Kino no Tabi – 06

This week is spent “up in the clouds” and barely involves Kino at all—she and Hermes only bookend the episode. In their stead, we get a lovely, beautiful, and heartwrenching semi-allegorical tale up in the mountains involving a new character, an orphan girl (voiced by Minase Inori, who is everywhere), sold into servitude, constantly treated like crap by her merchant owners, adult and child alike.

The episode wastes no time portraying those owners as a complete waste of life; they never let off the gas pedal of abuse, both verbal and physical, and the girl just…takes it all. They ask if she hates them, and she says she doesn’t. She doesn’t hate, resent, or wish harm on anyone; to do so would be a sin. They mock her piety, believing only humans who act inhuman survive in this ugly world.

Of course, part of the title of this show is The Beautiful World, with the understanding that the world is beautiful because it isn’t…but the mountaintop environs are ironically utterly gorgeous. If only the girl had better company.

She realizes too late that the herbs she picked and added to the soup for dinner were poisonous, and all attempts to warn her owners fall on deaf ears. She steels herself to drink the soup and die with them rather than live as a murderer (however unintentional), but a boy seals his fate by knocking her bowl out of her hands; she’s later hit with a rock and knocked out.

When she wakes up, the merchants are still alive, and the boy has convinced his father to sell him the girl so he can take his time killing her in order to “become a man”, which is what we’d call overkill. What the hell is this kid, the Devil’s Spawn? In any case, the poison kicks in and they all die before the girl’s eyes.

The only survivor is the man who told his younger colleague, essentially, that the girl being a slave while they’re free comes down to luck; “there but for the grace of God go I” kinda deal.

He believes that until his death, which is semi-self-inflicted, as he pretends to instruct the girl on how to use his rifle to kill herself, but fixes it so she shoots him instead. Before he dies, he unchains her, and with his last breath, tells her to live her life; she’ll understand someday why things happened this way.

To the girl’s shock, there’s a voice coming from one of the wagons. It’s a talking motorrad (in the form of an adorable Honda Motocompo) who has been listening to everything going on, and congratulates the girl on her freedom.

The girl still wants to die, but in the same vein as the last man to die, the motorrad tells her the only way to die is to live life. No one knows how or when death will come, but it comes for everyone. The circumstances that led to the girl’s current position shouldn’t be considered grounds for immediate death. Indeed, it was clearly her fate to survive, escape the shackles of bondage, and strike out on her own. Why else would she meet a talking motorrad immediately after her last captor died?

We see Kino and Hermes arriving at the camp where the bodies of the merchants remain; not much time has passed since the girl and the motorrad left. But as the credits roll we learn what became of her: she was accepted as an immigrant in a new country after telling them her story, took up photography, and became successful and esteemed.

She took on the name Photo, and kept her first friend, the motorrad whose name is Sou, close by the whole time. Sou believes she’s happy. She certainly looks content. I wonder if she’ll ever meet Kino…

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Maoyuu Maou Yuusha – 02

Maou decides to begin agricultural experiments and education in a small village. Yuusha meets Maou’s longtime Head Maid. One night two serfs – sisters – break into the stables. The Maid is ready to turn them in, but Maou and Yuusha let them spend the night, and the maid eventually offers them jobs as maids. Maou begins enriching the land and educating the village youth, the first small step in her and Yuusha’s crusade.

Whenever characters have such well-defined traits and limitations – be it a queen, hero, maid or serf – there’s the risk of them becoming mere allegories in service of the plot, at the cost of emotional connection to them. Indeed, every character here is a manifestation of an idea/worldview first and foremost. The Maid is cold, logical, and unyielding, but tempered by her master’s authority. While she may sound cruel in making no distinction between serfs, slaves, and insects, she knows no other way to express these concepts. Her role doesn’t require her to distinguish between insects and humans who can’t or won’t determine their own fate.

But there’s something very weird and cool going on here: despite the characters being such strong archetypes, the sense of order that ensues is comforting and reliable. And Maou and Yuusha remain a cute, warm, and surprisingly witty couple; even if Yuusha doesn’t seem to be doing much yet, it’s clear just his being with Maou lends her emotional and moral support. We like how she gets into the nitty-gritty of agriculture and illustrates just how much careful, intricate preparation will be required to achieve their ultimate goal of peace.

On top of all that work, Yuusha isn’t even sure what peace is and where his place will be in that peace, other than by Maou’s side. After all, who needs heroes in a perfectly resolved world with no enemies to defeat or battles to win?


Rating: 8 (Great)