Starting to notice that one of the main differences between Kino’s Journey and Mushishi is that whereas Mushishi observes the nature of life (both human and mushi ones), Kino’s tends to have something to say about it. The strong themes and at-times-heavy dialogues in Kino’s makes it kind of like watching oddly familiar fables told through animation. Occasionally the acting feels overdone, or I might begin to guess some of the plot, but for the most part, this is a welcome feeling.
- Kino meets three old railway workers on different parts of the railway, one polishing it, one dismantling it, and another repairing it. None have had any contact with the other and each works without asking why. There must be a lot of bureaucratic crap going on in the country that gave these separate orders. Unless they come from different countries that all share the same railway?
- It seems like “Traveler” is a universally recognized title – perhaps even a universally recognized profession. I’m asking the same question as young Kino from last episode, but what do all these travelers do? I suppose these self-governing countries would want some flow of information going on, which is where travelers can be greatly useful. But from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem like any country (other than the Land of Tradition) actively seeks anything at all from the travelers. I guess they’re welcome for…tourism?
- Kino tells the first two railway workers the story of the Land Without the Need for Work, where technology is so advanced that humans have nothing to do, and resort to meaningless tasks so that they can still stimulate themselves with stress. There’s such an obvious parallel between these citizens’ commitment to meaningless work and the railway workers’ lives that Kino must have chosen the story deliberately, but the first two railway workers show no sign of self-awareness, and Kino gives up on the third.
- With the exception of the railway workers, the citizens of each country seem very conscious of how and why their societies run the way they do, and are wholeheartedly committed to their country’s philosophy. You can argue that there’s less transparency in places like the Land of Prophecies or Kino’s birthplace, the Land of Adults, but overall, people know what they’re in for. I just find that interesting.
- After Kino parts with each railway worker and is asked where they’re headed for, the shot freezes and gets progressively more…psychedelic. The last man’s question even gets cut off halfway. Very jarring choice for such an otherwise atmospheric series.
- Kino’s aversion to the question is internally fierce. As they say in the beginning, they dislike forests because they don’t like getting lost. The purpose behind their travel is a problem too Herculean to take on. And so, just as the men stick to their jobs, Kino travels along the single railway instead of the forest.
- The Land of the Majority is a country ruined by democratically conducted purgings. The revolutionaries came together to bring down one king, but unfortunately ended up creating another after they eliminated the population to one person.
- This country is where I found the acting to feel a bit overdone, since the story is already such a ridiculous one with a preconceivable outcome. I love this shot very much though.
- The man became the last citizen after purging a final deserter and watching his wife die from a cold that should have been curable. He threatens to force Kino to join his country, but with Hermes present, he can no longer form a majority to pass any vote.
- “Farewell, King,” says Kino as they ride off. I believe I heard gunshots there, potentially suggesting that the man committed suicide, but Kino didn’t react and kept riding. (Unless it’s just a particularly intense soundtrack?)
As you may have noticed, I switched back to they/them pronouns for Kino. This is in part influenced by Scott‘s and Ospreyshire‘s comments on my last post, though I also had the same inclination myself as I watched the latest episodes. It just feels more natural.
This episode feels more like two separate stories, but they are connected loosely by the topic of choosing paths. Kino’s conclusion by the end, when faced with a forked road, is to try out any path, since it’s always possible to circle back if a dead end is met. So maybe for today, whether a purpose is met or found doesn’t matter so much after all.
A fine episode overall, with some creative visuals and familiar social commentary. Makes me want to balance myself along a long stretch of railway tracks, but if they’re as polished as the one Kino encountered, it’ll probably be a safety hazard…
Check out my highlights for previous episodes if you’re interested!