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    Review of KINO NO TABI by Keiichi Sigsawa


    TokyoPop, October 2006

    When they turn twelve, the children in the village become adults. Through an operation, they give up what they wish and follow in their parents' profession. But when a traveler visits the village and talks with an eleven-year-old, she wonders if there might not be some other possibility. Changing fate is difficult, and not without cost, however. The girl is forced to flee her home, along with the motorcycle the traveler healed and takes on his name--Kino.

    Once out of her village, Kino decides to be a traveler, never staying more than three days in any one location. She visits different communities, each afflicted by something. In one, the citizens achieved the dreams of the holy, being able to perceive others' thoughts and emotions. In another, democracy had been pursued to the extreme. One city had been almost destroyed by war, but found a way to have its war without subjecting its citizens to the death and misery that war entails. In another, a king forces all visitors into a deathmatch, with the survivor becoming a citizen.

    Author Keiichi Sigsawa tells his story straightforwardly. Kino may learn lessons, but she rarely shares them with her motorcycle sidekick, and even more rarely with the reader. Indeed, a part of the stark beauty of this story is the matter-of-fact way it approaches the horrible.

    Of the stories that make up Kino's travel, I found the war story most moving. The citizens of a warlike city-state realized that they suffered too much by waging war on an enemy with equal power and equal technology. Only by waging war on a more primative people could they stay safe--but then, how would that lead to a resolution to their differences with their powerful neighbor? Although KINO NO TABI was written in 2000 (English language release in 2006), this war scene reminded me of the way war is now played by the superpowers.

    KINO NO TABI is written in simple language and will certainly be popular with the youth and young adult market. Yet there is a deeper message here that will repay careful reading by even the most fully adult (unless, that is, the adult had suffered the operation).

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 7/18/06

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