I wanted to like it, I really did. I was expecting a combination of a fun, yet soothing story, a scenic setting and lots of fitting, calming music. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou only managed to get the scenery part right, and just barely.
Story wise, there isn’t all too much going on. I’ll try to get it across as exciting as possible.
In future Japan, android technology has advanced so far that robots now have their own personality and will. Here comes our heroine, an undercover Alpha-android who infiltrated a peaceful countryside village near Mt. Fuji. Are you kidding me? This shit is like fucking Terminator! Just… without all the action and excitement and with goodwill and scenery instead…
Alright, I’ll cut the crap. But honestly, there isn’t anything to talk about if it comes to the story. You follow Alpha around all day as she makes coffee for customers who won’t come, and has small conversations with the old man next door every now and then. At least half the show is filled with barrages of scenery shots without any music playing.
The animation-section holds pretty much the only redeeming quality this show has, and it’s not even excellent at that. The scenery is quite okay. Nothing awe-inspiring, but it does the job. The rest of the animation has the same kind of “yeah, it works” feel to it. It’s not all very detailed, but it has its charm.
On to the biggest lackluster of the show, sound. In a slow-paced story where scenic shots are the focus, music has to be near-perfect to make it happen. THEY DIDN’T EVEN TRY! I could’ve done without an OP or ED, but at the very least input some kind of music in the multi-minute sequences of landscapes and greenery. Fair enough, the music that was used worked pretty well, but it was almost non-existent.
Overall, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou isn’t worth recommending to anyone. If you want a soothing, scenic story, it’s been done better elsewhere, and actually with music. If anything, this show is good at making you sleepy. I’m someone with quite bad sleeping problems, and I nearly fell asleep not once, but up to 5 times each episode while watching this, that’s a first, praise worthy.
Final note: The second OVA, “Quiet Country Cafe”, which I’m halfway through right now, is a big leap forward in quality. There is fitting music where it counts and the story isn’t as dull. It’s still more of the same, but done a whole lot better.
To call Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou “slice-of-life” is quite the understatement, for this anime is not merely a “slice” of life; it’s the entire goddamn pie. Never before have I seen an anime that so single-mindedly focused on realism. The anime has no conflict whatsoever, but instead relies entirely on the general mood of the show to entertain the audience.
What, exactly, is the mood of the show? Good question. Some may make the case that the anime is cheerful, but this, in my opinion, is not entirely true. While watching the show, I was also struck by an overwhelming feeling of isolation, a separation from all that mattered. Ironically enough, the main character seems trapped among a prison of open fields. Although she can see miles in every direction, she will never wander farther than a few miles away from the Cafe she owns. While the calm, stress-free environment is peaceful, at the same time there is always a frightfully forlorn undertone that runs through the work. One gets the feeling that she is separated from reality, in a pocket of the world that no one will ever remember.
Probably the most interesting question that came up in my head as I was watching the show was whether the main character was actually happy. She certainly appears to be, but as she obsesses over trivial issues like making coffee and taking photographs, a subtle undercurrent of yearning seems to permeate her entire being – a yearning to be something more, to have a place in the world, to see what is beyond the seemingly endless countryside.
Despite what I’ve said, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou never quite manages to be wholly entertaining. The anime is undeniably quite relaxing, but it also happens to be frightfully dull at times. In the end, I’m going to recommend this (this anime has certainly piqued my interest enough to watch the second OVA), but with a strong warning: if you heavily value storyline, dynamic characters, or any sort of action whatsoever, then this anime is probably not for you.