Review: Kino no Tabi (Vol 4)

(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 4

Volume 4

Kino’s Journey is nice in that you can pick up a volume, and it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you last read anything in the series. Each story stands on its own, and the vast majority of them are satisfying to read. And in the off-chance that there’s a story you don’t care for, it never takes long to get to the next one.

Here are my thoughts on the stories of this volume:

  • ××××× Solo — a very short story; a simple yet poignant exchange between Kino and a young child
  • Land of Couples — in which Kino and Hermes arrive in a country where spousal abuse is both legal and tolerated; both the subject matter and the turn of events at the end were a bit surprising to me
  • Tradition Tricksters — a short but fun story about a country where everyone wears cat ears… I’m glad Kino’s Journey has sillier stories like this from time to time
  • A Land without the Need for Work — Kino recounted the story of this country in ep 5 of the anime, but here we see her time there so it’s fleshed out more; a rather blatant critique on the banality and uselessness of modern-day work
  • A Land Divided — in which the author takes on the topic of whaling; another one of those stories where you can see where the story’s going, but it still leaves a strong impact
  • Grapes — another short story, this one an exchange between Kino and a man who harshly criticizes her lifestyle
  • Land of Acknowledgement — about a country that has the tradition of voting which people are not useless enough to be killed off every year, but so long as everyone gets a vote then nobody is executed… I’ll leave it to you to read how things go while Kino and Hermes are there
  • A Tale of Extortion — in which Shizu plays the role of all the defenders in Seven Samurai for a village plagued by bandits; this story is a nice change of pace, giving us a different protagonist and a more action-packed plot; the “twist” at the end is classic Kino’s Journey fare
  • Land with a Bridge — traveling a desolate desert, Kino and Hermes find an ocean and a magnificent bridge, the history of which is etched in the handrails; I feel this is ground the series has tread before
  • The Tower Country — a country that continually builds a tower so tall, there’s no way it won’t come crashing down eventually… You know how this will go, right?

The general theme of this volume–or at least, what came to mind the most for me–was the question of what is the best use of our lives. How should an individual live? What do we consider to be a life of great accomplishment? Does it really matter to achieve a life of great accomplishment? Kino’s Journey continues to be the perfect “food for thought” light novel series.

Cho’s Rating: Strongly Recommended

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