Kino's Journey Vol. #4 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: ADV Films UK
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • 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. #4

By Dani Moure     May 03, 2005
Release Date: April 18, 2005


Kino's Journey Vol. #4
© ADV Films UK


What They Say
For centuries, those in search of self-discovery and knowledge of the world have hit the road in furtherance of those quests. Young Kino, along with the talking motorcycle Hermes, has the same goal: to travel the world, and observe and learn from its different cultures. Staying exactly three days in each location, Kino and Hermes learn much about the world and themselves. Along the way, the pair also discover the joy inherent in a trip, realizing that the experience of the journey--and the diversions that it brings--matters much more than the destination. Imaginative, thought-provoking, and sometimes disturbing.

These are the last three episodes of the series.

Episodes comprise:
11. Her Journey
12. A Peaceful Land
13. A Kind Land

The Review!
One of the best series to hit UK stores over the past few years comes to an interesting, if slightly downplayed, end.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese stereo track while watching this disc for my review, and noticed no distortions or dropouts. The track itself is good, though the series is heavy on the dialogue with only a little background music and incidental sounds at key moments. The two main cast members, Ai Maeda as Kino and Ryuji Aigase as Hermes, deserve endless praise for their portrayals; Kino with a sense of awe, wonder and maturity, and Hermes as one with experience but also a need to try and understand what Kino is thinking.

I spot-checked the English language track, which is presented in 5.1, and noticed no problems with this track either. The English dub is overall quite nice from the portions I've listened to, with the actors all settling in their roles after a short while.

Video:
The video quality for this series is a strange beast. The transfer itself, being such a new show, is excellent, with a no noticeable artefacts, aliasing or other problems during regular playback of this anamorphic transfer. What is strange is the choice of the creative team to add what looks like scan lines to the picture. It gives the series an interesting and quite unique look, as it comes off almost dream-like in a way. But it can be a bit distracting at times, and it may have looked better if it wasn't there.

Subtitles are the usual ADV yellow font, and I noticed no issues with them.

Packaging:
The front cover is really nice, with a montage of several characters from the show going up the front cover, and Kino in the most noticeable foreground. The show's logo is at the bottom of the cover, in its original Japanese with the English translation underneath (though the English release drops the series' subtitle "The Beautiful World"). The volume number and title are also listed here. The back cover contains a few screenshots and a strange description of the show, kind of in riddles. The episodes are clearly listed, along with special features and the show's credits. The technical specs are also clearly listed in the usual ADV boxes.

Menu:
The menu is a simple system, with an image of Kino and Hermes on the right hand side, an episode listing on the left side, and languages and special features menu at the bottom. There's also a main window (which is bordered), with a slow-moving image of one of the lands. The opening theme's chorus plays over this menu. The two sub-menus are bordered slow-moving images, with a bit of background music playing over them. They're nice and quick to access, though the only problem I have is that there's no individual scene selection, which is something missing from a lot of ADV menus nowadays.

Extras:
The series continues to be light on extras, with the same features as the first volume: a clean opening and ending, and a few production sketches, set to some background music. It's a shame this series hasn't had better extras, but the content is so strong it doesn't really need them.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s a crying shame that Kino’s Journey comes to an end so quickly. While the shift in series length over the past few years in the anime industry in general has been to shorter shows (outside of the really long franchise shows), sometimes it means that great shows just don’t last long enough. While only having 13 episodes has kept Kino’s Journey extremely tight and well-crafted, it also means that when the final episode has gone by, you’re still left craving for more.

Like most of the earlier episodes, the three on this last disc are all episodic, but contain the usual intricacies we’ve come to expect in terms of story telling and characters.

The first episode on the disc presents another interesting dilemma for Kino. In the first half, she’s in a bar talking to a man who tells her that he’s atoning for murdering a man by going on a journey with his widow and protecting her. Apparently the wife told him she just wants him to atone for what he did. But things don’t work out as you may expect, and the widow in fact used that story as a trap to lure the man out of the town and kill him. What really grabbed me about this episode was the first half, and how the wife’s actions really provoked some thought about how far someone will go to get revenge, and how hard it is to forgive. After all, the woman says herself that the man had changed, but she still couldn’t forgive him.

The second half of the episode changes the focus, with a slightly different theme as Kino and Hermes ravel to the house of a wise man. Except when they listen to his story, they realise he’s not really known as wise at all for anything in particular. Again, this is a well-presented story and an interesting idea to think about, as we realise that the wise man has become known as that simply through rumours and hearsay, and occasionally telling people things that are perfectly normal to him but just build and build.

The next episode deals with a country that used to be constantly at war, but is now supposedly peaceful. Kino is directed toward the history museum, where the curator tells her all about the country's history and how, until 15 years ago, they were engaged in war with their neighbours. She doesn't make clear to Kino exactly what happens now, but she does say that the next day Kino will get to see a war. So when this country and its neighbour line up, they go to war, except it's not what you might expect.

Chilling scenes ensue with the two countries battling it out to see how many innocent people called Tatatans they can kill. It's savage, brutal and harsh, and yet when the curator explains to Kino why they go to war in this way, since it was her idea, it really makes you think about the nature of humans. As she says, we are brutal and violent at times, and there needs to be a way for humans to vent those feelings. This is the way she suggested, knowing that if she said they should just stop the war, then nothing would be done. When Kino leaves the country she comes face to face with some Tatatans that want revenge, and it's then that the true brutality really becomes clear.

The final episode is somewhat sad, but also quickly became one of my favourites. Kino travels to a country that has a reputation for not being particularly friendly to outsiders. Quite the opposite is the case when she and Hermes arrive though, as they're welcomed by the citizens who practically throw themselves at the pair to make them feel at home. Kino quickly befriends a young girl called Sakura though, and stays at her parents' hotel. As they're shown around and learn of all Sakura's future aspirations, they're unaware of the fate that will befall everyone soon enough.

This was a fascinating episode to conclude the series with, and it was both shocking and quite heart wrenching. The writers did a great job of really drawing you in to the characters, particularly through Sakura and having her joyous at what her future may hold, only to snatch it all away from everyone in the blink of an eye at the end. It was quite a tragedy, and in that sense was a fitting end for the show as it was as thought-provoking and wondrous as all the episodes in the series have been, and that's what, in the end, has really made the series a joy to watch.

From its consistently strong characters, both in terms of Kino and Hermes as well as a magnificent supporting cast in almost every country the travellers visited, to the general aura the series radiated, it's been a joy to watch. The stories all have some meaning and purpose behind them, and all are presented in such a way to really get your mind working and provoke some thought. It's a crying shame that this series couldn't go on and on and maintain such a high level of quality, as I'd love to see more adventures with Kino and Hermes. While there's no real ending, there is a nice little epilogue at the end which sums up just about how I felt now the series is over.

In Summary:
Kino's Journey has been an absolute pleasure to watch, and is easily one of the best series to have been released in the UK since the market resurgence. It's engaging and powerful, provoking thought with every story, and that's what makes it so appealing. It won't suit everyone's tastes, which is a crying shame as I can't help but feel that this series will be overlooked in favour of some flashier shows, when this series deserves every ounce of success it can muster. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Kino's Journey, and I have no issues with recommending it to anyone looking for something stunning in an untraditional sense.

Features
Japanese Language (2.0),English Language (5.1),English Subtitles,Clean Opening & Closing,Production Sketches

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Pioneer DV-464 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.

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