「羊たちの草原」 (Hitsuji-tachi no Sougen)
“Fields of Sheep”
What an odd way to end this. Of all the stories to end on, they choose one where Kino has to fight against a swarm of killer sheep. To say this was ridiculous and out of place for the series would be an understatement. To go from all of these relatively deep yet fantastical journeys into dystopian and utopian societies to Kino moving down CGI sheep as she sets them on fire and jumps over a ravine in Evel Knievel fashion was a misfire. The final note was nice because I would like to see a lot more of the series, and would be open to seeing another season or movie emerge from the returning interest in making more material for Kino, especially with Aoi Yuuki on board. Still, This doesn’t leave the series on a high note, and would have been much better served either cut entirely from the remake or positioned somewhere in the middle. It just seems like there were so many great contenders for where to end it such as the Country for Adults, the Kind Country, or Various Countries, but Fields of Sheep was not a good choice.
The most important thing that this revamp of Kino no Tabi has done is refresh the audience’s memories about how great the series was. It glosses through some of Kino’s most memorable stories in a way that is sure to please those who have been itching to see them animated in all their glory. Unfortunately, this revamp is better served as a reminder to check out the original stories or the older anime since this newer show speeds through much of the material. As a result, it loses the emotional core that made many of the stories compelling, and does a disservice to the philosophical conversations that the stories tried to start by racing to their conclusion.
By all means, it is an anime that is still worth watching. Most of the episodes are very well-done in getting their points across on Kino’s perspective and what she learns about the towns she visits. The artwork is stunning, and does an efficient job at incorporating some CGI without it being overly jarring or disappointing. And above all else, Yuuki Aoi remains to be a force to be reckoned with as she did an amazing job at capturing the multiple layers of Kino. Her aloof, neutral behavior she normally expresses outwardly, the vulnerabilities during her Sakura days, and the out-of-character moments where Kino is genuinely frustrated or amused are all portrayed effectively by Yuuki, and any fears that she would be miscast went out the window with her performance in the first episode.
If there’s anything to take away from the series, it’s that Kino no Tabi is still worth investing time into. The lessons and musings we get from her journeys are just as important and significant as they were when the first anime and light novel translations were released. You might not get the most optimal experience of her travels out of this anime and might work better as fanservice for those who have already read/seen the stories before, but that doesn’t undercut how terrific the series is. I would hope that this remake is able to give the series enough momentum to grow, and eventually bring Yuuki back to portray her again, preferably in a movie or OVA. Until then, we still have the light novels to look forward to!