—On the Beach— serves as the Prologue and Epilogue chapter of the eighth volume of Kino's Journey —the Beautiful World—. It focuses on characters Shizu and Riku, as well as introduces the character Ti.
The two sections have separate titles but same subtitle: Ship Country (「船の国」 ("Fune no Kuni") —On the Beach ･ a— — )—On the Beach ･ a— and "The Beginning and End of a Journey at the Seaside" (「渚にて 旅の始まりと終わり」 "Nagisa nite Tabi no Hajimari to Owari") —On the Beach ･ b—
Prologue: The Beginning and End of a Journey at the Seaside -On the Beach・b-
Shizu stirs from sleep as Kino was getting ready to leave. She apologizes for waking him since she meant to depart quietly but Shizu doesn't mind. Kino says that she's made a list of provisions for him and that he's free to use everything she's leaving behind. In exchange she took a third of his valuables.
Shizu says that's fair enough and gives her his thanks for all that she's done. He then asks if she ever plans on settling down somewhere and living a peaceful quiet life, but Kino says she hasn't thought about it and doesn't intend to any time soon. However if Shizu finds a place where he settles down, she would surely visit him in his new home someday. When that day comes, Shizu would welcome her with open arms.
Kino and Hermes depart and along the road they engage in idle chatter, wondering where Shizu might make his home. Hermes says that it could be far off in the future and Kino agrees, and that most likely the next time they meet--
"He'll be really surprised."
Epilogue: The Ship Country -On the Beach・a-
On a beach Shizu and Riku are waiting with merchants for a certain country to appear. This country was a giant floating island that could travel on water and could bring travellers across the ocean, but the only way to gain access or meet with them was through local merchants with whom the country traded with at regular intervals.
The country appears as scheduled and he requests entry to cross the ocean. The representatives bring him to a large tower in the middle of the land where the rulers known as the Tower Clan inform him that in exchange for the food, shelter and passage he would be required to work for them while in the country. The options was to either work as a temporary police or mercenary for the Tower or work among commoners doing manual labor. Shizu opted to work with the commoners.
Shizu and Riku are then brought to the dwellings of the common people. The entire country was composed of metal with a hanger and it was like being below deck of a ship's engine room. He meets an elder who shows him to his "room" where he would be staying and introduces him to a small girl, Tifana or Ti for short who would be his guide. Unlike the other tribes who cannot move beyond their territory, Ti was permitted to move freely and made the perfect guide. She was aged 12 but her appearance was completely different from the other locals with white hair and complexion. The child was also extremely quiet and didn't speak.
During his stay Shizu frequently offered help but he was refused and the locals kept their distance. Since he had free time he requested Ti to show him around the country instead. During this time another traveler boarded the ship country but it they opted to work for the Tower.
On the 5th day, Shizu and Riku heard a loud screech through the country and felt large tremors on the floor. He asks a local what the shaking was but she replies that it was commonplace and nothing to worry about. However Shizu having once experienced a building collapse was wary of the tremor and asked Ti to show him to what could have caused it. She leads him to a bunker that was damaged and flooded. Shizu is shocked at the amount of damage and realizes that if tremors were commonplace there may be more damage throughout the entire country.
Shizu then requests information about the country and Ti shows him a detailed full scale drawing of the country's architecture. Since she could move freely and knew more than the locals, he instructs her to point out all the locations on the drawing where she had seen severe structural damage and flooding, and he marks each one on the drawing. When finished the amount of damage in the country was staggering. Riku and Shizu knew that if nothing was done soon, the country was going to sink.
Shizu asks the elder what he thinks of the situation but the elder brushes it off. He says that the Tower Clan are aware of everything and would surely alert them if something was wrong. They were blissfully oblivious to the situation and thus Shizu decides to speak to the Tower himself.
Upon reaching the Tower, he communicates through a communicator and inquires what they intend to do. Unfortunately they have no desire to do anything and Shizu decides that the best recourse to save the people would be to take command of the tower and steer the country to land himself. The Tower however sends resistance and it's revealed that the traveler who boarded a few days earlier was Kino who was now being dispatched to suppress Shizu.
The two engage in combat and in the process Kino's tower communicator is damaged. However she wins the battle, and Shizu accepts his defeat. In a twist of fate when Kino attempts to communicate with the Tower again, they cannot hear her through her broken communicator and the Tower assumes that Kino has failed and was killed. The Tower decides to embark towards sea and never to return to land again.
In her dismay at the turn of events Kino joins with Shizu in his raid, otherwise she'd be trapped at sea forever. The two manage to overthrow the control room. There the captain of the Tower Clan asks Shizu what he hopes to gain from overthrowing them, and Shizu says that he merely wishes to save the people who would be doomed to die. The Captain surmises that Shizu could be the next king, and tells them "live together" before crumpling to the ground along with everyone else in the Tower. On closer inspection the Tower clan wasn't human at all, just dolls of cotton.
Shizu steers the country towards land and docks it on a beach. Using the speakers he instructs the people to disembark to see for themselves. When he drives out with his buggy and Kino and Hermes in front of him he's besieged with questions. Shizu tells the people that he couldn't stand the Tower's tyrannical ways and overthrew them, but they escaped by boat away from the country so he brought them to land to start new lives instead.
The country's citizens are in shock and quickly become hostile saying the country had been fine for hundreds of years and it couldn't possibly sink. They berated Shizu as a traveler who had no business sticking his nose in others' affairs and would not understand a person's love for their homeland. Shizu yields and the citizens return to the ship country.
As he watches them, Ti doesn't move from his side and he urges her to hurry and return before she's left behind. However the girl pulls a knife from her pocket with it pointing towards Shizu. He misunderstands, thinking he made Ti angry but Hermes who was watching from the side chimes in that he knew who Tifana was.
Hermes explains that while he was waiting in a bunker a guard from the Tower clan explained the entire story to him. Hundreds of years ago a migration ship of children drifted along the ocean and found the Ship country, an abandoned floating island in the sea. The migration ship was called Tifana. All the adults had died from a plague leaving only children, but the ship was equipped with an extremely intelligent AI system which was the Tower Clan. The AI decided raise the children on the ship country since they had a higher chance of survival. They were taught to fish and trade for living necessities. The AI then became the Tower clan as a means of keeping order in the populace.
One day a pair of travelers arrived at the ship country seeking passage. It was a couple who took a liking to the country and stayed there over a year, in that time Ti was born. Afterwards the couple grew tired of the country and decided to travel again, but it was troublesome to travel with a baby so they abandoned her in the country when they left. The Tower clan found Ti but it was too late to do anything since her parents already escaped so she was raised as their own and named her after the ship that began the country, Tifana. From the beginning, they didn't hide anything from Ti and she was aware that her parents abandoned her and the AI wasn't human. Ti essentially became the princess of the country, and the was fed on the trading that was done since the AI knew the commoner's diet of only fish wasn't healthy. Because of her privilege, increased knowledge and freedom, the commoners feared and hated her.
After hearing this Shizu realizes that when the tower captain said "live together" it was a comment directed at Ti to escape the ship country with Shizu if she wished. When Shizu had told her to go back to the ship country, it must have sounded like a cruel abandonment to her. However he realizes too late and the first words Ti speaks is that she has nowhere to return to, right before stabbing Shizu through his stomach.
In an instant Kino readies her gun to fire, but Shizu shouts for her not to get involved. Instead he speaks to Ti and apologizes for telling her to return since it was very cruel of him without knowing about her circumstances. He promises to take her in, and that they would live, but he collapses into the sand before he can finish. Shizu was quickly dying.
Ti begins to panic, begging him not to leave her alone. Realizing it was too late she pulls a grenade from a pocket and pulls the pin. Hermes comments that she plans to die together with Shizu, but before it detonates Kino quickly fires at it with Canon and knocks the grenade out of her hand. It flies into the ocean where it detonates.
Differences in Media
There are no major differences, though one to note is that Ti's backstory is sightly simplified.
- This story is split into Sigsawa's signature style of parting it in the front and end of a book as an epilogue and prologue. The synopsis is presented in both formats as it appears in the book
- The cast does not reach the western continent in this chapter. Based on the details we are given, the passage requires 15 days but the tower was overthrown on the 10th day. Most likely they're now somewhere on the northern side of their original continent since it was travelling the country's trade route before it would cross the sea.
- The end of the story is often a point of debate between readers due to the line "he'll be really surprised". Due to the huge space gap between where this line is written and the ending quote from Kino & Hermes' chatter, there's a high possibility that Kino was not the one who said "he'll be surprised". The gap could also imply that Shizu or someone else said this.
- The reader is not given any context whatsoever regarding what they're talking about and who would be surprised. Clearly there were words left unsaid between them, and it's important to note that Sigsawa also NEVER actually clarified if Shizu is aware that Kino is female. Due to their limited interaction, there's a high possibility that Shizu believes she's male. Because of this some people have speculated that if they ever met again, the surprise in question could be almost anything.
- In the 2017 anime adaptation the anime ended the story with that quote coming from Kino and Hermes instead but again, the nature of the surprise isn't clarified.