Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: Simple and Tranquil

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a different anime. It doesn’t have a great deal of action, super powered characters, parallel worlds, or even action. So, why even watch it? Sounds boring. Right? Well, this anime offers something other than all that. 

First, let’s talk about where Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou came from. Like a lot of anime it started off as a manga. The manga was published in the seinen manga magazine Afternoon. It ran from June 1994 to February 2006. I’d bet it was running before many of you were even born! It has a total of 140 chapters and was created by Hitoshi Ashinano. In 2007 it won the Seiun Award, an award for science fiction, for the best science fiction comic. The anime consists of two OVAs made in 1998 by Ajia-do Animation Works that cover volumes 1-3 of the manga. Two more OVAs were made in the early 2000s. But, we’ll focus on the first ones for this review.

Alright, we got that. But, what’s it about? Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is about a female robot named Alpha who runs a small coffee shop. She’s taken up the task of running it from her human “owner” who is on and trip for an unknown period of time. The story follows her day to day life as she runs her shop. It’s really that simple. Throughout the story Alpha interacts with the humans in the small town she lives. Along with other robots. 

Well, where’s the appeal? Still sounds boring. Right? Maybe it’s the setting. For such a simple anime it has a surprisingly fascinating setting. You may have been able to guess from the science fiction award the manga won that this all takes place in the future. This isn’t the wild scifi world of Psycho-Pass. It more resembles the world of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou takes place in a post apocalyptic Earth after a mysterious environmental disaster. The exact nature of the disaster is kept in the dark, at least in the anime. We do see that sea levels have risen dramatically, swallowing up large portions of the Japanese Islands. The seasons have changed making the summers and winters milder. We are often shown images of whole towns swallowed up by the sea. There are things still unanswered in the world. For instance, why does Alpha carry a gun wherever she goes?

I compared this future to Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s not really that similar. The nature of the disasters that brought humanity to the brink in both anime are different. However, I’d say the biggest difference lies in humanity’s reaction. In Evangelion, the humans fight back against the angels. They struggle wildly to survive and keep their now fragile existence going. In YKK it’s different. Humanity has accepted their fate and is quietly going about their decline and living simple lives. Humanity is in it’s twilight and they’re ready to peacefully drift off. Quite a contrast to the wild flailing for survival of the humans in Evangelion. 

The setting is only a small aspect of the anime. In the anime, it doesn’t matter as much as in the manga. Except, for creating beautiful scenes of submerged neighbourhoods. The anime consists of various short vignettes of Alpha’s life set into two half hour OVAs. The vignettes are simple. One entirely consists of Alpha making a pot of coffee in her shop. The main allure isn’t the story. It’s the calm. YKK is a remarkably relaxing anime. The short vignettes of simple life leave the viewer relaxed and calm. The animation is beautiful and only contributes to the relaxing atmosphere this anime fosters. If you’re ever on edge I’d recommend watching this. Always relaxing.

Overall, I’d highly recommend Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. For it’s interesting setting, beautiful animation, and relaxing atmosphere.