W-what did they mean by this?
Okay. I am amused… yet confused. And also slightly scared. I’m already pretty wary of animals as it is, but I’ll never look at sheep in quite the same way now. What were they even going to do to Kino? If the country they came from provided them with enough food, the implication is that they’re not human-eating sheep, right? Meaning they were just bred and trained into locking onto and attacking whoever they saw? I have a feeling that the man who came before Kino thought that he’d be eaten (or at least that he’d die a horrible death) and so he killed himself to make things easier on him. They were very brave sheep, which was exactly what made them so scary. In hindsight, it was also a good idea for Kino to try to resolve the situation on her own instead of trying to get to the next country in order to ask for help. The animal rights protesters who put the sheep there in the first place would probably have gotten in the way of any attempts to kill the sheep, even on grounds of self-defence. Funny how they didn’t think ahead for a single moment as to whether releasing the sheep into the wild would cause trouble for others – whether they be travellers or even another country (if the sheep decided to migrate after running out of food). There was a nice irony in that country welcoming Kino in happily, all whilst having no idea that she’s actually their mass sheep murderer. Even if they find out from the next traveller who visits and asks about the decomposing sheep bodies just lying all over the place, it’ll be too late by then.
What I didn’t understand, though, was why the sheep don’t attack their fellow sheep. I’m not sure if there’s even any point in trying to think too deeply about this (it’s clearly meant to be a light-hearted story albeit with a twisted sense of humour) but if they were all trained up on other sheep, it’d make sense if they saw the rest of the flock as targets when they were first released into the wild. I guess they’re literal dumb animals – which I think is a first for this series, as the only other one we’re familiar with is the very fluffy Riku. I actually wouldn’t have been surprised if the sheep had started talking to Hermes once Kino had climbed down, especially since they seemed oddly intelligent from the way they passive-aggressively followed her up the ravine. Wouldn’t that have been a brilliant twist? This episode would have been titled Land of Sheep instead, as Kino stumbles upon a country inhabited by sentient sheep like something out of Gulliver’s Travels. That wouldn’t be too out of place in a world with talking dogs and motorrads, right? Kino is practically fantasy at this point.
Other than the loud sheep bleating, the main thing that will stay with me are the hilarious sheep physics that they were animated with as Kino mercilessly rammed into them with her car. Also the way two of them were just casually sleeping on Hermes as he lay there helplessly.
A slightly bizarre final episode to end on, but by Land of Liars I pretty much knew what I was going to write here. Kino remains as intriguing and worthwhile a watch as it’s ever been, even in 2017. In hindsight, I didn’t have to worry too much in light of the way the Colosseum episode was animated – though it was definitely alarming at the time. They really milked Shizu as a character after that, so I can see why they wouldn’t want to waste too much time by devoting an extra episode to it. It was also a nice surprise to learn, week after week, that the 2017 series was actually animating lots of new stories – the vast majority were different, with only Episodes 2 (Colosseum), 10 (A Kind Land) and 11 (Land of Adults) being remakes from 2003. And that was pretty much the bare minimum, with Colosseum being necessary to introduce Shizu and Land of Adults giving Kino some context to her character. It’s even arguable that Episode 10 wasn’t absolutely needed – it was a wonderful remake, but it was essentially identical to 2003. So that leaves both the 2003 and 2017 series as largely different experiences that you can both enjoy with minimal overlap, which is the ideal outcome. They’re very different in atmosphere, and you can definitely see how anime as an industry has changed in the 14-year gap between both Kinos – the rise of CG for example is obvious (which, strangely, I personally got used to over time even though I’m not a fan of CG at all) and while episodes like In the Clouds had beautiful scenery, it just wasn’t the same compared to the quaint watercolour backgrounds that were commonly seen in mid-2000s anime like Aria, Haibane Renmei or of course the old Kino. Potato Kino is also adorable, and no one can convince me otherwise!
But both were good. They’re different, but both are sufficiently Kino to be enjoyable adaptations of Kino. In the same way, I’m sure that reading the manga or light novels would be a different sort of experience as well. If there’s anything I wanted more of, it’d be another Photo episode – one where she’s still travelling prior to having settled down and is still learning about living and the world around her. She can’t necessarily resolve conflicts in the same way Kino or Shizu can (i.e. by force) so that would have been an interesting situation to put her in. I also think Episode 1 (the Land of Permitted Murder) and Episode 9 (the one with multiple short stories) were probably the weakest overall, though that doesn’t mean I didn’t like them – just that they were relatively not as good as, say, Episode 5 (Land of Liars) or Episode 6 (In the Clouds) which were the two I’m definitely going to remember most from the new batch of episodes. Having those air from one week to the next was pretty intense.
Finally, I’m not sure whether Kino was hinting at a sequel in the final hammock scene at the end. She said a ‘sequel’ would start once she woke up, and she did wake up a minute or so later, but that’s way too vague to be anything like a subtle announcement for a sequel. Especially for something as niche as Kino, which is loved within its fanbase but hardly known outside of it – it took 14 whole years for this adaptation to air in the first place! If you want more, it’s probably best to settle with the light novels. I’ve never tried them, but I might pick it up given that my commute will be getting a lot longer from January onwards. A chapter or two every day would be nice.