Kino no Tabi:Volume2 Chapter5
 “A Picture’s Tale” —Happiness—
“Isn’t it a great piece of art?”
The hotel manager asked of the traveler, when he found the traveler looking at a portrait of a battle tank decorating the lobby. In it, the tank was in the midst of blasting away at the enemy.
“I have seen many pictures of tanks by the same artist. Is his work very popular?”
“Good question,” the manager replied, nodding his head several times before continuing in a hushed tone. “There was a civil war between the races here about ten years ago. Neighbor killed neighbor for four years and six months before we finally realized the futility of the war.”
“…Does the war have anything to do with this picture?”
“This portrait reminds us about that foolish war that every citizen in this nation abhors. The artist rekindled our disgust with war by painting images of battle scenes, strengthening our resolution against war. That is why his works are common in the nation.”
“Ah, I see.”
“Two years ago, this artist appeared out of nowhere, painting nothing but tanks on the battlefield, every one of them a great piece in itself. Not only has he become famous for his works, but he was also appointed as our Ambassador of Peace. Traveler, have you been to the city hall?”
After stepping into the richly built stone and mortar building, an open gallery stood to welcome all visitors. On one of the gallery’s walls was a huge painting. It was a battle scene on a wide open field, and tanks could be seen in this piece as well. Below the painting was a stone slab with these words:
[Behold! Behold the hands of the dead reaching for the sky from their burning tank, telling us to learn from our mistake and aim for a higher purpose called Peace.]
“Amazing isn’t it? Those words were written by the current governor.”
Announced a man in his fifties, who proclaimed himself the headmaster of a primary school that had just purchased a piece of artwork from the artist.
“I plan to have it on display so that the students will learn the horrors of war. That battle tanks are not objects of admiration, but merely tools for ravaging the lives of many. It cost a heavy sum but I believe it will serve better than a book in telling the lesson. Traveler, have you seen the art book?”
Stacked in the most convenient spot were copies of the aforementioned art book. Even before the traveler managed to reach down for a copy, another copy had just been sold at the counter.
On the cover was a note,
[Rebuilding the Nation with Canvas, a must read for all citizens.]
The traveler flipped through the art book.
Sure enough, it was filled with the images of tanks in war. One of them had a comment made by the book writer.
[We can only watch as the tanks grind mercilessly over the flowers, each one of them representing the lost life of a nameless soldier.]
Also included were comments made by the gallery owner who first discovered the talented artist.
[…although his works are only of battle tanks, it is not the image that matters but the message of the artist itself. The tank may have powerful weaponry and great armor, but on the field of war it is not invincible. This painting symbolizes the strength and frailness of man’s determination. Which is…]
The traveler closed the book with a thud and recalled the words of the excited hotel manager.
“A masterpiece has great power, and it deeply moves the emotion of the viewer. Five years, ten years, maybe even twenty years from now, how will I feel when I look upon this portrait again? I hope that, at that time, I feel the same way toward it that I do now.”
On the morning of the third day, Kino rose with the sun as always.
“Good morning, Hermes.”
Luggage was piled on the motorrad (Note: A two-wheeled vehicle. Only to note that it cannot fly) called Hermes, and they left the inn shortly after.
Later, as they were traveling along a stretch of lonely road in the outlying farmland, they came across a young man sitting alone on a stool.
“Wow, that is a nice motorrad you’ve got there. Are you a traveler?”
Kino and Hermes slowed to a stop.
“Yes, we were just leaving.”
“What are you doing out here?” Hermes chirped.
“I’m a painter, and I’m here to gather inspiration.” Leaning on his stool was a folded easel, a huge canvas, and a bag stained with different colors of paint.
“Hmm… are your works popular?”
“Yep, my works are everywhere. There’s even one at the city hall.”
“Are they about the tanks?” Hermes asked again.
“Yeah, you have seen them?”
Kino nodded. “Yes, they are everywhere. Can I ask you a question?”
“Why do you only draw tanks on the battlefield?”
The painter beamed and replied, “Good question!” He answered happily.
“I love tanks! Aren’t they cool? They have great armor, a powerful arsenal and treads that grind over everything! They are the kings of the battlefield!”
A grin slowly crept on Kino’s face.
“I just love to paint tanks running through the battlefield, that’s why I draw them and nothing else. One day I took a painting to the art gallery and they told me it would sell very well. I was speechless! They kept saying something about ‘never repeating past mistakes’ and then offered me a large sum of money. Now I could eat anything I want and buy all the materials I need. And the best thing of all is I could spend the whole day painting!”
“You seem to be doing very well.”
Hearing that from Hermes, the young painter nodded eagerly.
“I am very happy with my life now. Why, I get to do what I love! Hey traveler, you get to see a lot of places right? I bet you have seen different types of tanks in other countries. Maybe there is a tank that can submerge in water, have multiple turrets, or fires armor-piercing uranium cores or maybe fragment shells that explode inside the tank.” The painter stared dreamily into space, and then his eyes suddenly brightened.
“That’s right! That’s why I love tanks! I’m getting some much needed inspiration. This time I’ll draw a turretless type, with its cannon fixed on the frame, and aims using a hydraulic suspension system! Oh! It will have a dozer that ambushes the enemy in their foxholes! And with one hit of its 105mm cannon, the enemy’s tank will be set ablaze and the soldiers inside will come out dancing like dolls on fire! Yeah, serves them right! I’ll annihilate them all! Cool! It will be an amazing picture!”
The painter trembled, his hands formed into fists. Then he immediately set up his easel and put the canvas in place.
“It’s about time for us to go.” Kino started Hermes’ engine and turned to the young man who was starting to slab paint on his palette. “Please take care, and continue to draw nice pictures.”
“Thank you! You take care, too. Have a nice trip!” The painter answered with a smile.
And the motorrad rode away, leaving the young man painting another battle tank.
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