Kino's Journey Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kino's Journey

Kino's Journey Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     June 21, 2004
Release Date: May 18, 2004

Kino's Journey Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Kino's Journey tells the story of the young adventurer Kino, who travels the world on Hermes, a talking motorcycle, spending no more and no less than three days at each stop. Throughout their travels, Kino and Hermes are observers of new cultures, witnessing both the differences and the similarities of peoples around the world.

Adapted from Keiichi Sigsawa's bestselling novels, this stylish, thought-provoking tale promises to grab hold of the audience's imagination, challenging expectations and stereotypes as it focuses on the discovery of beauty in things not beautiful.

The Review!
Shifting back to the single story episodes, the three tales here continue the Twilight Zone effect perfectly, constantly having you question not only the stories but the show itself.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series has a solid stereo mix with some very good moments of directionality throughout it for both dialogue and for special sound effects, such as gunshots or movements. The English language track got the bump up to a 5.1 mix which takes the existing materials and adds a touch more clarity and definition to it. Both tracks come off sounding good and are problem free.

Originally airing in 2003, Kino's Journey is probably one of the most frustrating transfers I've had to deal with in a number of years. The first thing that has to be gotten out of the way is that the transfer is essentially flawless. There's no cross coloration, aliasing looks to be non-existent and colors are fantastic looking and solid. This is a great looking anamorphic transfer by all accounts. So what's the problem? It's filled with what you'd normally call scanlines. They're highly visible throughout the print, though some of the more active scenes are less prominent with it. But with so many wide areas of solid color, the scanlines are very visible. But, they're not really scanlines. They're a visual choice applied by the director presumably as this is exactly what the Japanese DVD releases look like as I've confirmed. Depending on the sensitivity of your eyes to things like this, the print here may be completely unwatchable as it's very distracting at times and frustrating since otherwise this would be smooth and clean.

Using more of the Japanese cover artwork, this volume provides a very creepy looking yet strangely attractive image. The imagery of the young woman with the moon behind her and the various bits of technology have a strange feel to them with the kind of colors used, something that's definitely appealing but hard to pin down. The back cover provides some limited idea of what the shows about in a poem-esque way alongside a few pictures from the show. The discs episode numbers and titles are listed as well as the discs features and production credits nice and clearly. The bulk of the technical information is slotted nicely into the technical grid at the bottom, making it easy to see what you can expect. The insert has a cleaner version of the front cover on one side while the back of the insert is a summary of what to expect on the disc itself.

The menu layout is rather nicely done on a simple side with a rustic style border that has a slow pan of one of the country city views inside it, but with a shot of Kino and the motorcycle in and out of it as leaves blow by. The opening song plays along to this, albeit far too briefly. Episodes can be jumped to directly from the main menu though as seems to be custom now, scene selection has gone out of favor. Access times are nice and fast and the layout easy to navigate.

The opening and ending sequences are presented in their textless form and anamorphic here, and we also get a few minutes worth of mixed color and black and white production sketches of various characters from these episodes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the previous two volumes, Kino has become a real highlight this year of a series that had practically no hype and very little word of mouth but has turned into something that I can't get enough of. Well, I've had enough of people telling me I'm an idiot because I won't give away the spoiler at the end of the first volume, which makes writing the content reviews hard.

This set of episodes is pretty focused around the area of knowledge and it does some interesting things with it. The opening episode has Kino coming across a country that hasn't had a visitor in over five years, so they're pretty celebratory over it. Kino ends up coming across a young woman who lives somewhat outside of the main city area because she's been something of an outcast after her aunt had taken advantage of her during her childhood after her parents died. She swindled her out of her inheritance and set her to live by herself in a house that had been the residence of an old man who had once left the country and returned years later but kept himself separate from everyone. The kids all thought of him as a mage of some sort with the knowledge he had and some of the things he created.

Nimya takes advantage of this house quite well though as the previous occupant had left numerous gadgets and toys that excited her imagination as well as detailed books on all the things he had learned elsewhere in the world. All of this information eventually led her to trying to realize her childhood dream of flying in the sky like a bird, so she's built a machine to do just so. In talking with Kino, Kino hasn't seen anything like it elsewhere and says that she may be the first to truly fly. But there are problems she has to overcome in dealing with the city before it can happen, so she works to recruit Kino to her cause since the citizens will be somewhat deferent to Kino considering how long its been since there's been a traveler. There's a lot of back story that gets played out in this episode and some small relationship bits that flesh it out nicely, but the mixture of the joy of knowledge that Nimya has as well as the simple pure beauty of attempting flight when nobody else has even considered it to be possible (in this region at least), that's what makes this episode so good. The moments when the attempt is taking reminded me of Wings of Honneamise and their own attempts to get into space when nobody else would take them seriously.

The best episode on this volume though is the second episode where Kino enters a country where all the books in the world have come to. Kino brings a book into the city which will allow Kino to take a book out of the country. With so much knowledge and potentially interesting books there, Kino's rather excited to get to this particular country. But once in the library, Kino realizes that things aren't as they seem. There's a process by which every book that enters the country is checked and scrutinized to see if it's harmful or not. So the library is mostly made up of harmless books like children's material and how-to guides.

Through some events that played out before Kino got into the country, Kino ends up being brought into an underground section of the city where a resistance group of "publishers" have been plotting and scheming to try and change the way things operate in the city. They try to recruit Kino into finding a hidden entrance into the Castle, the place where the Critics who are never wrong reside, the place where they determine what is harmful and what isn't. Kino doesn't get directly involved but much of what's going on plays across Kino's view, including meeting the mysterious "Author" who takes the concept of books and reality and twists the show around beautifully. With some of the twists in previous episodes, this one actually goes forward far enough to truly convince you that what we're seeing isn't "real" but a story being read by someone. This episode truly messes with the perceptions of watching shows and the feeling most people get at one time or another about being a character in a book. The reality of this series is constantly shifting and this episode is one of those that really uses it to its advantage.

In Summary:
Kino's Journey continues to be a fascinating series that's a great change of pace from a lot of other shows we're watching. The pacing, the subtle music score and the plots that really keep you wondering where it's all going to go are just fantastic. While the show isn't outright violent nor does it really fit the horror bill, these are episodes that you want to watch in the dark late at night when nobody else is around, letting it all just seep in and making you question what you see. Great stuff, very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Production Sketches,Clean Opening,Clean Closing

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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