November 17, 2007
July, Jeff of Hop Step Jump! posted a picture of an unnamed character from an
unknown manga. I loved it, and turned it
into a wallpaper. Understand that I
change my wallpaper on a weekly basis, yet this one lasted for three
months. There was something about the
young woman that just grabbed my attention.
A week or
so ago, Jeff put up another picture of her... and I found out her name:
Alpha. A little bit of searching turned
up the name of the manga: Yokohama Shopping Trip (Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou). It's been very well received (and won an award for best SF manga in 2007), but hasn't been
picked up here in the States... but more importantly to me, there were two
different OVAs made for it... and they were listed on Animesuki. A few quick downloads later, and I was ready
So, what was the result?
Yokohama Shopping Trip is the story of Alpha, the proprietor of Cafe Alpha, a little coffeeshop that's a bit off the beaten path. In fact, she might go days or weeks without seeing a customer. There's a good reason for this, however: something has happened to the world, something big.
is no longer the perfect cone it had been... in fact, it looks a lot like Mt St
Helens now. Much of
Yet, it's not all bad. There's still electricity; streetlights still function, even though they (and the streets they illuminate) are under water. There are a few radio stations still broadcasting. Nature has flourished. And there are "robot people," androids completely indistinguishable from humans, and completely accepted by civilization as equals.
Alpha is, in fact, one of them. You can't tell.
owner, who is traveling and is never seen, sends her a camera, with
instructions to take many pictures, “in case she feels nostalgic.” This seems an odd instruction for an android,
since to her 10 years is no time at all, but she takes it to heart… and gives
the anime its storyline.
OVA takes place around and in Café Alpha, the 2002 has Alpha going out for a
very, very long walk after the Café is seriously damaged by a typhoon. Unfortunately, her travels are all jammed
into a single episode (both OVAs are two episodes long). As a result, we don’t get to truly experience
what appears to take a LONG time in the manga.
For example, we meet a male android, who’s a pilot (amusingly, he flies a T-6 Texan), and learn that there’s very few male androids extant… most of them die off shortly after creation. We never learn why, though, as this character appears and disappears in less than three minutes. There’s a nude android named Misago hiding in a tree (20 seconds screentime). We learn nothing about her, and there’s no indication why she’s in a tree. There’s even a brief glimpse of a spaceplane, but no reason for it to be there.
And yet, all of these problems are ancillary to the main reason for these shows to exist: Alpha herself. Alpha is a joy to watch, especially in the first OVA. From her initial reaction to the camera’s method of output:
…to her reaction at meeting the male android:
clear that she’s the most human of the characters in the show.
biggest drawback to the OVAs is that Kanon 2006 moves like Dragonball Z in
comparison. Yes, it’s THAT languidly
paced. If you think watching an android
make coffee for four minutes is exciting, then this show is for you.
clear that I enjoy Yokohama Shopping Trip, but, like any particularly-offbeat
show, it’s not for everybody. There’s a
lot of backstory here that I don’t know about, but it’s something I want to
discover, that’s for sure.
And Alpha’s awfully cute.
Update: Author comments.
Posted by: TheBigN at November 17, 2007 02:21 PM (Xs2Gi)
I've been working through the manga, slowly. There isn't really any action. It's all about atmosphere and engaging characters and amazing art -- and it's amazingly good.
But it's also just about the last thing I'd think would make a good anime. The things you need for a good anime just aren't there.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 18, 2007 05:09 PM (+rSRq)
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