Those who are about to die, the “gladiators,” for putting on what apparently was an unusually entertaining set of fights, was rewarded by the king. Now, how would a king reward those who were still about to die? What can he give that can properly compensate the value he was given in turn?
He decides to give them entertainment.
I just can’t let this go. It seems to say so much about we are, or at least I am as a consumer.
Even if I spend most of my money to cover the survival needs of my family. The actual rewards of work isn’t the actual accumulation of currency, but rather of time. Time spent with loved ones are particularly valuable. But outside this, how do I spend my time?
Entertaining myself, by virtue of pursuing my hobbies: tennis, watching sports, reading books and manga, watching films and anime, and making content published here on this blog. The list alone suggests not an insignificant time spent on entertainment.
This indicates that, despite the third world status of my country, our economy, I pretty much live a first-world consumer-driven lifestyle. My choice of entertainment and the resources required to acquire them may be different from someone who lives in the USA, GB, or Japan, but I and anyone like me from these places don’t have much of a fundamental difference between the citizens of Kino’s current destination.
The only difference is that while they actually enjoy live murder for the sake of gratuitous entertainment, we only like ours virtual or fictional.
Entertainment is serious business. In many anime-related blogs or sites we read and discuss the nature and state of the industry of our particular source of entertainment. It’s that serious to us.
This particular arc of Kino no Tabi suggests that we are particularly slaves to gratuitous entertainment. It gets the better of us. We watch shows to experience demonstrations of particular elements we like. We have a database for them; fetishes are rather commonplace in this medium.
Does Bakemonogatari work without the titillation? Or better yet, does the attempt at a clever monster story get in the way of the gratuitous fanservice? Why exactly do we watch Sengoku Basara? K-ON!!?
Since the cost of entertainment is death in the coliseum, the allegory as indulged implies that fanservice is meaningless. It does not enrich us. It does not make us grow in intellect nor in wisdom. Is there a value judgment here? Maybe there is.
The play the king offers to the gladiators is interesting in itself. It references Shakespeare, with its “The stage is a world and the world in turn is a stage” nod to As You Like It. How does the narrator of the play entice the viewers? A list of ‘database’ elements:
- Star-crossed lovers
- Dazzling romance
- (and of course,) Cruel death
The thing is, Kino no Tabi isn’t so disingenuous as to make the whole episode (or arc, for that matter) about this perhaps damning allegory. The gladiators don’t finish the performance, making their excuses.
Kino fights in the tournament and wins predictably, but this isn’t to say the outcome wasn’t surprising:
- Kino murders the king.
- Kino adds the rule she is privileged to: Without harming the slaves, and without fleeing the land, the only way to decide the new king is for the first class citizens to fight it out.
Kino is coooooold. Ruthless cold.
I don’t even know what to make of this. It’s one thing for Kino to kill the slavers in ep 02 as she was defending herself. But to legislate something that will cause legalized murder on a large scale – to say nothing of cold-blooded regicide… sure they were bad people, but Kino in this episode became more vigilante and less traveler.
This isn’t my favorite arc in this show.