Manga: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
One by one, the notes of the moon-guitar fell.Robot Girl
Alpha Hatsuseno runs a cafe outside Yokohama, nearly deserted after a catastrophic flood, implied to have been part of a longer chain of disasters. Soon, another robot comes with a delivery of a camera, beginning... well, not much, really.
Don't let her gun
fool you; it's a pretty laid-back series.
Written by Hitoshi Ashinano, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou
(Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip
) is a slow, quiet vision of the peaceful decline of humanity. Perhaps very little happens, but then it's not about things happening. YKK is a manga series that gives you something to think about, and time in which to do it. After all, there's all the time in the world.
Occasionally compared to ARIA
, which it predates by some six years, for ARIA
's similar Science Fiction
setting, heavy use of Scenery Porn
, and clear parallels and similarities between the cast of characters and their relationships
A bit of advice: If you try to speed read through the manga, you'll probably find it very boring and pointless. The story is told through the visuals, not the words. This also means that the untranslated work is still enjoyable for non-Japanese speakers, which is a boon since it hasn't been officially released in the West
(though an unofficial scanlation
is floating around on the Internet). Sit back and stare at the artwork.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou contains examples of:
- Arcadia: The setting is pretty much this, with its quiet countryside, good-hearted people and peace all around. The fact that it is this after a Cosy Catastrophe has occurred makes it more notable.
- After the End / Just Before the End: Could fit either, depending on how you look at it. All the violence and noise that typically signifies "The End" has long since passed, but the story's not done yet.
- Ahoge: The Misago. In the OVAs the first we see of her is this, though replace "idiot" with "wild" for her behavior.
- Apocalypse How: Don't expect an answer, just some vague hints.
- Art Evolution: Character designs change noticeably throughout the volumes.
- Artifact Title: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou translates to "Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip". The first chapter is about just that — a shopping trip to Yokohama — but the place is only visited occasionally through the rest of the series. Like as not, the "first chapter" was actually produced as a one-shot stand-alone which was then optioned into a series, carrying along its now mostly vestigial title.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy:
- The Misago
- Alpha in her flying dreams.
- Beach Episode: One chapter, a swimming trip with Alpha, Kokone, Maruko, and Makki. It's the closest the entire series comes to Fanservice (unless you count the "data transfers"), but as with all the other chapters, character interaction is the overwhelming focus.
- Beautiful Void: The beauty of the setting contrasts heavily with how human contact is infrequent, and how many places once inhabited have been abandoned. The underwater city Alpha encounters exemplifies this.
- Book Ends: The first and last chapters are shopping trips to Yokohama.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Alpha, by her own admission. In one chapter, she makes herself a single drink and wakes up the next morning in front of a gas station a couple of kilometers away.
- Cat Smile: Alpha often has this expression.
- Choro Club: Performing the music in the second OVA.
- Compressed Adaptation: The four OVA episodes cover 18 of the manga's 141 chapters.
- Contemplate Our Navels: Sort of. The tone is often philosophical, but no actual philosophy is ever mentioned outright. It's just sort of... implied.
- Cosy Catastrophe: Very much so, it'd be hard to guess the age of humanity is ending if you weren't told as much.
- Cryptic Background Reference: By the truckload. See the Wild Mass Guessing page for just a few.
- The Cutie: Each of the robots display this when they're first introduced, and Alpha and Kokone occasionally lapse back into this trope.
- Cute Little Fangs: The Misago
- Cute Mute: The Misago again.
- Decompressed Comic: Long stretches of the manga go without any dialogue, relying purely upon the graphic elements.
- Did They or Didn't They?: In one of the last chapters, a now-teenaged Takahiro is heavily implied to have spent the night in Alpha's company just before leaving town for good. Whether this even happened, and whether anything happened if it did, is just one more mystery.
- Distant Finale: Throughout the last volume, there's a couple years between chapters, with the final chapter taking place at least a decade after the one before and an epilogue whose placement on the timeline can only be guessed.
- Discount Lesbians: If, and only if, you accept that Kokone, Alpha and Maruko are "like that".
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: "Ojisan", a major character in the early series, vanishes without fanfare midway through the final volume. Even Alpha doesn't seem to notice, which didn't sit well with some readers. Although, since this happens right after a Time Skip, and we're shown his gas station overgrown with two unmarked graves beside it, it's likely that he died of old age some time before and she'd already shed her tears over him.
- Downer Beginning
- Do Androids Dream?: The entire premise (not to mention taken literally).
- End of an Age: Specifically, the Age of Humanity.
- Eyes Always Shut: Ojisan
- Fanservice: Almost completed averted, despite the prominently cute, female cast. The OVAs cut loose a bit, but are still notably restrained.
- Fantastic Arousal: In an early chapter, Kokone tells Alpha how she gets a little "charge" out of her scooter whenever she starts the ignition. Later, she takes it in to a mechanic who mentions off-hand that her android body shares some parts with that model... and then immediately apologizes for getting "too personal".
- Flight: A recurring theme in the story. Nai's plane, the model engine plane that Alpha repairs, the Taapon (the gigantic airship that endlessly flies overhead), and Alpha's dream-like visions of flying which she may or may not actually be doing...yet another unanswered question.
- Flying Dutchman: The Taapon, an orbital craft stuck circling the Earth because everywhere it could have landed has either been destroyed or swallowed by the rising sea levels. It circles the globe, switching north-south hemispheres every 6 years.
- Friend to All Children: The Misago. In a twist, she apparently doesn't understand the concept of aging, which means she makes friends and then wonders where they went when they grow up.
- Furo Scene: In one chapter, Alpha and Takahiro share a hot bath after both get soaked in a storm. It's an awkward moment for both.
- Later, Alpha enjoys a nice, relaxing bath after a few days wandering in the wild.
- Gaia's Lament: Played with; no-one seems to be in any danger of starvation, but while Alpha is once paid for an odd job with a persimmon bigger than her head, another character later freaks out over being given a handful of rice, claiming it's more than he's ever seen in his entire life.
- Green-Eyed Monster:
- Maruko is jealous of Alpha and Kokone's relationship and is rather catty to Alpha when they first meet.
- Until she gets to know Alpha, Maki is jealous of Alpha and Takahiro's relationship.
- I Have the High Ground: As seen in the picture above.
- I Will Wait for You: Alpha maintains that she's waiting for the return of her owner. Much later in the manga, she eventually moves on with her life and comes to terms with the possibility of her owner never coming back.
- Iyashikei: One of the definite examples of the entire genre.
- Mayfly-December Romance: Subverted; Alpha and Takahiro have an obvious romantic connection, but neither of them pursue their mutual feelings because Takahiro will eventually age and die and Alpha will not. Alpha also sees Takahiro as a brother figure, and refers to him as such several times.
- Mechanical Lifeforms / Organic Technology: Alpha and the other robots seem to be artificial lifeforms rather than mere human-shaped machines: they sleep and dream, and they need the same food as humans (although they're suggested to be lower maintenance -Maruko points out that a human person wouldn't be able to make a living out of Alpha's little business)
- Middle-of-Nowhere Street: Justified; most of the city is dead.
- Motorcycle on the Coast Road: The main character has a motorcycle, and lives on the coast. It's to be expected.
- Older Than They Look: Inverted; although never explicitly stated, in the beginning of the series Alpha may be quite a bit younger than her adult-looking form suggests. Played straight by the end of the series.
- One-Gender Race: Subverted - there were male androids, but almost all of them died out due to an unidentified design flaw. Throughout the series, we only ever even hear of one survivor.
- OVA: Adapted not as a television series but as a pair of two-episode video releases.
- Perpetual Smiler: Ojisan's permanent facial expression is a huge grin, although as he ages it seems to shrink somewhat.
- Ragnarok-Proofing: The deserted town of Yokosuka still lights up every night, even though it is now underwater.
- Real Place Background: A lot of places Alpha visits exist for real, even though they are now largely reclaimed by the sea or otherwise highly run-down. Special mention goes to Yokohama (of course), Miura and Kamakura.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Alpha and her kind are basically human, except for the fact that they never age — and probably can't reproduce either, although they seem to have the necessary equipment. It's possible that the only reason they can't reproduce is because there's only one male robot left and he just isn't interested. Just another one of the series' many Epileptic Trees.
- Robot Girl: Alpha, Kokone, and Maruko.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship:
- Despite what fan works may have you believe, this is all that Alpha and Kokone's relationship canonically amounts to in the end. Kokone and Makuro, well... they're another story.
- The OVAs hint that Kokone harbors an unrequited physical attraction towards Alpha.
- Scenery Porn: Entire chapters may go by with hardly a word spoken.
- Schizo Tech: On the one hand you've got some sort of giant orbital airplane-thingy and Ridiculously Human Robots and direct-to-brain cameras, and on the other you have standard 20th-century fare.
- There is a subtle attraction between Takahiro and Alpha throughout the series, and it is most prominent when Takahiro is about twelve. When asked about it by Makki, though, Alpha says that although she has feelings for Takahiro she knows that they can never be realized because the two belong to different "ages".
- Curiously, Alpha may even be younger than Takahiro. Her concerns are more about her by far outliving him in the long run.
- Shown Their Work: For the most part the geography is very well researched (not surprising since Ashinano is from Yokohama) right down to the specific building identified as Cafe Alpha having been located in real life, right where the manga said it would be (it's currently a private home).
- Silent Scenery Panel: A large part of the manga, which helps the atmosphere tremendously. There is at least an entire chapter of the manga without a single line of dialogue.
- Slice of Life: Post-apocalypse life, that is.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Firmly on the Idealism side of the scale, despite being After the End and all.
- Sunken City
- Sweet Dreams Fuel: Who wouldn't like to sit down with Alpha and hear her play the moon guitar?
- Time Skip: For most of the series time passes at about the same rate as the real-time of initial serialization, but during the final volume, more time passes between chapters, sometimes years between. Each skip is another sucker punch in the gut as human "ships" pass on, leaving Alpha behind — just as she warned they would all series.
- Walking the Earth:
- Ayase and other Kamasu-carriers.
- A facet of the central plot is Alpha's owner doing this.
- Alpha does a little of it too.
- What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Admittedly, this is a big reason why the manga even works in the first place.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Not just subverted, but outright kicked to the curb: humans treat robots like humans, it's heavily implied that male humans are quite willing to lust after any available female robots, and even the robots themselves have trouble telling other robots and humans apart.
- Who's on First?: The lone male android is named "Nai", Japanese for "nothing," which causes some confusion when Alpha asks for his name.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Largely averted, but hinted at in chapters 45 and 93 as the obvious reason why robots wouldn't want any romantic involvement with humans. Which, together with the fact that nearly all surviving robots are female, makes for a rather limited range of options...
- Wild Child: Misago, probably — we don't know how she grew up, but she is a wild-woman. She lives around the bays, she is naked, mute, and catches fish using only her inhuman speed, which she then eats raw. She is gentle to the children, however.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: this seems to be a distinguishing characteristic of robots, at least the female ones: Alpha has green hair and Kokone's is light purple; Maruko's is reddish brown, which wouldn't be out of place elsewhere but stands out in Japan.