Not everything in Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World is painted with a grim color. Throughout Iruka Shiomiya’s adaptation of Keiichi Sigsawa’s original light novels, there are moments where Kino and their talking motorrad Hermes get a break from the chaotic countries that they often pass through. Thankfully, there finally has come a time where the place they traverse has something good coming out of their situation.

In its fourth volume, Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World has our travelers entering a country where past leaders are immortalized for their good deeds. However, a citizen itching to fly is causing some hoopla in the city streets, to the point where Kino and Hermes aim to assist the flyer-to-be in her quest to get her machine in the air. A trip to a town once wrecked by civil war reveals a love for a painter’s works, although the town’s interpretation of the art pieces are drastically different from what the drawer was attempting to convey. Plus, a familiar face returns to see a town Kino passed through via a pair of different eyes.

The story of the flyer gives way to a vibe that’s been pretty different compared to past chapters. Most of the time, Kino comes across a place that seems nice, only for it to reveal its true dark self. Here, the story just has people not believing in the flying peripheral in a similar fashion as when the Wright Brothers attempted to take to the air. This does lead to an outcome that can be pretty humorous, as the citizens and even its leader are left speechless by what occurs.

As for the other story revolving around the painter, it’s nice to see a new perspective of an area that differs from Kino’s. Returning from the third volume, Shizu and his dog Riku enter a town that acts as if they’ve been bamboozled by an artist. (In hindsight, it’s really the city’s fault for not understanding the painter’s passion.) Because of this, we are given the chance to see two moments in the artist’s life: one filled with happiness via Kino, and another looking defeated and lacking passion via Shizu. It’s a sad story to witness, especially when you see citizens chucking his hard work into one bonfire after another.

However, I do have a slight problem with one of the stories that’s told. An incident involving Kino watching a couple argue over their child may seem trivial, but it deals with a mother wanting their young son to wear a bulletproof vest as the father calls the act cowardly. It’s when the son finally speaks up and says that he doesn’t want to go to war when the tone can get rather uncomfortable. Even more so is the way Kino uncharacteristically removes themselves from the situation, leaving the poor child to probably die in a war he does not want any part of. It left a bad taste in my mouth, needless to say.

Despite this setback, Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World delivers some wonderful storytelling filled with a great mixture of joy and sorrow in its fourth volume. It’s a nice change in pace for a narrative that has somewhat uttered the “Beautiful” part in its title with gritted teeth, especially when it comes to one of the manga’s more positive scenarios. Still, Kino’s Journey never shies away from the fact that our hero and talking bike are riding through a dangerous time in the history of humanity. Where it will go is anyone’s guess, but one hopes that its final destination — whenever that occurs — will be free of any bumps on its road.

FINAL GRADE:

Promotional consideration provided by Tomo Tran of Vertical Comics

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