「大人の国」 (Otona no Kuni)
“Country of Adults”
In the original books and the 2003 anime, Kino’s past life as a young girl named Sakura was intended on being a surprise reveal. The writer(s) even wanted to make Kino gender-neutral for the most part as to not overshadow the story with everyone and their grandmothers pointing out that Kino was a female adventurer in the narrative. It’s not the best kept secret though. I, myself, am guilty of letting her sex slip around the first episode. Unfortunately, this sentiment is carried through in this adaptation since the reveal that Sakura is Kino this whole time is hindered by the many times the characters in past episodes were like “Hey viewers! Kino’s a girl!” By the time we got to this moment where we find out Kino’s past as Sakura, it will make you say “oh, that’s good to know,” rather than “wait, that’s Kino!?”
The order in which the episodes were laid out is problematic not just through the early reveal of Kino’s sex, but through how the preceding episodes compliment it for the worst. They put Country of Adults after Kind Country, but the latter would fit a lot better into the narrative far later because Kind Country is where Kino starts shifting out-of-character with her desire to break the 3-day rule, the parallels between the Sakura she used to be and the Kind Country’s Sakura, and the one point where Kino gets emotional. Country of Adults should’ve been much earlier to give us a general idea of what Kino has gone through to cause her to feel significantly different about the Kind Country. It would have us reflect on how Kino found some kind of innocence that she might’ve had in the past through the Kind Country’s Sakura, or how seeing the town get wiped out got enough shock and sadness out of her to have made her think that it was foolish for her to have tried to humor the idea of going back to being how she was when she was Sakura.
It’s a shame because it is an amazing story of when Sakura took on the name “Kino” and her occupation from an old traveler. The Old Kino had been the one person to influence her to think outside of the possibility of having surgery done to “become an adult” when he told her of the many possibilities one can take in their life. The singing was also very beautiful with Aoi Yuuki singing both in the past and present. The animation was on-point, and it adapted the story on-point. The visuals when she left the village with Hermes was stunning. It’s just the circumstances behind the pacing and order of the episode that overshadows what could’ve been an otherwise wonderful episode.