I finished watching the 13 episodes of Kinou's Journey about 2 months ago, and since then I've been sitting on mixed feelings about the show. The dialog is too polite, too stiff, and there's too much of it. Books and films are most effective at showing not telling. Instead of centering around charactes and meaningful actions, Kinou's Journey tells all through dialog. You can really tell that the series was created from novels. The art and animation quality are on the low end of the scale; just enough to be pleasant to the eyes at times, holding you over until something cool happens possibly soon. But it never did.
Each episode is short and disconnected because Kinou, the main character, journeys around from place to place rarely staying in one location for longer than an episode. Kinou is a somewhat stoic character that lives by a set of rules with one of them being that she never stays in a place longer than 3 days. This rule puts a considerable restriction on the show's ability to craft larger story arcs and ideas. The result is a journey that's filled with trivial encounters; encounters that communicate ideas that are cold and aloof as if bemused or presented instead of lived. No matter what happens in the story, like Kinou, we're forced to leave it all behind, forgetting it and moving on to something potentially worth the small bit of time we have to give.
Kinou is a main character who is stuck between unsolidified and uncertain ideas. She's a girl with an ambiguous appearance, and she has the fighting prowess of a more combat oriented anime characters. On the other hand, she's a polite little girl with an odd attitude doing little more at times than asking people a lot of questions.
Despite all of these issues I have with Kinou's Journey, I found the series to be far more substantive, concise, and to the point with its ideas than many movies and tv shows, which is simply pathetic for those other shows. Believe it or not, there's an art and craft to storytelling in any medium. If you choose to ignore developing characters, respecting the setting, and binding the actions and events to space and time, then the best you can hope for is some interesting content.
Kinou's Journey is more of a show about pondering ideas than anything else. It doesn't have much of a story or a singular focus/point. For if episode to episode, your character can be anywhere, talk to anyone, and leave without strings attached or changing in some way, then your character is someone that I simplly cannot relate to. We, humans, are bound by space and time and because of that and the slow way we move through each, we are irrevocably attached to any and everything in our proximity. This is the basic substance that makes up what we think of as our lives. Understanding this is what creates the foundation of stories. It's something deeper, richer, and more complicated than arranging ideas side by side.
A list of my favorite episodes of the bunch.
- 02 "A Tale of Feeding Off Others -I Want to Live-"
"Hito o Kutta Hanashi" (人を喰った話)
- 03 "Land of Prophecies -We No The Future-"
"Yogen no Kuni" (予言の国09)
- 05 "Three Men Along the Rails -On the Rails-"
"Rēru no Ue no Sannin no Otoko" (レールの上の三人の男)
- 09 "Land of Books -Nothing Is Written!-"
"Hon no Kuni" (本の国)