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13 of 13 episodes seen
The box art features Kino dual-wielding her pistols, looking over her shoulder with an intimidating glare. During the opening sequence, Kino fires off a round of shots into a cement wall with a look as calm as a Buddha statue. This is not a particularly good representation of the series. While the episodes do occasionally feature fast-paced gun-slinging action, this is the exception, rather than the rule. Far more common is the episode which displays a quiet, reflective description of a fictional country and its inhabitants. Think Mushishi, rather than Black Lagoon. The plot development is circular, rather than linear, tending to focus on character development instead of an overarching plot.
This is a somewhat difficult category to gauge, as it tends to be a function of time. Nonetheless, Kino's Journey's strength does not lie in it's animation. The artwork itself is gorgeous, of course, but the animation doesn't particularly stand out when compared with other series. It gets the message across, but stops short of being innovative.
The soundtrack is subtle and used sparingly to enhance the mood. It's safe to say that much, if not most of the series has no background music. What little there is, however, is fantastic. Kino's Journey's OST is, with good reason, one of my favorites. The opening theme is not one you're likely to skip and the ending theme is nothing if not more hauntingly beautiful. Even if you don't enjoy the series as a whole, it's likely that you'll enjoy the music.
Essentially, Kino's Journey has two significant characters - Kino and her motorrad (a talking motorcycle), Hermes. Most of the other characters are (intentionally) shallow caricatures used to exemplify their respective countries. With 12 episodes spent in solitude or near solitude, Kino receives quite a lot of attention and development. Her struggles, observations, and decisions are the highlight of the series. She is not merely a strong female character, but also a good female character - a combination that is unfortunately rare in anime. Needless to say, you can expect little to no fanservice from Kino's Journey.
It's an immensely fun watch. If you take your time, you'll find that each episode gives you something new and interesting to think about. The plot never stagnates (a side effect, perhaps, of the series' tragically short length), and despite the relaxed pace, it is rarely (if ever) boring.
This really isn't something to be missed. I'd recommend it to anyone, provided s/he can bring a certain level of maturity to the table. Whether or not you take in the philosophy or understand the complex allegories of some of the episodes, if you appreciate a good story, you'll appreciate this series. read more