Kino’s Journey ~ The Beautiful World ~ Episode 8: More Than Radio Waves

Episode eight of Kino’s Journey takes us once again away from Kino and Hermes, this time following Shizu and Riku on their travels after they’ve picked up Ti. The trio is looking for a country in which to permanently settle, while simultaneously helping Ti learn how to function in a less volatile, more usual manner. Neither has been easy.

You can take the girl out of servitude but you can’t take the hand grenade from the girl.

During the first half of the episode, the three happen upon a country that Shizu takes a liking to. Things begin to go awry, though, when a mass murder occurs; it’s blamed on radio waves apparently sent out by ancient transmitter towers. Shizu questions the authorities in regards to this explanation, as it makes little sense (he has also seen the eyes of the murderer, which make him appear to be under the influence of drugs).

Later, the country turns on Shizu, Riku, and Ti, who had gone out and found evidence that the radio waves had nothing to do with violence in the country. Smacking of vigilantes, the residents, including law enforcement and journalists, claim that the three are now under the influence of radio waves. Of course, Shizu is able to lead his group out safely.

The second half follows a day in life of Ti and Riku, with Shizu out earning money for their travels. The two bond a bit as Riku teaches Ti and also comes to understand her a bit more. Later, when discussing the day, Riku guiltily explains that he would have killed Ti when she stabbed Shizu. But he now knows her better and sees her as a friend.

That idea, that we judge one another quickly without all the information, without knowing that person, is a theme that connects the two half-episodes. In the first, the residents of the country deem the travelers as under the influence of radio waves and as a danger, rather than as the kind, helpful people we as the audience know them to be. In the second half, Riku comes to know Ti better after initially identifying her only as a threat.

In my life, I all too often make judgment calls about people based on limited information and without grace. Sometimes, that quick judgment is necessary, but in other instances, it can be poisonous. I dehumanize people around me—those who do me wrong, individuals in the news or in human interest stories, or even entire groups of people, if I’m being completely honest. I simplify them, as if they’re objects, rather than consider the complex conglomerate of environment, experience, genetics, and all sorts of other variables that make up a person. I also fail to apply grace when I would hope that would be applied to me.

I have a feeling I’m not alone in doing such. So my question this week is about how we think about those we know very little about:

Do you see strangers humans, in all their complexity, or as something less?

Let us know your thoughts below!

Stream Kino’s Journey on Crunchyroll.

2 thoughts on “Kino’s Journey ~ The Beautiful World ~ Episode 8: More Than Radio Waves

  1. I suppose the first story gets lost in translation of culture/language. Denpa (this time translated as “radio waves”) is a very real concept in Japan that has an entire character archetype based around it. While its origins lie in the literal idea of people who can receive electromagnetic signals that nobody else can perceive, it’s been expanded to simply people who behave/speak exceptionally weird. While it is used in jest, unlike in Kino, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s also used to avoid discussing the actual problems of mental illness.

    A country that is peaceful and pleasant on the surface but every now and then has a horrible incident that’s swept under the rug with pretenses that ignore the underlying causes of the crime is basically Japan. The country turning on Shizu and co. has very little to do with them being strangers and everything to do with them upsetting the status quo and trying to make the people face the truth nobody is willing to accept. This is almost exactly what happens in Japan every time someone seriously talks about mental illness: they are shunned by society for it, and it doesn’t matter if they are strangers or not. Because there’s no way mental illness could be a thing; it’s much easier to just joke about people being denpa and warn others not to be infected too while continuing to pretend their society has no major problems.

    It’s a similar phenomenon seen in Sangatsu where bullying couldn’t possibly be the issue; it’s the victim’s fault for refusing to get along with others. In Kino, it’s taken to the extreme, but that’s what the series always does to make its points.

    1. No thanks, Kaze—I have no need for your contextual interpretation of the episode based on “facts” and such. 😛

      Haha, thanks for the insight, though. There’s certain spillage of that mentality from east Asian cultures into Asian-American culture. Hopefully 2nd and 3rd generation folks here are doing a better job with attending to mental illness (I think we are), and my hope is the same will gradually happen in places like Japan.

      I will mention that the idea of a stranger scapegoat is more based on me trying to create a question that addresses both halves of the episode, though, and not on the theme of the “radio waves” portion. 😛

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