「嘘つき達の国」 (Usotsuki-tachi no Kuni)
“Country of Liars”
It’s comforting to finally get an episode where things don’t go horribly awry, and Kino doesn’t have to have a brush with conflict. The most fascinating aspect of #5 is the exploration, instead, of lies and the lying liars who tell them. Not so much in the “everything is a lie, wake up sheeple!” sense, but rather the ethos behind why people preserve and ingrain lies into their livelihood. In the first half, the town that Kino temporarily visits is at peace thanks to their first president, but his home-turned-museum commemorates his life and efforts in a questionable manner that stretches the truth of his background. Whereas Kino and Hermes are pointing off many instances in the founder’s home-turned-museum where the man who ran the lead a simple life of carrying a novelty knife and burying his feces with a shovel, the museum paints the two artifacts as his trusty blade and the shovel he used to cultivate a garden. In the same home, his Motorrad is confined to waiting out the rest of its days in the quiet hell of solitary confinement in an exhibit.
The Motorrad’s cries for sweet release are undercut by the reality that Kino and Hermes couldn’t possibly do anything about his desires for travel or destruction without angering the townsfolk who idolize both the Motorrad and the president. This section wasn’t as well-developed in the adaptation, cutting its length down to size in a way that doesn’t flesh out how much of the president’s life is mythologized. By the end of the chapter, we’re left with the idea that the boy who wants to travel will eventually take the president’s Motorrad to start his own journey. However, we’re also left with the question of whether these fabrications in his life are worth preserving if it means the town retaining its pristine image of a town brought to a peaceful existence thanks to a man they saw as their liberator.
In the same light, Kino’s second trip in this episode was a very gratifying watch due to how many twists and turns the town hero’s story took. Here is where the “Country of Liars” title fits to a T with the viewer and Kino being fed only small fractions of the story from each person she encounters. The townspeople are lead to believe that the hero fell into madness after he accidentally killed his lover, who happened to be the princess in disguise, during the rebellion against the empire where he threw a grenade at the royal family’s car. They look at his desperation and delirious begging to see if his lover might be out there somewhere with pity, and continue to feed him the lie that she’s still off somewhere. This is the first thing we’re lead to believe as we see him race back and forth to any running engine sound to see if it’s her.
That’s only a fraction of the truth, however, as the hero’s housekeeper tells Kino in confidence that she is actually the princess this whole time, and faked her death so that she could stay with him without him knowing. She plays along with the town’s mentality of watching over him to ensure that she can still stay with him for a lifetime while keeping her identity as his lover a secret from him and the town to maintain stability. At this point, we’re left to believe in the bittersweet love story angle…until the hero reveals at the end that he knows all along that his housekeeper was his lover/the princess the whole time, and continues the facade of being overwhelmed with denial and madness to the townspeople as a way of keeping the peace. So we’re left now with a happy ending where they couple both knows about each other’s existence, yet happily keeps their lies going as to make sure they can live peacefully outside the forest without anyone finding out that the princess and the royal family weren’t in the exploded car.
The lieception of the Country of Liars was a fun story to watch unfold considering how slowly we find out how much of the information Kino is told is truth, and how much is a lie carried through to preserve the order and tranquility of the town. There are parts of the story that are neat to examine such as how truthful the housekeeper is about her reveal to Kino after the hero says that he’s happy living with his lover while lying to the townspeople about being driven mad, or how much the housekeeper and the hero know about each other’s secrets. Just how far the lies go was absorbing in its own right, but this and the first segment drive home their look into reasons why some people lie for the sake of tranquility and a stable mentality.