[Readers Request] Kino’s Journey (2003) – Episode 4
I am very impressed with episode 4 of this show, it really caused an effect on me as a member of the audience and it changes how I perceive the show now as well as Kino as a character.
In this episode we get a view of the past of these two characters, Hermes and Kino. The episode starts in a field of flowers with Kino singing a nice song. Then we get a flashback from when she was a child and she met this traveling man whose name was Kino. She admits that she doesn’t remember her old name anymore, though she knows it was a flower’s name and that it became a source of shame as other people would make fun of her because of it.
So this girl is sitting on the street and a gentle-looking man walks up to her, introduces himself as Kino and then asks about an inn. As fate would have it, her family runs an in, so she takes him there. He plans to stay for 2 nights and leave on the third day. Kino is grateful to the girl and talks to her some. The next day he works on a motorbike he got for free. He wants to buy some parts so he asks the girl to take him to a part shop.
As they walk, they talk and Kino, the male traveler, comments on how happy everyone looks doing their job. This causes the girl to ask what Kino does for a living. She comments that since he likes traveling, that cannot be his job as working is doing stuff you don’t like to do. Kino is surprised by this and repeats that everyone here seems to smile while working, which would be in conflict with what he just learned.
This is when we learn the dark side of this country where the girl lives. In this country turning 12 years old separates the children from the adults. The day you turn 12 you become an adult and you have to work. In order to overcome the problem of having to do things you don’t necessarily want to, every child goes through an operation that ‘removes the child in them’ (they don’t really explain it further) and afterwards they can do their job as an adult with a smile on their face.
What a terrifying place! Kino is flabbergasted. He can’t believe that children have to go through this kind of situation or that the condition of ‘adult’ in this country is so strict. He tells the girl that he’s not a child, but he’s not that kind of adult either.
These conversations are thought-provoking for the child and during a moment of curiosity she asks her parents what would happen if she didn’t get the operation. This question has terrible consequences as the whole town turns in on her. Eventually she is deemed a failure and attacked, but Kino gets in the way and he is killed. This was a interesting death because in many ways it was very devoid of feelings. It was called ‘an accident’ and as the girl is about to be attacked again, the motorbike talks to her and they escape.
They stop at a flower field that looks very much like the one at the beginning of the episode where female Kino is singing. Hermes says something to the little girl and she remembers Kino out loud which causes the motorbike to call her Kino. She takes on the name then and calls him Hermes. It’s a really profound story of a new beginning for the name ‘Kino’ and for the little girl who took on this identity. She has now become a traveler and follows rules.
Overall I really enjoyed this episode and the significance of taking over someone else’s role after they have influenced you and shared their live philosophy with you and it resonates with your identity. The previous Kino said a line about birds that Kino said in the first episode and it was a nice touch to see how deeply she was inspired and influenced.
Now I am pretty curious about who the ‘master’ that Hermes has mentioned before is though. I hope they will talk about that at some point.