Why You Must Watch “Kino’s Journey” (even if you hate anime)

After a long state of disillusionment with most anime, I found a real gem in Kino’s Journey (キノの旅) And trust me, because being a film nerd, I’m very picky about my films and TV series.

Many people dislike anime because they find it “poorly/cheaply animated” and “too difficult for non-fans to understand,” or they don’t like the exaggerated facial expressions and stylistic devices found in many popular series.  Many also complain of overly lengthy stories with too much “filler” material, lack of depth, and how many series are similar to one another.  “Film people” especially tend to dismiss anything not directed by Hayao Miyazaki without a second thought.

Luckily,  Kino is here to provide a breath of fresh air for all the jaded film people (and non-film people) out there.  Here’s my breakdown.

Why you should watch Kino’s Journey:

  • Episode count and structure: Kino’s Journey is only 13 episodes and the structure is episodic.  No complex character histories and stories to keep track of, no filler, no extended battle sequences.
  • It’s really deep: This series makes you think.  And not in an over-the-top preachy way, either.  It’s almost a type of existential wandering story.
  • Simple but awesome: No over-the-top battles and magical powers here, folks.  The premise is almost neorealist in its simplicity: the two main characters, Kino and Kino’s motorrad (motorcycle) Hermes, travel around the world, stopping in each place for only 3 days.  That’s it.  But don’t let that simplicity fool you because as I said before, this series is full of psychological depth.
  • Good animation and design for a TV series: Don’t expect the animation quality of something theatrical like Ponyo, but you’ll be surprised by the quality here.  It’s simple like most anime, but I feel that the simplicity works for the story, which is “simple” in itself.  The style is also really neat – Kino travels through a fictional, almost steampunk kind of world, so the designs of clothing, machinery, etc. are all very “retro.”  Check this out:
Kino and Hermes

Kino and Hermes

girlfromkino

nice background...

….see what I mean?

  • Really good sound design: animation sound can be tricky because everything has to be created.  And oftentimes anime sound is just “there.”  However, in Kino, especially in episode 12, I noticed some very creative and effective sonic transitions and distortion.  By the way, the music for this series is quite good.  It’s got a sort of ambient-world feel to it.
  • No weird Japanese-culture things: You don’t have to know anything about Japan or anime to watch this series.  Anyone can watch it.  Except young children, because it can be a bit scary at times.

Watch this show!  Try it out!  It’s only 3 discs (13 episodes) and will only take about 5 hours to watch all the way through.  Recca highly recommends it!

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