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.
Story and characters
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou can be summed up in one word: uneventful. It shows us slices of the life of Alpha, a female android who lives in the countryside and has a café. The most exciting thing she does all day is make coffee, after which she drinks it herself because there are no customers anyway...
and yes, I'm serious here. The first 6 minutes of episode 1 show how Alpha gets up and makes coffee while some girl is traveling towards her. The next 4 minutes are the arrival of said girl, who then delivers a package and a message. After that they make some small talk for 5 minutes, and you're already halfway through the first episode without anything important happening. Then Alpha makes some small talk to an old man, and we're already 20 minutes in. This is the point at which a song starts playing, but please don't mistake it for the ED. Because if you do end it there, you'll miss... nothing much really.
Now, don't take me wrong here, I know most SoL anime aim to create a relaxing atmosphere, but YKK just takes "relaxing" too far and becomes dull instead. The best proof that this anime could be relaxing without being dull lies in the first 10 minutes of the second episode: some things happen there, which makes it lies boring while it retains the relaxing atmosphere. So I had higher hopes for the second episode, but those were slowly crushed to pieces afterwards. Gone were the events, back came the boring things. Heck, one of the main events there was Alpha falling asleep...
When it comes to the characters in this anime, it's safe to say that you don't really get to know them. I feel like I still know as much about Alpha as when I had just read the synopsis, and there are no important side characters to know anything about either. I'm being mild in my scoring of this section though, because I feel like really knowing the characters wasn't actually necessary in an anime of this nature.
Nothing special to say here. It's good enough to be watchable, but it's not exactly "eye-candy" either. Those who have nostalgic feelings towards older animation might like it more than me though. The scenery and character designs were good too, apart from the old man's design.
Nothing really noteworthy in the music either. When there is backgroundmusic, it helps to create the atmosphere they wanted to go for, but there were also those songs at the 20-minute mark which felt out of place to me.
This is the first anime that I found so dull without having any other problems with it. I can't recommend it for most people, but if you're okay with anime that are extremely uneventful, or you're a hardcore SoL-lover, this might be for you: it does create a certain atmosphere which those people might like. If you don't belong to one of those two categories you're more likely to end up bored or - even more likely - asleep.
This was an entry in the Daily Anime Marathon
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.