Once again, there are SPOILERS.
A group of traveling merchants travels around with an unlucky slave girl, who they show no remorse about bullying, scolding, and constantly abusing. Only one man shows any sort of pity towards the girl’s situation.
Despite being constantly abused, the girl still has a good and honest heart and never wishes to hurt the people who own her. She discovers too late that the herbs the merchants had picked to make their dinner are poisonous, and try to warn them. However, they refuse to listen and end up dying; save for the man who showed her pity, although he’s still poisoned and on the verge of death.
After freeing her from her chains, the man makes the slave girl unknowingly kill him with a shotgun. Horrified by this, the slave girl is now left all alone… save for a talking motorrad. The slave girls wonders what to do to die, still feeling regret over not being able to save the merchants. However, the motorrad just tells her to keep on living and go traveling, as all humans will die eventually.
And so, the girl and the motorrad go traveling. The girl eventually settles down in another country and works as a photographer, thus earning her the name, “Photo.”
Gosh, this episode was difficult to watch. I was almost tempted to say that the merchants cruelty was exaggerated, but that’s not really that far off from the reality, is it? When people gain ownership of other people, seeing these people as less-than-human; they are capable of doing some horrible things. Although it wasn’t pleasant to watch, I appreciate that Kino no Tabi isn’t afraid of showing off the darker side of humanity.
As cruel as it is to say, the merchants really got what they deserved.
(Especially that little boy because damn, what a shitstain.) I mean, really; how are you guys seasoned traveling merchants and yet you’re dumb enough to just eat random plants that you’ve found on the road? It would have been less traumatizing to the girl-later-known-as-Photo if she had been freed in a less unpleasant manner, but… well.
I’m really glad that Photo was portrayed as a good, kind-hearted girl from the start. This storyline could have easily made Photo murder the merchants, which; while understandable, would have made the message of the story something like “all humans are cruel people who have no qualms about hurting others for their own gain.” Instead, the message of this episode is actually something more akin to “sometimes good people manage to catch a break,” which is far more uh… “hopeful” of a message that we usually get for Kino no Tabi. The merchants dying felt more like divine intervention/karmic retribution. I’m sad that the man who pitied Photo had to die–I wouldn’t have minded if he had lived and the two went traveling together. But I suppose he felt that he needed to atone in some way, since he was also complicit in letting the other merchants abuse her.
Anyway, the end of the episode reveals that Photo manages to find a new life (which she greatly deserved). The motorrad, named “Sou,” has a bit of a sassy and snarky personality, but it’s thanks to them that Photo continued living. It’s a shame that we skip over all of the stuff that led to Photo becoming a photographer–I would have liked to see that. Since Photo shows up in the OP, it’s likely we’ll be seeing her and Sou again later on in the series.
Overall, a good episode. The atmosphere and animation in this episode were top-notch. The story was admittedly pretty predictable and straight-forward, since the merchants were acting so shitty they were all pretty much guaranteed to die. I don’t think there was a real “twist” in this episode (apart from maybe the merchants dying from their own stupidity), but that’s fine. Not every story needs a big twist to be well-written. Seeing Photo being able to escape her bad fate and find a new future was satisfying.
Out of five: