I am now watching Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World (also known as Tabi no Kino in Japanese). The series has an episodic, metaphorical, and allegorical nature, reminiscent of Gulliver’s Travels or Voltaire’s Candide, but more sombre. As such, I think it lends itself well to being watched one episode at a time, and also to being discussed, or kicking off discussion, so that’s what I aim to do. The first four episodes have been posted before, but had been put on hold due to how much energy writing them demanded of me. I’m excited to resume the journey once more, and will be bringing over the older comments as well.
There will be a new post on the second (or third if it begins early) Monday of every month (next post: February 11th) , each covering one episode of Kino’s Journey, or the films. You can buy the series here, or watch it dubbed on Hulu here, if you live in the United States. Each write-up might differ in style, length, and focus. I might spend more time on the episode, its ideas, or what it made me think of, or feel. These write-ups assume you’ve watched the episode, and the discussion that’ll follow could be had on the episode, the points I raised, or the questions I pose. Well, let’s get to it.
Episode 1 – “Land of Visible Pain -I See You-“
Well, this was interesting. This reminded me more than a tad of Mushishi. Travelers who do not wish to get too involved, a new place and a new story each time. Likewise, I suspect the best way to watch this series would be an episode a day. After catching up with what the anime-club needs, I’ll probably watch it that way. Also, like Mushishi’s Ginko, I suspect we’ll see Kino and Hermes taking a more invested stance at some point.
Rather than one big write-up, it’s probably going to be easier to tackle this in terms of talking points, because a few things stood out to me that don’t add up to a neat mini-piece:
1) “Hermes”, they said? They actually mentioned “The God of Travelers”, and then Kino said the most important thing for a traveler is luck, right? Hermes is the patron god of travelers, but also of charlatans and gamblers. But when you think about it, travelers are often both.
2) It seems as if Kino ran away? Hermes certainly wants her back. We can also look at them as the twin voices within any wanderer’s soul, the one that wants to see what’s beyond the next hill, and the one who just wishes to settle down, to find a home.
“There’s a place for everyone,” meaning each country is right for someone, but there are also those who don’t belong, and they are the travelers – but there’s a place for them as well, and now they need to find it. And they can always go back.
3) Speaking of which, Kino’s desire to travel, manifested as “The Three Day Rule” speaks volumes about her, and speaks more of her than of the world itself.
If you settle down, you might experience “the same things”, but that’s mostly with the world. When it comes to people, you experience continuously changing things, the more time you spend with them. Heck, when you meet people for the first time, the experiences with different people are much more similar than the difference you’ll receive when you spend considerably more time with the same people – which can be related to the topic of this episode.
“You can learn all you need to of a Country within 3 days,” speaks more about lack of perception, superlative perception, or just interest in the surface details – after all, people are people wherever, so may as well see the “unique nature” of a place.
“You can’t trust the world to stay the same, even for thirty minutes,” spoken by Kino, should be the final nail in the coffin – if every place changes, you don’t truly need to go anywhere to experience new things. But of course, when we stay in one place, we think it doesn’t change. Just like when we see a person every day we won’t notice changes as well as someone who sees them once a decade.
4) So why does Kino travel? “If I settle down, I no longer would be a traveler,” so Kino doesn’t travel to escape her past, and so things will constantly change, but to maintain her past, and to maintain her self-identity of a traveler.
5) The Musician – They got into this predicament because they wanted to form a stronger, closer, connection with other people. And they got burnt. This is exactly what all relationships are like, including his desire to form a connection with Kino now. After you get hurt, you run away from the appearance of a new connection, but you still desire it, and you go into it – though opening yourself up also opens you to being hurt again. And yet, you’ll try again, probably.
“Alone, you can still entertain yourself” is the other side of the coin – even when we’re together, we’re alone. Locked inside our heads. Except for this country, when they’re locked inside everyone else’s heads, eh?
There was a moment about a lie – but if everyone knows something is a lie, is it? If I lie, and you know I lied, and I know you know, is it still a lie? That’s a real question. What purpose does it serve at that point? It’s a form of communication, a form of politeness that can only be shared because we all know what’s the truth, and we all know who is lying and who knows it – and we still do it, for a reason.
6) Some mini-points:
- “Person of the forest” – A named gun, interesting.
- “Trust people,” said Kino. Hermes is less trusting, which goes well with how she is happy to wander the world but he wants back home.
- “I’m not the kind to make a road where there isn’t one already.” – Kino will not try to make a connection when one is blocked. She goes where the road goes. She thinks of herself as an outside observer.
- “The world isn’t beautiful, and that lends it a sort of beauty.” – I like how they presented “important lines” with eyecatch screens here and there. This one relates to the sub-title of the whole show – “The beautiful world,” and this is the other half, “Because it’s imperfect, and full of imperfect beings.”
Questions for Discussion:
- Which is more valuable? The new experiences we gain from switching locations and meeting new people, or the new experiences we gain as we let people shift over time?
- Have you ever been jealous of birds?
- If a traveler stops being a traveler when they stop traveling, would the decision to stop traveling convey a betrayal of “Self”? Honestly, this specific segment is very classic Greek Philosophy.
- Is pain part and parcel of human relationships?
- Is imperfection a source of beauty? Would the world still be beautiful if it were “perfect”?
Feel free to answer as many of these as you like, in whichever manner you’d like, and tie these to Kino or to yourselves. Please do not bring content beyond the first episode into the discussion.