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Light Novel / Kino's Journey

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"The world is not beautiful, therefore it is."

Kino no Tabi, known in English as Kino's Journey (and also using the English title Kino's Travels on official Japanese merchandise), is a Light Novel series by Keiichi Sigsawa which was adapted into a thirteen-episode TV anime series in 2003, one OVA, and two films. In 2017, it received two back-to-back manga adaptations, and a new anime with a new studio premiered October 6, 2017.

It follows the travels of a teenager named Kino as she wanders across the world on her talking motorcycle Hermes, encountering all manner of eccentric people and cultures along the way. Yet the world is as dangerous as it is beautiful, and Kino is often confronted by the uglier aspects of human nature. All that keeps her going is her quick wit, the pistol at her side, and a steadfast rule to stay in a country for no longer than three days and two nights.


See also Allison & Lillia, a more lighthearted action-adventure series from the same author-illustrator team. Compare Shoulder-a-Coffin Kuro. See Gakuen Kino for the High School A.U..

This show contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Kino's hair, jacket, pants and eye color were all changed for the original anime adaption. Averted with the 2017 reboot where Kino's updated anime character design closely follows her LN character design better.
  • Adventure Towns: Though frequently subverted when Kino passes through without affecting anything.
  • The Alleged Car: Master and her partner ride an antiquated Subaru 360. The novels make it a point to describe just how rundown it is every time.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Kino is a girl, but her traveling clothes and demeanor both encourage the people she encounters to miss that and assume she's a boy/young man, due to their preconceptions about travelers. In the first light novel Kino's gender is only revealed after more than half of the volume.
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  • Ancient Tradition: Played straight a few times, then lampshaded in one episode, where the citizens of one country continually make up new, ridiculous traditions for travelers, though Kino points out that pranking the tourists might actually be this country's tradition.
  • Answers to the Name of God: Averted.
    Shizu: My god....
    Kino: I am nobody's god.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Kino. This is one of the main points of the story.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism:
    • Hermes the Talking Motorcycle complains that Riku the Talking Dog shouldn't exist.
    • Kino's skepticism about the possibility of humanoid robots, despite traveling with a sentient, mechanic companion, and having seen many kinds of sophisticated robots along the way.
  • Art Evolution: Being a series that's over a decade long, it's pretty staggering. It also explains why the anime Kino looks so childlike compared to the illustration in the recent novels, since the early novels had a much 'rounder' artstyle.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: Despite the cutesy, storybook-like character designs and illustrations, it features a lot of mature philosophical/political parables and on-screen murders.
  • Asshole Victim: The merchant family in the 6th episode of the 2017 anime reboot. Though she didn't intend for it to happen, their horrendously cruel mistreatment of the slave who would eventually be named Photo made their deaths via poisoned herbs prepared by her very satisfying.
  • The Atoner:
    • An unnamed man that Kino once met, referenced in a flashback is this. He killed a man, and afterwards regretted it and became a bodyguard to his widow, following her to the ends of the earth and protecting her from any danger.
    • Photo felt like this after the merchants who took her in as a slave die of food poisoning without her making another attempt to stop them. So the motorrad disagreed, saying they deserved to die.
  • Author Appeal: Keiichi Sigsawa appears obsessed with minutiae of all sorts of technology, judging by the overly-detailed descriptions of all weapons and vehicles that appear, plot-centric or not. Even his pen name is based on a gun brand. He also has the tendency to write some of the weirdest postscripts to exist.
  • Badass Longcoat: Played with. Kino is a badass, and she does wear a longcoat, but the two are rarely at the same time. Usually, Kino takes off the longcoat before combat because it makes it harder for her to draw her guns. Additionally, she only wears the longcoat while riding Hermes.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Subverted, as Kino wears metal wrist guards.
  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Anime has one. After all cruel, strange or simply unusual countries that she visited, Kino gets into a strange city with friendly people, where everyone is happy and where one girl reminds Kino of her as a child. Moreover, she herself begins to change as a character. However, at the very end, Kino gets a real Heroic BSoD when she sees how the whole city with all its innocent and happy inhabitants dies under the lava from the volcano.
  • Berserk Button: The citizens of Kino's home country are cheery, good-natured people who go about their lives with a smile on their faces due to an operation when they turn twelve that makes them unable to not be satisfied by everything. However, if you ask if there's another way to become an adult, as Kino does, they fly into a homicidal rage and try to murder you.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Kino is a very polite, non-judgemental, and often generous character, who does not seem to take any pleasure in fighting, even if it's the only option. Someone delivering a threat, though, will be dead before they know what's going on.
    • The citizens in the country where murder isn't prohibited are all friendly and polite to Kino during her visit and it really isn't an act. If someone kills or attempts to kill in the country though, the citizens can and will kill the offender for breaking the law, as the man that threatens Kino for her refusing to help him carry his luggage to the country earlier finds out the hard way.
  • Bifauxnen: Kino has passed herself off as a boy, though in one case it was just that the people around her immediately presumed as such.
  • Blood Sport: One episode features a pair of cities whose constant warfare has been replaced by regular pogroms of the local villages. The cities compete to see who gets the most kills.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Kino kills the king, a.k.a., Shizu's father from the Coliseum chapter.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Kino's guns seem to have them...sometimes. The anime's better about keeping gun capacity in mind.
  • Bowdlerise: While the anime adaption is largely faithful to the novels, most of the violence was toned down, and some of the characters that Kino meets or the countries Kino visits are portrayed as much more sympathetic. The first film, Kino's Travels: Life Goes On was much more offending in this regard.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Kino. It helps disguise her gender.
  • Broken Aesop: Happens most times when Shizu tries to help other people.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Shizu and Kino meet each other again, Shizu is ecstatic to meet Kino again, as Kino was the one who saved his life. However, Kino is apathetic to their reunion, and even has trouble remembering Shizu's name.
  • But Now I Must Go: Kino's modus operandi. Reach next town, stay for three days and two nights, then gone.
  • The Caligula: The king from the Coliseum two-parter is incredibly Axe-Crazy, from killing his father (apparently at a young age if the puppet show is completely accurate) and wife, to forcing anyone that comes in his territory to kill each other to gain upper-class status.
  • Cannibal Larder: In A Tale of Feeding Off Others after the three men Kino saved turn out to be slavers and Kino has to kill them all in self-defense, Kino takes a closer look inside their wagon: it's the second time it's seen, but this time, we get a better idea what the three men meant when they said they had to eat their cargo to survive...
  • Captain Ersatz: In the "coliseum" episode, Kino fights knockoffs of Batman, Clint Eastwood and Luke Skywalker. This wasn't so in the original novel where the fights were only briefly described.
  • Cargo Cult: One of Kino's journeys takes her to a country calmly awaiting the imminent apocalypse, as foretold in their holy book of prophecies, which is revealed later to actually be the stream-of-consciousness work of a great but grief-stricken poet whose mind snapped when his wife took her own life to serve as gruesome inspiration for a poem full of sorrow as per the King of their country's orders. Said "Prophecies" come true, as other nations band together to destroy the nation....because of the poems.
  • Casting Gag: Combined with You Look Familiar and Remake Cameo, Aoi Yuuki plays Sakura in the 13th episode of the first anime of 2003 and Kino in the new series of 2017. This is doubled by the fact that Sakura is a copy of the main character in her childhood.
  • Catch-Phrase: Hermes says Yes, that's it! each time Kino or some other person corrects his idioms.
    • The readers will know immediately that a story will focus on Shizu & co. if it starts with the following introduction: My name is Riku. I am a dog. I have long, fluffy, white fur. I look as if I'm always smiling, but it doesn't mean that I'm happy all the time. I was just born this way.
  • Celibate Hero: Well, Heroine: Kino seems to prefer living as a lone traveller and shows zero interest (romantic or otherwise) in the people she comes across.
  • Character Gender Confusion: King Yukio, somewhat. And Kino herself (overlapping with Viewer Gender Confusion), as she's mistaken for a boy several times. Her character design in the novels is noticeably more feminine.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The old man in the Kind Land who gives Kino the Woodsman was actually Master's partner/student and they traveled together in the past. He is a main character in the novels, appearing during the flashback journeys of Master.
  • City of Canals: The Sad Country.
  • Close-Call Haircut:
    • In the novels, the young Shishou's hair has a ragged, gunshot appearance, as though this is the only way she cuts her hair. Given the way she's been known to cut down trees later in life, this is perhaps unsurprising.
    • Also, in the first coliseum fight, Kino faces an assassin with a bladed boomerang that manages to give her a tiny shave on the way back. Later Kino does this deliberately, clipping the hair of a Master Swordsman to test his resolve. He doesn't flinch.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Kino's home country, the Land of Adults, is a place where people over twelve get a brain operation that allows them to be happy while performing any task. Thus, nobody is ever unhappy at their job... or at anything else... including state-sanctioned murder. Questioning this system is the only thing that seems to make them angry.
  • Continuity Nod: Lots of these, especially in the novels.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Kino, who even goes as far as to use the decapitated head of an enemy's comrade as bait once. Kino also uses a gun in what was supposed to be a knife duel in a lesson during training with Shishou.
  • Computer Equals Tapedrive: In keeping with the eclectic technology of the series.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Heartbreakingly averted in episode 13. When the volcano erupts, Hermes gives us a stark description of how the people in the village below died with their blood boiling in their bodies.
  • Cool Bike: Hermes, the sentient motorbike who is Kino's only companion and closest friend.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Kino throughly maintains the Woodsman and the Cannon every night, gets up at the crack of the dawn to practice shooting, and always carries two guns and many, many knives, and a gun disguised as a knife, just in case.
  • Creepy Child: Ti/Tea.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Master and her student took on a job to get rid of a couple who ensnares passing travelers for their dinner and fun hobby.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: In A Kind Country, Kino tells the guards at the gate she plans to stay three days. At the end of those three days, the guards show up at the hotel she was staying at and abruptly ask her to leave. At first it seems kind of cruel considering how friendly everyone in that town was, but they at least send her off with some food and ask her to visit again sometime. Later that night, Kino wakes up just in time to witness a pyroclastic flow quickly engulf the town within a matter of seconds, killing everyone there. The bagged lunch also contained a note from Sakura's mother which told her the adults knew about the impending doom, and chose to stay behind. So by kicking her out so suddenly, they actually saved her and Hermes from death.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: In the novels, many of the stories are cruel enough to make the viewer suffer their own BSOD.
    • One episode where Kino helps a stranded group of people survive a harsh winter, we found out they were slave traders who had eaten their previous haul and look to enslave Kino to make up for it.
    • Another episode has Kino visiting neighboring countries who used to constantly be at war. When Kino asks how they achieved peace, she finds the opposing countries have made their battles into a game in which both countries see who can slaughter the most inhabitants of an adjacent defenseless village. And just to twist the knife further, the "innocent victims" in that village have taken to senselessly murdering travelers, simply as a means of venting their frustration.
    • In another episode,A Kind Country, Kino finds a country so likable that Kino nearly breaks the three day rule of staying in one place, yet the townsfolk mysteriously refuse to let her stay longer. When Kino leaves, the next day she wakes up to find the country destroyed by a nearby erupted volcano.
  • Dead All Along: In the viewer participation drama, one of the possible paths results in Master receiving a wound from a laser-like attack. To everyone's surprise, she's unfazed and the wound begins to close (without her noticing it). The audience and her partner realizes that this must be why she has never "ever" been grazed by a single bullet before.
  • Death Seeker: In one of the stories, a country gathers its suicidal citizens and grants their death wish by sending them off to war. They happily abide.
  • Decade Dissonance: In most cases it's best to think of the different countries as existing in separate universes. Handwaved, in that travel between towns is dangerous and rare, and few individuals could ever imagine leaving their town.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Kino herself in the second anime series, since a large portion of the episodes either only feature her as a supporting character or cameo appearance or she doesn't even appear at all.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: A major theme among several countries Kino visits.
  • Demoted to Extra: Shizu and Riku in the first series don't get any focus beyond the Coliseum episodes.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Kino is a badass gunslinger with a talking motorcycle. Shizu is a badass swordsman with a talking dog.
  • Driven to Suicide: The Sole Survivor of a town where everyone votes for any decision, and whoever is in the minority is killed, kills himself when Kino and Hermes outvote him while visiting.
  • Enfante Terrible: Several characters, and arguably, Kino.
  • The Evil Prince: King Yukio.
  • Exact Words: In a country Kino visits, the law states that murder isn't prohibited. As a citizen points out to an offender, just because something isn't prohibited doesn't mean it's allowed. The offender is then promptly killed for threatening to kill Kino in public.
  • Extended Disarming: Kino, when being held at gunpoint by some slavers, drops many, many knives. This leads one of the slavers to remark, "Are you a knife merchant?!"
  • Fanservice:
    • Nimya in the "Land of Wizards" episode; it's the only time it really shows up in the anime. Also played straight in some of the illustrations.
    • The High School A.U. spinoff Gakuen Kino is basically a fanservice series.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: The trio of slavers aided by Kino before she knows their profession.
  • Foreign Queasine: In a welcoming feast in honor of travelers, Kino was served raw seafood (still moving), grilled monkey, sheep brains, whale steak and elephant steak. She loved it.
  • Furry Reminder: Played for laughs with Riku's occasional quips that remind Shizu that he is still a dog.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: Kino's hometown does this via an operation on everyone's brain before they become adults. She just barely escapes the same fate.
  • Go Out with a Smile: King Yukio's reaction to a rocket-propelled grenade being launched at him is to grin eagerly, as if being presented with his heart's desire.
  • Gratuitous German: Hermes is called a motorrad throughout the first series. "Motorrad" is the German term for "motorcycle". Kino's name is also German for 'movie theater'.
  • Gun Porn
  • The Gunslinger: The title character herself; specifically, of The Quick Draw variety. Notably, she's one of the rare few of the type who is seen actively practicing the skill regularly.
  • I Call It "Vera": All of Kino's guns are named. "The Woodsman" is a .22 Colt Woodsman Match Target semiautomatic pistol; named after Kino shot off a branch to take out a bandit/the gun's real-life counterpart (Apparently, this was an added detail in Tokyopop's English translation; in the novels, it was already called "The Woodsman" even before it was given to Kino by the old man in the Kind Land.) "The Cannon" is a .44 Colt 1851 Navy single action revolver that takes liquid explosives instead of gunpowder; it's named after what it can do. Later in the novels Kino acquires "The Flute"; a Arisaka type 99 bolt-action sniper rifle.
  • Emotionless Girl: Master/Shishou when she was young. She does mellow out and become much kinder by the time she teaches Kino how to 'persuade' (fighting) though.
    • Tifana when Shizu and Riku first encounter her in the Ship Country.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The original Kino.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: The ending of the episode where Kino saves the three starving men in the tent.
  • Immortality: Several chapters of the novels have played with different versions of the concept.
    • Kino visited a country after hearing rumors that none of its citizens ever get sick, hoping to learn their secret. It turns out that everybody gets their healing factor from the bite of an insect. As usual, there's a catch: they only live for 50 years after getting bit.
    • In one chapter, Kino talks to a depressed man who claims to be immortal. The truth is he's an experimental subject on transferring memories to other people generation after generation. But the purpose of the experiment is to actually discourage people from seeking immortality, and will go on until the man goes mad.
    • Once, Kino meets a 12-year old boy who is actually 93 years old already.
    • In volume 18, Master and her student arrives at a country filled with babies in capsules. Apparently, this country considers remaining an infant for life as the most ideal form of immortality. Except they don't live forever.
  • Important Haircut: Kino's hair was cut into its current style after it was stained with blood from the first person she killed.
  • Improbable Use of a Weapon: One country has so much surplus of weapons, they decided to use them to entertain their citizens with an annual fireworks display.
  • It Gets Easier: Kino, Shizu and especially Master have killed so many people they don't even feel remorse anymore. When minor characters call them out for murdering so casually, they reply with I Did What I Had to Do.
  • Knife Nut: Kino is nearly always shown to buy knives when visiting shops, sometimes only because they look 'pretty'.
  • Knight In Sour Armor: Shizu.
  • Land of One City: Most countries Kino visits consist of 1 city.
  • Laser Sight
  • Legacy Character: Kino
  • Lethal Chef: Kino is apparently a terrible cook. When the doctor in volume 7 says that the cooking was delicious, Kino is visibly surprised, remarking that that was the only time someone said that with a straight face, and the only characters we see enjoy it had been starving for weeks. While they were training together, Master was so terrified of Kino's food that she wouldn't let her cook.
  • The Lost Lenore: In "Country of Liars", Kino is greeted by a man waiting for his lover, who left on a journey and had yet to return. Kino learns later that the man was driven mad with grief when he unwittingly killed her during a revolution he took part in. Things get twisted, however, with the dual reveals that the woman killed was a double and the man's caretaker is, in fact, his lover and that the man is aware of fact but hasn't let on. Both are content to leave things as they are.
  • Magic Realism
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: This is the entire plot of the premiere of the first series, where one country developed a technology to allow its citizens to read one another's minds. This becomes so unbearable that they all move out to the countryside and stay out of each other's "mental ranges."
  • Mind Screw: The Land of Books episode, especially at its end, when it's suggested that Kino is just a character in a book which is itself part of a virtual reality simulation cooked up by the last man on earth to entertain his daughter...or maybe that guy was just crazy.
  • Mugging the Monster: Subverted and lampshaded in episode nine of the 2017 anime. A young bandit being trained by an elder one is on the look out for easy targets. He first sees Shizu with Ti And Riku. The younger one thinks they're easy pickings. The Elder wisely disagrees and even more wisely tells him to leave them alone. Next the younger spots Kino and thinks she's an easy target. The Elder again wisely disagrees. He then tells the younger that their ideal target carelessly attacks anyone, to the point they'll someday attack a weak-looking opponent that turned out to Curb-Stomp Battle them. Played straight when it turns out the reason the elder is so wise in picking targets is years ago when he was younger he tried to rob Master and her apprentice.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Ti after being taken in by Shizu and Riku.
  • Nice Girl: Photo, so much so that even during her time as a mistreated slave, she never hated her home country (who sold her out in the first place), or even the the merchant family full of assholes who constantly beat her just for breathing the same air as them.
  • No Name Given: Master/Shishou and her apprentice have no given names. Instead, Shishou is referred to as 'the woman' or described as 'the beautiful woman with long hair'. Her student is referred to as 'the man' or described as 'the slightly short but handsome man'.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In the second episode, Kino meets a trio of starving merchants who had been snowed in all winter and had eaten their cargo early on to survive. Only, they were slavers, and their cargo was people destined for the slave market.
  • Noodle Incident:
    Hermes: (in response to Kino being forced to disarm to enter a country) This is still better than that time when you had to wear those weird clothes to get in.
    Kino: ...I don't even want to think about that anymore.
  • Not So Different: Two countries that are at "war" formed a truce so that instead of fighting each other, they make a sport of slaughtering the civilian population of a third country. The victims in turn "fight back", by capturing clueless travelers and brutally killing them, invoking very similar arguments as the other two did. It looks like the only reason they are the ones getting slaughtered is because they just don't happen to have a military.
  • Not So Stoic: Kino holds a reserved demeanor throughout, and though she remains open and pleasant, she keeps a guarded calmness throughout. This peels away in some rare moments.
    • "A Peaceful Land": After learning that the whole reason for the peace in this land was violently killing the native population to maintain peace of mind, she departs, but not before questioning such violent ideas. Later, she's attacked and almost killed by the native population who use similar logic and it all just leads up to a cycle of people killing those lesser than them. After driving them off, Kino looks considerably shaken before leaving with Hermes.
    • In "A Kind Land", Kino's reaction to the town's destruction completely strips away the calm neutrality she maintained for much of the series.
    • One of the stories in the second series' ninth episode has a scene of Kino completely losing her cool over the fact that staying at a country Master recommended required a Mind Wipe of having been in the country in the first place. Even more frustrating for Kino, Hermes remembers everything (as the drug used only works on humans) but promised not to say anything about it.
  • Offing the Offspring: In Kino's home country, any child that doesn't submit to a medical procedure similar to a lobotomy and brainwashing at the appropriate age is killed.
  • One-Man Army: Kino, Shizu and Master. Kino singlehandedly kills an entire band of war veterans and mercenaries in a few chapters, but Master is even more impressive as she takes out hundreds of people all in one chapter. Meanwhile, Shizu slashes away at 22 bandits armed with rifles in just one afternoon.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted. Injuries inflicted by persuaders are serious. Kino's opponents are incapacitated after getting shot in the legs or arms. In volume 8, Master and her student's aiming skills enabled them to keep every single one of their attackers alive by aiming at their legs, but gave them a limp for the rest of their lives.
  • Only One Name: We never do learn most of the characters' full names, including Kino's.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kino. Well, Parental Attempted Murder, at any rate.
  • Parental Substitute: Shizu to Ti, after he takes her in.
  • Parrying Bullets: Shizu, in the Coliseum episodes, deflects bullets with his sword.
  • Percussive Maintenance: When Hermes says embarrassing things, or just acts like a total jerk, Kino usually shuts him up like this.
  • Pinned Down: In the Land of Heroes, while fighting 7 veterans, Kino does this with a sniper rifle. The end results are a man losing several limbs and another having half of his head blown off.
  • Planet of Hats: Elevates this trope to an artform.
  • Pronoun Trouble: Due to her androgynous appearance, Kino is sometimes subjected to this, sometimes letting it pass uncorrected.
  • Professional Killer: Master's apprentice is implied to be one. In a chapter adapted to the second anime, it was shown that one of his belongings is a briefcase containing persuader accessories and tools for assassination.
  • Pull the I.V.: Averted. In one of the chapters in the novel, Master's student joined the front lines of a war carrying the IV drip, including the stand.
  • The Quiet One: Ti/Tea qualifies by not talking most of the time, and sometimes speaking without fully saying the word when she does talk.
  • Reformed Criminal: The citizens of the country where murder isn't prohibited judging by rumors are heavily implied to have been criminals that just want to live a peaceful life. Regal the serial killer admired by the man wanting to be a citizen to freely kill people is the polite old man that invites Kino for tea on her last day to tell him stories about her travels.
  • Revenge Myopia: Kino meets a woman and the man she had hired as a guard as they're about to set out on a journey. She sits with the man for a while, and learns that he had killed her husband several years ago accidentally while robbing his store, and had been reformed and set free by their justice system, on the condition that he make it up to the woman by mutual agreement. It's made clear that his reform and desire to help the woman any way he can in penance for his crime are genuine. They part, and later Kino is riding through the woods when she hears a gunshot... It turns out the widow was not as big on redemption as her society was.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Subverted. She's actually human, and an inventor, who started believing she was a robot after a severe trauma. The actual robots are VERY obviously non-human.
  • Running Gag:
    • Hermes misusing figures of speech, to a point where Kino has to wonder if he's doing so intentionally. The game takes this to another level by including a mini-game where the player has to guess the correct proverb.
    • In the novels, Kino always asks Hermes to wake up early. Still, he has to be beaten awake almost every morning.
  • Schizo Tech: Not just between country to country, but even within the same country. A place might have both psychic nanotech and cobblestone streets and typewriters and phonographs and talking robots, while another country has hoversleds and tape-based computers. The eponymous character's equipment includes a racing motorcycle made between 1929 and 1940, a pistol from 1947 to 1955, a revolver from 1851, and a rifle that comes from the 1930s.
  • Shoot the Dog: Kino has to do this several times, and several stories revolve around this idea.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the preview for episode 9, Hermes asks Kino what she would do if she had a typewriter that was a talking cockroach. And Episode 9's subtitle, "Nothing Is Written", and opening in the desert, may be references to Lawrence of Arabia.
    • In the episode "Her Journey", a king offers a boon to an old man, whose only request is that the king move out of the way of the sun. This is a common folklore attributed to several philosophers and mathematicians. Also, the alleged wise hermit was part of country's experiment with The Ludovico Technique. As in A Clockwork Orange, it ended very badly for him.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Kino's "Master", in the first movie, in the series' usual brutal, understated fashion.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Kino meets idealists and cynics all throughout her journey, each one with their own thoughts and opinions on the state of the world or more often the country they live. The most prominent example of the series' contrast between cynicism and idealism is the episode "Her Journey -Love and Bullets-" in which a young woman and a man traveling together cross paths with Kino. The woman claims to be on a quest to bring peace to the world and proclaim the glory of pacifism. Kino asks how she could have survived this journey so long without encountering any danger that would have to be solved with violence. To which the woman responds that she doesn't know, she has always assumed that they've just been lucky. The truth is the man traveling with her has quietly killed off anyone in their path who might make themselves a problem. He kept this a secret because he loves her and doesn't want to shatter her vision of an ideal world.
  • Steam Punk: Several countries have this distinct feel to them.
  • Stealth Escort Mission: Kino encounters a man and woman traveling the other direction. The woman is an Actual Pacifist, and explains to Kino that they're traveling unarmed in order to spread a message of peace and love. Then when she's out of earshot, the man reveals to Kino that he's packing heat. For the entire trip, he's been sneaking ahead and dealing with any bandits or outlaws before they can threaten the woman, so she never realizes he's been killing on her behalf.
  • The Stoic: Kino is often (though not always) portrayed as being this.
  • Straw Critic: One country has an entire council of them to decide which books are deemed harmful or harmless. At one point, the Librarian calls critics "an evil breed".
  • Take That, Critics!:
    • The whole episode 8 is in fact a thinly disguised attack on literary censorship and critics who are portrayed by a handful of pompous snobs who self-actualize themselves with the help of criticism and bans of any fiction or scientific literature other than children's books and reference books.
    • The episode also contains a light Take That, Audience! using the mocking image of avid readers as a conspiratorial group of people, half of whom lost touch with reality.
  • Talking Animal: Riku, Shizu's loyal canine retainer.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • One country Kino went to was bombarded with artillery cannons, missiles, and a bomb implied to be a FOAB for creating clones.
    • Of course, no one is actually killed by this, though no buildings are left standing.
  • Telepathy: One country has developed a concoction that would allow citizens who drink it to read the minds of others who also drank it. Then everyone drank it, nobody wanting to be left out of the brilliant discovery. This turned out badly.
  • Three Kinds of Science Fiction: The Land of Wizards episode is the gadget variety.
  • Too Dumb to Live: A country Kino encounters in episode 5 was ruled by majority rule, and began to kill off the minority voters. Eventually only two people were left alive because of it.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Ti's stock of grenades. Riku has to convince her to leave them behind when she goes outside for a walk.
  • Try Not to Die: An important rule for all travelers.
  • Unfinished Business: One of the characters introduced in the viewer participation drama is revealed to be a vengeful ghost of the princess of the ruined country. It was a traveler who caused the demise of her country, so she takes revenge on all passing travelers by luring them to their deaths.
  • Untranslated Title: The first novel was released in English under the title "Kino No Tabi".
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: No one seems the least bit surprised that a motorcycle can talk, and no explanation for how Hermes is sentient is ever provided.
  • Vague Age:
    • Kino is 12 when beginning training with Shishou, but other than that no age is revealed. The woman who voices Kino in the English dub is just a circumstance of the casting; it's implied that Kino is meant to be 11-12 during the flashbacks, and around 15 for the rest of the series.
    • Averted in the novels as it's stated in volume 10 that Kino started traveling 'three years after her 12th birthday', meaning that Kino left Shishou at the age of 15. However, it's insinuated that several years had passed since she started traveling. The stories are not generally in chronological order, so her age in each story is up in the air.
  • Walking the Earth: The premise of the series.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Episode 4. Also, episode 13 is either this or Anachronic Order, since it takes place before episode 1.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Naturally, there's one when Kino stays in Japan.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Kino and Shizu. Further enforced since it's implied that she did go back to her home country once more — only to find it in a complete ruins.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Kino's appearance in the first anime is quite different from the descriptions and illustrations in the novels. In addition to having a different hairstyle and eye color, wearing differently colored clothes and being much taller, she is noticeably more feminine in the novels. The second anime's design follows the novels much more closely.
  • Your Head Asplode: In Episode 7 when Kino shoots the king. It also happens quite frequently in the novels, and is described quite graphically.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The Land of the Dead - Spirit of the Dead chapter of the sixteenth novel, Land of the Dead is infested by undeads.

Alternative Title(s): Kino No Tabi


Example of: