Kino’s Journey: Have You Ever Questioned The World?

October 31, 2009

It’s interesting to see how stylistically different Kino’s Journey: The Land of Sickness (extra movie episode) is to the original Kino’s Journey TV series, unfortunately not for the better. Often it’s harder to appreciate how beautiful something is until it’s gone, and in this case appreciating simple aesthetics of Kino’s Journey becomes easier by looking at how the movie and original series depicts their world and people in it.

The look and feel of the original TV series had that charming fable quality to it, with much of its art rendered in pale earth tones and on a layered texture that is barely visible. When such a visual canvas is used to present the alarmingly bizarre and absurd content of Kino, it almost feels like looking at a fable world gone horribly wrong, and there’s a wonderfully ethereal and existential feeling to it. Sadly, crispier and higher budget visuals of Land of Sickness no longer holds this original charm of the series, and awkward CG sequences not making it any better. Another interesting difference in setting would be that the architecture of Skycraper City is modelled after early Chicago Skyscrapers, while many countries of the TV series is based on older European buildings you can find in Venezia and Prague, much more fitting for the fairy tale like journey of Kino’s.

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Left: Land of Sickness, Right: TV series

Aside from its setting, much of the fable quality of Kino’s Journey owes to the way people in it are depicted. In comparison to more detailed character design of Sickness, the side characters in the original series are drawn in simple manner, as well as lacking expressions (facial, body and vocal). I suppose that is why they all initially appear less as characters we can relate to and more as clogs operating inside a machine, accepting absurd rules and traditions like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Then we realise, among those people exist a group of individuals who embraced the rules despite being aware of their imperfections, because they genuinely believe it to be the right way to live. And beneath those lack of expressions and simplistic character designs we find something that we don’t find in other mindless clogs: conscience. “I want to live consciously”, or so says Kino. And indeed, who are we to judge whether it is right or wrong to massacre a small population of other tribes in order to protect countless children of your own?

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The beauty is that we see these foreign worlds through Kino’s detached perspective and that Kino’s Journey is less of a criticism and more of a tribute to our imperfections. Some things in this word, like children we gave birth to and held in our own arms, are beautiful, beautiful enough that we are willing to embrace horrible acts like massacring innocent lives. “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.”

And beautiful is our conscience that enables us to see such beauty as well its ugly side of the same coin, for if we blinded ourselves from the ugly and accepted the rules and traditions like it’s the most perfect thing in the world, can we really call that beautiful? Could Kino still call her world of adults beautiful after her saviour came and gave her wings? Perhaps that is why the last city we see in Kino’s Journey is more beautiful than the Land of Adults in that the people were conscious of both the beautiful and ugly before making their choice.

“Have you ever questioned the world?”

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I suppose the design of Skyscraper City was what I liked the most out of Land of Sickness. Inspired by the skyscrapers of 19th Century Chicago, there is that delicious irony of people striving to reach the height of the ground floor, where people have the opportunity to live with the hardships of surface world. Hopefully more 'sequels' can stick to the original style that suits the content.

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10 Responses to “Kino’s Journey: Have You Ever Questioned The World?”

  1. Silver Says:

    Either way, it was still great to be able to have some more animated materials from Kino no Tabi. The series itself is in a way beautiful.

  2. gaguri Says:

    Oh yea, another Kino is never bad. I just wished it was more like the original series 😦

  3. kadian1364 Says:

    I did feel something a little different than usual in this movie, but comparing screens side-by-side with the TV series really made me take notice. Even compared to the Life Goes On or Tower Country specials, the upscale metro scenery in The Land of Sickness is a stark departure from the usual tone of the series.

  4. gaguri Says:

    Life Goes On and Tower Country were both original Kino’s in essence, but yea Land of Sickness was quite a departure aesthetic wise. There were futuristic cities in original series too but they still managed to maintain that ethereal feel, while the movie had this jarring clean look to it imo.

  5. 2DT Says:

    I don’t have anything meaningful to contribute here, but I just wanted to say that I hadn’t thought to describe the series the way you just have. A tribute to imperfection: That’s really something.

  6. gaguri Says:

    I admit the phrase is very neat =)

  7. Yi Says:

    I haven’t seen this episode yet… must go find it. I really loved Kino’s travel and its commentaries on human nature/ society, as well as its faded earthy artistic style. I don’t mind a change though, especially if the city looks as awesome as that second screenshot.

  8. gaguri Says:

    The city looks awesome, well rendered at least, I still would have preferred it to stick to original style but I guess a little change is not too bad for those looking for something more new.


  9. A small point, but I think the thematic change in scenery was a rather cunning move. It just adds to the sense of Kino being culture-boundless, a true watcher of worlds…not just one facet of it.

    And plus, it’s always fun to see how a fish reacts out of water. In the case of Kino, she’s still Kino regardless of stage or situation. I know the focus here is supposed to be on the song and not the singer, but I couldn’t help but enjoy that little nugget on Kino.

  10. gaguri Says:

    Yep she’s still Kino, but I guess I still wanted her and the world to be portrayed in that original manner. It was just so unique and was perfect for a series like Kino 😦


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