Review: Kino no Tabi (Vol 3)

(art by Kouhaku Kuroboshi)

(art by Kouhaku Kuroboshi)

For general information on this series: Kino’s Journey entry

(Note: This site’s central focus is on light novels officially translated and published in English, but at times I will post reviews for stories that have only been translated by fans. Please support the Japanese books that don’t get English releases.)

Volume 3

Volume 3

Kino’s Journey is filled with wonderful stories, and I feel my appreciation for them only grows with each passing volume. Whenever I am in the mood for something different from the norm–a breath of fresh air for light novels and for fiction in general–I can easily turn to one of Keiichi Sigsawa’s volumes of thoughtful and thematic vignettes. If people start going off about all light novels being the same (be it in reference to magic school harems, video game world escapades, or Narnia-style fantasy misadventures), I feel they can be directed to something like Kino’s Journey to enjoy something that’s a little different, but still a light and easy read.

I believe only one story in this volume made it into the anime, and from this point on the vast majority of material in the light novel series has yet to receive any kind of adaptation. Here are my brief thoughts on the stories of volume three:

  • A Land of Love and Peace — a brief story for Shizu and his dog Riku, in a city that protects its people from invaders via a “song of love and peace”
  • A Land Without Borders — in which Kino and Hermes meet a group of nomads with some troubling practices; a great example of the author’s specialized “gut punch” ending
  • Power of Persuasion — a flashback for Kino learning self-defense from an old woman
  • The Land of Identical Faces — Kino ends up in a city populated entirely by clones of two individuals; this story didn’t click with me as much, but it’s still an interesting concept
  • A Tale of a Mechanical Doll (ep 10 of the anime) — Kino meets an old woman living in the middle of the forest, but it quickly becomes apparent she is hiding something from Kino; I really like how this story plays out, as every single plot element fits together just right
  • A Land Not Permitting Discrimination — as the title implies, this city will NOT tolerate anything that its citizens deem offensive; I got a really good laugh from this story (I think everyone on the internet ought to give this one a read, ha ha) — but what starts off as an exercise in absurdity eventually turns more somber, and in the end this might be my favorite story of the volume
  • A Finished Tale — this story follows a pirate hopeful named Inid, and what becomes of her ten years after an encounter with Kino; a rather cute story for Kino’s Journey actually

Overall it’s a really nice volume, so I’ll highly recommend it to everyone interested in this series. Of particular note, much more than the first two books, I feel that this volume does a fantastic job of showing through its dialogue the kind of person Kino is.

First, an exchange during “A Land Without Borders”:

  • Hermes: I bet they’ll be your friends if you ask.
  • Kino: No, I’ll pass. I doubt I’d fit in either.
  • Hermes: Well, where would you fit in?
  • Kino: Is that something… I should look for?

And secondly, from “A Tale of a Mechanical Doll”:

“Don’t you have someone you truly need from the bottom of your heart?” asked a monotonous voice.
“Right now, there’s no one. Well, except for myself.”
“No way! Not having a person important to you, isn’t that sad? Isn’t that sort of life empty? Humans have to be together with someone. Humans have to live for somebody. If not, wouldn’t that be really painful?”
Kino shook her head. “It depends,” answered a monotonous voice.

All of this really helps give Kino’s Journey its unique tone. And regarding the type of person Kino is–namely her role as an observer rather than a heroic figure out to save the day–I feel like that could warrant a post in and of itself? I will probably want to read more volumes first.

Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended

2 responses to “Review: Kino no Tabi (Vol 3)

  1. OMG Thanks for reminding me of this series! I loved the anime back then. Heard they discontinued the first volume of the book, now I’m stoked about reading this! Thanks!

    • There’s a lot of volumes fan translated at this point, fortunately!
      I also really enjoyed the anime, and wouldn’t mind seeing another season get made one day.

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