Synonyms: Yokohama Shopping Log, Yokohama Shopping Trip, Touge
Published: Apr 26, 1994 to Feb 26, 2006
Score: 8.731 (scored by 4075 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
sci-fi seinen slice of life
SynopsisSet in a post-apocalyptic Japan of the near future where the sea level has risen and flooded much of the coastal areas and Mt. Fuji has erupted within living memory. The population has been considerably reduced and political and technological institutions have broken-down. Local communities have become nations and telephone and television no longer exist (although coffee vending machines and streetlights stubbornly continue to work). There are strange new animals and plants (like flying fish and glowing streetlight trees). The remaining people have adopted a slower-paced, simpler way of life and rely more on each other. Along with the human population are some intelligent, humanoid robots. One of the robots, a female named Alpha, runs a cafe by the same name in the country outside of what remains of Yokohama. With her trusty motorscooter and her camera she travels around the area making friends with the humans and robots, having new experiences and observing the passage of time.
Note: Includes the epilogue, Touge, published with the 10 volume re-issue. Chapter count also includes 'Chapter 0' from volume 1.
Related MangaAdaptation: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe
As the sea assaults continents, slowly but surely, humanity is declining. Telecommunication is no more. Government gave way to local organisation. Quietly witnessing this apocalypse unfold, humans are living peacefully.
Among the many ways fiction depicts apocalypse, "peacefully" is uncommon. We like to think of the world ending in brutal, dramatic and lightning fast ways. Of humans against their fate struggling. But the end of the world in this manga is gradual, slow enough to give mankind the time to accept his fate, sit back, and enjoy the last hour of his age. Whatever will be will be – the die is long cast.
So unfolds the twilight of a transient humanity. And our little humans get many occasions to experience the transience of things – the transience of the world and that of themselves. Time and again, the beautiful melancholy of the dying world touches and overwhelms. The story unfolds at roughly the same pace as its monthly publication; we follow the characters as time passes, and as the curtain falls on the remnants of the world. The sea rises, and the landscapes that were dear to us disappear like smoke in the air. The machines that once served mankind meet their end too: aeroplanes, or engines, are for their last time used. Characters pass away during the series, but death is a fact of life that the living have accepted. As such, death is merely implied, and mourning but hinted at. Such is, among other understated occurrences of drama, what makes Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou a wonderful experience: the lament of its dying world, quiet yet staggering.
Moments such as two characters' reunion after a long journey convey strong feelings like melancholy, surprise, and happiness. These moments are often handled without words, using panelling, faces and body language to convey feelings. In the saddest moments of the series, very little of Alpha's thoughts is given, trusting the readers to know our main character well enough to empathise with her sorrow, and form their own reaction to the happenings, finding their place in Alpha's journey.
The art is exceptional. Inanimate scenes are like poetry in motion. Alpha loses herself in many sumptuous landscapes, inviting the reader to follow suit. From the still functional lights of a submerged city to the view of Mount Fuji in the distance, mundane situations are made extraordinary and extraordinary ones are made otherworldly. Up the author's sleeve are countless tricks to heighten this experience; one such trick is the sparse, but wise use of colour. For example, one chapter shows Alpha enjoying a nostalgic view, and as day turns into dusk the varying colours make obvious – and beautiful! – that a large amount of time passes throughout the panels.
Main character of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Alpha's defining trait is that she is an android, and she is confident in her immortality. As she says in the first chapters, she knows she can wait as much as she needs. The fact that we all are scheduled to die soon means at least one thing: all the goods of life must be hustled for and gotten fast if they are ever to be enjoyed. Not fearing death, Alpha is free from normal humans' time limit, common source of hyperactivity and viciousness. As such, she lives an unhurried life, and runs her café in her wonderfully sweet, never saccharine way. She sits with her customers, carefree, drinking coffee with them and offering refills. But as highlighted by another character, it is precisely because she is an android that this delightful atmosphere exists, without the expensive needs humans must attend.
Alpha is also characterised by her force of personality, greatly impacting the plot. The choices she makes are driven by her character. When her owner, whom she has a lot of affection for, goes on a journey, she boldly chooses to stay home. When facing an exceptional need for money, she doesn't hesitate to leave on her own journey, leaving her friends behind. With the same boldness, she breaks the awkwardness when criticised in front of an acquaintance, and leaves no matter unsettled.
Second android met in the manga, Kokone is another noteworthy character. She is introduced in contrast to Alpha: while Alpha acts so human only her appearance betrays her robotic nature, Kokone is, looks, and acts like an android. But upon meeting the ever so human and so very charming Alpha, Kokone is compelled to act more humanlike. Kokone changes profoundly as a result of their first meeting, and her development serves as a basis for their growing relationship and her characterisation. This is where, for instance, her drive to find information on the Alpha models stems from. (A plot point that was touched upon but which, let us note, was unfortunately although perhaps deliberately left rather unexplored.)
As the characters grow, their design changes. By contrast, Alpha doesn't change – the regular realisation that time passed before her knowing is never short of melancholy. Although stylised in design, human characters are clearly of Asian heritage. The inhabitants have black hair and share many features. The androids, thereby, stand out; their outlandish looks become a central part of their characterisation. Often replacing thoughts and speech, the characters' faces are expressive (save for Ojisan's sometimes all too subtle expression changes); anatomy is rendered in a detailed enough style to permit realistic and convincing body language.
"But I want to buy my own"; this is Makki's reply to Alpha's thoughtful proposal to lend her scooter. To which, after an awkward silence – but compelling body language – the girl adds: "Ah, but I guess I'll borrow yours." Characterisation is established through routine and small talk, but that alone carries meaning. Within small scenes and details, the characters' bonds are developed – their mutual love and respect are deepened. Characters exchange invitations to sleep over, and while they seem like mere casual dialogue, this very spontaneity between characters that once were strangers is evidence of successful character development.
Over the years, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou has enjoyed a small, but very enthusiastic fanbase which I am proud to be part of. It ranks among the most gratifying and memorable stories. For a great numbers of reasons, I enjoyed this manga tremendously and I sincerely believe that you will.
As the sea assaults continents, as governments and telecommunications die out, humanity is declining. Before Alpha's eyes, the world, which once seemed tireless, slowly calmed down... read more
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (abbreviated to YKK outside Japan) is an example of the proverbial “diamond in the coal mine”. Written and drawn by Ashinano Hitoshi, the manga was serialized in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine for almost 12 years, and has gathered a number of devoted fans around the world despite the lack of licensed English translations. This comes as no surprise since it is one of the few series which deserves to be treated as a works of literature rather than of pop culture. YKK is a testament to the true potential of manga and the series is recognized as such, having been deemed worthy of Afternoon magazine's Four Seasons Award for debut works as well as the 2007 Seiun Award for Best Science Fiction Manga.
Story (9.7) & Characters (10)
YKK is a science fiction story as it is set in a future after an unspecified large-scale disaster and the main character, Alpha Hatsuseno, is a robot who looks human. However, this is where any similarity to "regular" sci-fi ends. There are no spaceships, lasers, or mecha of any sort. Instead, older technology such as scooters, radios, propeller-driven aircrafts and the like, are very much still in use. This is reflective of the rural lifestyle that humanity has adopted in the story and adds to the easygoing pace of the manga. This tranquil, almost bittersweet feeling is reflected in the art style, the characters, and even the manner in which the story is delivered.
The story is told mainly from the perspective of Alpha Hatsuseno as she meets old friends, makes new ones, and casually explores the world around her. The most unusual fact about Alpha is that she isn't human, but a type A7M2 robot who looks human and is capable of feeling emotions. The story begins with Alpha taking a trip to Yokohama to buy coffee beans. She has been alone for some time as she waits for her "owner" to return from wherever he has disappeared to and, being immortal, she has decided that she can wait as long as it takes. In the meantime, she runs Café Alpha, a small coffee shop in the middle of nowhere which her owner left in her care.
Besides Alpha, several other characters also appear throughout the series. Some are shown regularly like Oji-san and his grandson Takahiro who run the gas station near the café. Others turn up less frequently such as the anonymous café customer and the mysterious Misago, an ageless wild woman who only appears before children. Next to Alpha, the other most prominently featured character is Kokone Takatsu, a type A7M3 robot. Kokone is effectively Alpha’s younger sister (production-wise that is), and as their friendship grows, she begins to develop romantic feelings for Alpha which later stir her curiosity about the history and nature of the A7 series.
Although the other characters do not enjoy as much exposure as Alpha does, several are given sufficient development to be memorable in their own right and their experiences serve as important reference points that highlight the passage of time. Through them, the reader is shown the great expanse of the story spanning the landscape and the era.
One of the most notable achievements of YKK is the manner in which the characters enhance each other throughout the series, and how Alpha gains a new perspective on life through her encounters with them. The interactions between the characters are often laconic and unhurried. Because of this, each encounter gains a languid, almost dreamlike quality that is far more memorable than what can be found in many other slice of life manga.
The art in YKK contributes greatly to the relaxed atmosphere of the manga. Ashinano’s style is evocative of the simple yet fantastic nature of the world. In several parts of the manga, commonplace scenes are given an ethereal quality. This, together with the character designs and Ashinano’s unusual use of blank space, gives the art style a surreal characteristic that at times appears almost paradoxical. As with any long running series, the art style has evolved and improved over time.
Ashinano Hitoshi's character designs are perplexingly both spare and meticulous. Each character’s face is basic yet highly expressive; a stark contrast to their elegantly elaborate clothing and accoutrements. This unusual style is further enhanced by the picturesque backdrops and settings which the characters find themselves in. In addition to this, Ashinano has made wonderful use of blank space to emphasize the amount of detail in the characters and settings, something which is more prominently highlighted in the beautiful colored illustrations and panels that appear in the manga. This style of artwork focuses not only on the locations, but on the characters themselves and serves to enhance the reader's empathy towards each character.
From the most beautiful parts of nature to fantastic creations of Ashinano’s imagination (giant sunflowers, underwater streetlights, water gods, kamas, and many other wonders that Alpha discovers), each object and location in YKK helps to transport the reader more deeply into Alpha’s world. Not only is it easy to understand what she is feeling about her surroundings from the art alone, but the simple beauty serves as a way of deeply understanding not only the intricacies of her world, but of ours as well.
Many readers have hailed YKK as the epitome of the slice of life genre and, given the premise, this may be no exaggeration. The series makes exceptional use of “mono no aware” (a Japanese term used to express the awareness of the transient nature of things, and the bittersweet sadness at their passing), and the time period in which the story is set makes the use of this especially poignant. In Alpha's words "It looks like the twilight of this age has quietly arrived. I think I'll be around 'til these twilight years end."
Reading YKK is without doubt one of the most unique and wonderful experiences in manga. Each chapter is filled with a calm, inviting feeling that pulls the reader into the story like a lucid dream. Alpha is without doubt one of the most engaging characters ever created, combining childlike innocence with reflective maturity. The story is remarkable in both its simplicity and its complexity as the reader is taken on a journey of discovery about themselves, the world around them, and the transient nature of things, whilst the art perfectly resonates with both of these elements to produce an atmosphere like no other.
Melancholy yet hopeful, exciting yet wistful, joyful yet sad, YKK is a singular achievement in manga that is deserving of the title "Masterpiece", and should be afforded a place amongst the great works of modern literature.
OVERALL - 10
This review is the final result of a review team composed of members from the "Critics and Connoisseurs" club. The team members were:
Anomalous - writer and editor
Archaeon - writer and editor
Yuunagi - writer and editor
Here are their individual scorings for the Manga:
Category - Anomalous, Archaeon, Yuunagi
Story - 9, 10, 10
Art - 10, 10, 9
Character - 10, 10, 10
Enjoyment - 10, 10, 10
Overall - 10, 10, 10
In the club wide poll held for Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou it received an average overall rating of 8.83
Both are the most superb slice-of-life that i have ever read.
each manga has its own unique atmosphere and tells you wonderful storys that when they end you fell all fuzzy and warm inside.
Both are slowly paced slice of life series.
Due to its brighter atmosphere and the moé appeal of the characters, ARIA is a good choice for helping people get used to the genre before introducing them to YKK with its more mature and melancholy insights.
In truth, if one was to really think about it, ARIA and YKK are not actually similar from how it is presented or the feeling you get from it. However, the story's theme(?) is quite same - a slow, peaceful glimpse of a group of people who seem to find happiness from many small things. I think that alone is enough to try the other and experience both.
Storyline wise, they aren't at all similar, but YKK gives a similar vibe as that of Aria, both occuring in a futuristic world, yet giving a laidback, fantasy feel to it. Though Aria is much much better IMO, YKK is worth a second look.
Honestly there is no plot, you could say they're about nothing and turn away from them. That would be a mistake. These titles are relaxing and soothing reading matter that gives you sensesation that life isn't all about money, work even education. In both landscapes are feast for eyes. Main difference is in pace , both slow but YKK is more adult and based on inner thoughts of heroes while Aria is shonen slice of life with lot of moe. Same charm , different ways of achieving it.
both are relaxing slice of life with no action, but great characters and warm atmosphere.
These two are both very relaxing to read, nothing much happens, but together with the characters you can come to appreciate the beauty of the world. Definitely worth reading.
Another light-hearted slice of life title. Stress-free yet not saccharine, it's perfect for the jaded manga reader or anybody who wishes to see the world in a new light.
Both calming and peaceful manga that i really enjoyed. Though the setting may be different they still manage to have the same feeling of calm and ejoyment of life.
Both top quality Slice of Life!
Both are about green haired girls that go through the adventures of day to day life.
Yotsubato is more light hearted then YKK but both are excellent and are worth giving a try!
How does a view of the world of a 5-year old match the world of Alpha and Kokone?
You couldn't expect the discovery of the world by a 5-year old to be as peaceful and calm as YKK, but there are moments (like the astronomy) where things just work out right.
There's more humor in Yotsuba, the artwork is of a very good quality, and the characters around her are well crafted. Well worth checking it out.
If you don't read Japanese, then the French translations by Kurowawa.fr are released much quicker than the English translations, and can be bought from online french booksellers.
Unbelievably cute slice of life mangas. Although for different reasons, since Yotsubato is more comedy and YKK is just life story-telling.
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