Kino no Tabi 12: Unanswered Questions, & the Sky Crawlers

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I wish I did things like this earlier. Kino’s introspections with Hermes read like emotive tumblr posts. More than the events depicted in the remarkable second episode, the events she witnesses and experiences in Veldelval makes her unsure, about everything.

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In the end she is resolved to continue traveling. But what happened there that made her feel so strongly? Veldelval is a peaceful nation, where a curator of a history museum represented its political and moral spirit. She told Kino,

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Veldelval and Relsumia have been at war for 200 years, leading to uncountable deaths and material losses. 15 years ago they devised a method to resolve their conflicts as well as vent the feelings of competitiveness, hostility and cruelty… that differences in culture, race, religion and customs between neighboring states can only intensify.

They resolved it by reducing their conflict into a sanctioned competition. Their armies would go into a Tatatan village (an assumed neutral country along their common border) and massacre the inhabitants. The army with a higher kill count wins the “war.”

Kino thinks this is obviously unfair to the Tatatans, and shares this with the Veldelvalian history museum curator as she was about to move on. I will get into her meaty response later in the post.

Having left Veldelval Kino and Hermes pass through Tatata where she was surrounded with a mob bearing pitchforks and hoes. The crowd tells her that they crave revenge on the Velvelvalians and the Relsumians so much, but cannot possibly win against them, that to torture and kill anyone will do. So she must go with them to die.

They rush at her with their farming implements and Kino shoots down one of them, which was enough to disperse the mob. If they had a little more resolve they would have overwhelmed Kino and Hermes. Thus we find Kino in her pensive and melancholic mood.

In episode 08 we see the birth of powered human flight in Kino’s “Beautiful World.” The current episode and the memory of episode 08 made me think of Oshii Mamoru’s fim Sky Crawlers wherein the Veldleval-Relsumia war is played out with a very different set of Tatatans.

In Sky Crawlers, the combatants are “recylcled” aircraft pilots called Kildren. They are young soldiers who died in the now-defunct wars between the conflicting polities. Their “souls” and genetic markers including skills, abilities, habits, and some memories are installed in each new pilot that replaces the ones killed in the aerial war that pretty much serves as entertainment, though vicariously allowing the citizens to vent their feelings of competitiveness, hostility, and cruelty.

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What’s interesting is how the film is told from the perspective of the “Tatatans.” How is it to be such a disposable and yet so valuable soldier? How do things change when such a being brings a child into their world?

I the BBC series Jekyll, I am provoked by the assertion that the root of the murder instinct is love. A mother becomes capable of the desire to kill upon the birth of her child. It sounded very persuasive to me then, and more so now.

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Veldelvia’s Museum of History curator justified their version of war because the cost of war can never be their children. While it is easy to be revolted by the cost they inflict on the Tatatans, she actually says, and I am confident in her sincerity, that she is willing to replace it with a better model, a better system, if Kino had such an idea.

This is one of many unanswered questions, as this work continues to remain disinterested in answering the questions it raises. Sky Crawlers doesn’t quite answer it, as the Kildren are not necessarily better off than the Tatatans – who may outwardly crave for revenge, but behind it all is just a desire to live and progress in peace.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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4 Responses to Kino no Tabi 12: Unanswered Questions, & the Sky Crawlers

  1. ToastCrust says:

    That quality is definitely one of the more distinctive aspects of Kino no Tabi, that seems to just engulf it throughout.

    It’s only ever interested in posing a question, never answering it, so far as I can remember.

    It enjoys reposturing ideas and events in alternative or lateral ways, usually using stories that are fairly basic philosophy ones in general, but it never actually Aesops about them, perhaps because the author never felt qualified to give one, or perhaps he’s satisfied just demonstrating the idea and has no interest in promoting an ideology.

    Ultimately, Kino’s interaction with most of her philosophical and ethical issues are at the intimacy an academic would experience–distant. Just as the perspective of the Kildren is very humanizing, evoking more of a response via pathos, the inverse of an cold, uninvested outsider’s perspective is equally dehumanizing and encourages a strictly logos interpretation of the situation.

    Perhaps that’s no coincidence. Though with that said, the author of Kino no Tabi is always kinda suspect, since he also did do joke spin offs of Kino being some buruma schoolgirl mahou shoujo….

    • I don’t really know the author and I seldom ever go into biographical readings and/or authorial intention… as I’ve mostly nothing to go by.

      I somehow think that ideology is inescapable. In this work, the ideology is that of appreciation and an aesthetic to base it off on. That appreciation is to experience as much as possible, commit to very little, but if one has to interfere — be ruthless about it. The aesthetic foundation of this, is an amoral sense of beauty… amoral that it takes ugly (evil) as part of and basis of beauty.

      On the other hand, this tolerance of suffering can be also read as evil.

  2. Yi says:

    I don’t mind that it doesn’t resolve it’s questions. It just makes the anime that much more authentic in the themes/ questions it raises. After all, certain things just don’t have a right answer. It makes the anime powerfully poetic and profound.

    • It’s not a tremendous complaint, when I really think about it. However I do feel that it could have done more. Since I wouldn’t know how to go about it I’d just dismiss this feeling, but it is a pervasive one.

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