Region: 2 - UK
Volume: 1 of 4
Length: 100 minutes
English 5.1 Surround
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Kino is a traveller, sitting astride the motorcycle Hermes through the countryside of a beautiful world, stopping at various countries along the way, sometimes for too long, sometimes for not long enough, but always three days.
Kino's Journey is, at its core, a complex set of fables. Each episode finds Kino in a new 'country', each of which is around the size of a large town and is totally self-contained with only the travellers venturing in-between. Each of these countries is different, in many different ways, be it technological, religious or sociological, but there is usually something strange about all of them. Kino explores all of these different worlds, sometimes changing for better or for worse, sometimes just observing the myriad of cultural differences that these worlds provide.
The visuals in Kino's Journey are frankly, striking; the countryside that the two travellers reside in looks like it came straight out of an oil painting, the animation is fluid, although there is a certain bleak, almost sepia quality to many of the scenes, making them look washed out, almost as if the series was shot with an old camera. This fits in with other aspects of the series, despite having some rather advanced technology in some places, everything looks like it would fit in in an early 20s or 30s village scene. The incidental music follows this trend, having a certain nostalgic quality, even though there is not much of this in the series. The series relies much more on the sound effects rather than music; these are extremely well integrated into the animation, bolstering what is seen on screen rather than diverting attention from it.
This series is remarkably enjoyable, even though it is a little slow in pace, and it is interesting to see Kino unlock the secrets of each country and at the same time, find out about Kino's origins and the reasons behind how and why Kino became a traveller and how Hermes was acquired (and if the bike can really talk, or if Kino is just a raving fruitcake).
If you like your Anime slightly more intellectual and less action-orientated then this series has much to offer the viewer, though as it says on the DVD cover, this show has a tendency to drift gently through the subject matter, which may put some viewers off as it will not provide instant gratification.