「優しい国」 (Yasashii Kuni)
This was definitely one of the most harrowing series of twists that Kino no Tabi has offered so far. A majority of the episode is built on how surprisingly wonderful the villagers of the Kind Country are to Kino, and how her bond with Sakura grows as she starts to see her as a little sister while she guides her around town. And then, they hit you with a punch in the gut as a volcano destroys the entire town after Kino leaves. As she rummages through the bag she was given, she finds that the town knew that they were all going to be killed that day, and decided as a collective to stay behind to give the town one last hurrah. As if that wasn’t painful enough, she also found the seed that Sakura found with Kino, claming that she can have it because she won’t need it. It’s like this story wants to torture you with how agonizing it is to know that all of these people are now dead and gone.
In particular, memory is important to the Kind Country to such a high degree that their behavior when Kino comes over hopes to have her act as the town’s living will, making a good impression on at least one person so that they won’t be forever known for their past behavior towards travelers. The brief mention of Shishou by the gun shop owner makes me think that she imprinted something on the town to make them completely turned off from making life easier on those who pass by, but it took some strength for the town to focus more on the positive memories built around their town such as the story told in the play. The owner wanting to give away his gun for her to take with her on her journey was also very bittersweet in hind-sight as now he can life his last days knowing that his prized possession will live on through the travels Kino goes on. Their awareness of the town’s negative reputation about travelers seemed to be the one thing they wanted to correct before they were all wiped out, so to roll out the red carpet for Kino meant hopefully having her preserve their memory.
What’s immensely heart-wrenching about their desire for preservation is how much of an impression Sakura made on Kino. Many of the great memories that Kino was left with as she left town were how she was able to share sentimental moments with her tour-guide Sakura, enjoying the town’s festivities, food, and sights together. It was sweet to see how caring Kino was to her, giving her a part of the bouquet she caught at a wedding, and going far enough to immerse herself into the town’s culture for her sake. Sakura was also adorable in how excited she was about showing Kino around town, and hanging out with her during her stay. It’s a huge reason why it was too much to bear hearing from the letter that Sakura could have left the town with Kino and lived had she not expressed interest in inheriting the inn. I was looking forward to this episode because the last one was a lot of fun, but the story of the Kind Country was way more powerful and depressing in comparison. I’m wondering how the next pair of episodes that were selected for this adaptation will fare now that we’ve gotten some interesting ones lately, especially since the next one is adapting the Land of Adults.