Notes on Episode 1 of Kino’s Journey (2017): A Country Where People Can Kill Others

Management: This post is Part 1 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.

Introduction

In keeping faith with my love of things Kino — if the blog’s header and name weren’t enough evidence for that affection — I felt it appropriate write and publish my  weekly thoughts (observations and musings) about the (as of the time of this piece) current broadcast of Kino’s Journey. The messages and lessons that the Kino’s Journey  franchises has imparted since I became familiar has been tremendously influencial in how I now view the world. My recent trip to Japan as a traveler has only rekindled my dormant enthusiasm for this franchise. The full title of this broadcast, Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series, is an unncessary mouthful to say though, and it’s also a chore to continue copy-pasting. As a result, I’ll just refer to the new anime adaptation of this franchise as Kino’s Journey (2017). If I feel the need to reference the old anime adaptation, I’ll just refer to it as Kino’s Journey (2003).

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Notes on Episode 1: A Country Where People Can Kill Others

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

We begin with Kino camped outside. She muses to Hermes about how she likes to travel despite her doubts about her character’s morality. She appears to be getting ready to fall asleep. A revolver lays atop her chest. Her palm clutches the handle.

The opening scene gives the audience a simple introduction to the overarching premise and theme of this franchise. Another way of describing it from the perspective of the literary classes I took in high school. I was asked try to piece an all-encompassing definition for “poetic” based on examples of anything that I reacted to as instinctually “poetic.”  Yet another means to describe it is based on the social science training in college. I asked myself while taking an anthropology course why anyone would concern themselves so devotionally to the study of culture. “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is” seems like a contradiction of logic at first glance, but for Kino, it is actually a paradox of humanity. As human beings, we constantly find beauty in human truths, because even if some of them aren’t exactly flattering, we still find those human truths relatable. It reaffirms to us that, wherever we travel or settle down, we aren’t alone.  If you want to look at this dynamic cynically, as Kino’s musing to Hermes in this scene might seem to suggest, this whole quest for finding beauty in human truths comes off as narcissistic self-validation. But perhaps we, like Kino, can’t help ourselves.

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Of Anthropological Perspectives: Kino’s Journey and the Importance of Cultural Relativism

Management: While my overall opinion of Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World, is quite positive, this essay is, by no means, meant to be a comprehensive review of the series, but rather, an articulation and analysis of what I feel are its most integral and interesting themes. Much of this essay draws reference to Franz Boaz’s work in anthropology. This is not, however, meant to be a total affirmation of everything he believes.

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“The world is not beautiful; therefore it is.”

It’s an iconic quote from Kino’s Journey, probably its most iconic, and rather fitting with the latter part of the show’s title: The Beautiful World. Just watching the show, though, following Kino and Hermes on their travels, it becomes evident that there are many things in this world that are not beautiful in the traditional sense. Miserable snowpacked drifts, windswept desert wastelands, ruined husks of cities. In addition, the countries she visits aren’t the most hospitable places ever, and many of the people she meets are not the most decent lot.

The cultures she observes aren’t literally representative of the real world. They’re, rather, more akin to the “what if” scenarios The Twilight Zone would make the setting of their episodes with. Kino’s Journey, however, isn’t mainly interested in exploring the world as it is interested in the human condition, us, one facet at a time, through these “what ifs.” Exploring our bad points and our good points, our best points as well as our worst elucidating whenever we face adversity.

It is because of this that Kino’s Journey regards vapid optimism with little beauty. Looking at the world within Kino’s Journey and the world without, suffering is not too hard to come by. But the show says its because of humanity’s seemingly permanent ties to pain and hardship, etched on landscapes and people’s faces, in the attempts of these cultures to deal with pain and hardship through belief and practice, that that the world is beautiful.

Beautiful despite suffering, in spite suffering, in defiance of suffering, or even because of suffering.

So it is crucial that, in order to see the beautiful underneath the ugly, that we, the audience, engage the show with an open and critical mind, the mind of an anthropologist, the mind of a traveler.

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