In the near-future Japan, global warming has brought the large city Yokohama underwater, and only the hills remain above the ocean surface. What used to be one of the largest cities in Japan now feels like a small town. Basically, the existence of the island country itself has been threatened. However, there is no feeling of desperation, devastation, nor hopelessness. People are enjoying laid-back lives, and they seem to appreciate each other's company, enjoying the quiet and peaceful time together.
This is especially so with Alpha, a carefree young woman who runs a cafe, named Cafe Alpha. She enjoys her life immersing herself in the beautiful nature all around her. There is nothing more precious to her than spending quality time with her kind friends. Oh, the fulfillment and the joy she finds in life... it all indicates her to be a compassionate human being, but she is not quite a human. She is actually a type A7M2 robot.
One day, upon hearing a radio forecast warning an approaching typhoon, her old friend who lives close by invites her to the gas station he runs, worried that her old cafe may not withstand the typhoon. Indeed, the passing of typhoon leaves Alpha with her cafe severely damaged. That's when she decides to go on a journey to raise money to rebuild her cafe, and also to see the outside world away from her friends and the comfort of a peaceful life.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe (or just Quiet Country Cafe) is a sequel to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and an OVA adaptation of the manga of the same name. Having been made four years later, in 2002, and by a different studio (SME Animation Works, which would later become Aniplex), there are quite a few noticeable differences between the two OVAs as well as from the original manga source material.
Story: 9 (Great)
The story doesn't necessarily pick up from the previous OVA, and can stand alone on its own without having watched the other OVA before hand.
Alpha Hatusueno is a very human-like robot in the form
of a young woman, who has befriended Kokone, another female robot much like her. Alpha runs a cafe on the outskirts of a Yokohama devastated by rising water levels as she waits for the return of her never-see owner; however, a strong typhoon approaches, and threatens to wipe the cafe off the map. Her human friend Ojisan comes to "rescue" her and wish her away to his gas station which can weather the storm better, but Alpha is still left to worry about the future of the cafe and of herself.
After the typhoon, Alpha decides that it's time to leave Yokohama and explore what the world beyond has to offer. In her absence, some of her friends will move on and explore the world in their own ways, while others will not be so willing to let go and explore Alpha's world in her absence.
The first episode corresponds to Chapter 62 Typhoon and Chapter 63 My Place in the manga, while the second episode is a massive condensation of what some fans like to refer to as the Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (or Yokohama Shopping Log) arc, comprising the next 15 chapters, with more focus being given on some chapters than other (some chapters are compressed to just a few seconds). The second OVA also adds details not present in the manga - for example, focus is added to Kokone's relationship with Alpha, arguably changing the nature of that relationship in the process. The OVA also seems to suppose that the Misago is an Alpha-type robot, a notion Ayase shot down in the manga, plays up some of the dynamics between Takahiro and Makki (a welcome change) and other subtle changes YKK fans might be able to catch.
The remaining things the OVA changes from the manga in regards to story are generally done very well. Through the dynamic subtleties and nuances added through animation, the characters and story flow are able to expand and show additional depth. Though the story does suffer from the massive compression, like the OVA before it brings to life the story of Alpha's journey.
Speaking of which, Alpha's journey is given subtle yet significant changes as well. The manga presented it mostly as an exploration of Alpha's world through her eyes, but the OVA's presentation is set up more for exploring Alpha herself with her world as a backdrop (perhaps to compensate for the compressed time in which to characterize her). Personally, I actually like the OVA's presentation better in this regard, since Alpha herself is one of the reasons why I was drawn to the manga in the first place and why I find it so endearing.
Also, +1, yay, overtly lesbian Kokone ;) Also, boo, -1 for seeing Alpha using the restroom :p
Fun fact: Persimmons never grow to be that size, which, at best, are only able to grow to about the size of a grapefruit and are normally the size of tomatoes. YKK fans who have read chapters taking place after this would probably consider it an interesting clue as to some of the events responsible for Yokohama's devastation in the unseen past.
Art: 9 (Great)
In my opinion, the art doesn't quite match up with the manga and is even a slight retrograde from the previous OVA (despite being done four years later and by the predecessor of Aniplex, who would later be attached to such groundbreaking projects and personal favorites as FullMetal Alchemist and my favorite anime of all, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. The character designs are especially noticeable; don't get me wrong, they're still great, but somehow they strike me as being more "generic" compared to the manga. Not to mention, once again, for some reason, the colors still seemed washed out.
The scenery and backgrounds do get some improvement and benefit from the digital art technology that was becoming more in-vogue and mainstream in 2002. It really is something to see these locales come to life, to the delight of any YKK fan.
Sound: 10 (Outstanding)
The sound is pretty much unchanged from the first OVA, including the soothing, calm gekkin music. We're also treated to a new ED song, Furawura, Furawura (Wandering, Wandering which is just an amazing musical piece, and definitely worth sticking around for (not to mention the story continues after the ED, and even incorporates the ED into the storytelling). It is a rather saccharine scene to watch Alpha review her memories as the song plays.
Character: 9 (Great)
The characterization is overall great, and overall benefits from the transition to animation as with the previous OVA, but at the same time this OVA takes liberties to change perhaps the one key relationship in the entire manga. Particularly, the OVA goes out of its way to change the nature of Kokone and her relationship with Alpha; in the manga, for example, the relationship is presented in a rather neutral manner, allowing the readers to make up their minds on their own and fill in the details. There's an in-joke within the YKK fanbase that Kokone is a raging lesbian who has a hard-on obsession stalking Alpha, but for the most part their relationship is just presented as being on some level above a regular friendship. This OVA, on the other hand, takes the "raging lesbian" in-joke perhaps a little too seriously for some YKK fans to swallow - Kokone goes so far as to fondle sleeping Alpha's breasts in the opening of the first episode, and in the second episode appears to be having a little too much fun and anxiety (and perhaps even obsession) being in Alpha's room.
Alpha, on the other hand, is treated with more respect, and we gain a true sense of intimacy with the character (the good kind, for us, not the kind Kokone apparently wants). The viewers really do begin to feel what kind of person Alpha is, what brings excitement to her life, what her hopes and anxieties are, and some of the loneliness and nostalgia she begins to feel as she decides its finally time to head home. Once again, the animation, for the most part, uses the new medium to its advantage to add and intensify the characters through movement and voice.
Enjoyment: 10 (Outstanding)
Quiet Country Cafe isn't perfect; it isn't a perfect transition to animation and it's not even quite as good as its predecessor, but we're still treated to more of what many YKK fans have been wanting since the end of the manga: more of Alpha and getting to know her rich character in greater depth. Whether or not you'll enjoy the somewhat re-imagined characterization of Kokone or the attempt to compress 15 chapters into 30 minutes, you'll still come away with a great feeling of warmth and satisfaction from what this OVA has to deliver.
Final score for Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Quiet Country Cafe:
The second set of YKK OVAs is significantly not as good as the first. Main reason: the dystopian elements of the world were absent. Here's this beautiful, water-covered world, and they mostly only show parts that may as well be current-day Japan. The art is just bog-standard and sub-par. There's nothing you haven't seen 100 times before and drawn better elsewhere.
Also, there's the lingering ass shots. They even introduce Misago in the second half of the second of two OVAs, just so the show can have some boobs. She has no lines, interacts with no-one, and the only
acknowledgement of her existence is a random line from other characters. I don't know whose idea it was to frame so many shots as potential fanservice, but they fundamentally didn't understand what YKK was about.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this after watching the first one. The animation in this outdid the other. The backgrounds were absolutely gorgeous; the swaying of grass, the smooth water, trickling waterfalls were all animated beautifully. The characters were nicely rendered as well.
Like the OVA prior, it is again completely relaxing and pleasing to the eye. Nothing much happens as well, except for through the everyday life of Alpha a typhoon hits and she decided to move out of the comfort of her abode and explores more of the world. Now after watching this I want to go read some more of
the manga. Even though I find the manga bit better, now I see that such a nice feeling doesn’t come off as well from paper and ink. The animation is just too beautiful in this… it’s certainly Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou’s best aspect.
The sound is nice, too. I like the background music especially. It reminds me of a barbeque... don't ask me why.. maybe it's because it reminds me of music we'd play on the records when we'd have a barbeque. (That makes me sound old but actually I'm still of adolescence XD).
I think I still like the old OVA better. The second one’s animation is much better, but I like the way the characters come off as in the first, and what happens, for some reason. Not so sure why myself. Anyway, if you want something nice to watch, if you’ve had it with violent shows, or you just had a bad day and need some relaxing time, this is the anime to see.
Compared to the OVA prequel this OVA has more to give the viewer. Absolutely stunning environments and great character movements almost brings it alive in front of me, and somehow I wish that I was able to jump into the screen and just be lying there on the grassfield and watch up on the blue sky, counting the white clouds that move by.
Just like the prequel, this is just the right anime to watch when you want to relax and get the pulse down. Accompanied with a hot cup of coffée you are definitely on the right track!