Kino's Journey - The Complete Collection  [DVD]
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All 13 episodes of the Japanese anime series following the adventures of Kino, a young traveller with a talking motorbike called Hermes. Sitting astride his internal combustion companion, Kino goes in search of life's questions, life's answers, and the myriad interpretations connected to them - while sticking to his rule of not staying longer than three days in any country he visits. Episodes are: 'Land of Visible Pain', 'A Tale of Feeding Off Others', 'Land of Prophecies', 'Land of Adults', 'Three Men Along the Rails, 'Coliseum (Part 1)', 'Coliseum (Part 2)', 'Land of Wizards'; 'Land of Books', 'A Tale of Mechanical Dolls', 'Her Journey', 'A Peaceful Land' and 'A Kind Land'.
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A particular interesting episode explains her own back story, how she met Hermes (the aforementioned talking motorbike) and who that man briefly shown in the opening is, a surprising twist here! As with Mushi Shi, a story is simply told, not necessarily resulting in a resolution or if so, a happy one. She is merely there to observe other cultures, not participate or change them though she can't help but do so sometimes. Don't let this put you off, the stories are sublimely told and will make you want to keep watching the next one.
A special mention should go opening theme which I just adore and which you can check out on You Tube (as well as downloading the song from I-Tunes).
One thing that almost all the countries have in common is that they welcome travellers visiting their country - a fairly infrequent occurrence - and are keen to explain how their society works and show them around. Not in every case - occasionally, the country that Kino visits has been subjected to profound changes caused by experiments on consciousness or technology, that leaves them paranoid not just of outsiders, but of each other. These are interesting fables - a world where each person can read the others' minds, a world where mechanical dolls look and act exactly like humans - but, compressed into 20 minutes of fairly static scenes, they don't really explore the issues raised in any great depth and settle for simple moral solutions. It's an approach that resembles the original Star Trek series and their encounters with alien societies, with a similar reset button at the end to start things afresh next episode.
Each of those episodes is fairly flatly delivered in terms of ideas, animation and voice-acting (the English dub even more dry than the Japanese version), but there are one or two episodes that stand out. One more threatening world sees Kino have to face opponents in deadly battle tournaments before she can leave (a fairly conventional device nonetheless that brings to mind Pokemon and Dragonball Z), and surprisingly, an intriguing and violent background episode on Kino's origins. None of this really adds up to anything significant or really pushes the anime into any new areas, but Kino's Journey does have a definite mood and character of its own.
The complete 13 episodes of the series are contained on this 4 disc set. The quality of the widescreen transfer is fine, the image having a soft-feel, with a watercolour page texture. The English dub is Dolby Digital 5.1, the Japanese 2.0. The 2.0 seems curiously mixed, or perhaps it has been downmixed from 5.1, the loudness varying in places. English subs are faint yellow and not a dubtitle transcription of the English dub. Extras are minimal - clean open and closings, production sketches and trailers for other ADV series.
The story it self its simple but its the world and the interaction with the people that makes this one of the best short series out now.
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