Management: This post is Part 5 of a cour-long project consisting of mental notes, observations, and musings of every episode of Kino’s Journey (2017). I will endeavor in this feature to avoid making any comments about the show’s technical aspects, but I may end up comparing it to previous episodes of Kino’s Journey (2003) when the story ground the former covers begins to overlap with what the latter has already explored.
Notes on Episode 5: Country of Liars
Management: This country was not covered by Kino’s Journey (2003).
This episode of Kino’s Journey has us returning to Kino and Hermes again from the show’s previous point of view sidetrack with Shizu and Riko. The show actually has Kino visiting two countries this time around instead of the suggested one in the episode title. The former country foreshadows a bit about how Kino and Hermes set about traveling in the first place, covered in Land of Adults in the fourth episode of Kino’s Journey (2003). The latter country draws some arguable parallels with the Country of Visible Pain, featured in the first episode of Kino’s Journey (2003).
Kino’s journey to the Unnamed Country reflects both the revolutionary and subtle ways that travelers both influence the peoples they meet to and are influenced back by these same peoples. Kino is given a very enthusiastic tour of the museum of the founder of the current regime. The previous regime was tyrannical. The founder was a traveler. The founder gave up his traveling lifestyle to overthrow the previous ruler to become the country’s new leader, ushering in a new wave of peace and prosperity for that country’s people. The tour guide speculates grandiose things about the now deceased founder based on the belongings he left behind that the museum now archives. Like the actual museum, which is just this deceased founder’s modest-looking house, Kino judges that the former traveler is a much humbler man than the tour guide is led to believe. For instance, the tour guide assumes that the deceased founder’s gardening trowel was used by the man to plant seeds wherever he went on his travels. Compared to this rosy comparison, Kino comments that the gardening trowel was actually the tool the man used to dig latrines and scoop poop. Similar dynamic happens with a knife.
The tour guide takes Kino and Hermes to where the country keeps the the deceased founder’s motorrad. The founder drove around with a motorrad before he retired his traveler’s mantle, and continued to ride it around until the founder passed away. The motorrad talked before, but ceased talking since then. The tour guide explains that the country keeps the motorrad in a place of honor. While the tour guide excuses herself from the room though, this motorrad breaks his silence and confesses that he loathes his current existence. The show provides a little insight here on the worldbuilding behind the motorrads. The motorrads come into existence with the purpose of being ridden. In the absence of a rider, the motorrads succumb into a state of existential agony. This motorrad pleads for Kino to steal it away or destroy it. Kino refuses for reasons of self-preservation.
That doesn’t stop Kino though from planting helpful seeds. Before she departs, a boy from a family-run inn greets her warmly, enthusiastic about the traveler’s life. For anyone knowledgable (with the direction subtly but slyly promoting it), there are parallels in origin between this boy and her when she was younger that (combined with an existing desire to help the motorrad they just talked to) spurs Kino to take action. Kino discloses to him that there’s a motorrad in the museum that that might be interested in talking with him, setting the stage for another traveling duo like her and Hermes to be born.
Kino’s Journey into the Country of Liars reveals the sometimes ridiculous lengths that people will go to to promote lies and acts that protect their loved ones. At the gates of this country, a rather animated man rushes out to greet Kino, his housekeeper in tow, asking the whereabouts of his lover. A long time ago, as he claims, his lover left him and his country, but promised to return someday. Kino replies back that she hasn’t met anyone like that on her travelers. The man slinks back into the woods, dejected, his housekeeper putting a coat on him to keep warm. In town, Kino asks about that man from the locals after entertaining them with stories of her adventures. One local, this man’s best friend, volunteers the information, which so happens to be intimately tied in the country’s politics.
At one point, they were all revolutionaries who successfully plotted the overthrow of a tyrannical regime, which they then replaced with themselves with the intent of installing a more just government. At some point, this man fell in love with a girl which he believed was from a humble farming family. When the time for revolutionary action came, this man threw the grenade that seemingly killed the royal family. Among this family’s remains was supposedly this very same farmer girl, who turned out to be the country’s princess. The man fell into such despair that to cope with his trauma, the man lied to himself into believing that his lover left the country instead of dying in it at his own hands.
To provide their hero comfort, the country keeps up the facade for his sake while providing him an otherwise comfortable lifestyle and dutiful caretaker in the form of his current housekeeper.
As Kino is about to leave, she notices the housekeeper. The housekeeper’s wagon of goods is stuck in the mud of the road. Kino helps her out, and the housekeeper invites her to hers and the man’s home. Kino’s greeted warmly to warm tea, even whilst the man keeps babbling about his lost lover. The housekeeper invents an excuse to separate the man from the rest of them. Enjoying privacy, the housekeeper reveals that she was the man’s lover all along. As a princess, she infiltrated the revolutionary camp under the guise of a farmer girl. She was able to procure information of the details of the coup so that her royal family would know when and how to escape. The royal family were able to flee into exile while convincing everyone they died. She didn’t intend to fall in love with the man though, and she didn’t intend him to cause him the pain that her fake death aroused in him. Unable to get over her love for him, and learning that the country was looking for someone to take care of him, she managed to enter the country anonymously and become his housekeeper.
Suspecting that her blue blooded background and past associations would become problematic if word gets out, she refrains from telling her lover that it’s her and lives out a lie for everyone to believe. As long as she’s able to live with him, she’s content with keeping up the facade.
Kino is just past the gates of the country when the man hurries to her claiming that he has a message for Kino to deliver if he ever comes across his lover. Pushing guards out of the way, he’s looking unhinged about his obsession as ever. The man composes himself quite well before revealing to Kino that knows that his lover is his housekeeper. Like his country and his lover, he keeps up this elaborate act so he doesn’t bother anyone or ruin anything ever again.
Understanding how problematic it could end up if his revolutionary countrymen ever found out he was covorting with the daughter of the tyrannical enemy, he refrains from telling them and even lies to his lover for everyone to believe. As long as she’s alive and he’s able to live with her, he’s content with keeping up the facade.