to light in different ways, and it really makes you question your morals and the choices you’d made if you were in that country’s position. For example, in episode 1: ‘A Country Where People Can Kill Others’, we enter a country where killing is legal. With that, you might imagine a country where there are constant gang wars and endless violence, but is that really true? I find this anime to be unique in that sense and extremely enlightening.
Art and Animation
Art-wise, it is relatively simple and clean which makes it easy on the eyes. The art style was one of the factors that attracted me to watch this series in the first place. As for the animation, what I really enjoyed was how they utilised both the animation (facial expression in picture below) as well as the soundtrack to make the perfect atmosphere for the particular scenario. For example, like in the picture below, it was generally light-hearted until he said that statement where I could then feel a hint of underlying sinisterness. The facial expression and animation definitely helped enhance that experience and I definitely felt the impact as I watched the scene.
I have to say though that the background sceneries are animated really well as seen in the picture above, but there are occasionally some inconsistencies. Overall though, I think Lerche has done a pretty good job in terms of facial expressions and fluidity based on what I’ve seen in the first three episodes.
Sound and Music
The soundtrack used was really simple as well, but it fits really well with the ‘beautiful world’ theme of the anime. The opening, ‘here and there’ and the ending song, ‘Satoutama no Tsuki (砂糖玉の月)’ are both sang by Nagi Yanagi. Both are really relaxing and soothing to the ears with the opening song giving a sort of sad yet adventurous feel whereas the ending song is just really beautiful.
Our two main characters of Kino no Tabi: the Beautiful World are Kino and Hermes, the talking motorrad. My impression of Kino thus far is that she’s very calm, and seemingly indifferent. At this point though, it is difficult to talk about her character development as she’s still a mystery with nothing about her background being revealed yet. That applies for Hermes as well and the anime never did explain what exactly is Hermes and how can he talk? There’s still a lot of mystery shrouding our two main characters which we’ll hopefully find out in the episodes to come.
Based on our first impressions, Kino no Tabi is set to bring you on another beautiful adventure, discovering the world alongside Kino and Hermes. By the looks of it, even if the anime isn’t the most outstanding, it still is a fairly decent watch. I personally find the anime very enjoyable as long as the episodes are interesting and well thought out. Could this be one of the so-called hidden gems of the season (Fall 2017)? Possibly – if it reaches its full potential. If you want a thought-provoking anime with a hint of action, Kino no Tabi is definitely the anime that you should try out! Have you watched this show yet? If you have, do let us know what you think of the anime thus far!