「迷惑な国」 (Meiwaku na Kuni)
Kino’s getting back on track this week with a country that has to run on a track to expend its high-energy consumption. This episode marks the first time in a while that Kino has encountered a contemporary nation. Much of the nations up til now had the pastiche of older periods like the Wild West or the Roman Colosseum, but the “Bothersome Country” has the aesthetic of a futuristic sci-fi nation with a closed ecological system like the Gardens from Final Fantasy VIII. For someone who has to shack up at rural destinations, the side of a lake, or unkempt dungeons, Kino is having a ball finally getting a room with fresh sheets and hot, clean water. A little too much of a ball, perhaps, but it is cute to see Kino finding solace in how luxurious the room is compared to a hammock.
The city Kino visits this time around is quite interesting as its not inherent right away what the issues are. The president and townspeople are friendly in a way that is more average than unnerving, everyone lives a relatively peaceful life, Kino is welcomed with open arms without any sense of hostility whatsoever, and they have the same taste in living the average modern life as many of us do. However, the moral quandary of the moving town comes not from the people, but the mechanics. The town’s treads are forced to move in a track because of the energy core that requires it to stay mobile, but in the process, it mows down anything in its path. This means that it needs to trample over ecosystems, fields, and occasionally towns in order to function. What’s fascinating is that it’s all presented as an unwanted, but inevitable effect of maintaining their city. The people running the mobile town find it regrettable that they are causing destruction with their town’s movement forward, and don’t find enjoyment in any of their destruction, but it’s just something they’ve grown to accept as the only way they can keep the town afloat.
This ethical concern comes out in full force when Kino’s stay coincides with the rare occasion when they have to steamroll through another village. Although the town placed a wall to make it easier to give anyone who tries to come in a hard time and the Bothersome Country is a peaceful nation, the episode takes note on how, from a moral standpoint, the Bothersome Country is still mowing through people’s homes and villages without any mind being paid towards the livelihoods that are being affected by their destructive path forward. The town’s general trying to defend his town, and outright shouting at the Bothersome Country for not having any empathy or understanding towards them makes it clear that while the moving town isn’t malicious or tyrannical, they are still ruthless in their willingness to charge through a village without permission.
An interesting aspect of the episode is how it gives Kino characterization by relating Kino’s personality and motivations with the town’s ethos. The first thing that the town’s supervisor says as he explains the second reason for moving about akin to Kino’s own desire to travel around the world, and experience anything they can along the way. Additionally, their ethics align similarly considering how Kino elects to ignore the pleas that the general has to have empathy on their town that they are plowing through. The rough-around-the-edges approach lends itself to explaining some of Kino’s actions previously such as letting the Colosseum town’s upper class fight each other for the crown or keeping a straight face as the townspeople from the town that can kill discuss their penchant for murder.
This was an interesting episode to think about considering how the ethical dilemmas within the Bothersome Country’s movement are similar to ideas that contemporary nations have within the past few decades. Many nations considered to be civilized are beyond the times of outright conquest and bloodthirsty colonization, but are still willing to risk the livelihoods of surrounding nations to maintain a stable country. Whether it’s agricultural exploitation or mining for limited resources in natural habitats, the most advanced and peaceful nations are also prone to the unfortunate effects of being careless about the effects their decisions have on the environment or people in other nations they keep in contact with. Kino no Tabi is a series that tackles the moral issues that governments, technology, and humanity in general face from a relatively neutral standpoint, and this episode makes this clear with Kino’s encounter with a troublesome nation that is still able to remain as harmonious and comfortable as any prosperous nation would be.