A prequel to the Kino no Tabi series, Kino is being trained by her teacher. She learns how to ride Hermes and becomes gifted with excellent marksmanship. However, her guilt revolving the real Kino is with her when she decides to set off on a journey. Shizou even directs her to Kino's real mother. All the while, Kino is becoming confused with her real identity.
Kino's Journey can pretty much be divided into two shows, one that is an entirely episodic travel anime with light philosophic content and a second that has a much stronger emphasis on philosophy and underlying whispers of a overreaching storyline. Kino's Journey: Life Goes On falls pretty solidly into the second category and does a good job of representing exactly what I liked about the main series.
Story 10: This is the story I wanted to hear since about episode 3 of the show, and it never disappointed. The plotline of "Life Goes On" does a wonderful job of showing how Kino's writers are able to
seamlessly integrate Lain-style philosophy into a story without interfering with its pacing. That being said, it contains a similar level of spoilers as watching any prequel before the main series, I would certainly suggest watching the show first.
Art 9: Just about the same as Kino's Journey, along with the subtly annoying horizontal lines throughout. I really liked the darker moments of this OVA, the art in those parts were a very welcome supplement to the already established art style. And what can I say? I just love Kino's character design <3
Sound 9: I really enjoyed the voice-acting in the show and in this OVA it was maybe even better. Still don't really care for the OP or ED though, but neither are like gratingly bad. The BGM isn't spectacular or anything but contributes well to the pace and feel.
Character 10: A surprising amount of character development in this OVA, without messing up the series's, which was awesome to see. Also, many of the side-characters in "Life Goes On" were fairly unique, which was nice coming from a series where one of my few complaints was their reuse of stock characters.
Enjoyment 10: A very stellar OVA, if you liked Kino's Journey but always wanted to know more about Kino's past this is perfect for you. Even if that wasn't really the draw of the series for you, I personally believe some of the series's best moments are in this OVA so I'd check it out anyway.
Overall 10: If you didn't like Kino, this probably won't change your mind. If you liked Kino but didn't like its ending (as in- what ending?) this OVA could fix your opinion of the show, as it did mine. I find myself wishing this were the canonical last episode, because I fear some people will miss it. Please don't let yourself be one of those people! If you finished Kino's Journey promptly go watch this OVA.
Title: Kino no Tabi: In Order to Do Something -Life Goes On-
Anime: The Kino no Tabi movie was released on February 19th, 2005 in Japan, and was directed by Takashi Watanabe, who also directed Ikki Tousen. It has yet to be licensed or released Stateside.
Story: The movie is a prequel of sorts, focusing on Kino when she was younger and living with Shishou, who was mentioned in passing in the series. We see her learning to protect herself with guns, and learning how to ride Hermes, which makes for some nice laughs. It also focuses on her guilt over a death that
she caused, and her first journey to the country of the one she killed, to tell that person's family what happened.
This is a really nice continuation of one of the episodes in the series, not to mention an expansion on another person mentioned in passing in the series, and a great origin story in general. We get to see how Kino became... well, Kino.
Again, as in the series, there is some blood; nothing too significant, but it's still there.
Art: No different from what we saw in the series; see my review of Kino no Tabi for my opinions on that.
Music: Again, no different from what we saw in the series, except for the ED. The new ED was sweet, but I like the series' ED better.
Seiyuu: Once again, no change from what we saw in the series. It was nice, hearing more of Shishou's seiyuu, because we heard so little of her in the series. She was exactly what I expected her to be: warm, comforting, motherly in general.
Length: I'm not real happy with this, as it clocked in at just under a half-hour. I was expecting something a bit longer than the typical episode length, and there was so much more that they could've done. It was nice, but still...
Let's just hope that the second movie is actually full-length, and not this short.
Overall: An excellently written, if slightly short, origin story, with many similarities to the series.
This first Kino's Journey special serves as exposition to the main series, kind of, and does basically nothing else. And even the exposition that it does accomplish is not only unwarranted, but unnecessary. It was also disappointing considering I was expecting the special to show exactly how Kino became so impressive at combat. So let's discuss those two aspects of the series. It's unwarrantedness, and it's unsatisfying narrative. For this review, I will assume you watched the main series, as both of those subjects require knowledge of certain episodes in the series. Also, this review might get a little spoilery. I will not explicitly spoil
the special, but I will be talking about things that it does not do, things it fails to do. For a non spoiler review, I do not recommend this as it does not add anything to the main series, nor does it accomplish or do anything remarkable.
Did Kino's Journey need a prequel?
Episode 4 of the main series already took us back to when Kino decided, or was forced to, become a traveler. Sure, this episode is really short, but it does everything it needs to for us to understand Kino's motives. Are we really left asking anything else about her past? If the answer is no, then there's no need for this prequel. If the answer is yes, then we ask ourselves the following question.
Did this prequel explain what we wanted to have explained?
The only gap between episode 4 and the rest of the series that is noticeable is how she became so good at fighting. How does she go from this completely naïve little girl, to a cold, apathetic killer. This prequel does not really answer those inquiries. The synopsis here answers that just as much as the special itself.
Given that this prequel serves no purpose outside of the synopsis, is it worth watching as a stand alone special?
The story is horrendous stand alone. There is no story. The art again conflicts with the atmosphere of the special. The sound is okay. The characters are well written, but not moreso than the main series. The only thing it has going for itself is that it's really short. If it was at least some Karate Kid kind of episode where it showed a lot of training and struggling as well as a gradual hardening of character, it would be worth watching, because then it would exactly answer our two questions above. But just the simple fact that it does neither, as well as being lackluster in itself is enough to warrant a skip.
For fans of Kino’s Journey, Life Goes On is a welcome addition. It’s a cute, engaging story that reveals how Kino got her traveler’s outfit and remarkable skills, expands upon two important secondary characters, Shishou and the older Kino, and focuses on Kino’s guilt over the death of the older Kino. It also has a bit of action, humor, and a suspenseful, darker climax.
As a prequel, the film isn’t bad but it leaves something to be desired. How did Kino and Shishou meet, and why does Shishou make Kino (and everyone else) call her Master? When and why did Kino decide to leave Shishou? If
Life Goes On were actually a movie, maybe it would have had the time to answer these and other questions. At just under 30 minutes, it’s more like another episode, but unlike other episodes, it fails to raise any interesting cultural issues. For better or worse, it’s just a collection of events from Kino’s childhood, with little expository or intellectual value.
Given the dearth of Kino’s Journey anime, fans should certainly check Life Goes On out. It’s a good story, and of course, it’s more Kino. Just don’t expect to find any big answers or profound messages. For those who haven’t seen Kino’s Journey and are looking for a good starting place, the “Tower Country” OVA (Episode 00) is a better choice as it’s more representative of the series.