Five stories in one!
Wow. We haven’t had an episode like this since the previous adaptation. These are alright as well, since we get to know different countries that might have weird gimmicks to them, and the ideas that this series can come up with are always rather imaginative. The trade-off is that nothing ends up being too deep or thoughtful, which I think is where Kino no Tabi really shines. For example, this episode we could have had Tale of Bandits, Ti’s Wish and Land of Cooking (with even Land of Beautiful Memories) swapped out for a longer half-episode story to accompany Land of Accrued Virtue, which was by far the most interesting one. I guess it’s a change of pace in the end, and something light-hearted isn’t too bad since Land of Adults and A Kind Land are slated to come up after this.
Tale of Bandits
The thing about this story that stood out to me the most was the extremely adorable scene of Ti hugging Riku from behind as she fed him snacks and rode in the buggy. That must have been the comfiest ride ever. The second best thing was the bandit talking all about the Very Cute Kino he saw.
Land of Accrued Virtue
As I mentioned earlier, this story was probably the most interesting one. Countries like this that run a strange moral compass are always the ones that make you think the most, although this one wasn’t so morally grey in the sense that their system was easily flawed on a fundamental level and didn’t have much logic to it. A point system like the one that country was operating only works if it only operates with positive values (i.e. there is no such thing as negative points, and there’s no way of having your points go down if you commit crimes). That way, it becomes a mostly harmless, if somewhat presumptuous, system of encouraging people to do good things and recognising those who contribute to society. If there was some sort of reward or recognition for building up lots of points, then that would be even better.
As far as I could tell, there wasn’t any sort of reward system – the former president didn’t mention anything about it, meaning that if you made an effort to earn points it would generally only be for its own sake. Add that to the so-called ‘fairness’ rule where your points are offset if you do something wrong, with the result that you only go to jail if your points fall below zero and are deemed to be innocent if they’re still a positive sum, and everything goes to shit. Because that way, the only real incentive to do good things is to do them so that you can build up lots of points to ‘pay’ for committing a murder or rape or something later down the line. The people who would have contributed to society anyway don’t need a system like this, because they’ll do so as its own reward. I’d be surprised if a case like the president’s hasn’t come up before (or won’t come up in the future), where people accumulate merit in the country on purpose just to build up points so that they can legitimise the crimes they commit. Sure, it might be discouraging if their actions are still socially looked down upon, but if they were risking jail to do these sorts of things before it might be enough for them if they can safely escape the law.
The small twist, then, was that the president somehow seemed to have some inherent ‘goodness’ within him – he might be a bad person whose endgame in building up points was to get enough to kill someone with impunity, but he didn’t have the heart to go through with it. I’m not sure whether the implication was that he was never really that bad at all, or whether his many good deeds conditioned him to become a better person as the years went on (in other words, he was kind of mellowed out through the things he did to help others). I guess, to an extent there’s some truth to what he said – that doing good things makes a good person? Either way, at the end there I was legitimately scared for that baby he was asked to hold.
Of course, the system itself makes no logical sense. If you donate millions to Red Cross or Water Aid tomorrow, but rape a girl on your way home, your donations don’t excuse the rape at all. Using the idea of merit points to offset crimes is nothing more than a glorified way to pardon certain people, because doing something good and doing something bad are two separate things entirely. You can’t just conflate the two and use one to cancel the other out. Anyway, I think I wouldn’t have minded if they’d expanded this story and made it a full-length episode. This was the one with the most substance and it’s the most memorable as a result.
Land of Cooking
This was cute. We really need more stories where Kino and Shizu actually cross paths, instead of just finding out that the other of the two has recently passed by. I also feel like the chefs in this country were a little too willing to accept Kino’s, uh, culinary skills as being legit, just because her clothes matched that of the legendary traveller. Maybe this could have been an alright country for Shizu to settle down if they accepted immigrants. From what I can tell it seems relatively harmless, with good weather and lots of nice cuisine. Not including Kino’s literal KFC (Kino Fried Chicken).
Jesus, Ti. Sometimes I wish she was more child-like in the way she thinks. At least she didn’t crush those people’s hopes and dreams and decided to cheer them on instead, even though inside she didn’t believe in them at all.
Land of Beautiful Memories
I think I shared Kino’s outrage here. I felt equally as cheated as she did. I also try my best not to lewd Kino (and I’ve been doing very well with that so far), but I have to admit I thought of unwholesome things when it was revealed that she’d lost her memories of her time in that country. I can’t help it, the doujins write themselves!