Kino No Tabi

Keiichi Sigsawa, Author, Kouhaku Kuroboshi, Illustrator , illus. by Kouhaku Kuroboshi. Tokyopop $7.99 (205p) ISBN 978-1-59816-455-8

Part of manga publisher Tokyopop's launch of its Pop Fiction imprint, this first entry in an eight-volume The Beautiful World series features an 11-year-old unnamed narrator who lives with her parents in the Land of Grownups. Here, children are carefree—until age 12, when they must undergo an operation that will transform them into grownups ("We'll open up your head and take out the child inside of you.... Then your mommy and daddy can relax, too"). Two days before her operation, the narrator meets an enigmatic man named Kino, a "professional traveler" who "cures" a broken-down motorcycle in a junk heap and raises doubts about her village's rituals. When the girl shames her family by questioning the necessity of the operation, and her father, in turn, attempts to kill her (since parents in the village "have every right to dispose of a flawed one"), Kino steps in and is killed. The girl escapes on the "cured" motorcycle, which now has the ability to talk with her, and she adopts the name Kino. From there it's an odd road tale of the girl and her talking bike, delivered in episodic manga-esque style with a new setting every few dozen pages, including a town filled with telepaths, and another built around a gruesome spectacle that's a kind of real-life violent video game, used to settle scores between feuding factions. Many ideas are introduced, few of them fully explored, but manga fans seeking more substance in their reading will likely embrace this series. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Children's
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