Kino no Tabi 06 “Are You Not Entertained?”

This time here is a land that is unambiguously evil. Well, the ruler is evil at least, described as “hedonistic” and is supported by its citizenry. How can a citizenry support a lifestyle completely devoted to entertainment? Who pays for it?

The majority of the payment is provided by a slave class living underneath the city in a complex of sewers. The only way for social promotion is to compete in a regular combat tournament, wherein the winner out of a wide field is not only granted citizenship, but also the privilege to write a rule in the state’s books.

In order to win these privileges, one must be willing to kill, as much as 5(?) times as one progresses through the brackets. What value does the killing provide? Entertainment of the citizenry. Now why do we find our Kino shooting at people in this tournament?

It’s because travelers are trapped and forced to participate in it, despite not having any desire to become a citizen. Now Kino is very capable of shooting her way out of being surrounded by guards. But she doesn’t! She actually takes interest in fighting in the tournament.

I personally find this somewhat out of character, and is something I feel that functions  more as a device to perform the following:

  1. A better way to present the particulars of the land’s culture (if Kino’s uninterested then we don’t get to see any of it)
  2. A means to show action and fighting amidst very contemplative episodes.

I think Kino no Tabi gives us, its audience as much credit as the citizens of this land. It doesn’t give us the credit that we can be thoroughly entertained without this kind of contrived violent spectacle. Of course I think Kino will retain her moral core. That’s not in doubt, but that fact that it says we need to see Kino in particular shoot at people to remain engaged is rather telling.

I can appreciate it. The thing is, I don’t watch this show for the action. I have Black Lagoon for that. And guess what!


How do you feel about this?

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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14 Responses to Kino no Tabi 06 “Are You Not Entertained?”

  1. Ryan says:

    It was a tense part of the series, which I don’t quite remember very well, but I know that the intensity of this tournament did give the story extra variation, whether needed or not.

    Action isn’t quite the feature, but maybe it has to be there to make the delivery… there was development for Kino, particularly about following this rule (or rules in general), but I never did “get” why she participated.

    • Yes, the thing about you being unable to remember something I feel is pretty significant (2 episodes!) can be pretty telling.

      Perhaps this is the show where action is the filler.

  2. gaguri says:

    I loved it, and I thought two episodes were necessary. She didn’t need to shoot the guards as a way out, since she knew she could just forfeit when the battle starts and get out of the country (which she planned to do in the first place). But then she starts sensing that the people who come to fight for citizenship aren’t that mindless and so she decides to stay for a while, and we got to see some different and interesting motivations and values behind their participation.

    My favourite part of this arc have to be the puppet play in the beginning of 2nd episode, very chilling, and served as an excellent point to open the episode.

    • I think I get you, though I’m nowhere as charmed.

      The animation is not very good at all which takes away from the experience, given that these fights are meant to be spectacles in the truest sense.

  3. Panther says:

    Lol the dog was the enigma in all this at the end of the 2-parter.

    Since I cannot remember these two episodes that well I will wait until the 2nd episode’s post before actually commenting. I do remember thinking that Kino wanted to join because she felt she had to execute what others could not do – in terms of her sense of justice and to bring the twisted folks back to actual normalcy.

    Of course, it could be that she was interested in finding out the country’s culture, and any possible history behind it, but at this point in time I was pretty certain she did not do it for that reason, especially after she saw the slums and the conditions of the citizenry before actually deciding to take part (if I am right in my recall).

    • Now I really find it interesting how anyone would be willing to get shot at, and actually shoot people in the spirit of immersion in the culture.

      It’s ridiculously risky in both safety an moral compromise.

      • kadian1364 says:

        Don’t you see this all the time in cinema? In cop thrillers or mafia stories, the mole goes into the bad guys territory and becomes one of them. Though not an exact analogy to this episode, those stories hinge on the audience believing these characters will put their lives on the line “in the spirit of immersion”.

        • Not the same at all. The mole is on a mission, Kino’s mission can afford to skip a country or two if it’s too “hot.” I find her decision to stay to have an arbitrariness that seems beyond her, as if she’s made to stay and not that she’s really into staying.

  4. kadian1364 says:

    I’m not sure how to take your reaction to this series. In the other post you said you’d better like it if Kino became engaged in the stories instead of distancing herself from the events happening in these disparate towns. Well here it is, she’s in the thick of the action (which does happen a few times throughout the series) and now you find displeasure in that idea?

    The way you’re coming at these episodes makes me think you’re desiring real-life communities and governments, despite acknowledging the parable-like qualities the series sets forth. Of course much of the show is inherently unrealistic with unbelievable settings character decisions, but I found its value was in the practice of making calm, unbiased observations even within these absurd situations, and of course, the delicious irony.

    • This wasn’t quite the thing I was looking for. It does sound like I’m complaining and maybe I am. Rest assured that I accept this show as meritorious — I finished it and wrote a post for every episode (while each ep was fresh in my mind).

      When I mentioned that particular request, I thought of it in terms of when Kino was face to face with someone imploring her for assistance. This episode seemed like a matter of whim, and for me it was rather surprising.

      Yes, I do indeed look for more out of the world-building than just countries to fit the lesson, for lack of a better word. It’s a concern that grew the more I saw out of the series but I talk about this in future posts and don’t wish to preempt what I say later. I do think at some point I let go of this expectation, but I think I went through more episodes before that happened.

      (If it’s not obvious yet, I wrote these episodic entries many months ago. I watched the show sporadically, over many months and would write an entry immediately after every ep; be that as it may, I generally am less interested in the rating side of criticism, on whether a show is good or not, but maybe it has to do with how good the show is exactly, putting a precise accounting of it — I’m still not sure)

      • kadian1364 says:

        To tie this up with the other comment thread above, if Kino identifies herself as a traveler, different from a tourist who might only care to visit the wondrous and extraordinary, but instead with a goal to understand the hearts of those living in disparate circumstances, it wouldn’t be going too far to interpret her “mission” is to see every country, no matter how great or terrible. Part 2 of this mini-arc shows that she had an idea of how bad this country was in the first place, but still decided to go out of her way to visit. She stays because that is what she does.

        In this discussion, I’m not interested in the ratings side of criticism either, but in differentiating what expectations we build in our own minds versus what expectations are reasonable with what a title presents us. Demanding from something what it has no intention of granting isn’t fair, but people like you and I do it anyway sometimes to the detriment of it (anime or otherwise).

        I think Kino’s Journey does a marvelous job of what it intends to do: present unnerving moral quandaries of the extremes and turning assumptions on their ears. I guess this is one of those series where I’m going to be at the very top of Pontifus’ “defend my opinion” chart. 🙂

        • :3

          I think my expectations are reasonable. Sure this work attempts to do what you claim: to present unnerving moral quandaries of the extremes and turning assumptions on their ears.

          However, it is also called “The Ugly and Beautiful World” — a world that is constructed to be explored and to be considered as beautiful in its complexity. This is where I find value in exploration as well. The moral quandary parts are the easy aspect of the job I think. The symmetry and proportion aspects of “beauty” isn’t.

          I don’t enjoy how things that are plainly observable to me can be explained away by the magic wand of intended irony. Taking the show seriously comes with a lot of expectations on my part because I do think it’s a kind of work that merits scrutiny.

          So from episode to episode I encounter things that don’t quite add up. Sometimes I get over it, sometimes In this case I had to wait for part 2.

          To sum, your claim isn’t mutually exclusive with the problems I sometimes see in the work. I can easily see how your claim works out and the show is indeed remarkable for this achievement, but for me, that’s not all there is to view in this show.

  5. Jack says:

    My first reaction upon watching these episodes was more akin to “why is there a shounen tournament arc in the middle of my parable?” rather than “these character motives are suspect.”

    Perhaps this is because I felt that Kino was in control of the situation and was sure to have an alternative plan if she needed to escape.

    Why did she participate? That’s a question whose answer seems to depend on how generously you read these episodes.

    You seem to have drawn the most negative possible reading of this episode, which seems well supported by your arguments but it’s just not something I had ever considered.

    • It’s all good. My intention in doing criticism for this show isn’t to change people’s minds in terms of their high regard for the show.

      That said, these are my impressions:

      1. The philosophical content: the moral quandaries and such, are on the “cute” side of the “big questions” pool of interesting philosophical interests.

      2. Perhaps, it is the use of dramatic irony that makes the content fall on the cute side of things in my mind. This cute business is NOT derogatory at all.

      3. I do think that the best method of communicating philosophical thought is through telling stories. In this regard I think Kino no Tabi is an extremely important work.

      I think the show can get a bit crude and hamfisted, but the intent is a good one. I wish to read the source material if there is a translation for it. Maybe it’s even less detailed then the animated adaptation — though the expository troubles the show has shouldn’t be a factor in prose.

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