Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review

Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World Review

What makes a compelling series? Most often than not it is the charismatic protagonist and reoccurring supporting characters that steal the show, with the world surrounding them merely serving as the backdrop. Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World flips this notion on its head. Ostensibly it is the story of Kino, a non-binary traveler who drives on the talking motorcycle Hermes. The two pass through countries, usually limiting their stay to three days per country while trying to absorb as much folklore and culture as they can. However, digging a bit deeper underneath the contextual surface reveals that Kino and Hermes are just the vehicles through which we get to explore a unique country in each episode. The countries are in fact the real stars of this show. Each has its own unique set of rules, culture and topography. Some have taboo-breaking rules or bizarre circumstances surrounding them. There’s a country filled with liars, a country where killing is not a crime, a country that travels the land and cannot stop (thus trampling “gently” on nature or other countries in its way) and many more. With each passing episode Kino’s Journey bombarded me with social, political and ethical questions. Some countries employ social as well as cultural standards that would seem odd or foreign in our eyes but are completely normal for the citizens of said countries. You might even find yourself culturally shocked and pleasantly surprised by the social, political and military conducts of certain countries. Struggling with the questions and notions that Kino’s Journey presents, and eventually discovering my personal opinions on each country was an immense intellectual joy. Almost every episode presented me with new ideas to digest and ponder. The self-contained nature of the episodes meant I could enjoy each of them on its own. That in itself is an accomplishment few series can boast.

At its core Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World is a simple show. The animation, music and art style are passable. They might not be very impressive by today’s standards but are a big improvement over the 2003 Kino’s Journey anime adaptation. There are a few inconsistencies in the visuals (most disturbingly Kino’s eye color keeps changing) but nothing terribly out of place. The pacing of the new series is much better compared to the old series with 2017’s version being less melancholic, livelier and much more active. If I had to summarize it in one sentence I would say 2017’s anime is a more modern adaptation of Kino’s Journey.

As for the plot, it changes with each episode. As I wrote, each country presents each own allure as well as its own dangers. Most of the episodes are presented from Kino and Hermes’ point of view, and these tend to be the best ones. That said, a few episodes do center around other characters. There’s one excellent standalone episode about the mis-conceptual association between luck and happiness that features a girl called Photo. A couple of episodes portray Shizu, a man who has lost his country to anarchy and is now searching for a new place to live in together with a little girl he stumbled upon on his travels. Shizu’s episodes tend to be more simplistic and less impactful. A few episodes mention or outright show events that happened to Kino’s “master” and these tend to be flat-out bad. An episode in which Kino’s “master” exacts revenge on a country that unjustly prosecuted her gets the dubious honor of being the worst episode in the entire show.
As you can see not all of this series’ episodes were made equal, but the quality of the series as a whole is quite high and even at its lowest points Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World is still intelligent and entertaining nonetheless.

For those of you wondering if they should watch the old anime before viewing the new one – worry not. The 2017 series contains remastered versions of most of the old anime episodes and can be watched independently of it. However, some episodes from the old and new anime do intertwine. For example, episode 3 (Bothersome Country) of the new anime takes place prior to the first episode in the old anime and the old anime references it. This is made possible due to the fact that both anime stem from the same series of light novels. If you do find yourself enamored with Kino’s Journey you might want to check out 2003’s show as well, as a bonus. The new show covers Kino’s origin story only partially, which is a flaw that existed in the old anime as well but by all means should have been rectified in this release (Kino’s full origin story was previously available as a Japan-only movie that was bundled with one of the light novels).

Despite being mediocre audio-visually Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World is a unique thought-inducing anime. The series cunningly injects complex questions into simple stories. It encourages you to re-think your views on various political, social and psychological standards but also never fails to entertain on more basic levels. It rewards the viewer on multiple layers and is definitely one journey worth undertaking.


  • - Intelligent and thought-inducing
  • - Every episode is a self-contained adventure.


  • - Mediocre visuals and audio.
  • - Quality of episodes can be uneven.

Final Score: 9/10 (Amazing)

Product Information: Kino's Journey: The Beautiful World. Published by FUNimation Entertainment. Release Date: November 6, 2018.

Review Equipment: A Sony 42-Inch LCD HDTV connected to a PS4 using a ver. 1.4 HDMI cable.

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