Posted by: AceRailgun | March 7, 2012

Kino’s Journey Review, Breakdown and Study

Kino’s Journey otherwise know as Kino no Tabi is an anime created which aired in 2003. It came highly reccommended multiple sources and lets just say they were all right.

For the sake of the readers I’m going to break this into two sections the first is a spoiler free section which someone who hasn’t watched the show can read as a sort of reccomendation and the second section is a more complex breakdown for people who have watched the anime.


Casual Recommendation

Kino’s Journey is a unique story which I know won’t appeal to everyone however I feel the mystery elements may draw in some viewers. It tells the story of a kino who travels across multiple countries on a motorcycle taking in as many different stories as possible. The special element of this anime is the story telling. Each episode tells an interesting little story about a different country which often end in an unexpected manner. Kino is also very interesting to watch and is constantly acting in unexpected ways.


Complex Breakdown

There is many things that raise questions in Kino’s Journey and that’s what I like about it. The big thing I kept questioning is Hermes, can he really talk or is his voice inside Kino’s head. Hermes is just a standard looking motorbike which came from an undeveloped town. There is no reason for an advanced bike to be just lying around but if there is a reason for it i’d love to know. Sure Hermes talks to a few people on occasion and the talk back to him but more often the not the other character don’t respond to him. I think it is very possible that Kino is putting on his voice during conversation so that she has someone to talk to.


I’m probably very wrong on that but I still find it interesting.


Kino herself is a very unique character and does so many unexpectedly. I feel that she conciously seeks danger even though in the moment after danger passes she tends to freak out mentally for a moment. She purposfully goes to a town with a bad reputaion and she willing participates in a collosuim death match.
The other thing about Kino is that she acts as a passive observer one episode trying not to get involved and then in others she is the deciding factor in very important wars and death.


The whole story with her name and childhood is the best part of the story. She is not Kino, she is not a traveler she simple takes the place of a man named Kino after his death. Even going as far as to take his name and forget her own. In the anime her purpose for travelling is not clear and she has no end goal. The light novel is apparently still ongoing and once it finishes i’d love to go and read it.


Kino’s journey has earned itself a place in my top 30 coming in at 24 just above Last Exile. That makes it 24/149 which means it’s great.


  1. So I skipped over the complex breakdown as I have not seen the anime. Is this akin to a coming of age story?

    • I don’t think coming of age is really the best way to describe it as Kino is already ultra mature. If anything it’s a journey of self discovery.

      • Ok. That’s what I wanted to know. Now it has my attention. Think I’ll check it out.

      • It’s slow paced so you have been warned. If you get to the end of the second episode and aren’t hooked I doubt you will like it.

  2. It’s not a coming of age story.

    I think it’d be nice to have the source of the used image.

  3. Glad you enjoyed it. On first reaction, I would say no, Hermes’ voice isn’t just in Kino’s head. Now that you mention it, though, that could be a very interesting way of looking at it. This is a very multi-layered story, and sometimes you can’t just take things at face level. Even if it’s not true, it’s still an interesting way of looking at things.

    Nice post.

    • I think Hermes has a voice of his own as well but sometimes I like to think Kino is just a little bit on the crazy side. She need Hermes to talk to without the writer getting into her head and reading her thoughts.

  4. I really wish the light novels were all translated into English. Tokyopop released one single volume (a meh job overall) and then dropped the ball entirely. Which is super sad. Just means I need to learn Japanese I suppose.

    But the Kino no Tabi anime is wonderful. I loved every episode, mainly because it gave a lot to think about with each story. The theme of the world being beautiful because it isn’t beautiful is one of the most interesting themes I’ve ever considered in a story. Kino is also a rather unique and fascinating character. I feel that Kino always intends to just act as an observer, and only takes an active role when absolutely necessary. I’d have to go through the episodes again to analyze this further, though.
    (Oh, and you gave away Kino’s gender! =P Part of the fun is being surprised at the reveal in episode four. At least, it was a surprise for me, and for everyone else I know who’s watched the show. [Unless you watched the English dub… which made it more blatant from the start.])

    I always believed Hermes could talk, but I have considered the theory of his voice just being in Kino’s head before. It would certainly put Kino’s situation in a darker light, but I suppose the concept then is that people need some connection and interaction with someone, even if it’s imagined.

    There are some OVAs/short movies for Kino no Tabi out there, which I suggest checking out in order to get a few more stories.

    • You know, I decided I was going to learn how to read Japanese just so I could read the light novels. And I agree on the gender (not knowing helped exemplify just how great a character Kino was), and the OVA/movie recommendation. Good to know other people like this, I always thought that no one else even knew it existed.

    • I plan on tracking down the OVAs but it could be a task in itself.

      I didn’t even think you were suppose to think Kino was male in the begining. She has a womens voice in the Japanese version and dresses exactly like a reverse trap is suppose to, it’s textbook so I guess that’s why I picked up on it instantly.

      By taking Hermes away it leaves Kino in a state of constant isolation, she seeks human contact but then breaks all ties after three days. If she didn’t have Hermes around to talk to the road would be a very boring place for the viewer.

      • The OVAs/movies are basically just bonus episodes, though the animation is probably a bit nicer. One of the stories involved Kino some time not long after episode 4’s events though, so you get a little more backstory there at least.

        Yes, in the end the main reason from a storyline standpoint for Hermes is so that there is someone for Kino to talk to–but by not having it be a human traveling companion it still keeps Kino established as a lone traveler disconnected from any single society. And I think it works nicely for the setting, which is focused much more on symbolic and thematic storytelling rather than trying to make actual sense. (You could make a nice list of anachronisms for this series–but at the end of the day it’s not really something to be concerned with.)

        In hindsight there are certainly hints from the start that Kino’s a girl. But my friends and I all assumed Kino was a young boy, mainly from appearance and the way Kino acts in general. The voice (in the Japanese dub) is certainly lower than your average anime girl, and I believe Kino tends to use masculine pronouns in Japanese as well when referring to herself. So episode four was quite the surprise! I thought it was really great though. It’s not often you get a young girl protagonist who is thoroughly capable of protecting herself like this. I suppose the fact Kino is not tied to any society anymore allows this sort of freedom in regards to gender roles–though IMO it’s not something she’s ever actually been concerned about, ever since taking on the previous Kino’s persona.
        Just one of a hundred things that can be analyzed in this series. Pretty much everything about Kino no Tabi is unique, which makes it so wonderful! :>

      • Kino is pretty much the mature form of girl power found in a more realist setting. I think I need to sit down and really analyze the entire anime but that might take ages and I know I could talk about it for even longer.

        I’ll eventually watch it again hopefully in English the second time around.

  5. I thought Kino’s Journey was pretty great as well. A show with a lot of interesting and unique ideas does deserve some recognition. Out of curiosity, did you watch the show in Eng dub or with eng subtitles?

    • Good things need to recognized that’s just how it is.

      I watched it with the original Japanese audio and subtitles. For something like this I feel the original voice acting would help get the messages across better. Although at some point in the future I might watch the English dub.

  6. That’s an interesting theory you have with Hermes. I never considered that, but I suppose it’s possible. That’s the good thing about Kino’s Journey: it’s very open to interpretation.

    • That’s why I love it so much. When I “want” to fill in the missing piece of a story with my own interpretations then I know the story is a good one.

      I want to say Hermes can talk but every time I decided he can talk in my head I always remember that Kino might just be crazy or lonely enough to give the motorcycle a personality of it’s own. So that puts me back to square one.

  7. The hermes part is a good one. I wondered about that as well. It’s good to know what you like about the show, I guess it’s almost the same as what I like. The anime is interesting and unique and it’s definitely one of the anime that I will always remember 🙂

    • Hermes will be one of the things I’m always unsure about and it’s probably going to one of the tiny things that eventually drives me crazy. I know I won’t be forgetting the anime any time soon as I find it very inspirational from a writing perspective.

  8. I finished this not too long ago, too. What I find charming is that she adapted to her rules as a traveler quickly despite being so young.

    It didn’t leave such a deep impression in me, though. I found it mildly interesting, but seems to lack a little something I can’t put my finger on. Impact, maybe?

    • It definitely wasn’t perfect but I just love mysteries and things not being explain in full detail. That and I’m a sucker for stories which don’t always have a happy ending.

      Kino adapted well. I’ve heard one of the OVA’s explains how she does it a bit better but I’ve yet to watch it.

  9. Shizu’s dog speaks to Hermes when Kino isn’t there. If Riku can talk and be understood by Hermes, then it’s safe to say that Hermes can speak and be understood by everyone.

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