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.