Case Number 04623: Small Claims Court


ADV Films // 2003 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // June 17th, 2004

The Charge

Destination is a state of mind.

The Case

Kino is a traveler. In the world of Kino's Journey travelers are rare and noted for their independence and worldly knowledge. Most of the people in the countries Kino travels (here, "country" is roughly equivalent to different towns or villages separated by huge distances) are homebodies who don't go outside their borders much. Kino spends no more than three days at each destination; any longer, and "things could get complicated."

Kino travels with Hermes, a motorcycle with a soul that is called a motorrad by the people in Kino's world. Hermes can talk and keeps Kino company. In addition, other magical creatures and lands appear from time to time, such as a talking dog and a country that can alter its borders and points of entrance and egress. It's a beautiful world, and Kino is determined to see as much of it as possible.

Kino's Journey is a different kind of anime. Kino is like a branch borne on the river and will go wherever the current goes to see whatever is in store. There doesn't seem to be a pattern to Kino's movements or to the stories presented. Each episode encapsulates a new three-day experience for Kino and Hermes, and they are generally thoughtful and contemplative, never rushing the action and always surprising the viewer with a new emotional element.

Some have called Kino's Journey cerebral, but I disagree. "Cerebral" usually means a complicated plot or some sort of deep thinking or analysis, but Kino is the ultimate blank slate, someone who is merely an observer of life and who doesn't try to force a certain ideology or state of being. The stories are presented simply, and usually to evoke an emotional response. The series does change the way you think, but not by giving you a new set of rules; rather, it encourages you to make up your own.

"Land of Wizards"

Told from the point of view of one of the people in the country Kino and Hermes visit, this adventurous tale about an inventor who has the crazy idea that man can fly puts a new twist on an old idea.

"Land of Books"

Kino visits a country where censorship of reading material is decided by a committee, and he decides to help the resistance movement that has started there.

"A Tale of Mechanical Dolls"

Kino is trying to locate a country that has advanced technology in order to fix a speedometer for Hermes. What they find is a house in a remote part of the woods and a family that is more than meets the eye.

The episodes on this third volume are all over the map stylewise. Episode one is more action oriented than most, a little more tense than the usually peaceful pacing. The second episode isn't as strong as the other installments in this series, and stands out because of it, but it does have an intriguing story-within-a-story that I'm curious to see more about later. Episode three makes up for the lull with a delightful and bittersweet story that ends the volume well.

Video transfer for Kino's Journey is very crisp and clear, showing off the ethereal animation very well. Colors are bright and bold, and they blend together nicely on screen. The image has a sort of gauzy look that is not at all due to a softness in the image. It's like the same thing you see when waking up to a bright summer day just after a rain. Sound quality is also lively and clear in both the 2.0 Surround Japanese and 5.1 English soundtrack.

Fans are divided regarding the English dub for this series. Personally, I think it's quite appropriate, and I enjoy the performances. ADV chose to go with a slightly different style for Hermes and the other anthropomorphized machinery in the series by giving them slightly echoey, mechanical voices, and Hermes has a distinctive, throaty voice (done superbly by Cynthia Martinez, who also does the voice for Lina Inverse in the Slayers original animation videos). Although they are not the same as the Japanese voice performances, I think both Kino and Hermes work well in the English dub, but it might be worth giving both a listen to see which is preferred.

No new extras for volume three, and only three episodes again; looks like this is going to be a pattern for the rest of the volumes. Of course, it does ensure a gorgeous image, but I would like to see some additional production material and especially an interview with the creators of the animated series. For those who enjoy the mood Kino's Journey creates, it would be nice to see a little bit more behind-the-scenes material.

Review content copyright © 2004 Sandra Dozier; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Japanese)

* English
* English (Signs Only)

Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Production Sketches
* Clean Opening and Closing Animation
* ADV Previews

* Official Site