「A Picture's Tale」 —Happiness— (「絵の話」 ("E no Hanashi") —Happiness—) is a two-part story in the second volume of Kino's Journey —the Beautiful World—. The first part is the fifth chapter, 「A Picture's Tale」 —Happiness—. The second part is 「Continued: A Picture's Tale」(「続 ･ 絵の話」 "Zoku ･ E no Hanashi") —Anonymous Pictures—, a special located after the volume's epilogue.
「A Picture's Tale」 —Happiness—
While looking at a painting in the hotel, Kino is approached by the hotel manager who greets her while praising the painting. It is a portrait of a battle tank that was blasting at an enemy.
Kino says that while in the country she had seen many portraits and paintings of tanks by the same artist and asks if they're popular. The hotel manager answers yes and follows it by stating that in the past the country was involved in a fierce war for years. The tank paintings are popular because it reminds the citizens about the futility and foolishness of war that the citizens abhor, thereby strengthening their resolve against it. The artist of the paintings just appeared a few years ago and quickly became famous. The hotel manager suggests Kino and Hermes visit city hall.
Kino and Hermes visits city hall as recommended and see many more paintings of tanks by the same artist. Underneath them are multiple peace oriented captions, warning citizens to learn from the mistakes of the past and the horrors of war. Gift shops lined with artbooks of the tank paintings with similar captions are also displayed for sale, and words of praise from gallery curators who profess the deep message of peace behind the paintings.
On the third day as Kino leaves town, she meets a man sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farmland. Hermes asks the man what he's doing in the middle of nowhere by himself.
The man explains he's a painter and there to gather inspiration for his next work. When asked if his work is popular he replies yes, they are everywhere in town, even in city hall.
Kino then asks the man why he chooses to only paint tanks on a battlefield. The man happily replies that it's because he just loves tanks, they have powerful arsenal and treads that can roll over and destroy anything. He loves tanks on a battlefield which is why he only draws that subject. He was floored when a gallery curator saw his work and would sell very well, though he couldn't understand the curator's mumbling about peace. However thanks to that, he now lives a comfortable life as an artist and is perfectly happy.
He asks Kino and Hermes if they've ever seen unique tanks on their travels, like being turretless or ones that can submerge into water. He becomes inspired at the thought and readies material to start drawing. Kino and Hermes takes their leave, and wishes him well as they drive away while the artist happily paints his next tank.
「Continued: A Picture's Tale」—Anonymous Pictures—
In a country somewhere, Shizu and Riku are looking at a painting of a tank on a wall however a man removes it in front of them. When asked why, the man makes an agitated and embarrassed expression but only says it's worthless. Shizu is curious since he had seen many paintings of tanks, and the one being removed is placed in such an expensive and elegant frame like a highly prized decoration. The man suggests that Shizu goes to the town hall.
Arriving at the town hall he finds a large bonfire outside where people are throwing books and paintings into the flames. All of them are pictures of the tank paintings. When he asks a local why they are burning them, they reply by saying that if they don't they won't be satisfied. He asks another local who explains that a number of years ago the country experienced a war and was traumatized.
Just as the country was getting over the trauma, the painting of a tank on battlefields appeared and was revered by gallery curators as being an anti-war message. The citizens who were still recovering from trauma were swept up in the energy of the discovery and the paintings became popular. They became so popular that it was in high demand and sold for huge prices. Commoners who couldn't afford them purchased artbooks of them at a much lower price, but still costly for the average household. Then suddenly realizing that there was no deep meaning in the paintings and that they had now recovered from post war trauma, they citizens felt bitterly betrayed and deceived, thus they were burning the paintings.
Since Shizu had no other business in the country and there wasn't any sightseeing, he left the next day. On the road he sees a man sitting dejectedly with a canvas. He asks if the man is the one who painted the tanks and finds that it is. However the man is depressed since he is no longer able to paint tanks.
At first he was happy since his paintings were valued and he could continue painting tanks, but now nobody wants them. Not only that, his paintings that he spent so much time on were destroyed rather than returned to him. If he tries to paint somewhere stones would be thrown at him so he brings his canvas far away to an area where no one goes. Although he wants to paint, he can't paint tanks and instead made random scrawls on his canvas.
Upon closer inspection Shizu is amazed at what the painter has made. It isn't a tank, but Shizu explains that while growing up he learned a great deal about fine art and is certain that it would sell for a high price. The painter however hasn't shown it to anyone else and has no desire to sell it especially since he's already made plenty of money. Even if people liked it and asked him to paint more he would refuse since he only likes painting tanks, but if Shizu was so fond of it or thinks it can sell he could keep it for free.
Shizu is torn since he would like to bring it to another country where it would be appreciated but is aware that he could never transport it in his buggy safely. Instead he tells the painter that he will tell other countries of his wonderful work so he would be well known, but the painter refuses since he only cares about painting tanks. The painter packs up his canvas and bids Shizu farewell.