Episode Reviews

[Highlights] Kino’s Journey Ep. 10 (A Tale of Mechanical Dolls)

Kino’s Journey is back! I’d say “I’m back,” but I’m not sure I really am…yet. This episode is one that focuses on few characters instead of a country, as is reflected in its title. This was also the case in “The Tale of Feeding off Others” and “Land of Wizards.” I don’t know if I prefer one type of narrative over the other, so let’s say I appreciate how things are changed up once in a while.

Kino and Hermes meet an “automaton”
  • One thing I missed about Kino’s Journey is how pretty every frame looks. The lines and colours are minimalistic enough, and there is rarely much action to animate, but every scene is always purposefully composed and comfortable to look at.
Meet the wife and the kid who are totally normal humans
  • The plot twist is very predictable, but I think the show is comfortable with the fact. It continues to establish the quirky routines of its clearly dysfunctional “happy family” at its own pace.
  • Food waste offends me deeply, even in fiction, it seems. Dude, why didn’t you ask Kino if they wanted second helpings!
Lost City of Atlantis
  • This was the country that the maid was from, destroyed by civil war not too long ago. Weird that such a significant event is totally glossed over and in the backdrop.
She breaks
  • When he picked her up, I totally thought he was going to walk to the garbage can and shove her in. But no, she gets a proper B&B (bed and burial).
Automatons sinking into a sunken kingdom
  • This is a reference to Fate/Zero Opening 2, “to the beginning,” the best opening in the world.
  • The masters of the house voluntarily revealed themselves to be automatons and explained their actions to Kino. The reveal itself was no surprise, but the fact that it was entirely unprompted was fascinating.
  • The old woman’s backstory, as summarized in a few sentences through automatons, wasn’t particularly impressive. She used to be a workaholic who was more invested in developing automatons than spending time with her family, and after her family got killed by a bomb on a special day, she loses her mind and subconsciously reinvents her identity as an automaton. Kino’s Journey falls into such storytelling clichés sometimes, when side characters get too little screen time to establish any context for you to care deeply about, yet insist on having a backstory.

I took in the premise expecting it to be a satire, perhaps about a society that keeps its people content by enabling labour for the sake of labour, but it turned out to be more wholesome than that, even with its tragic undertones. It turned out to be an individualistic story about an unusual family of sorts.

While a part of me is dissatisfied by all the key factors left unexplained (e.g. What happened to that country? What purpose were the automatons created for?), the other part of me is used to the flow of following Kino’s example and just letting go and moving on.

You know those thick fairy tale collections with hundreds of pages? Not the household stories by the Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Andersen, but the more obscure ones where every other story is about the youngest of three brothers/sisters, and you get random cliff-hangers that appear to hint at some moral that you don’t quite comprehend?

Watching Kino’s Journey feels a bit like reading one of those. It’s a bit frustrating when a tale doesn’t end the way you want or tell you everything you want to know, but what’s next? You turn the page to the next one, with the comfort of knowing that more wonders await, and that you’re not held hostage to any one story. Truly, like the girl escaping into books one after another from the last episode (heavily implied to be Kino), we always move on without the baggage of the previous episode’s story.

Or do we? Does Kino? We’re sort of invited to view Kino as a mechanical doll here. Kino acts more apathetic than the real automatons, who grieve for the old woman and have a frank existential crisis after her death. Maybe it’s the fact they’re machines that they can view life/death as a black and white decision. If Hermes is a true machine, is Kino more like the old woman, living in fear of discovering that there is no purpose to life? Possibly.

We’re nearing the finale – can’t wait! Though maybe I will wait another several months before I watch and write about them, who knows.

Until next time, stay safe, and be careful walking/driving on the roads if you live somewhere where there’s a lot of ice! I slipped real bad today and now my wrist feels a little funny when I type…

3 thoughts on “[Highlights] Kino’s Journey Ep. 10 (A Tale of Mechanical Dolls)

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