Every quarter we are running a Manga Review Contest where you can submit a review from a selected list of manga. If you want to participate or learn more, click the link. Continue on to read a fellow customer's thoughts on the healing, post-apocalyptic-slice-of-life manga Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
This review is written by Sarah
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, by Hitoshi Ashinano, published in Japan in 1996, it is a 14-volume series brought to the west for the first time in a deluxe omnibus edition that covers the first 5 volumes. Known to the manga world as Y.K.K., it is an old-school style classic read. It is a slice of life with a moped, the scent of fresh coffee, and crisp watermelons from the back of a rusted truck.
Our main character, Alpha, a green-haired android, makes up her days with long talks with friends over a cup of coffee in her small shop by the sea that her mentor has entrusted her until their return. Alpha continues to live on as humanity goes into that fated goodnight with a contented sigh; feel free to get just as lost in thoughts and memories over a few laughs and friends with Alpha. Readers are presented with panels of time as Alpha lives on as our other characters slowly age around her and reminisce about old Japan. With beautifully illustrated artwork and images that drive home the march of time, such as street lights under a still lake creating another galaxy that less brings tears but happy memories.
Reading Y.K.K. was albeit slow starting, but just like Alpha, I wondered when characters had started to look so old. Then you begin to notice that the world around you is moving, even as events feel impending. There was a lot to gain from taking a moment to enjoy the little things. This is science fiction that is not filled with flying machines or desolate areas where some war took place at some time. Y.K.K. is just watching the sunrise and set. All the moments in between and the best memories are made in this most unlikely situation.
As this is early on in the series, only a handful of people are introduced, but I found myself flipping back through panels almost as if to check on them. You quickly become attached to Alpha and her friends and the coffee shop. There are many questions still to be answered, such as, "Where is her mentor? I wonder what they'll do today," and some other questions you don't want answered. This omnibus is less about the conclusion and more about the journey in between. The author does not present why things happen, but just as they are. Characters reminisce when they could drive their bikes on highways that are now underwater, with standard lines of, "This will probably be the last time…" but said not in sadness but more as just a fact.
Sometimes as the reader, you begin to worry about Alpha, as she is an Android, even though she will live on, taking her small moped out on little errands for the café. You, as the reader, get to be with her every step or two. She never seems to be lonely but simply waits and learns new things every day despite the limited time of others. And though she is an Android, she still feels very human as she captures memories and makes plans together with her friends to see festivals or humanity's last song. It is a slow read, but that is intended; you need to take a few extra moments to re-read the small lines of dialogue and observe how things are slowly changing. Because with no real sense of time or even seasons to discern how long it's been since you've last seen someone, you have to take that moment to savor just being with someone. Sometimes it feels like you are just sitting and world-watching for so long that you forget what the last plot point was.
As far as this omnibus compares to others, it was a great read. A fun new find in a classical series made available for English-speaking countries was a great chance to read and discover. But compared to other deluxe edition prints from Seven Seas, minor adjustments could be made in quality. This is a manga where you need to see some finer details. But it does not affect the enjoyability or readability of the series in a detrimental sense. This is the first omnibus out of the announced five from Seven Seas. Perhaps the needed printing adjustments will be made. But I can't wait to see Alpha and the coffee shop again to see what memories will be made next!
Check back every month for our manga review contest page as we will be adding new manga to the list! Don't forget to submit your reviews for a chance to win a $75 gift card like Sarah did!
In a future Japan, long after an environmental catastrophe, Alpha the android runs a small café in a seaside town. As she wonders if her absent owner will ever return, she stands witness to the twilight of humanity with coffee, a slice of watermelon, and the sound of her moon guitar. Alpha and her fellow residents enjoy the melancholy beauty of life, even as the end approaches.Add to CartLearn More