No. Just no. There are two layers of issues here – one for fans of the original anime adaptation of the light novels and/or fans of the original light novels, and another for people who haven’t even heard of Kino before – and these two layers are basically one and the same.
There’s no atmosphere. The art is super moe cutesy bright and vibrant as if someone watched the original and thought it was an ACCIDENT that the show was so bleak, drab, and had a scanline filter so subtle some people never even noticed it until a re-watch that added so fucking much to the overall feeling of every second of the show. Every character now looks like they’re from Love Live, Kino literally turns into a shitty CG doll for half the scenes so she basically IS a character from that anyway, the entire setting is super colorful at all times, even at night it’s bright and pretty and welcoming. Why’s that matter? It’s just the visuals! Well, it matters because the show, even the LN for that matter, really is about that atmosphere – without it you just have generic tales of generic places. It’s that atmosphere that sets it apart and makes it work – and makes the concept of the world sometimes being a very ugly dark place that’s beautiful for it at the same time able to work as well. This was not an action show, not a character development show, not an “adventure” show – it was a show entirely about atmosphere and tone. Neither of those things is here, the tone is just the most generic thing possible and there is literally nothing there that could be called atmosphere – the soul of Kino is missing in exchange for flashy bright images, terrible CG, and cartoony villains.
Speaking of that last thing, this also lacks absolutely any fucking subtlety about anything, maybe just slightly more than Inuyashiki managed. I’m not joking here, every single step of the way is handled so goddamn poorly to the point it GENUINELY feels insulting at times and makes you feel like the show is treating you like a dumb sack of shit who doesn’t deserve to watch it because it’s just TOO INTELLIGENT in it’s armchair made of it’s massive brain. Everything is spelled out in dialogue, everything is spelled out in super blatant character design and very anime over the top bullshit reaction faces, and beyond that even the conceptual writing behind it all is fucking stupid. The first episode isn’t just a messy mistake because continuing on into the next episode they even go into having everyone “bad” be just in hysterics over how evil they are and Kino doing the shadow-covered-eyes questioning them knowing the situation isn’t good that they do in all terribly done dramatic situations in anime. Not to mention the fact I just said “everyone bad” which in the original Kino wasn’t a thing – why? Because that’s the fucking POINT OF THE GODDAMN WRITING, it’s not some story about morality in fact it’s the opposite; it’s about showcasing that morality is a completely subjective thing based on the culture of the place you were raised in.
Anyway, this first country she goes to is literally just a libertarian dream where everyone is super peaceful even though absolutely everyone has a gun and the right to kill for any reason especially if someone violates the NAP. I’m totally fine with that concept; it fits the show, it’s statistically proven that this type of situation genuinely works much of the time so it’s not an over-the-top unbelievable concept, and it’s a good idea for an interesting but simple little one-off piece to start with and get new viewers to see what Kino is all about. Yet, because we’re being as unsubtle as possible, it’s designed like the wild west because that’s the only way anyone can understand the concept unless they threw a bunch of cheeseburgers, diesel trucks, and giant tittied women in American flag shirts in there instead. Then they keep making Kino out to be a dumbshit too who is amazed this place isn’t a bloodbath (someone like her should know enough to understand why it works) and they throw in MEGA-EDGY scenes of mega-edgy people with guns who say, no, this gun is not for defense (actually untrue, proven in the story itself, but whatever they wanted to make it sound edgy) it’s just for killing people when I feel like it while making a face only comparable to that of a Titan in AoT about to eat a small child because EDGE.
The ultimate downfall though wasn’t any of that – it was Mr. Edge Bandito, a random very super obviously fucking designed as a bad guy dude that we meet right away. He has a fucking face tattoo, a super obvious bandit-styled overall look to him, and talks very openly with Kino about his reverence and admiration for a fucking serial killer who also ran a terrorist organization and how he’s moving to this country so he can kill people for fun on whims and get trained by this serial killer until she just stops listening and leaves. Yes, that literally fucking happens, he goes on for several minutes about it because we need to really know that this guy is BAD. Truly a subtle character.
Then, as you’d assume the moment we leave DUE TO HIS SUPER EVIL GRIN HEHEHE super-subtle reaction toward her leaving, he tries killing her in town at the end of the episode because he’s EEEEVIIIILLLLL CRAZY BAD DUDEE YEAHHH FUCK YEAHHH FUCKIN EVILL DUDE FUCK YESSSS KILL EM ALL DUDE YEAHHHH WHO KNEW WHO COULD HAVE KNOWN THIS GUY WAS BAAADDD WOOAAHHH SO SUBTLE SO COOL. Then also very subtle and totally not easy to see coming, the town deals with him instead because he starts shit with Kino in the middle of it and the town, again, is not a crazy hellhole like liberals pretend it would be – it’s a place completely devoid of crime because there is actual punishment for it and he learns that quickly and the show treats this like some insane twist nobody could see coming.
I hate it. Not only does it COMPLETELY shit on what the original LN and anime were trying to do (and succeeding at doing), it’s just SHIT in general even if it was something totally new. The writing is abysmal and comes off like it’s a children’s fairytale book that teaches morals and lessons to kids with super in your face stuff to make sure you, as a child, can understand it, and really just treats you like a retarded person. It only gets worse the moment it has things you can compare to the original directly in terms of the writing.
Go watch the original adaptation, it’s fucking fantastic – a genuine classic – actually subtle, has meaningful things to say, and still holds up as having some of the best atmosphere in the medium. Now it’s Dr. Seuss for adults. What a fucking upsetting disappointment to something that had such a fantastic adaptation already and an equally great source to work with.
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