Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (Yokohama Shopping Log)
Ahhhh….That’s all I have to say about this absolutely delightful series. Depending on what you like, this series could drive you nuts or be the most wonderful experience you’ve ever had. Let me be up front – *nothing* happens in this story. It’s not *about* anything. It’s what your sophomore year English teacher referred to as “slice-of-life” only you weren’t paying attention, ’cause you had a crush on the girl in science class and were too busy passing notes to a friend about the math teacher’s poor taste in ties to notice. ^_^
Amazingly, despite everything I am about to write about it, this really is a seinen series.
YYK is a very sweet and, oh, simple, look at a post-apocalyptic Japan. Changing weather patterns have altered the map and Yokohama has been mostly submerged. Life is simpler, more rural. In this twilight world, there is a kind of relaxed attitude towards the passage of time. We follow Alpha, an advanced (and fairly rare) type of robot, as she runs a coffee shop, swims with friends, takes pictures, meets people and generally explores the world. The art of the anime is breathtakingly lovely, the art in the manga is simple and sweet, and the color pictures are just heart-wrenchingly beautiful in their simplicity.
Like I said, nothing happens, but it doesn’t happen so….sweetly, that’s it a joy to watch.
The Yuri comes in early on in the story with the introduction of another robot, Kokone, who is delivering a message from Alpha’s absent owner. In what has to be the cutest, sweetest fanservice Yuri scene ever, the robots must touch tongues to transfer the message (I don’t even want to think about the bad science involved with this concept!). Alpha’s taken aback, but from this point on Kokone begins to really develop feelings for Alpha which rapidly become a serious crush. Even after Kokone meets (and delivers a message to, nudge, nudge) another robot, who takes a liking to her, Kokone’as thoughts are always on Alpha.
At one point in the story, Kokone rides out to see Alpha, who has gone on an extended walkabout. Kokone ends up staying overnight at Alpha’s house. Laying in Alpha’s bed, Kokone is seen to stroke Alpha’s pillow and sniff it deeply, trying to capture Alpha’s scent, while saying Alpha’s name. If that ain’t infatuation – I don’t know what is.
Meanwhile, the third robot, butchy, artsy Meruko, also female, keeps trying to ask Kokone out (and get messages delivered by her, nudge, nudge) but Kokone spends all her time with Meruko talking about Alpha. Let’s face it – Kokone is completely gonesville on Alpha, and with good reason, I think. Alpha’s utterly enchanting. ^_^ I guess I’m a little gone on Alpha, too, huh?
The anime consists of two separate two-episode OVAs, a total of four episodes. The second OVA is not as well-executed as the first and looks as if it was actually done *before* the earlier episodes. But it wasn’t – it came several years later, in fact. Nonetheless, both are very worth watching.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: A Quiet Country Cafe has a wonderful opening scene of Kokone and Alpha out for a day’s ride – Kokone comes very close to kissing Alpha.
There’s also a fantastic artbook of the color pictures from the manga and at least two drama CDs for this series – I just wish there was more out there, because I genuinely hate to leave Alpha’s world. The simplicity and beauty of this series would be worth it, even without the delightful characters and story.
For us Yuri fans, Kokone and Alpha are just *so* adorable together….
I know that YYK is an old series, and long past, now, but it’s just so darn…wonderful. :-)
Art – 10, anime and manga
Story – 9
Characters – 9
Music – 9
Yuri – 8
Overall – 9