Kino’s Journey ~ The Beautiful World ~ Episode 5: Liars and Lovers

Episode five of Kino no Tabi concerns itself with how we choose to live our lives. It begins with Kino finishing up a stay in a country where she and Hermes speak to another motorrad, once belonging to that country’s greatest hero, but now standing still and on display as an artifact at a museum. The bike feel he’s in “hell,” stuck and unable to do what he is meant to, which is simply to ride.

Most of the episode, however, focuses on Kino’s next journey, to a nation where she meets a man who has gone insane waiting for his lover, apparently now on a journey, to return to him. We later find that she neither went on a trip or left him; the lover, who was the nation’s former princess, was killed by the man during a coup, leading to his insanity. The residents don’t have the heart to do anything more than play along with him, keeping up the lie.

Hermes, telling it like it is.

A further, more remarkable lie is exposed when the man’s caretaker reveals that she is actually the princess. She survived the ordeal, and returned years later out of love for the man. She doesn’t mind that he doesn’t recognize her or understand that it is she he has been waiting for. The former princess is happy to sacrifice and remain by his side, even in his condition. But as the show ends, we learn something else—the woman’s lie isn’t the most shocking secret of all.

But all these falsehoods, down to the citizens trying to keep their friend from hurt, are all based in love. All the people in the town, all the liars, carry a burden. I’ve asked the question before about whether it’s ever okay to lie; this week, I want to focus instead on the reason for that lie—on love, and especially because there were some tender moments in this series that I thought were pretty heartfelt. It made ponder the nature of love and wonder how I would describe it using the best wording I could and in a succinct manner. And so I lay that same question out before you:

In one sentence, how would you define love?

Please let us know in the comments below.


Kino’s Journey is streaming on Crunchyroll.

8 thoughts on “Kino’s Journey ~ The Beautiful World ~ Episode 5: Liars and Lovers

    1. That’s an interesting definition and one that hadn’t occurred to me. I think there’s some complexity here—for instance, “wishing good” could involve action, and to me, it also speaks of sincerity, which I think it absolutely necessary for love.

      1. Yeah. wishing good involves action. I don’t mean a mere wish, but working to do so if need be. And I believe it must always be worked at, since “love” without action is merely playacting.

  1. The first story was not a fluke or random thing, in the context of the whole it leads to a greater sense of epiphany to the twist at the end of the second story.

    The short story of the bike is meant to taint the viewers mind – prime you into thinking that the man who is being lied to is suffering. You can see how of then the camera glances at him feeling sad when he talks about his girlfriend.

    Another interesting aspect is you can see how Kino operates – at the end of the first story he tells the boy to go talk to the motorcade – the implication being that Kino is setting up a situation where the motorcade might be stolen by the kid (the kid wants to leave, the bike wants to leave…)

    One might be thinking that Kino is plotting some way of making the man happy in much the same way that he attempted to leave the previous city with less suffering despite not being able act on the situation himself. The viewer is left wondering what he’s going to do… just as the man runs out of the city to confront Kino and tell him is secret.

    The story trick they are pulling here is sly, and its not obvious to most viewers what they are doing. I only noticed it because I’m interested in how to use similar psychological priming tricks to guide players in video games. In my head I think of these things is much the same way as a story teller – mechanics in a narrative aren’t that much different from mechanics in a video game – they are meant to guide a player into a certain experience. And like most video games, you aren’t meant to notice the trick.

  2. Given my previous blurb on the story. I’d define this kind of love as “the willingness to suffer for another’s happiness.” This is why a strong loving relationship makes both parties better off – they both suffer so the other might be happy. We see this trope in the stories like – where the irony aspect is used to emphasize the willingness to sacrifice. (interestingly, the ‘magi’ here is a reference to an aspect of the story of Jesus, who ‘loved us so much’ that he sacrificed himself for our sins)

    1. That’s a really interesting definition, and I like it—very poetic, but still ringing true.

      Also, just of note, I reside in a city where O.Henry, writer of “The Gift of the Magi,” once lived and he’s pretty venerated here, flaws and all. I sometimes think about his stories, particularly that one, which I think offers us more than a course in irony. The willingness to suffer to others may rise—beautiful and apt at any time in any culture, perhaps because God himself put designed us to love.

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