Anime DVD Review by Brian Cirulnick
Having been bitten by the motorcycle bug a few years back, I naturally hunger for any news or information that involves two-wheeled transport. One of the nice things about being a part of the motorcycle subculture is reading about, and partaking in roadtrips, often with no clear destination, just a trip just to enjoy the ride and take in the scenery.
One such anime seems to know the pleasure we riders feel and has catered to it. Kino's Journey is a roadtrip to nowhere, with great scenery, a sense of adventure and a ride that understands why riders ride.
For those of you wanting bikini-clad babes piloting megaton mecha against gargantuan space armadas, you'll have to look elsewhere. None of that is here. Instead, what we've got is a kid on a motorcycle (well, the motorcycle *talks*, but that's about as weird as it gets), and with perhaps a nod to Lupin creator Monkeypunch, the motorcycle is a recognizable Brough Superior (the Rolls Royce of motorcycles) named Hermes.
In each episode, Kino visits a new town, meets new people, perhaps helps them or solves an issue, and then she continues on her way, never staying anywhere for more than 3 days for fear that she might settle down (Come on Kino, the road is calling! That endless black ribbon of freedom awaits!). What's amazingly refreshing about this series however, is that Kino is a remarkably subtle character, and isn't always able to resolve whatever issue may cross her path.
Although wise for her age, and possessing skill with various weapons, Kino doesn't come off as the typical anime hero, and in fact may either fail to resolve a crisis, or ignore it entirely and just be on her way — very much like REAL PEOPLE.
The art direction gives us the scenery we desire in any road trip, with subtle color palettes and pastels, which, while giving us some lush roadside vistas, also remind us that this planet is probably not Earth.
Bikers will definitely get a kick from this series, and those of us who are weary of schoolgirls fighting undead monsters will enjoy this more tasteful, gentle, poetic series that is more about empathy and understanding than punches and swordslashing.
Much like many other motorcycle roadtrips, we're not sure where this series is going. But, as with any ride when the scenery is nice, we're along for the trip, and enjoying the ride for the ride itself.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, August 2008
Below: Promotional artwork for Kino's Journey.