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Yokohama Shopping Trip – 1

My fascination with the weird, coupled with an obtuse interest in searching out the obscure has led me down the path of downloading the kind of anime people forgot about many moons ago- and so here I am to introduce you to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou; talked up a wandering traveller anime in the spirit of say Kino no Tabi (Kino’s Journey), I must admit this sounded right up my ally.

Straight from the off, it’s clear that Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou has some interesting ideas to convey. I had been made aware that it’s a show with some strong yuri overtones and consdiering the way the lead characters commincate “messages” to each other, such themes have all the sublety of a sledgehammer.

To set the scene, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is based in a post-apocalyptic but decidely rural future- the vast open landscape is lush with grass, trees and bushes. The old human cities are under water, rusted away, dead. Population is sparse and cute looking robots are everywhere- they could be human except for a few eccentric features; to communicate private messages with one another, the cute robots must kiss; how the programmers got away with that feature…, I suppose I’m not supposed to ask.

By now I’m sure I’m making Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou sound like a seedy case of yuri exploitation but based on this first episode, such comments are merely knee-jerk reaction. The anime is essentially about a female robot called Alpha who one day gets a camera and decides wander about, discover the profound and snap the beautiful. A lot of time is spent silently gazing at blood red sunsets, free flying birds and meeting new friends. It’s very atmospheric and laid back, but rather than attempting to drive into us a code of morals, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is content to allow the viewer to follow Alpha on her aimless trips, looking for something worth capturing in her camera. I feel interested enough to want to watch more of this, though clearly the lack of story and drama mean that it is best suited loose end on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Comments

Tony Horowitz says:

I just happened on this review, and since YKK is one of the more exciting anime I have come across recently, I just wanted to add a different opinion. (I agree, by the way, that the labial communication was a bit much, but I think too much emphasis has been put on this one moment in the anime.)

YKK is a mood piece, and in my opinion a very powerful one. The setting is a near future after an environmental disaster which has greatly reduced the world’s human population; and the suggestion is that the remaining humans will not last all that much longer, although the robots will certainly outlive them. But the prevailing mood is tranquility and a quiet acceptance of this state of affairs. The natural world is gradually encroaching on the urban world created by people, and this results in some startling visual beauty. In fact, the whole series of anime reverberates with a love of place, and the foreground consisting of the quiet and (on the whole) satisfying interactions of the characters are in some sense is at most equal in importance to this background.

I feel like I’m not conveying this well, and it is hard to put into words; but with all due respect, I think the reviewer has underestimated the strengths of this title. Perhaps he or she will feel differently after watching all four of the available anime.

Adam says:

[re-posting without the links to see if the spam filter will let me through this time…]

Whilst the YKK anime has some very beautiful moments, I feel I should really strongly recommend that you check out the scanlations of the original manga (available from ykk.misago.org and http://www.cafealpha.org.

The series runs to 14 volumes, and by the end I can almost guarantee that you’ll wish there was more. It’s easily among the most beautiful, gentle and moving stories I’ve ever read in any medium. (It’s also interesting to see the author’s art evolve over the course of 10+ years…)

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