Tama-Neko's Kino no Tabi Tv Review

Kino no Tabi

Kino no Tabi tv Review

Kino no Tabi (Kino's Travels, Kino's Journey) follows two travelers, the human Kino and the motorrad (a type of motorcycle) Hermes. Each episode (except for the two Coliseum episodes) takes you to a different country (often more than one) where the two experience life in a different place, surrounded by different cultures and ideologies. Like the viewer, Kino is an observer and rarely passes judgement on the people or places she meets, but the situations are often compelling (or disturbing) enough to possibly change ones' world view.

Kino no Tabi originally started out as a novel series (currently 13 books) before being made into an anime (13 episode TV series, preceeded by 1 OVA short for promotional purposes) Later, based on the popularity of the novels in Japan, two 30-minute movies were produced.

Story & Characters

"The world is not beautiful - therefore it is".
These are the sentiments of Kino, a human traveler, and Hermes, a talking motorrad (motorcycle). Together, these two journey to different countries and experience the life, the people, and the cultures in each. After 3 days, they pack up their bags and set out on the road again, to find the next story.
Kino no Tabi is told in a series of short stories; each episode contains a story about a country (ocassionally more than one story per episode, or in the case of Coliseum, takes 2 episodes for the full story) and the pieces don't fit together except for the loose string that binds them together - the journeys of a human and motorrad. The episodic nature means each episode wraps up what it begins and does not leave you hanging, and allows the viewer to digest the series in small chunks or all at once, if they prefer.
Kino no Tabi is at times a very dark series, and unflinching in telling the stories of human nature, whether they be good or bad. It's not focused on action, or drama, or even character interactions. Instead, it uses the medium of following the two travelers to explore humanity at its best, at its worst, and the full spectrum in between. It's certainly not a show for everyone, but if you want your anime to challenge your way of thinking, this is a good show to watch.

Rating: 9


The art for Kino is simple and clean. It's certainly not very flashy compared to a lot of series which employ lots of 3d effects. The tone of the show is achieved with a somber set of greys and browns. The emphasis is not on the art, but the people and countries that Kino visits. The backgrounds are subdued, and just detailed enough to give you a beautiful panorama without having your attention drawn away from the main story. In effect, the art sets the stage, and that is all. Unfortunately, in the DVD release there are scanlines, which may or may not show up on your screen (I can see them if I play the DVD on my computer, but didn't notice them when I watched it on my roommate's DVD player/TV.) They're annoying, but you tend to get used to it after a while.

Rating: 7


Like the art, the sound is subdued, effective in its presentation but ultimately just another piece of the setting. There are some differences in the Japanese language compared to the English language by ADV - in several scenes in the ADV dub, dialogue is dropped. Still, they're not really important bits of dialogue (mostly involving Riku, the dog, talking to Shizu, and some inane babbling of Hermes). The dub does a good job in preserving Kino's disconnect and impassivity, although it makes her sound more feminine than the Japanese version's more androgynous voice. Hermes is presented differently in both versions; in Japanese he sounds like a naiive young boy, always questioning Kino (and getting terms mixed up) but in English, sounds more like a mature young man of the same thought patterns as Kino.
The music is penned by Ryo Sakai (Ayashi no Ceres) and carries a soft, often European-styled tone that is reminiscent of the Haibane Renmei soundtrack. The opening (All the Way by Mikumi Shimokawa) is rather peppy compared to the tone of the series, while the ending (The Beautiful World by Ai Maeda) is more somber and introspective.
Unfortunately, there is no soundtrack released for this series, apart from several songs from the disc included with the Visual Book, "Their Memories - Kioku no Kuni".

Rating: 8


Kino no Tabi is different from your average anime series, and certainly won't please everyone. The variety of stories it presents from the various countries Kino and Hermes visits are at times cliche, at times highly disturbing, or at times rather bizarre. There are a few moments of humor, but they're more in the realm of satire than "haha funny" comedy. Also, some of the concepts are mature in nature and this definately isn't a kiddie show. However, the sum of the parts is far greater than if each element was taken separately. A single episode taken alone may not be original, but if you take the series as a whole, it's certainly quite different from what's been done before. It may not be the most rewatchable show (some of the episodes can be rather draining) but the stories are sure to remain in your mind for a long time after you watch it. Kino is a show that makes you think, something few shows, animated or otherwise, is able to do.
If you want your anime to make you think, I would suggest giving this show a try. At 13 episodes, and episodic episodes at that, you can try just a few to see if its too your liking before delving into the entire series.

Rating: 9

Final Verdict

8.50 (very good)

Reviewed by Tama-Neko, Oct 11, 2004


  1. Cloudnine Oct 14, 2004

    Excellent review ^^ Most people I've introduced KnT to loved it so far, not only because of it's beautifully woven short stories, but because of it's refreshing take on a slowing dying breed of mature anime. Please write more reviews when you find the time ^^

  2. kino Oct 16, 2004

    i love kino no tabi for its simplicity. the stories is very intriguing and always interesting!! i only wish that there is more tho. And also i also wish i can read japanese ;_; i wanna read the novelssssss XD

  3. GaiJiN Oct 17, 2004

    Yes, great and original anime and you did the best review I've seen so far. Everyone who is bored from all this fanservice and wants to see something interesting should go watch it !

  4. ericcarson Oct 22, 2004

    I found it an incredible series. I picked up all 4 DVD's at the PX without realising i had bought the entire series. In actuality the anime, by its very nature of not having a distinct storyline, gave me absouletly no warning that i was watching the last episode. Only during the last few minutes when the diolouge gets extremly philosophical, and you get that "story is ending" feeling did i realise. It would not be an effort tro simply contunue churning out more episodes, since the series forshadowed heavily on Kino's past, the story is not really resolved especially about the "Master" charecter you encounter later in the series. But overall this series is one of the best i have watched, due to both the excelent presentation, and the fact that it follows more like a book than a TV series.

  5. Tama-Neko Oct 23, 2004

    Just as a followup to this review; there is a Kino no Tabi movie. A 30 minute clip of it was shown at the Japanese Entertainment Festival (Entama) and it follows a story from novel 7 called "Life Goes on" which takes place when Kino is still in training with the Master. The full movie will see a release sometime in early 2005.

  6. Terra-chan Nov 15, 2004

    I've only seen the first disc, but a comment on the dub... Both Hermes and Kino are voice-acted by women. Kino's voice actress I had heard before in "Steel Angel Kurumi" as a boy, and when I'd first listened, I'd have never been able to guess that it wasn't a preteen boy. She has a very androgynous voice and if I haven't learned she was a girl from the Kurumi DVD extras, I might still be a little baffled.

    As for the voice of Hermes, I know her best as an 'androgynous troll' from Orphen. She's extrememly whiny and quite different from the japanese version I admit... but maybe you're talking more about the actual dialogue between the two of them?

  7. jaalin Dec 25, 2004

    excellent review - you keyed in on the important aspects very well, most noteably the focus on the somber tone, and especially this line: "unflinching in telling the stories of human nature, whether they be good or bad". the part about kino no tabi as a whole package is crucial to the anime, which you effectively pointed out.

    overall, a great review by someone who understood the show, and conveyed that knowledge efficiently to text. appreciate it!

    looking forward to the movie.

  8. rinikittybabe Feb 23, 2005

    Wonderful review. Heehee I just hooked one of my friends on kino no tabi! By the way if you love the music as much as me they play it sometimes on hoic.hk.st You can also search for it by clicking on the button on the far bottem right and it's on the second page. Anyways if you get any more news about the movie please tell me! I hope it comes out in America! See ya!

  9. Aa-chan Apr 20, 2005

    I know it's been a while, but was having a look after I read something you said about loving this anime and thought I'd try and find out what it is. I think I'll be getting hold of this anime now ^^ .

    Great review and managaed to fully inform me.

  10. flyindreams Jul 22, 2005

    I've been hooked on Kino walls and art... so wanted to read up a review that would tell me about the series. It sounds like a very interesting series... not too long either! I think I'll have to give it a try. As everyone said, this is a wonderfully detailed review~ one of the best that I've read. Thanks for sharing your insights *^-^*

  11. AvariSky Feb 15, 2006

    I definitly think that Kino no Tabi is one of those understated shows and should deserve to be recognize in comparsion to being overrun by many other animes =.= which i think are just overadvertised.

    The story and theme of the anime is very original, but what attracted me to it is the artwork. I loved how it is drawn so simplistic and clean and the setting is just breathtaking! The seiyuus did an absolute great job of protraying both Kino and Hermes' character, but i havn't heard of the dubbed version yet, though i am not planning to watch an english version of this anime anytime soon. =\

    Btw, I saw both the movie and the episode 0, it is just great, too bad there isnt any more episodes, I would loved to watch more segments of Kino's travel. ^.-

  12. nainoi Sep 26, 2009

    Thank you for review.

  13. Klappy Jan 08, 2011

    A wonderfully detailed review. I do agree of your sentiments: Kino no Tabi is definitely not your average anime. Thank you for such an excellent review.

    merged: 01-08-2011 ~ 02:57pm
    A wonderfully detailed review. I do agree of your sentiments: Kino no Tabi is definitely not your average anime. Thank you for such an excellent review.

  14. back07 Jan 26, 2014

    good review, i want to try to watch it

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