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Kino's Journey Episode 1: Purpose, Communication, and Robots

In the first episode of the anime series Kino’s Journey, the protagonist and self-defined traveler Kino, and her sentient motorcycle Hermes, visit The Land of Visible Pain. In this country the people have given themselves the ability to know the thoughts of others near them, hoping that true understanding would be the way to end all conflict and misery. However, in an unexpected yet probably should have been totally expected twist, it turns out that people don’t always think positive things about one another. A rude comment you would usually keep to yourself is now unavoidably known to everybody around you. One person’s pain is felt by everyone nearby. And even something as small as having different tastes in music can be enough to end once happy relationships.

By the time Kino arrives the land looks deserted. Robots manage the dense city area, while all the people have spread out across the countryside, staying in their own homes and far enough away from each other that they can’t read any thoughts but their own. Almost on a stroke of luck, on her way out of the country, Kino runs in to one man who is willing to tell her what happened.

This first episode is obviously about communication, and the struggles formal spoken and written languages have conveying pure thought, motivation, and emotion. But, while the mind reading thing turned out to be a bust, it does offer some way people can communicate these things. Body language; the little details of facial expressions, and the way we visually present ourselves. This is shown at the end of the episode when Kino’s smile to the lonely man expresses more than she could in words, but also more subtly in the introduction of the lonely man, when he goes from Stubbleface McStoppedcaring, to clean shaven before sitting down to talk with Kino.

The early scenes deal with equality, identity, and purpose, both self-defined and externally imposed. The second act uses the country’s advanced robots to brilliantly manage pacing in a show that doesn’t stop for conflict. And the opening conveys an existential sense of freedom that characterizes the entire show.

Episode one of Kino’s Journey is brilliant.

  • I still haven't seen this show but this tide definitely makes me want to. Very interesting idea for an anime episode. – Jordan 6 years ago
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  • Definitely sounds like something I'd like to add to my watch list. – Tatijana 6 years ago
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  • Cool article idea. The idea of Artificial Intelligence is a significant part of western media today. You could identify links between the episode's topic and other key films, TV shows etc. – Thomas Munday 6 years ago
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  • I would also add about how this episode really comments on the nature of relationships, and how the intimate ones are matters not only of sameness and closeness, but accommodation and compromise. Intimacy existences in spaces not only because of, but in spite of as well. Similar to how having friends doesn't preclude you from keeping some secrets from them. – ZeroReq011 6 years ago
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