After careful deliberation my next anime series to view landed upon Kino's Journey. Once again wooed by the endearing recommendations and extremely high review scores manufactured by passionate viewers I found myself starting a series that wasn't what I'd expected in a plethora of ways.
The animation retains a charming style and arbitrary grace that never hinders the shows progress or intent, as far as I saw it, while retaining originality. It isn't typical movie quality, but it is impressive by series standards.
For me, the sound worked at times and not at others. A few tunes captured the atmosphere with tact while others felt out of place--if not absent. None of the voice work hindered the show.
Many interesting characters get fifteen minutes of fame only to simply drop off the ambiguous earth that Kino's Journey exists in immediately afterwards. The two main characters, surprisingly, are developed the least of all. We hardly know anything about the talking motorrad, Hermes, or why no one feels a bit of surprise of his sensational linguistic capabilities. The little attention that Kino receives in the way of development actually undermines the attempt the series make an absolutely neutral observer of her--androgynous, aloof, and robotic. Words spoken by Kino along the lines of "I'm not a god" works as irony because of the fact that Kino is a foil that, as far the viewer knows, encounters and encompasses every philosophical intent offered within that world.
Many series fail to send a meaningful and powerful message to viewers because of the intense deluge of plot and characters that often mass hundreds of episodes. This series does not do that. In fact, it performs a radical opposite. Every episode has some interesting philosophical point or social commentary/critique, but does little in the way of telling any kind of story. As stated above, the characters are only triggers to press a point--at times shooting the series in the foot as character development becomes a wasted effort. The setting is virtually nonexistent except within context of an episode's message. The plot never really connects apart from the initial premise of "going on a journey."
In my opinion the show wastes a great opportunity to execute the admirable feat of combining a worthwhile theme and a captivating story. At the finish of the series I felt as though it was a work truly unfinished. Many others have heralded the show as poetry, but personally I would have rather finished one of great poetry anthologies perched on one of my shelves than watched something that couldn't decide whether it was fiction or not.