Warning for SPOILERS in this review.
Shizu, Riku, and Ti travel to a fairly pleasant country in the hopes of being able to settle down there. However, on their second day in the country, the three of them encounter a horrible tragedy. A teacher is found to have suddenly murdered all of his students. The people of the country, although horrified, chalk his behavior up to “radio waves” produced by old radio towers installed long ago that were meant to control slaves.
Shizu volunteers himself to check out these radio towers and destroy them. However, when he actually visits the radio towers (that lie in some kind of forbidden zone the citizens aren’t allowed to access), he finds that they have already broken down due to age. Shizu photographs these ruined radio towers and tries to hand them over to the police as proof that radio waves aren’t influencing anyone, and the murderer was acting of his own will. However, the citizens of the country vehemently reject this idea, thinking that the photos must be doctored somehow.
The citizens attempt to force Shizu and co. into rehabilitation, believing that they’ve fallen mad due to the influence of the radio waves. But thanks to Ti’s quick (albeit violent) thinking, Shizu and co. manage to escape unscathed. Before Shizu leaves for good, he tells the chief policeman a lie about the towers, leaving the final outcome of the country’s fate in the man’s hands.
Before the episode ends, there is a mini-segment where Riku is tasked with watching over Ti for an entire day while Shizu works for money.
Poor Shizu can’t seem to catch a break, can he? That said, I’m not too sure exactly how I feel about this episode. It was alright, I guess.
I do like the message here, in that the citizens of this country are more willing to pin the blame on some outside “entity” for their problems rather than own up to the fact that their people are capable of doing horrible things. It’s easier to resign yourself to being a victim of some unstoppable force than face the ugly reality of things. And I still like that Shizu is a character made to contrast against Kino. While Kino is perfectly happy being a passive observer, Shizu always attempts to help the people he meets. The only problem with Shizu is that he far too often interferes in matters he doesn’t fully understand, under the (possibly) naiive notion that he can make things better for people. Unfortunately, this has backfired on him twice now. Fortunately, Shizu appears to be learning from his mistakes. His final words to the police chief would hopefully inspire some slow change in the country, because Shizu realizes that any change on a grand scale has to start from the inside.
While I liked the message of this episode, I am starting to become really concerned that all Shizu-focused episodes will play out in the same way. Just like how all of Kino’s episodes have some sort of “gotcha” type plot twist; both of Shizu’s episodes basically feature him trying to fix things and having the citizens turn on him. This episode felt almost like a rehash of the ship country episode (episode 4), except with less disastrous results. And honestly, I’m not sure which of the episodes I prefer. Like the ship country episode, this one also felt extremely rushed.
The one thing that felt stronger in this episode than the ship country episode is the character development. Ti gets quite a bit of time to shine here, as well as Riku. As terrifying as Ti can be, she’s still just a kid who’s sort of clueless about the world around her. And as nice as Riku appears, he fully admits here that he was ready and willing to kill a child (Ti) if it came to that. Holy crap, Riku. Luckily the two seem to have become friends, which hopefully means that Ti becomes a little less stabby/grenade-happy in the future. I also do really like the setting of this particular country, which has a strongly mid-1900s American vibe to it.
I’m actually kind of surprised that we have gotten so many episodes in a row where Kino isn’t the character focused on. While Kino did appear last episode, it felt more like an episode about their master rather than about Kino themself. And Kino did not even appear once in this episode. I don’t mind this so much, but I feel like a lot of other fans are pretty annoyed about this; as this series is already slated to be a one-cour anime. It’s kind of weird that a series named “Kino’s Journey” doesn’t focus that much on the title character. Oh well. One last nitpick I have to point out for episode 8 is… why the hell does Ti have so many grenades. Why the hell does Shizu let this child carry grenades. Shizu, you are not a responsible parent.
Out of five: