Yokohama Shopping Trip
Hasseno Alpha is a humanoid robot. Some years ago, her owner left on a journey, leaving Alpha in charge of his coffee shop. There, she runs the place, experiencing life out in the countryside, and taking a shopping trip to Yokohama.
Well, now. It isn't often you get a title where it's obvious something big has happened to the world, but the future that is now isn't some bleak, ravaged hell. In fact, the surrounding area of the coffee shop has got to be the most beautiful greenery I've seen in any anime since Nausicaa or the more recent Oseam.
And while something HAS happened -- if the sunken cities and the flooded roads are any indication -- we don't really get to know what that is. Neither do we get to know much about how or when robotic constructs like Alpha came into being.
I'm sorry if I'm confusing you. I'll get to the main point in a second. I promise.
Anyway, what we do have with this title, is the events in the life of the female humanoid robot Alpha and the people and places in her surroundings. There is the strangely caricatured gas station attendant Oji-san (to which he is known by Alpha. We don't get to know his name either ...), fellow robotic construct Kokone, and also Takahiro, a local boy.
And it's a relatively quiet and peaceful life we get to take part in. Both episodes is mainly composed of Alpha's musings about her situation or the surroundings she's grown to love. It's a little about the people that is a part of her life, and those who become so during the OAV itself. It's about something or nothing at all and it's being played out in such an ambient flair that it wakes the nostalgia in me something awful. (Well, apart from the robots, of course. But I didn't need to tell you that, right? ^_^ )
And speaking of the surroundings, these will most likely impress the hell out of you. Because I've rarely seen such a gorgeously painted landscape created with such an attention to details. Things like varying conditions of weather are animated and arranged with a level of realism that borders on the realm of unbelievable.
The characters themselves, few that they may be, are also a sight to behold. From Alpha herself, and I wouldn't know she was a robot if the OAV hadn't told me so, to the rest, their characters are animated just as gorgeously and played out to their best, given the short amount of episodes. And you'd think, what with Alpha being presented as a robot, that she'd look like some strange metallic being? Not as such. She looks exactly like a normal, rather nice looking girl. The rather good VAs are naturally doing their part admirably as well. And the complete lack of fan service only helps in that regard.
The choice of music for this series is a rather odd blend of acoustic troubadouring and electronic rhythms and chords, ending up as a rather pleasant groove/lounge hybrid that fits the OAV series peculiarly well. That also goes for the song that serves as an interlude somewhere in the middle of both episodes. It's a pleasant listening, if not a perfectionistic one.
The thing about this show, however, is that the pacing is rather slow. Nothing big really happens, and whatever goes on, it's mostly dialogue painted in glorious landscapes. Some might not find this very interesting, due to the lack of action or the somewhat everyday feel of the things you see and hear. Others might notice the lack of any deeper issues to delve into. It's more of an experience of a rather nostalgic or meditative nature and, as such, drastically reduces its range of potential viewers.
As for me, I rather liked it. It warmed my heart when we were taken to see an old, sunken city come to life with a hundred lights turning on. (Even if I found it somewhat hard to believe that an electric system like that could still work underwater.) It ignited my nostalgia when I saw roads that had slowly been reclaimed by grassy fields or were just improvisational gravel roads running through the pastoral landscape. And even the plot, working as a day-to-day basis with the episodic formula, really doesn't last long enough for me to lose interest in it.
Now, having read the manga too, I really wish this one had gained enough popularity so to feature more of the manga's stories. Especially the opening would have been nice, with Alpha playing her instrument, or the episode with the Misago, seeing as I'm rather fond of old lore or folk tales, whether fantasy or not. But, as I mentioned, seeing as this series IS rather quiet and unassuming, ambient and nostalgic, well... it just won't appeal to as many people as needed.
And this OAV really deserved more.
For those who would like a little more action or some deeper issues in their anime, remove a star or two. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: This is pretty much for everyone. No nudity, no fan service, no violence whatsoever, no serious topics ... nothing.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Yokohama Shopping Trip © 1998 Ashinano Hitoshi / Kodansha / Sony Music Entertainment
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