Kino no Tabi -the Beautiful World- the Animated Series (Episode 4)
Since mass combat rolls didn’t need me, a ground pounder, while starfighters and starships in orbit are doing things, I decided to watch (with lowered volume) to watch Kino no Tabi’s fourth episode. This writeup was then delayed for a few days. Thank Goodness I don’t have a predetermined release schedule.
In the beginning, Shizu and Riku come across the landing party of the Ship Country. Trading with the people of a nearby country, Shizu makes up his mind to travel across the ocean. Entering the ship, he is greeted by the Tower Clan, the rulers of the ship. Given two choices, to stay with the Clan and be an enforcer, or stay with the People and work with them, Shizu chooses the latter. This surprises the Tower Clan but he explains it befits a humble man such as himself.
Making his way to the lower levels, signs of disrepair run rampant, but he is greeted with awe and curiosity. He gets to talk with the populace’s elder, and partakes in their food. The Elder explains he is the first traveler who had decided the join him in all his 55 years, which worries Shizu. He then gets a guide, a girl named Tifana, whom they call Ti. Ti would lead him to their room for the night, and the two say their good nights, Shizu wonders if there is a country in which they can settle down in in the next continent.
The next day, Ti shows them around, though Riku wonders why someone who couldn’t talk is their guide. Ti leads them around fish farms where the people fish for food, markets, a school, and other places around the ship. The next day, Shizu asks if there is any work to be done, but Ti just shakes her head. The days pass with Shizu just staying in his cabin with Ti often visiting, watching him exercise, maintain his katana, or brush Riku.
After five days, during breakfast, Shizu hears that another traveler has come aboard but has joined the Tower Clan to act as an enforcer. Before he could ponder this any longer, the ship shakes, but no one seems bothered by it. Asking Ti for any place that might give him knowledge on how the ship was constructed, Ti instead shows him a flooded location on the ship then to the ship’s main schematics room.
Reproducing the designs on a smaller scale, he has Ti mark every flooded and busted locations in the city, which is needless to say, quite a lot (143 locations). The people have left the worn and broken parts alone without replacing or repairing them, and eventually the ship will sink. The trio walk out and under one of the broken section, come under rain. Covering Ti with his jacket, Shizu notices her feeling at ease with the sound of the raindrops hitting his jacket, and they stand there for a while.
As Shizu presents his findings to the elder, the elder rebuffs him, stating the Tower Clan knows about it and not to worry. On the subject of food, Shizu notes there isn’t much in the way of any other meal but fish. The elder merely states they are fine, everything is fine and they are happy, as it has been and shall always be.
After the meeting, Ti drags him off to a new location, and they end up on top of the wall surrounding the ship, and treated to a beautiful sight. This allows him to relax a bit, and no doubt the only one who knows of it is Ti. This also allows him to view the rest of the nation, and fills him with resolve.
The next day, Shizu loads up for bear and heads out to confront the Tower Clan, Ti following even if he tells her to stay. At the base of the tower, Riku keeps her back as Shizu confronts the Tower Clan of the city’s structural defects. Unwilling to turn around and continuing to demand answers, he is met by an enforcer. The enforcer fires a slug from a shotgun which he dodges, but then Shizu has to react to the thrown weapon, leading him open to the enforcer’s familiar 1861 Colt Navy revolver Persuader.
The two meet again, and the Tower Clan accuses Kino of having planned this out with Shizu since the beginning. The ship has changed course and Kino and Shizu are now sentenced to live among the people until they die. This leads Kino to team up with Shizu to take the Tower Clan down, but wary of killing the ruling elite, Kino uses rubber pellets from her shotgun.
As they storm the tower, Ti looks at a knife and grenade from a fallen Tower Clan member. Also at this point, Shizu asks Kino when the other traveler reached the country, to which Kino replies five days prior. Kino though forgets his name but remembers Riku’s. Reaching the top, they make their way to the uppermost floor and confronts of the leader of the Tower Clan.
The leader asks what he intends to do after taking the ship country ashore, to which he replies he intends to save the people from their fate. Asked if it also meant becoming their king, he states if it has to be done it will be. Upon hearing this, the leader of the clan declares him to be next, and to live together with the people. The leader and the remaining unstunned Tower Clan members fall to the ground, revealed to be nothing but empty masks and clothes, much to the shock of those assembled.
Later, as the country is grounded ashore, Shizu explains that Ti doesn’t have to follow him anymore. But still jumps in the buggy with Riku on her lap as the inhabitants of the city try to come to grips with the ground beneath them. The elder asks him what is going on, and he explains that he confronted the Tower Clan, and states they had left aboard another ship and not part of the country anymore, and that they can live freely on land now.
A child asks to go back, as it doesn’t shake at all on solid ground, but Shizu explains that there is no future for them aboard, talking about the ship’s eventual destruction due to disrepair. He is met with confusion and anger from the people who refuse to believe on the ship sinking after it has been floating the entire time. They reject his offer and they all head back, aboard, leaving the group ashore. As Shizu tells Ti to head back or they’ll leave without her, Ti stabs Shizu with the knife she had picked up.
For the first time, Ti speaks, saying she has nowhere left to return to, while Shizu tells Riku and Kino to hold back. Hermes reveals that the Tower Clan were the artificial intelligence, and had explained to Hermes as a courtesy between non-humans. There was once a ship called the Tifana, which had drifted to the abandoned and deserted Ship Country.
A plague had killed the adults aboard the Tifana, leaving only young children. The A.I. aboard the Tifana transferred themselves aboard the ship country and becomes the Tower Clan, and Shizu determines that it was so something can govern over the people, to which Hermes responds that as a former prince, he would know.
Kino asks why they haven’t gone to land earlier, but it seems the A.I. considered it but the people has known nothing but living aboard the Ship Country, and that the A.I. believes it can’t adequately protect them from hostile countries. It was here where Shizu understood what the leader of the Tower Clan said about him being next.
Asking about Ti, Hermes reveals that she was born from a traveling couple who abandoned her aboard the ship, and seeing that she wasn’t an original inhabitant, the people rejected her and became the only human member of the Tower Clan, who cared for her and named her after their original ship. Now knowing her circumstances, Shizu apologizes and forgives Ti for her action, and states he won’t abandon her as the doors to the ship country finishes closing.
As the ship country sails away, she thanks him, and he hugs her, noting it was farewell to that country for both of them, he passes out before he could finish his statement. Unwilling to see him leave her, she pulls the grenade from her pocket. Hermes notes her suicide attempt, to which Shizu calls out “NO” while Kino shoots the grenade from Ti’s hand.
In the after credits scene, Kino had administered care to Shizu and Shizu thanks Kino for all the fellow traveler has done. They part, with Kino noting that as long as Kino and Hermes travels, they are bound to eventually visit the country that Shizu, Ti, and Riku settled down in. The former prince states that he would welcome him when they do. As they ride off, Kino and Hermes notes that if they do meet again, they imagine Shizu would be surprised to death.
I enjoyed the change in point of view character, and felt this was helping cement the shades of grey that the series if known for. There is always another point of view. And I think it expands Shizu more, as I come around to how this remake is approaching the story
The story of the ship country is intriguing. A country aboard a ship, no more different from the one traveling on land. But the mere fact it was abandoned should be telling. When encountered by the supposedly advanced ship, Tifana, it seemed like the perfect place to take shelter. But with the adults all gone, the quality of life for residents are greatly diminished and over time, becoming a place where fish is the only thing on the menu, and people live to be the ripe old age of fifty-five.
In discussing the episode with Sumeragi, I noted they’re much like a cargo cult. With no knowledge of how the ship operates, they people are reduced to accepting the squalid living conditions and are unconcerned with the failing systems and flooding rooms, as they believe the Tower Clan provides. How much this will be true with the Tower Clan gone (supposedly) and rejecting Shizu’s offer to live on shore remains to be seen.
Either the Tower Clan came back to its caretaker status, or that select members of the populace has been given the necessary training to go through the motions of guiding the ship. I believe it’s the former, as it has been revealed that the A.I. that is the Tower Clan had tried to land the ship before. This might’ve been yet another attempt since the Tower Clan had put hopes on the people listening to Shizu, but with the people so accustomed to living aboard it was a fruitless gesture.
I did have a theory, absurd as it was, that Ti had been born to the ship country by the traveling couple that ended up competing in the Coliseum. I’m not sure others would share this, but the thought passed my mind while discussing the episode and thought it was karmic retribution that the couple would abandon their child, only for the husband to be killed and the child eventually coming under the care of the former prince of the nation.
I also do feel sorry for Ti in the end of the episode. Here was a traveler who no doubt had shown her kindness when others didn’t know she existed (other travelers) or was actively shunned (the populace). Shizu, though meaning well, probably didn’t pick up on the looks the population gave her, or the fact she was completely different from everyone else. So when he said to head back before the ship left, the young girl had just seen her caregivers disappear (Tower Clan/A.I.) and was being abandoned by the only human who had shown her any care.
Thankfully the attempted Murder/Suicide was stopped by Kino. And yes I’m still gonna hold off on saying Kino’s gender in the episode summaries until the series explains she’s a girl. It might’ve, but I’m guessing it might be a lost in translation thing. Should really return to studying Japanese; only so much you can learn from matching between subtitles and common phrases.
As for the series, I’ve come to peace with the direction it’s taken, meaning I took forever to remove the rose-tinted glasses. Others I’ve talked to, from my best friend’s brother (who originally loaned me the box set of episodes), Sumeragi, and Katyusha, had loved the pacing. I guess I was just emulating the ‘git off mah lawn’ crotchetiness of someone unwilling to see the change in production value and direction.
Sumeragi had shared some details about last week’s episode to me, it shows that I am merely one person and each episode tends to viewed differently by those with different experiences. Kino no Tabi had always been stories of social and political trends, and it was only by talking to others do I see what hidden meaning there was to something. Shades and grey and all that. I also learned a bit about the author and the author’s stances, and when the underlying viewpoints presented on the Bothersome Country were pointed out, it became clearer to see it. I’m sure others have noted it, but it was only after the talk that I got the connection of the walled country being the DPRK, while the highly technological and apologetic country being Japan.
It wasn’t all revelations though, the talk had been about the possible ending to the series. We both agreed it would be nice to emulate the last series and end in the country that had tempted Kino to finally settle down but was eventually destroyed by the pyroclastic flow when she had left, we disagreed on the actual execution.
I reckon it would be a nice homage to the earlier series for her to pay her respects to the destroyed town, having backtracked and rediscovered it. Though not in any ways being the whole episode, but more along the lines of the short side a/side b that crops up here and there, and the final episode being an episode focusing on her mentor, Shishou. For now, we still need to see the original Kino, and the girl who probably owns or uses the Honda Motocompo that were teased on the OP sequence. I also imagine we’d also see Shishou’s traveling companion in her episode as well.
Regardless, this was an enjoyable watch, and I plan to add the actual, physical box set as part of my collection once released.