[I always learn something new from you readers. And in the case of Irothtin, that would be about Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. I have a feeling I'll have to seek out a bunch of new series to watch and read by the end of this month. Thanks, guys. Got your own story to share? Post it in our community blogs section, and you might wind up on the front page too! -- Brad]
Tell me, dear reader, are you familiar with the concept of "mono no aware"? Probably not in such big, fancy words, no. But surely you've felt the nostalgia of examining childhood memories, the melancholic feeling that grips your chest whenever you think back to a simpler time, the simple sadness that comes with things passing in and out of memory, the wistful feeling of laying in grass and watching clouds roll by. That is what "mono no aware" is.
A robot girl, to be exact.
Alpha Hatsuseno lives her life in her small coffee shop on the Miura Peninsula, taking life one day at a time. She runs the place in lieu of the man only referred to as "Owner", who is on a vacation of indefinite length. Some days there are customers, some days there are none, and some days Alpha is out exploring the strange world she lives in.
The world is in a post-cataclysmic state. Something happened fairly recently in the past, but it is never completely stated outright. A global environmental disaster, perhaps. Water levels are higher, cities are flooded and abandoned, there's a massive chunk of Mt. Fuji that's no longer there. Odd, mushroom-like plants are growing all over the landscape, imitating the shapes of people and man-made structures.
Mankind is in decline. And as an immortal robot, Alpha has nothing better to do other than sit back and watch. Not that the decline of the world is a big deal to those who live in it, of course. Life is simpler and quieter. Humans have accepted the fact that they're slowly dying out.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is very much a slice of life series. It was released monthly in Kodansha's Afternoon magazine for close to twelve years, and the time that passed during the manga's serialization roughly corresponds to the time that passes in the manga itself.
That said, not very much happens in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. But it's not really about things happening - it's about the little things in life.
Entire chapters of YKK are devoted to unassuming and everyday tasks. Alpha brews coffee for the cafe, drives around the landscape on her scooter, builds a tiny model airplane, repaints her shop. She goes to the beach or sees fireworks with neighborhood children. It isn't uncommon to have an entire chapter of Alpha looking at scenery.
And, through the passing of time, YKK evokes "mono no aware".
Alpha runs out of coffee, and has to leave the shop to buy more in Yokohama. Her scooter breaks down, and she tries to fix it. The model airplane runs out of gas, never to fly again. A passing typhoon wipes out a good part of her beloved Cafe Alpha. The children grow up and move away. The rising sea levels come closer and closer to engulfing her home.
It's a quiet, slow, and leisurely manga, that has unfortunately never been licensed or released outside of Japan, but scanlations are easily found floating about the internet. Apart from two separate two-episode OVA series, it was never made into an anime.
It's truly difficult to properly describe this series in words. Suffice to say that it's the type of series that gives you something to really sit and think about, and plenty of time to think about it.
As Alpha herself would no doubt tell you, there's all the time in the world.
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