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AKA: キノの旅 何かをするために -life goes on.- (Kino no Tabi: Nanika o suru tame ni -life goes on.-), キノの旅 病気の国 -For You- (Kino no Tabi: Byouki no Kuni -For You-)
Genre: Philosophical Fantasy
Length: Movie, 2 episodes, 30 minutes each
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America
Content Rating: PG-13 (Graphic Violence, Disturbing Themes)
Related Series: Kino's Journey (Parent Series), Kino No Tabi: Tower Country (Additional OAV)
Also Recommended: Mushi-Shi, Eve No Jikan, Spice and Wolf
Notes: None
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars
 

Kino's Journey (Movies)

Synopsis

These are two short movies designed as additions to the original Kino's Journey anime, the first being a prequel that depicts Kino's relationship with the "master" briefly seen in the first series and the second being a visit to an additional country.


Review

Warning: This review contains spoilers regarding the original series, especially the fourth episode. Proceed at your own risk if you have not completed it.

I have nothing but admiration and love for Kino's Journey. Its episodic philosophical explorations make for some of the most fascinating television I've yet encountered, and that, combined with two excellently placed leads and a haunting underlying story, has made it into one of my favorite anime series. Although short, every episode delivers a punch, and not even the weakest stories fail to leave me with a long train of thought afterwards. Thus it seems, on the outside, that I would express the same enthusiasm for the additional stories that were released as short theatrical features following the show's conclusion, but although I still recommend them to anyone who liked the original series, it turns out to not quite be the case. For although the movies largely carry the spirit and intent of the television series, they feel like afterthoughts to a show that, in my opinion, could not have ended on a better note than it did, playing out like interesting but inessential side stories as a result.

Of the two movies, Life Goes On, which depicts Kino's time with the "master" briefly seen near the end of the series as well as her guilt over the death of the original Kino, adds the most to the story. Those interested in seeing how exactly our Kino went from being a dress-clad child to the androgynous motorcycle traveller will find this fascinating, as will those interested in seeing the development of her relationship with Hermes. The story, as it is, reveals quite a bit about her and the original Kino but frustratingly little about her master, and since that seems to have been the point of making this piece in the first place, it's possible to come away feeling let down. Still, it plays out as masterfully as any other episode of the series, showing its uncanny ability to lure the viewer into a lull and then hurl something utterly frightening and unsettling at them. Although this piece is helmed by a different director (with Takashi Watanabe replacing Ryutaro Nakamura), it's very much in keeping with the spirit of the show, and while it would, if placed in the context of the main series, be one of the less compelling episodes, the show's overall quality makes that issue fairly insignificant.

Conversely, however, For You feels like an afterthought through and through. This entry, which consists of a visit to a country that uses technology to lock itself away from exposure to the outside , would fit directly into the main series if it had been made at the same time, although the slightly increased running time and some gorgeous animation courtesy of SHAFT do make it noticeably different. It is, in essence, an extra story taken out of the original light novels, and that is the problem, for while Life Goes On was at least able to perform a function distinctly separate from the series, that of expanding the main character's background, this simply feels like an extra episode. The story, unfortunately, is possibly the weakest Kino's Journey tale, for while I found the country itself to be fascinating, the central story, that of a sick girl exchanging letters with a boy sent to the city's surrounding wastelands as part of a
"reclamation" team, felt rather hokey and difficult to connect to as a result. It's also one of the most depressing episodes all around, for while the ending alone is enough to rival The End of Evangelion in terms of sheer grimness, you know from the very start that something is up in the city, filling you with a sense of dread that gets turned to painful and soul-sucking despair as soon as the actual details of the horrors are revealed. It's a case in which I found something interesting but emotionally unsatisfying and depressing to watch, and while it's hardly a complete waste, it, in spite of Nakamura's return, failed to carry me in the same way the original series did.

Sometimes, sequels just aren't necessary. Nothing bearing the name Kino's Journey will ever be a waste of time, in my opinion, but I also think that the original television series may have been best left as it is: I loved it, found it satisfying, and really didn't need anything else.. While this shouldn't stop a dedicated fan of the series from watching these additions, don't expect stunning revelations in philosophical storytelling. That was the original series' job, and that job has long since been completed.

A weak four stars for Life Goes On and a definite three stars for For You hardly compare to the splendor of the original series. The rating reflects the fact that the spirit of the original would, on the whole, be more or less the same without these additions.Nick Browne

Recommended Audience: "Life Goes On" has one violent and unsettling scene, and both episodes contain ethically disturbing content. Nothing is gratuitous, however, and these specials are as devoid of profanity and fan service as the original series was. The tone, as well as the difficult content, will make this unappealing and inappropriate for children.



Version(s) Viewed: Digital Source
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Kino's Journey (Movies) © 2005 and 2007 A.C.G.T./SHAFT
 
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