Book of the Month - November 2006

Kino no Tabi

Volume 1

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You know that feeling you get while watching a really good episode of The Twilight Zone, Lost or any other character-driven, vaguely sci-fi TV show? I’m talking about the cold shiver down your spine that comes when ordinary individuals are thrown into extraordinary situations—staring mortality itself in the face without backing down? That’s the feeling you get, chapter after chapter, when reading Keiichi Sigsawa’s Kino no Tabi.

­In the driver’s seat of this amazing serial compilation is Kino, a young girl who is forever changed after meeting a traveler staying at her parents’ inn. A tragic incident soon after forces her to leave immediately, with only the clothes on her back and the company of a talking motorcycle named Hermes. Together she and Hermes become travelers, going wherever the road takes them. That’s when the story kicks into overdrive, because each town they stop in has its own unsettling tale to tell, to which Kino plays the role of a neutral observer. She stays only three days in any one place, but that’s usually enough to get a feel for the local color before leaving.

Even though I’ve watched the Kino’s Journey anime series that was based on these novels, each chapter was like a completely new experience. Whether it’s the addition of more playful banter between Kino and Hermes, or more room to explore the characters, or the few subtle changes in how events play out, the novel feels different—but just as warmly inviting and addictive as the anime.

If you read just one of the recent wave of Japanese-import serial novels, it should be Kino no Tabi. The English adaptation is great, establishing the right atmosphere and mood with perfect pacing. It’s a quick read but it’s one you’ll find yourself thinking about days and weeks later.

—Chris Johnston

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  • Available: Now
  • Publisher: TOKYOPOP
  • Rating: None
© 2000 KEIICHI SIGSAWA

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November 2007

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