Kino no Tabi ~ The Beautiful World ~ Episode 1: Perception and Morality

Episode one of Kino’s Journey began with a bang – literally, ending with gunfight, and more importantly in the way we’ve come to expect from Kino on Tabi with philosophical questions. I may end up blogging this series episodically, and if I do, I intend to take a format that fits with the spirit of the show, ending by asking you a question associated with that episode.

Kino enters a country where the rule is that killing is not prohibited. On the way, she meets a man headed to the same county because he wants to be a in place where he can kill freely. Kino, of course, is more peaceable, using violence only when needed, and she discovers that the town seems peaceful as well. The residents are kind and there is no sign of outward violence, though peculiar asides and the presence of weapons everywhere are a curiosity. What exactly is the deal here?

kino's journey 2017 episode 1

Ultimately, Kino becomes involved in an incident (spoilers ahead) where she is rescued by the citizens who kill the would-be killer. We discover in a twist that I don’t fully understand, honestly, that the country is populated largely by murderers, and they often kill other murderers who arrive with the intent of disturbing the peace. Kino is treated kindly by a serial killer who leads the nation, and is kind to him in return.

On the way out, the question is really pressed when things come full circle and Kino runs into another man headed to the country. This man has also killed, but is looking for a peaceful place where he doesn’t have to kill anymore. Kino tells the man that the country she just left is perfect for him. The idea expressed here is perhaps that killing isn’t always bad, but further, in the eyes of some, harsh, violence judgement carried out by immoral people can be a good thing.

Wait..is this a Halloween episode?

So I want to leave this general question to you to answer:

Does morality change depending on perspective or experience?

I’m eager to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Kino no Tabi ~ The Beautiful World ~ The Animation can be streamed on Hulu.

12 thoughts on “Kino no Tabi ~ The Beautiful World ~ Episode 1: Perception and Morality

  1. “Sin” is contextual, but many folks lack the patience required for dealing in subtlety and instead try to use broad strokes and paint everything in an “always good” or “always bad” light.

    When David killed Goliath, that was good. When Cain killed Abel, that was bad.

    The context of their actions, and whether those aligned with God’s desires, is ultimately what determines whether an act like killing is “sin” or not. This is, again, confounded by the subtlety of God no longer giving direct and detailed revelation as seen throughout the Old Testament. God doesn’t tell us who to vote for, which career would make us happier, or stop us from making bad choices, up to and including sin.

    For “morality” to be coherent, it requires grounding in something objectively true, which is what forms the philosophical need for God as the objective source for morals. Without God, there is no definitive “right” or “wrong”, morality becomes entirely utilitarian and eventually nihilistic.

    “Will my needs and desires be met?”

    “How do I defeat death and live forever?”

    “How does this help me?”

    “Will anything I do matter in the long run?”

    Part of the allure of good fiction is the ability to pattern real human dynamics into a fictional setting in order to run a thought experiment. When done poorly, the “reasons” for a particular dynamic never rise above “just because”.

    While I haven’t watched the show, it seems like the episode was trying to say that “when consequences are understood, even murderers are made peaceful.”

    One of the greatest difficulties in witnessing to an unbeliever about Jesus Christ is that the eternal consequences of their actions don’t make any sense, let alone understanding the temporal consequences fully. The murderers living in relative peace all understand the cost of their actions, and so their behavior is guided by their full and complete understanding of the consequences.

    “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” – Robert A. Heinlein

    Failing to understand the consequences played a role in our own fall from God’s grace, so it is interesting to hear how the show handled it. I’ll have to check the anime out for myself as well if this is the philosophical depth to the soil they’ve planted it in. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your response, Nate – so eloquently put! The importance of context can’t be understated, and without it both believers and non-believers, each in a different sense, are lost.

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  2. “An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” – Robert A. Heinlein from his book, Beyond This Horizon.

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  3. The way I see it the twist is that while de jure it’s perfectly fine to kill anyone, members of that community made a conscious decision not to execute that right unless it’s a case of meting out punishment. Even in that case one might say that it’s an act of collective will of the people, anyone could have killed that guy, not just Regel, who was acting more like a representative of the community rather than a private person. All in all, it’s an interesting combination of a written law and an unwritten social norm.

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    1. It’s an interesting idea…but I wonder, too, why they decided that the guy deserved punishment? Is it out of some morality (which is strange, of course, with Regel’s reputation – if true) or is it about self-preservation? Or something else?

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    1. No, I watched the CR version in which, I believe, Kino self-identified as male. I call Kino a female mostly based on the previous anime (though I understand the lack of connection between that one and this new series).

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  4. Personally I thought it was a very interesting representation of old testament laws. I can’t remember the exact verse but it’s something like “killing those that have spilled blood leaves no blood on one’s hands” so using violence to stop a murderer is not murder in itself. In that way, the same action can have multiple meanings, some moral and some evil. If you kill someone in self-defense you are not a murderer but if you kill to steal from someone you are. The act of killing is the same but the morality is different. In that way, I guess it could be argued morality can be more than black and white and maybe change based on perspective but in the end I’m hesitant to say morality is totally flexible.

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    1. Those are good examples of what makes this question a bit of a conundrum. I wonder if maybe the better question for me to have posited instead was, are there circumstances under which morality does not depend on experience/perspective, under which is is not flexible?

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