ADV Films // 2003 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // May 20th, 2004
Destination is a state of mind.
Kino is a traveler fated to never spend more than three days at each stop. Accompanied by Hermes, a talking motorcycle with a soul, the worlds of the land are open books waiting to be discovered. (Here, worlds is used to describe a country or town Kino stops in, although it may have a less literal meaning, seeing as the land appears to have some magical properties.)
Kino's Journey is a different kind of anime, not overly cerebral, but ultimately serene in its expression. The stories are interesting, surprising, and thoughtful. Combined with its gorgeous, earthy animation, one feels a sense of rest or peace after each episode. Kino's Journey isn't just trying to entertain you -- it's trying to change the way you think, if only while the episode plays.
"Three Men along the Rails"
Kino meets three men during a cross-country hike along a railroad track. The first is polishing the track, the second is dismantling the polished track a day or so behind the first, and the third is building a brand new track a day or so behind the second. This is fable in top form -- a thoroughly enjoyable story.
"Coliseum Part I"
Kino visits a land where the populace is made to fight in a coliseum for the chance to be first-class citizens. Otherwise, they must live underground or in the sewers. Kino must decide whether to stay and fight or surrender and risk death in order to gain freedom.
"Coliseum Part II"
Of the contenders, Shizu stands out. He is apparently undefeatable, but has a sense of mercy that impresses Kino. Whether or not he is the ultimate victor remains to be seen.
Volume Two only has three episodes, but they go together nicely. The first is told in the style of a fable, with a similar payoff in a deeper message, "cleansing the palette," so to speak, for the intense "Coliseum" episodes that follow. There are many new characters in these episodes, as opposed to the smaller groups Kino met in previous adventures. I was particularly fascinated by the characters in "Coliseum" and would loved to have seen more backstory on each of the combatants involved.
This is one of the most flawless transfers I have seen in a while -- clear, bright, and beautiful. It really shows off the animation well. I am thinking, in particular, of a scene in which Kino is approaching gleaming railroad tracks. Normally, I might expect to see a little edge blurring in the fractals on a reflection or glint, but this was clean and crisp. Colors come through nicely and blend seamlessly, with no harsh blocking in gradient colors. Sound quality is also lively and clear in both the 2.0 Surround Japanese and 5.1 English soundtrack.
About the only bone of contention I have with Kino's Journey is the voice acting. It's a real "love it or hate it" deal. Kino has an ambiguous gender, and the voice has to match. I think the dub is done quite well; Hermes as voiced by Cynthia Martinez (whom you might know as Lina Inverse in Slayers) is spot-on, and (to me) just as effective as the original Japanese performance. However, fans are mixed on the dub performances, so you may want to listen to both versions and see which one you prefer.
I was disappointed that Volume Two had only three episodes and no new extras. Clean opening and closing animation, production sketches, and previews are all that is on the DVD. Still, I really enjoyed these episodes -- I can't decide which had me more enthralled, the story or the animation. It's definitely worth checking out if you liked Volume One.
Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)
* English (Signs Only)
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Production Sketches
* Clean Opening & Closing Animation
* ADV Previews
* Mini-Poster artwork insert
* Official Site
* Review of Volume One