By Thankyou-Tatsuo / Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun This work is an allegory.
“Kino no Tabi (Kino’s Journey) — The Beautiful World — the Animated Series” centers on the eponymous protagonist and Hermes, a talking motorbike, who are always traveling around the world (I don’t know if it’s right to treat the vehicle like it’s a human being).
The “world,” though, is a bit different from the world we live in — it has various countries governed by peculiar legal systems and common sense. The two characters decide they should stay for no more than three days in whichever country they visit, and then leave for another country.
All the countries they visit would likely never exist in reality, and the motorbike can talk to people. “Kino’s Journey” appears to be a fantasy at first, but its content certainly is connected to reality.
In the first episode titled “A country where you can kill others,” Kino and Hermes hear a rumor about a country where committing murder is not against the law, thereby prompting atrocious criminals to flee there from other places.
Once entering the country in question, however, the two characters find the locals live in harmony, with many people on the streets and no trash scattered around. Everybody is kind to travelers, and the meals are also delicious. The setting can make viewers wonder what it really means that murders are not prohibited in this peaceful country.
In the country, it is certain that murder is not against the law, but this does not mean that such a deed is permitted. Murderers are instead subject to lynching; In other words, these offenders are judged by other residents themselves, who act as police officers and judges on their own and kill them if they are found to have no grounds for clemency.
This episode can make us consider the law and systems for punishment in our world. Needless to say, if we’re driven just by the feeling to strike back for what others do to us, our suspicions would only trigger fear and distrust among each other, and we would never be able to create a peaceful country at all.
The first episode indicates that, to maintain a peaceful and harmonious community, every resident has to decide — using sensible judgment and taking responsibility — whether the perpetrator of a murder deserves to be punished with death, or if their deed is pardonable. If “Kino’s Journey” is not an allegory, what else can this be?
“Kino’s Journey” has been published in novel form since 2000. An anime adaptation was broadcast in 2003, and since then fans have eagerly greeted the sequels. Titles that have been adopted into anime so far include “A country where you can feel others’ pain,” “A country of fortune telling,” “A country of adults,” “A country of witches,” “A country of books,” “A country of peace” and “A gentle country.”
Every episode develops in a different way from what you would expect from the titles, helping you feel as if you’re traveling with Kino and Hermes. I’m so glad that the two have just set off on a new series of journeys in this sequel, which started in October.
You can start watching from any episode, as the story about each country finishes in one episode. Autumn is a good season for going out, so how about traveling to a different world by watching a program like this one?
The anime airs at 12:30 a.m. on Saturdays on Tokyo MX and BS11, and is also shown on various streaming services. Visit www.kinonotabi-anime.com for details.