Kino no Tabi (novel) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59816-455-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Kino no Tabi (novel) Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     September 08, 2006
Release Date: October 10, 2006

Kino no Tabi (novel) Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Keiichi Sigsawa
Translated by:Andrew Cunningham
Adapted by:Maya Bohnhoff

What They Say
The world is not beautiful, therefore it is. And destination is a state of mind... Kino wanders around the world on the back of Hermes, her unusual, anthropomorphic motorcycle. During their adventures, they find happiness and sadness, pain and decadence, violence and beauty, and above all, truth. Through it all, they never lose their sense of freedom.

The Review
Kino no Tabi reminds us all that one should take time out to enjoy the imperfections in life's journey, rather than racing to achieve that perfect destination that may never be found.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Starting this October, TOKYOPOP will begin their foray into fiction literature with the launch of the Pop Fiction line of novels. Unlike the more otaku oriented novels like Seikai, Slayers, or .hack, the Pop Fiction books will be placed amongst the rest of the fiction literature in bookstores, rather than sitting next to manga on the "Graphic Novels" shelves. One of the first books to come out under this new imprint will be Kino no Tabi, known to anime fans as Kino's Journey, and I can't think of a better book to introduce a publisher to existing fans and new potential readers.

Why is Kino no Tabi such a good choice? It's not just that Kino is already a cult hit amongst anime fans, but rather it's because it circles around the American pop culture idiom of the road trip. From On the Road to Fear and Loathing to Dumb & Dumber, the road trip is almost as part of American life as apple pie. One may take a road trip as a rite of passage, a coming of age journey, or a reconnection with oneself. It's about the journey and the exploration of not only your surroundings, but yourself as well.

In Kino no Tabi, the pilot behind the road trip is a young teenage girl named Kino. After being rescued by a mysterious road traveler as a child, she now travels from town to town on her anthropomorphic motorcycle named Hermes; never staying longer than three days in any particular place. The world in which they travel is nondescript, but as is the rule in the Tao of the Road Trip, it's all about the journey and not the destination. By opening up the book with the history of Kino's character, the reader is able to immediately connect with her and her journey.

If I had to give a name to Sigsawa-sensei's world, it would be The World of Imperfection. The subtitle of the book may read "The Beautiful World", but it's the study of how people try to achieve that beautiful, perfect state of being, failing to recognize the beauty in each others' imperfections, that is quite fascinating. In each town, Kino and Hermes come across some horrible twist of fate or situation in which the quest for perfection created ruin. A town which believed being able to read everyone's minds would lead to a strong sense of community actually left them all alone in solitude. Two empires at war with each other find peace at the expense of others in a method that is truly horrifying.

Sigsawa-sensei structures the book with mostly stand-alone chapters that read much like a fable set in a fairy-tale like land. As I stated before, he isn't interested much in world building, but rather creating a tale to be told that parallels our own lives. While the first chapter detailing Kino's beginnings is required to begin with, the rest of the chapters could be read in any order. The lack of a rich world could definitely turn off some readers, but I've never felt as though that kept one from getting into each chapter. The bigger issue I found with this first book is that a couple of the chapters are too similar, even being placed next to each other in the book, creating an irritating sense of déjà vu.

TOKYOPOP has definitely found a winner for launching their brand new line of fiction literature. Sigsawa-sensei's road trip tales are contemplative and introspective, allowing the reader to truly experience the journey part of the road trip like Kino herself. The rich world building might not be there, and some chapters may feel a bit repetitive, but Sigsawa-sensei's road trip fables have a strong fairy-tale appeal to them that sucks you in. You never know where Kino's journey will take you, and it's the anticipation of exploration on the road trip that makes this an engaging read.


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