Wasn’t entirely sure what to watch from this studio (A.C.G.T.), so I decided to just go for their highest rated entry – Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World.
I had no idea what to expect, what this anime is about, nothing. Just one glance at the poster on MAL and that was it. It seemed like it was going to be something sort of intense maybe. In the end, Kino no Tabi ended up being unlike any other anime I’ve seen.
The premise of Kino no Tabi is that the main character, Kino, is a traveler who… travels. Every episode features new and different countries with different landscapes, levels of technology, cultures, rules, et cetera. Each country can be completely different from the last. We also follow a couple minor characters in the mix also that Kino runs into.
Also, for some reason, Kino has a talking motorcycle.
Slice of Life Unlike Any Other
Maybe not even just slice of life, but anime. It’s weird, but what this anime does just works. It’s a slice of life in that we follow the everyday life of Kino, the traveler. But every episode can feature such drastically different circumstances, from extreme to relaxing, that it doesn’t feel like a traditional slice of life which typically is primarily relaxing / comedy.
I feel like it’s not very common to separate the slice of life from the comedy, as most slice of life anime rely on comedy to keep things entertaining. Instead of comedy, Kino no Tabi uses adventure and exploration to keep things interesting. You just don’t know what the next country will be like.
I’m very much reminded of Made in Abyss, where each level of the abyss can introduce the viewer to a whole new world. And watching the characters explore the abyss was exciting for that very reason. Kino no Tabi is very similar. It’s just exciting to see these new countries, learn their stories or quirks.
Many of the countries we observe in Kino no Tabi are a case of “what if a country did X… and took it to the extreme?”. For example, as it’s in the first episode I’ll just go ahead and spoil this, a country where murder is legal. Many countries have extremely morally questionable, or even downright evil laws or policies. And then others have some other tragic circumstances attached to them.
But then some countries are just great. You really don’t know what to expect. A good looking country might turn out to have a dark secret. A seemingly ominous country might actually turn out to be inhabited by good people with good intentions. You just don’t know. Generally, there’s some extreme aspect to the countries – be it a policy, law, cultural quirk, tradition, or maybe something that’s now in the past. It’s really neat.
And that’s what makes “exploring” these countries so exciting to watch.
Art & Journey
For once I can credit the studio here, as A.C.G.T is the studio behind Kino no Tabi. The art is perfect. It does such an amazing job at contrasting the different countries, conveying different moods, portraying the journey that Kino is on. The art really brings this anime to life and makes the world feel vast and diverse.
There are just so many beautiful shots in this anime that I was able to easily collect a bunch of screencaps to include in this review. You can rest assured, the feelings you get from the images in this post perfectly describe the feeling of this anime.
One thing that this anime does well is display the different moral standards of the various peoples and countries. Many times a country will have a morally grey law, tradition, or whatever. And it poses the question “is this right?”. Sometimes, the answer is clear. Other times, it isn’t.
What I really like though about how this is handled, is that Kino doesn’t try to solve the countries’ problems. Kino is a traveler, an observer. Not a moral arbiter, a crusader. As such, after three days of staying in a country are up, Kino moves on.
I’m reminded of that saying that goes something like “to you it may look like a 6, but to me it looks like a 9”. The fact is that someone born into a different system of beliefs, a different culture, a different way of “how things are done”, is going to see things differently. This anime does a good job of displaying that, and how something we may view as evil may not be viewed the same way to someone raised in it.
It’s really thought provoking at times.
I won’t spoil it, but there’s one country in particular that I thought was really well done. The country is faced with the prospect of change, and from our perspective the change seems good for the people. But then the people reject it, because “this is all we’ve ever known”. It’s sort of like cultural Stockholm Syndrome, and very interesting to think about.
I loved the way Kino no Tabi introduced situations like that to us, and many times, didn’t draw any lines in the sand. Maybe something is good, maybe it isn’t. We can have our opinions as viewers, but the anime / Kino doesn’t get involved unless pulled in.
I really enjoyed the exploration and world building of this anime. Being able to witness such different societies every single episode was exciting. And then the morally grey aspects of the countries made them all the more interesting.
I’m going to give Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World a 8.5 / 10.
It’s an excellent anime that manages to give us a fairly unique experience centered around exploration and different perspectives. All while treating us to some beautiful art, and good stories along the way. And in the end, it still feels like a slice of life anime, despite not feeling like one in the traditional sense.
I’ll admit now that I thought the talking motorcycle was a little odd at first, but it is what it is. The anime is so impressive that a talking motorcycle isn’t really all that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things!
It’s nice to actually cover a proper studio and not a producer for once. I sort of wish that MyAnimeList would separate the two, so I could only look at studios, but it is what it is. I’m just going to keep going through the list, one at a time regardless.
Until next time,
Thanks for reading.