“K” is for…

Sometimes a review just grabs me:

“Meet Kino, a free-thinking, pint-size world traveler who cruises the globe on a talking motorcycle, fighting injustice wherever she finds it. She’s a cultural relativist, kinda, but she definitely knows the difference between right and wrong. She’s like Tank Girl meets Kant, only more butch than both. She’s my new personal hero.”

It’s of Kino no Tabi by Keiichi Sigsawa, one of the light novels being published by Tokyopop, and it sounds really intriguing. The question is, am I ready to throw even more money at manga publishers for prose? I’m not inclined to pick up novelizations of manga series, but stuff like this certainly catches my eye. Has anyone read it?

And oh, happy day! A listing for King of Thorn by Iwahara Yuji has shown up on Tokyopop’s web site. Sure, it doesn’t come out until June, but if it’s half as good as Chikyu Misaki (CMX), then I’ll avoid the rush and commence anticipatory hovering now.

17 Responses to “K” is for…

  1. Brigid says:

    I haven’t read it, but my 13-year-old daughter did, and she really likes it. It’s not real long, and the cover is beautiful. It’s a slim volume, definitely a YA novel, but it’s also the first of eight. I’ll send you my copy once it’s reviewed, if you like.

  2. Brigid says:

    Oh, and I just noticed it has a cover blurb from the editor of CosmoGIRL!

  3. […] Welsh asks if anyone has read Kino no Tabi, and what they thought of […]

  4. Tivome says:

    Kino no Tab a YA novel? If you count complex and shocking morality tales on war, genocide, cannibalism, and child abuse young adult, then I guess it qualifies.

    I’ve only watch the anime series, but it’s one of those special gems which make you thankful that you’ve discovered this medium.

  5. davidpwelsh says:

    Brigid: That would be great, if you and your daughters are willing to part with it.

    Tivome: I think YA novels, graphic or otherwise, can be about anything, really. The more challenging the material the better, I say.

  6. Jarred says:

    I’ve read it and it is enjoyable. It’s a set of short stories really, each with its own morality tale that isn’t shoved down your throat but rather explored. Kino has to make difficult decisions, sometimes ones that she doesn’t feel are right as well, and there is room left for the reader to form their own opinion as well. And yes, Kino herself rocks.

    It’s also the original source material for the anime, so it’s not a novelization. Tokyopop did a good job, using the same translator as the Boogiepop novels/manga.

  7. Tivome says:

    David, I guess I just don’t see anyone publishing these novels for younger teens. These were seinen novels, really written for adults. I would probably have problem with anyone under 16 reading it alone. It brings out a lot of good issues which warrants discussion, and it’s anything but a fluffy time-killer for early teens. If I had a young daughter and she read the part about Kino’s origins, I would definitely want to have a talk with her. I must also say that the cannibal story left me and my wife feeling uneasy for days afterwards; I can’t imagine how an early teen would feel. It’s a wonderful piece of work, but I just won’t characterize it as YA.

  8. Tivome says:

    Also, due to the limitation of English, it’s sad to see that one of the best mysteries of Kino is so easily spoiled by the English blurb. Sigh.

  9. davidpwelsh says:

    Fair enough, Tivome, and it’s always interesting to me to see how target audiences shift when something goes into translation. For instance, I’d never really given Drifting Classroom’s origins any thought before I read Kethylia’s review.

  10. dm says:

    I don’t believe Kino’s gender was ever meant to be ambiguous or a mystery. My Japanese-speaking son recognized the feminine speech-forms she uses right away.

    The first novel’s stories were adapted pretty directly into the anime (though I don’t recall the snow-bound tale being in the first volume — I expect it will be in one of the subsequent volumes). The prose in this novel is quite good — as pointed out, TokyoPop used the same translator as Seven Seas’ Boogiepop Phantom translations (TokyoPop’s Crest of the Stars translations are not as good). They’re existential morality tales, and I find the books to be quite good (I also think the first volume is acceptable for anyone over 13).

  11. Tivome says:

    I did a little research in Japanese to verify the target audience for Kino no Tabi, and I did confirm that it was serialized in the one of the best selling seinen (men’s) light novel magazines (monthly magazines similar to manga mags, only they publish serialized prose fiction) Dengeki HP, part of the Mediaworks Dengeki manga empire. This is the same magazine which feature the very popular light novel/anime series “Bokusatsu Tenshi”, a story about a bumbling angel who repeatedly kill the person she’s trying to save. Well, if Afternoon can publish “Gunsmith Cats Burst” and “Yokohama Kaidaishi Kikou” in the same mag, I guess Kino and Dokuro-chan can share the same pages as well. So I guess Japan, ‘Kino no Tabi” is targeted toward same 20 something male Otaku crowd who has converted en mass to Haruhi-ism.

  12. Dirk Deppey says:

    I likewise came to this series from the anime, and enjoyed both very much. It doesn’t quite surprise me that the original light-novel series was targeted toward twentysomething men, but that said, I gave the anime DVD set to my precocious thirteen-year-old niece a few years back, and she ate them up and demanded more.

  13. davidpwelsh says:

    Ah, and Netflix seems to have the anime. Now, the eternal question… book or adaptation first?

  14. Dirk Deppey says:

    Couldn’t tell you; I saw the anime several years before reading the book, and it’s what made the initial impression, but the spread between the two experiences was too great for me to answer the question.

  15. Demian says:

    Interestingly enough, I just reviewed the book yesterday on my blog, in case you want to read it. I would say give the book a shot. It’s a good tale that you could probably read in an hour. It’s hardly the worst thing I’ve ever wasted ten bucks on.

  16. davidpwelsh says:

    Thanks, Demian! There seems to be an overwhelming consensus in favor, so on the list it goes.

  17. Andre says:

    I got it awhile back, and read a chapter here and there…… it was a nice view to take in, and full of fascinating little moments and stories. Nothing too heavy [well, if you don’t mind grim depications of death and despair too much], as each chapter is self contained, and the banter between Hermes and Kino keeps things entertaining even in darker moments.

    I’d say it’s worth your time. Each chapter is self contained, and it’s a pretty light read. The dialogue and prose flow pretty well, and the illustrations are appreciated when they pop up. Tp’s packaging of the book is pretty slick too, with nicer paper then they use on their manga.

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