- Mangaka : Ashinano, Hitoshi
- Publisher : Seven Seas
- Genre : Slice of Life, Sci-fi, Mystery, Seinen
- Published : Aug 2022 - Present
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is not a new manga. On the contrary, it is actually an old title that just received its official English translation through Seven Seas. This manga made its debut in 1995, and published its last chapter around 2009. Throughout its life, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou received tons of accolades, including the 2007 Seiun Award for Best Manga.
Now, after years of waiting, we can finally purchase the official English version of this wonderful manga. What’s even better, Seven Seas decided to publish this manga in a Deluxe Edition, which is basically a 3-in-1 omnibus. That means the whole series should be concluded in about 5 volumes. So let’s see what the fuss is all about through this review for the first volume of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is the story about the daily life of Alpha, a female android who runs a café in post-apocalyptic Japan. That being said, although Alpha is undoubtedly an android, she looks remarkably similar to a normal human. The emotion on her face, the movement of her body, the way she speaks, laughs, and blushes… it all makes everybody who doesn’t know who she is immediately assume that she is just another ordinary human.
Although Alpha lives by herself now, she actually has an owner. There’s not much information given about her in this first volume, but we know that Alpha misses her owner very much. That’s why she’s so happy whenever she receives a letter, or any other news from her owner.
This manga follows Alpha as she goes through her day to day activities. From talking to the old man who owns the local gas station whenever she needs to refuel her trusted scooter, to buying groceries and other products that her café needs at the nearest town, to following her as she rides around on her scooter in search of the perfect scenery to capture with the camera that her owner gave her. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou makes the post-apocalyptic world look and feel so wholesome.
1. A Wholesome Dystopia
A “Wholesome Dystopia” sounds like such a strange concept, doesn’t it? After all, whenever we see a dystopian future, be it in manga or any other fiction, the world always looks so harsh and gloomy. Which is understandable - after all, we’re talking about a world that just underwent an apocalyptic event. What other choice does the place, and the people who live in it, have but to feel depressed?
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou says no to that foolish assumption. Even a dystopian future can be wholesome. It all depends on the attitude and the vibe of the people who live in it. And that is precisely what makes this seemingly absurd concept work so well. Alpha has such a good vibe to her that everything she does and everybody that she talks to ends up being infected by that chill and positive vibe.
A unique concept like this relies heavily on the characters, because there’s nothing really changed about the world itself. It is still very much a post-apocalyptic world. But put people with a positive attitude who genuinely enjoy each other’s company into the story, and voila, even a drowned Japan can feel like home. They say home is where you make it, and Alpha the cheerful android certainly makes this dystopian world into her wholesome home.
2. Well-Executed Soft Worldbuilding
Hard worldbuilding is the type of worldbuilding where there are clear rules and concepts that can explain the world where the story takes place. Everything is clearly laid out to the reader so that we understand the reason why certain things happen. One of the best examples of this is the remarkable worldbuilding in Made in Abyss. The author thoroughly explains the concepts behind the Abyss in order to paint vivid pictures in the reader's mind about how dangerous yet fascinating that colossal hole that pierces through the earth truly is.
Soft worldbuilding, however, is the exact opposite of that. In this type of worldbuilding, there’s only a bare minimum of explanation given to the readers. We find pieces of the puzzle as the story progresses, and even then there’s still no guarantee that we will understand everything about this fictional world. The main advantage of soft worldbuilding is it gives a sense of wonder and also freedom in a way, both to the authors and the readers. After all, we are simply there for the ride and we don’t know what will happen or what we will find during our journey.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a perfect example of soft worldbuilding. We know it’s a post-apocalyptic world because there are hardly any people in town and most of the giant structures have collapsed. Alpha can barely ride her scooter on the cracked roads, and when she does, she stumbles upon a newly drowned area of the town that forces her to look for another way across.
From the simple fact of how advanced Alpha is for an android, we know that the world used to be a high-tech place. And yet Alpha still receives letters from her owner that are written on pieces of paper. This suggests that a means of mass or digital communication might have collapsed during the apocalypse. These are the kinds of puzzles that are scattered throughout the 24 chapters of this first volume, and it is such a blast putting them all together.
1. Lack of a Continuous Narrative
This first volume of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou simply tells a story about what Alpha does every day, the places that she visits, and the people that she talks to. It is a slice-of-life story to its core. To some, this kind of relaxing story can provide a wholesome and relaxing reading experience, but to others, the lack of a continuous narrative might make it feel boring to read. So if you are the type of person who prefers to read an engaging story where there is a clear objective and motivations behind the character’s actions, then Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou might not be for you.
There are a lot of interesting things that you can find in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. From the unique concept, to the lovable characters, to the fascinating worldbuilding, all of it is tailored to perfection in order to give us a unique yet satisfying reading experience. There aren’t many manga that touch upon the subject of a wholesome dystopian world, so that alone should be a good enough reason for you to give this manga a try. Even if you are not a big fan of the slice-of-life genre, we urge you to at least give this first volume a try.
Have you read Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou? If you have, what do you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.