We are almost at the end of our journey and this time we are stopping off at a country that many of you have been waiting for. That country is Kino’s home country, referred to in this episode as ‘The Country of Adults’. In this episode, we finally learn what spurred Kino to become a traveler, as well as the origin of her partner Hermes.
Japanese Title: 大人の国
A traveler named Kino makes a stop in a country where he befriends a young girl with a lot of questions. That girl is about to make her transition into adulthood, but her time with Kino opens her eyes to a new way of living life.
My first highlight that I will be writing about here is the background music… or lack of it. The majority of this episode has no music, and when it does, it is very quiet and not intruding. For a girl like Kino who loves to sing, it makes sense for the country which aims to deny her the choice to do what she loves to have little background music. It is only when she escapes the confines of the country that we fully hear music in the background. Often if an episode has no BGM, it would feel too somber, too incomplete. I believe that is EXACTLY what they were going for and it works so well.
Kino. Is. Daisuke Onoooooo~~~!!
If you were reading my Katsugeki Touken Ranbu reviews, you’ll remember my fangirling near the end of the series when it was revealed that Sakamoto Ryoma had Daisuke Ono’s voice! Although this casting is not quite on the level of awesomeness as Ryoma (Ryoma and OnoD are from the same prefecture), I was still super happy to hear the original Kino being voiced by one of my favorite voice actors ever. I loved the scene of him singing out of tune. I actually saw OnoD live in concert last weekend, so please take my word for it when I say his voice is not usually bad at all.
Is so cute!!
The girl with the purple hair
Apparently, Kino’s eye color is never specified in the novels, and her hair is just described as ‘black’. The illustrator of the novels (and the teaser visual to this anime too), Kohaku Kuroboshi, has depicted Kino with a variety of hair and eye colors to suit the illustration or scene. This anime has mostly depicted Kino with moss-like green hair and eyes, a color that makes me think of Kino’s military-like training as well as her closeness to nature. We have also seen her with bright blue eyes (such as in Episode 9). However, for this episode, Kino’s hair and eyes are a deep, dark purple. We’ll never know the specific meaning behind that color, but to me, I felt like the purple looked boring against the dull, slightly purple-tinted backgrounds of the Country of Adults. However, when she escaped the country the purple was stunningly beautiful. If she had green eyes they would have blended in with the grass. Blue eyes would have blended in with the sky. But the purple eyes were a unique color and a perfect choice. It wasn’t just her hair and eyes, but also her clothes which had a purple hue to them, making the scene of her (and Hermes lol, pick him up!) laying in the red flowers almost poster-worthy.
The shot of the church with the red light stuck with me, especially the closeup of our Kino. I don’t know why, but it disturbed me quite a lot.
My next highlight this episode is, for me, the most emotional shot of the whole series (but I could be weird).
When Kino names herself as such and Hermes says ‘it’s a great name!’, loli-Kino gives us a rare, full-on smile. It would be a really cute shot, but on her face is the blood of the original Kino- a man who sacrificed his own life to give her a new one. Later, when the older Kino is singing in the field, a red petal lands on her face in the same spot where her cheek was stained with the original Kino’s blood.
This may be a controversial opinion, but I’m glad that Country of Adults was broadcast after the previous episode, A Kind Country. In the light novels and the 2001 TV series, Country of Adults comes first and A Kind Country a while later. You have probably picked up on the similarities between Sakura and Kino already, and as I mentioned last week, Sakura in the first series was even voiced by Aoi Yuki (who plays 2017 Kino). Having A Kind Country come first means that you can more easily point out the similarities: ‘oh, Kino also had a flower-like name that she got bullied for.’, ‘oh, Kino’s parents also ran an inn that she was set to take over’. This means that in the novels and 2001 series, you may feel a bit more familiarity and empathy for Sakura, and therefore more disturbed by her fate.
However, I’m glad I learned about Kino’s past AFTER seeing Sakura’s story. Bear in mind that I have neither read the novels nor seen the 2001 series (other than A Kind Country), so this was the first time I learned about Kino’s origin. I knew last episode that there was going to be some similarities between the two girls, due to the nostalgia and subtle pain in Kino’s voice after Sakura mentioned the bullying she gets for her name. It was also hinted (not very subtly) that Kino was not originally called as such. This just made me more curious as to Kino’s past and how much in common she and Sakura have.
I think by having A Kind Country after knowing Kino’s past, it makes us feel more for Sakura. But by having A Country of Adults come afterward, it makes us feel more for Kino. I think both orders are fine, and they have a different effect. I personally am glad that I saw it in the order of the 2017 series.
I also must add that it’s very easy to make connections between Kino and Sakura. We shouldn’t forget. though, that there is a HUGE difference between the two. Sakura knew what she wanted to do with her life. She had so much passion for taking over the inn, and you could say she had found her calling. She loved her town and parents so much that she actually chose to stay with them until the end.
This is in stark contrast to Kino, whose place in life had already been chosen. She was being drugged in preparation for her surgery (which I assume is some kind of lobotomy) after which she would be ‘an adult’ and lose all freedom in her life. It took the life of one kind traveler for her eyes to open to a world of possibilities.
I can’t stop wondering what Kino was truly thinking when she saw Sakura so happy and content with her place in life.
I can’t say this enough… Aoi Yuki is unbelievably talented
Aoi Yuki is one of my favorite female voice actors. She’s been in the acting business since she was a young child and just continues to improve. She got her big break with her role as Madoka in Puella Magi Madoka Magica and I’m loving her current performance as Froppy in My Hero Academia (if you want an idea as to the range she can do). Her performance as Kino this season has also been absolutely superb, but this episode is a good 101 as to the wonders of Ao-Sama. You just need to listen to her singing in this episode. Of course, she has a nice voice, but she was able to sing as both a child Kino and an adolescent Kino. It really is difficult to pull this off, but it was nothing for the great Ao-Sama~!
Until Our Next Journey
RIP Kino. A true hero. He didn’t even hesitate to sacrifice himself for the young girl. I like to think that he had already non-verbally put his trust into Hermes to guide our Kino out of the country.
However, if the original Kino had NOT visited the Country of Adults, our Kino may not have ever questioned her future and therefore would have been ‘happy’ in the cult-like country after her surgery.
Urgh, just typing that makes me feel ill. I’m glad we have our current Kino.
NEXT TIME: Fields of Sheep (羊たちの草原)
Kino’s Journey The Beautiful World – The Animated Series