I am extremely sad about the fact that Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou was never made into a full-length TV series, because after seeing the first 2 of the existing 4 OVA episodes I was already completely sold. I’ve been meaning to read the manga for a long time but I’ve never actually gotten to it. Maybe writing this post will reignite that burning desire and finally make me start reading it. I can only hope.
I first decided to watch Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou after seeing some of Junichi Satou’s works (and loving them), because I heard it was similar. And that turned out to be true in some ways – YKK is relaxing in the same way that Aria and Tamayura can be – but not in others. Whereas Aria and Tamayura feel “normal” in terms of pacing, YKK is almost excruciatingly slow at times, but it’s also aware of it. To give an example, the majority of the second episode of the 1998 OVA consists of Alpha, the main character, brewing coffee. It takes so long that when she finally sits down with her cup, night has already fallen.
This sequence is by no means boring, however. It’s stunningly beautiful both in terms of visuals and sound or, rather, the lack of sound. Alpha is alone, so she has no reason to talk all the time, leading to a very quiet experience where the most common noise is the sound of the wind. This alone made the 1998 OVA a masterpiece for me, and it was only one part of one episode! The second half of the episode is also very beautiful – and moving to boot – as is the first episode, in which Alpha goes for a drive on her yellow vespa.
The second OVA series, Quiet Country Cafe, is not quite as fantastic as the first one. It has a different director, the music is composed by a different person, and it’s overall a very different experience. It’s faster and louder, making it feel more like a “regular” slice of life show. It does do something really well, though: More than the original OVA, Quiet Country Cafe showed the world of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, as well as its inhabitants, and I thought that was immensely interesting. In the end Alpha doesn’t do a whole lot in this OVA series either, but it feels like she does. It’s an interesting contrast with the first series.