I was pretty confident Kino’s Journey would hold up to a rewatch. It’s a critics darling with a timeless art style and unique storytelling with no real obvious flaws. It tells tales that have stuck with me through the years even long after I’ve forgotten all the other anime I’d seen around it. Something I can remember that vividly was always going to hold up after a few years. Other things I watched as a teenager though I was less sure about. The more adventure style, classic anime, less critically acclaimed, popular at its time but slightly forgotten over the years anime with a dated artstyle and dodgy early 00’s CGI. Anime where I can clearly remember enjoying the hell out of it when I was 16 but can’t quite remember why, while recalling that I considered Chobits one of the greatest anime ever when I was 16. My teenager self did not have reliable taste, so I went into Full Metal Panic and Last Exile with a lot of trepidation.
I loved them both.
The interesting thing about both of them is they were both quite difficult to review and ended up being very long winded. With Kino’s Journey it was easy to pinpoint what makes this different and therefore interesting and good (and similarly with Chobits and what made it bad), Last Exile and Full Metal Panic are both broader action/adventure titles that don’t necessarily excel in any individual area but entertain constantly through numerous areas. Stuff like character development and interaction, or well choreographed fight scenes. Old-fashioned good storytelling, particularly good pacing can make for thoroughly engaging viewing. Entertaining plot threads that I genuinely cared about the resolution of so felt invested in events, while neither of them ever losing their sense of fun and adventure throughout.
Great adventure stories are perhaps the hardest to review for me. At least with some average adventure anime I don’t mind if my review gets waffley because my ultimate point will still come across that it doesn’t excel enough to warrant getting excited about. Writing a review about Full Metal Alchemist, in my view probably the best in its genre of big fun adventure anime, would be a nightmare because you really want to get across why its so great even though your review won’t have a central point. This makes these action adventure stories degrade more in your mind over time because you don’t have that clear view of what made this special, as I would with a Kino’s Journey. All I have after a few years of my terrible memory is that I definitely enjoyed the hell out of it, and when that original memory comes from when you are 16, it’s very easy to start doubting it. But it turned out I was right all along and Full Metal Panic and Last Exile. Returning to them was a joy, not just because they were fun to watch, but they rekindled memories of my first year in anime and how excited I was to discover these.
Now about that Full Metal Panic sequel.