Yokohama Shopping Trip – 2

Despite clearly being the better of the original two Yokohama Shopping Trip OVAs, episode two serves up an unsettling mood of desolation and loneliness. During a five minute period in which Alpha simply brews a cup of coffee, there is no music, no dialogue, only the sounds of a creeky old house to keep her (and indeed, us) company. During this remarkably extended scene, outside the whispy white clouds shuffle and day becomes night- truely, I couldn’t tell whether Alpha was brewing her coffee for days rather than minutes, and with the way she seems to space out, I suspect that neither does she. This is perhaps the first solid piece of social commentary I’ve managed to construe from Yokohama Shopping Trip; I wonder if this scene is trying to convey the repetition of life- how we can happily stick to the same routines day in, day out irregardless of the time we waste doing so.
Aside from this period, most of episode 2 deals with Alpha learning to understand and express human emotion. It ends with a suitably attractive scene of Alpha and a friend looking out over the flooded cities of our present day, interestingly- the street lights still work, so when night approaches, the still rivers literally shine with a million neon lights. It’s a profound moment, subtely portraying the insignificant beauty of human life.

Yokohama Shopping Trip – 1

My fascination with the weird, coupled with an obtuse interest in searching out the obscure has led me down the path of downloading the kind of anime people forgot about many moons ago- and so here I am to introduce you to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou; talked up a wandering traveller anime in the spirit of say Kino no Tabi (Kino’s Journey), I must admit this sounded right up my ally.
Straight from the off, it’s clear that Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou has some interesting ideas to convey. I had been made aware that it’s a show with some strong yuri overtones and consdiering the way the lead characters commincate “messages” to each other, such themes have all the sublety of a sledgehammer.
To set the scene, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is based in a post-apocalyptic but decidely rural future- the vast open landscape is lush with grass, trees and bushes. The old human cities are under water, rusted away, dead. Population is sparse and cute looking robots are everywhere- they could be human except for a few eccentric features; to communicate private messages with one another, the cute robots must kiss; how the programmers got away with that feature…, I suppose I’m not supposed to ask.
By now I’m sure I’m making Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou sound like a seedy case of yuri exploitation but based on this first episode, such comments are merely knee-jerk reaction. The anime is essentially about a female robot called Alpha who one day gets a camera and decides wander about, discover the profound and snap the beautiful. A lot of time is spent silently gazing at blood red sunsets, free flying birds and meeting new friends. It’s very atmospheric and laid back, but rather than attempting to drive into us a code of morals, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is content to allow the viewer to follow Alpha on her aimless trips, looking for something worth capturing in her camera. I feel interested enough to want to watch more of this, though clearly the lack of story and drama mean that it is best suited loose end on a lazy Sunday afternoon.