Notes on Episode 5 of Kino’s Journey (2017): Country of Liars

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.

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[Crunchyroll Article] “How to Watch ‘Kino’s Journey'”

Non-Management: I sent another pitch to Crunchyroll, and another pitch got accepted. Here are the fruits of that: a piece on Kino’s Journey.

Thanks very much to Crunchyroll for hearing my pitch out and granting my submission. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

How to Watch “Kino’s Journey”

Presenting a useful, if not definitive, way to understand and appreciate Kino’s Journey.

What’s a good way to watch a show like Kino’s Journey? Take it from someone who recently traveled to Japan—no matter where anyone goes and wherever cultures differ, the people we meet aren’t all that different from ourselves. No matter how strange their customs, there’s a recognizable and relatable logic to them. Like Kino, we just have to have the right frame of mind to recognize that… READ MORE HERE

 

Notes on Episode 4 of Kino’s Journey (2017): Ship Country

Management: This post is Part 4 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 4: Ship Country

Management: This country was not covered by Kino’s Journey (2003).

We begin this episode following Shizu the swordsman exiled-prince and Riko the talking dog, instead of Kino the traveler and Hermes the motorrad. The Kino’s Journey light novels mainly cover stories in Kino’s perspective, but a few tales from Shizu’s perspective are thrown in there. Their approaches to different countries, citizens, cultures, and customs contrast sharply enough between each other that one is able to observe and comment on certain things that the other tends not to notice or appreciate as clearly. That’s a plus for curious audiences. These characters’ observations and comments are just as much for their own benefit as it is for the audience’s enrichment. In many ways, while they are able to get along with each other amiably, Kino and Shizu are foils to each other.

The show hasn’t quite explored Kino’s backstory yet, but it has covered Shizu’s. Unlike Kino, who for the most part acts as her own free and curious agent, Shizu is weighed down  by his tyrannical father’s legacy. Kino travels without any intention to plant roots because to learn and have fun. Shizu wanders to settle down because he no longer has a home he can bear returning to. Kino tends to take a more distant and hand-off approach to the places she passes through, while Shizu tends to involve himself more deeply and intimately with the societies he visits. Unless Kino gets really upset like in Episode 2, she doesn’t try to voice or act on the reservations she has towards the societies who host her. In Episode 3, in fact, she offers up her own non-injurious solution to a problem one country initially considered deadly force to address — saving some people from dying while keeping in the good graces of some others. The first episode dedicated to Shizu, Episode 4, has him trying to radically change a society he stays at because of his own moral outrage.

Returning back to Episode 4, Shizu decides to travel to/board the Ship Country. It is, essentially, a society based on a really big boat, and the lifestyles of that society’s people reflects that. It’s also mobile like the country Kino visited in the last episode (one significant difference being one is situated on land and the other is situated at sea) Shizu wants to learn more about the country while using it to travel to another part of the world. He’s a temporary traveler, unlike Kino who considers traveling her vocation. He’s on a quest to find a good land to place roots in and settle down in. He wants to become a person who can put his royal problems to rest in a humble homestead. He seems to be haunted fairly often by his past and his regrets, as the country he stays at turns out to be one stratified between a ruling class that seems tyrannical and a common people that look oppressed.

He’s conditioned with two options that he has to choose between by the rulers if he wants to stay aboard until his planned destination: (1) act as an enforcer for the ruling class, or (2) join the common people as a laborer. Enforcers are entitled to the privileges of the ruling class in exchange for the possibility having to engage in unscrupulous practices to maintain public order. Laborers are expected to perform hard work while enjoying fewer comforts and sustaining a poorer diet. Shizu’s personal guilt and noblesse oblige causes Shizu to pick the 2nd option over the 1st, to the utter bewilderment of the rulers.

Shizu is shown to his working class quarters, meets the commoners, and eats a diet of fish that looks like it’s seen better days. Shizu visually reacts to one of the elders there mention that he’s very old at 55, indicating a life expectancy dramatically lower than what he’s used to. He surmises that it’s due to the poor quality of the common people’s diet, a subsistence that almost entirely runs on fish. He is assigned a guide to the country in the form of an emotionally reserved little girl named Tifana (or Tif), who shows him around upon request and is supposed to correspond with him whenever the rulers assign him work. No work is ever assigned though. Shizu also notices severe shaking throughout the ship, which through Tif’s assistance, correctly diagnoses as the ship being flooded piece meal. The ship is falling apart because of disrepair, and eventually, years from now, the water from the ship’s growing leaks will capsize the Ship Country and bring everyone inside with it. Shizu brings what he’s learned to the elder’s attention, with the elder replying that the ruling class is aware of it. The elder tells Shizu that they’re living happy lives and to leave the problem alone.

Suspecting the ruling class of negligence and tyranny by ignoring these structural problems and endangering the common people’s lives, he confronts them to confirm his conclusions. They do, seemingly, by stating the knowledge concerns them none. The lack of concern is strange, considering the rulers live in the same dilapidated ship as the commoners. That weirdness isn’t enough to give Shizu pause though. The rulers send out a traveler that’s agreed to be an enforcer after him. Shizu draws his sword and duels his opponent, only for said opponent to one-up him with the same quick-draw gunslinger technique Kino utilized back in the Colosseum. It turns out that the enforcer is Kino the traveler, who arrived in the country several days after Shizu. All intention of fighting having been lost upon recognizing each other, Kino and Shizu lower their weapons to the rulers’ consternation. The miffed rulers declare that the two of them will not be allowed to disembark on land anytime soon, prompting both to team up with each other to (non-lethally) storm the rulers’ quarters: Shizu to demand justice for the common people, and Kino to get the hell out of her dodgy situation.

They make their way to the topmost floor, where the last rulers not knocked-out cower. Shizu makes his demand while Kino watches, and the not fully unbowed rulers demand back whether Shizu is willing to become this country’s ruler in their place. Shizu blurts out that he would. The rulers all suddenly vanish, leaving their attire behind. Bewildered himself, but now empowered by the ruling class’ abrupt exit, he leads the Ship Country from the ocean to the shore. Getting out with the rest of the common people, he proclaims that they’re all free to settle on land. The common people are unhappy with this, preferring the sea and ship that they know to the land and soil that they don’t. Despite Shizu’s insistence that they’re all doomed if they continue their same lifestyle, they all board the Ship Country and sail away, refusing to believe him. The shaking that Shizu saw as ominous signs of the ship falling apart were a normalized phenomena for the common people on that ship — something they didn’t understand the reason for, but took pride in as something they grew up with.

During Shizu and Riko’s adventures with the working people, Kino and Hermes hung out with the ruling class. Unlike the former two, the latter two were able to get acquire a fuller scoop of the origins of the Ship Country. The ship was originally comprised of hundreds of children governed, managed, and watched-over by an A.I. The descendants of these children became the country’s common people, and the A.I. manifested themselves in physical forms as the country’s ruling class. Contrary to their self-interested appearance of tyranny, the A.I. actually set up the country’s social hierarchy to reflect the interests of their charges. The common people were content to be left to their own devices while being ignorant of the state of their degrading home, and the ruling class accordingly set themselves up to be distant to them while respecting their desires to remain ignorant and preserve their happiness. It’s kind of the reverse of the scenario presented in the A.I. and human subplot of the Disney “Wally” film. Under those circumstances, it would make sense for the citizens of the Ship Country to react hostilely to Shizu’s attempts to liberate them. Shizu came to the conclusion of liberating them without picking up on those clues that suggested the common people didn’t want to be saved. Shizu was letting the biases of his personal baggage cloud his judgment.

Deflated but determined to carry on his journey, Shizu bids Tif farewell and urges her to return to the Ship Country. Tif instead stabs him in the gut, feeling betrayed at being abandoned. Shizu unfortunately fails to appreciate that Tif is an outsider to the society she grew up in (which also explains her emotional reservedness, which is actually emotional stunted-ness). As explained by Kino and Hermes, she was the daughter of a pair of travelers to the country. She was abandoned by her biological parents, shunned by citizens for not being related to/descended from them, and ultimately taken care of by the A.I. rulers that Shizu effectively dismissed the services of in his assault on them. Tif grew attached to Shizu overtime, and Shizu’s become the only person left that she values. Recognizing his error, Shizu apologizes to Tif and tells her that she can accompany him and Riko. Shizu then collapses due to blood loss. That prompts Tif to pull out a grenade so that they presumably can go out together (to atone for her terrible mistake and making it so that she won’t be abandoned again). Kino knocks the grenade out of her hand with a bullet, and Shizu passes out.

Shizu’s later shown having survived his ordeal, albeit w/ a hole in his side that’s now bandaged up. Tif is sound asleep and will be accompanying him as something of an adopted daughter or sister. Riko is a talking dog. Hermes is a talking motorrad.  Kino bids her farewells and takes off. Shizu hopes he meets her again either on the road or his final destination, and Kino speculates that it’ll come about in a situation where he’s nearly killed again.

Notes on Episode 3 of Kino’s Journey (2017): Bothersome Country

Management: This post is Part 3 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 3: Bothersome Country

Management: This country was not covered by Kino’s Journey (2003).

Undecided about what to do (and presumably where to travel) next, Kino and Hermes are given their answer something like a fortress emerges into their view. Thinking that it’s a country, Kino decides to check it out. Noticing her down below and confirming that she’s a traveler, the man in charge of admitting travelers and migrants invites her into what is, in fact, his country. It is a country on moving treads. She accepts his invitation and says she’ll stay for 5 to 10 days. He states to her that, like his other countrymen, he juggles multiple jobs. For example, he serves as an immigration officer, the chief diplomat, and  a tour guide.

His country is one that’s heavily modernized and technologically advanced. It bears visual similarities with the technological levels of today’s first world countries (sans the gigantic death laser later brought up), but the anachronistic nature of the show makes his society’s technological levels stand out all the more. The enormous amounts of energy used to power his mobile society comes from a reactor that requires the country to be constantly on the move to prevent it from overheating. That need complements a certain lifestyle that his country’s people have adopted: traveling with their entire country in tow. The moving country travels from one land to another. Drones take pictures of the surrounding vistas and project them onto the country’s interior surfaces for its citizens to enjoy. Graduating primary school classes in this country practice a unique send-off project: they paint a mural of their favorite vistas on their moving country’s exterior surface.

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Notes on Episode 2 of Kino’s Journey (2017): Colosseum

Management: This post is Part 2 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 2: Colosseum

Management: This country was covered by Kino’s Journey (2003)

We begin with Kino and Hermes traveling to the next country after meeting a lady driving a carriage. According to that lady, the country over — the country she just departed from — is a beautiful country with modest people.

Kino, excited, rushes Hermes to that country’s gates. Contrary to the expectations she was given, the country is home to some wretched gladiatorial blood sport. At the center of the country is a Colosseum, a structure that the country’s king is responsible for commissioning its construction and the country’s citizens are enthusiastic patrons of. According to the country’s laws, all spectators, including country citizens, are liable for injuries they may sustain from any stray shrapnel, debris, or projectiles emanating from the fitting pits to the bleachers. The gladiatorial games the Colosseum hosts are 1 v 1 bouts, where the contenders’ death is only eluded if one side wins or accepts the surrender of the other. The surrendered party is subsequently deported (permitted to leave) the country. These contenders are comprised of both  the willing and the forced.  Anyone who immigrates or travels to the country are impressed into gladiatorial service, regardless of their knowledge of this country’s custom or their consent to participate in it. The last person standing after a completed Colosseum tournament is entitled to the creation of one law that the country abide by. Kino is accosted by the guards, who demand that she participate in the Colosseum for king and country’s amusement.

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[Crunchyroll Article] “The Nature of Magic in The Ancient Magus’ Bride”

Non-Management: Recently on my quest to motivate myself to write more, I sent a pitch to Crunchyroll to write something on The Ancient Magus’ Bride, one of the several shows I’m interested in this season and one of the few I’m interested in this season in that Crunchyroll managed to acquire the license to stream. Roughly two to three weeks later, the now realized article is fully published on the Crunchyroll website under their sub-tab of “News.”

Thanks very much to Crunchyroll for hearing my pitch out and granting my submission. Below is the (summary) short to the article. If you’re interested in reading it, click the link embedded in the title or at the end of the short:

The Nature of Magic in The Ancient Magus’ Bride

How The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s magic distinguishes itself from its Hollywood and anime rivals

Hollywood and anime have regaled audiences with flights of magical fancy for years. For avid moviegoers and anime nerds, its body of popular magic-themed works have given us a genre of things to expect, and tropes to tire from. It’s a bold thing thing to claim, then, that The Ancient Magus’ Bride does magic special? Why? How? Well, it involves faeries… READ MORE HERE

Fate/Zero: Maybe There Is A God in This World

Management: This essay is meant to be less of a review and more of analysis of the show being examined. It contains plot spoilers for the Fate/Zero anime.

Another Grail war is set to rage. Contemporary sociopathic killer Ryuunoske Uryuu drew a magic occult circle using the blood of a couple he just killed. Historical sociopathic killer Gilles de Rais comes out of it and shows him a new way to enjoy murder using that family’s son. He and Gilles become fast friends, partners, and mentors. In a cruel twist of fate, two serial killers join the fight for the Grail as legitimate contenders for its prize. Qualified competitors are eligible win a legendary artifact, an artifact of yore rumored to grant a wish for any who wins it in a specially arranged death match: The Holy Grail. All they have to do is kill each other. Given the associations the Holy Grail has with Jesus Christ — the supposed God the Son who preached the qualities of his just and merciful God the Father — the fact that such a relic would allow serial killers to participate in its contest seems to put the grail’s sacral character into doubt. Then there are the other problematic aspects about this war that need accounting, like why the Grail would position itself to grant any wish, or why the Grail would tempt people into killing each other for it.

Now, you might think me somewhat unhinged spending time writing about the perspectives of serial killers, but know this. To me, the dialogue the two have touch on an interesting, if despondently cynical, way to understand the nature and existence of the omnipotent entity known as the Christian God. That depressing cynicism is probably the reason why most people refuse to see His Christian Godliness like these two serial killers. What good can come from comprehending God using the arguments of the sadistically perturbed?  A logical acceptance would likely induce despair or madness. Its logical reasonableness may cause a complete loss of faith. It’s a challenge to those who hold to the belief in a benevolent God in the face of evil’s tenacious persistence. It’s evil’s utter existence. It’s the problem of evil that’s the subject of these serial killers’ conversations.

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