Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a two-episode OVA based on the manga of the same name (please read my review of the manga for more details). Specifically, it is based on a few early chapters in the manga. After reading over some other reviews, it seems that the transition from still images to animation has been somewhat of a hit-or-miss kind of thing with many people, but for me, I think it weathers the transition very well; the OVA takes advantage of the medium to showcase the world and characters, but in some ways doesn't go far enough.
Story: 9 (Great)
The story concerns Alpha Hatsusueno, an android (or gynoid, to be gender-specific) who lives on the outskirts of what's left of Yokohama, Japan after rising sea levels destroyed most of the city. She spends her days running a cafe and waiting for the return of her owner, who has left for reasons and parts unknown. One day, she receives a visitor - a young woman named Kokone, who is here to drop off a special package for her along with a message. When Alpha asks for the contents of the message, she discovers something special about Kokone - she, too, is a robot!
Alpha and Kokone quickly become friends, and the two begin to explore the world around them, aided by the gift sent by Alpha's owner - a camera that can directly interface with robots. Kokone returns to her delivery service, leaving Alpha feeling lonely again. She then decides to head out on her own to discover for herself what the world offers for her to photograph and preserve.
After going out to pick up a new rake, the skies above Alpha's little scooter start to darken; before long, a heavy rain sets in. Suddenly, a lightning strike out of nowhere! Alpha will now have to cope with trying to survive and the changes she'll face after her recovery.
Alpha decides to try out her new camera and becomes greatly dissatisfied with some of the shots she takes. She searches for the perfect shot, but is suddenly overtaken by a faint memory she barely remembers, one that goes back to the very day she was first activated.
The corresponding manga chapters covered by the OVA's two episodes are, in order,Chapter 7 Afternoon February 2, Chapter 8 1 by 1, Chapter 9 300 Image Capacity,Chapter 4 Rain and After, Chapter 12 Navi and Chapter 22 Yokosuka Cruise - note that Chapters 8 and 9 and Chapters 12 and 22 have been combined into a single half-episode each.
The story faithfully reproduces the ones told in the original manga chapters, but adds special touches as well. We see the dynamics of the wonderous splendor of Alpha's world, as well as the dynamics of her special relationship with Kokone (special in more ways than one :). Many of the subtleties of Alpha's character that can only be told through movement are revealed to us as well. We also see a little more backstory and a few changes here and there between the OVA and the manga - Alpha remembers or at least admits a little bit about what it was like being around before robots were common. Overall, the execution is great and it's clear that the animators and producers were careful to preserve and enhance the environment and characters of the manga, though I wish we could've seen the world through the perspective of Alpha's camera more often.
Art: 9 (Great)
The art is terrific and faithfully reproduces or even enhances the art style of the manga, but sadly the colors come off as a little washed-out, especially in regards to Alpha and Kokone.With that said, the animation takes us one step closer towards experiencing this futuristic world of Yokohama for ourselves, and brings Alpha and Kokone one step closer to our world.
Sound: 10 (Outstanding)
The music sets a benchmark for anime of this genre and is performed by Choro Club who also gave us the soundtrack for ARIA; much of it is performed with a gekkin, the same type of stringed musical instrument Alpha plays in the manga and seen in the OVA. Background an incidental music factor in heavily, much more so than other works. The music very much correlates to the imagery on-screen and tells us through audio the type of laid-back world Alpha sees, despite the many hardships she and her friends have to put up with.
Character: 10 (Outstanding)
In many ways the characterization of Alpha, Kokone, and the others exceeds that of the manga, since we're treated to many nuances the manga is simply not able to show. We see in Alpha a certain kind of endearing naivety as she begins to see things for the first time from differing perspectives, yet at the same time, we see a strong-willed young woman who is not only capable of taking care of herself but highly values the bonds she has with what has become her human family. The animation does much to bring these characters alive through these nuances and interactions with others and their environment, bringing these characters one step closer to reality.
Enjoyment: 9 (Great)
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is almost as much of a masterpiece as its source material but is not without its flaws that detracts from its enjoyment. The washed-out colors are distracting, especially when I was expecting the vibrant green and purple of Alpha's and Kokone's hair to be carried over from the manga. Despite that, the OVA still does a magnificent job of breathing life into Hitoshi Ashinano's still images and ephemeral snapshots, and for this alone it is a highly recommended and regarded piece.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is given a final score of: