The holidays are quickly approaching, and everything is madness, both in my professional and personal life. Still, we’ve found time for some reading/viewing, most of which has been Kino’s Journey (Kino no Tabi). I wrote a little bit about this the other day, but like most things I love, I can’t seem to stop talking about it.
I have fallen for this series hard, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that, while most of my favorite manga and anime characters are men/boys, the protagonist of Kino no Tabi is a kick-ass girl, and not your typical chesty, spandex-clad girl, either. This girl is funny, dry, compassionate, brave, curious, conflicted, dressed for survival, and incredibly quick on the draw. She’s my ultimate hero, and I want to find more of her.
Sadly, only one volume of the eleven Japanese light novels has been released in English, and there are only thirteen episodes of the anime series to savor. We’ve been going through them pretty slowly, though the natural impulse is to race through something this compelling. At this moment, Kino’s Journey is probably my very favorite anime series, and that is saying a lot, considering how much I love some of the other things I’ve watched. I love the first of the novels probably even more than the anime, but I suppose that will almost always be the case. The novel’s prologue had me sold on the very first page.
“You know… it’s kind of like…” Kino trailed off. A contemplative silence followed. Or perhaps sleep.
“Kind of like what?” Hermes asked.
“I sometimes wonder if I’m really just a terrible person. Sometimes I feel like I am. Sometimes, it actually makes sense that I am. Because I can’t change things; or worse–I just tell myself I can’t, so I don’t. But whenever I get like that–feeling terrible, I mean–everything else–the world, the people I meet–it all becomes incredibly beautiful to me. I fall in love with it.”
Kino is so full of glorious contradiction, and maybe I just think it’s glorious because I can so strongly relate to it, but however it is that she is glorious to me, she truly is. The more I get to know her, the more I feel that way, and all I know for sure is that I want more of this wonderfully contradictory character and her talking motorcycle, and I already know that what the world has to offer of her is not nearly enough.
I’ve been trying to get my other female friends interested in this series, because a great female protagonist really is so rare (unfortunately), and I don’t think we get to appreciate women in fiction often enough. It’s bothered me quite a bit over the years that the fictional characters I most love and identify with have mostly been male, though the ones I am compelled to write are always female. I’ve never been sure what that meant. It’s a relief to find a female I can relate to so deeply. I’ve often been drawn to a nomadic lifestyle, and indeed lived one myself for many years. I used to say that there was nothing that filled me with such intense joy and excitement as leaving–driving away from one place on my way to a new life somewhere else–and though I’ve found greater joys since, I can still feel that call to wander when I let myself listen for it.
I feel like I’ve wandered a bit off track here, actually, but probably this entire post could be summed up in one sentence: Watch Kino’s Journey.
It really is that good.
On a side note, it also has the unusual distinction of being maybe the only anime series I’ve personally ever seen with an opening song (“All the Way” by Mikuni Shimokawa) that actually gives you an idea of what the story is about. Watch this true marvel in action here.
In unrelated news, I finally managed to get a haircut. Comments?