I should just admit to myself I have no self control when it comes to binging on series (novels or comics). But will I? NO. I am going to kid myself (again) with “OK, just one more volume of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō and then I will stop. Really.” Because that could totally happen.
Kids on an Average Day:
Takahiro is not the only child in the community; Matsuki is only a couple of years younger than Takahiro and very interested in spending as much time as possible with the boy. Alas for Matsuki, she and Takahiro are at ages where a couple of years make a difference. In any case Takahiro is far more interested in spending time with Alpha.
The opening scene shows Takahiro being homeschooled. There’s an intriguing aside (“tomorrow I’ll tell you about the social upheaval”) but not only are we given no context for that, we don’t see the next class.
Poor Matsuki. And poor Takahiro. A romantic obsession with an immortal robot cannot end well for at least one of them. Maybe both.
Far-off Summer Holidays:
Kokone and Alpha spend the day at the sea shore and contemplate the history of the sea. Which in no way increases our understanding of just what happened to result in this world.
The Blue M1:
As Kokone and Alpha shelter in the cafe, waiting for the rain to stop, the M1, the vast aircraft seen earlier, passes overhead. We are given a brief glimpse of its inhabitants.
Somewhere Ashinano is laughing at my expectation that this scene would answer more questions than it raises. The plane is an enclave of high-tech society, populated by robots resembling Alpha.
Why they choose to spend their time circling the world at ten thousand meters is never explained.
Alpha sees Kokone off, secure that they will meet again.
You have to admire the confidence of a writer who does not feel the need to drop some contrived crisis into the story to generate plot.
After accepting a present from Alpha, Sensei ponders a mystery; how is it that Alpha and robots like her so dramatically exceed design specifications?
The connection between Sensei’s research and the robots is unclear to me. What is clear is that Sensei is rather judgmental where robots (and Alpha in particular) are concerned.
In the Sun:
As Takahiro dreams of Alpha while snoozing away a warm sleepy day, Matsuki finds her own use for him.
I don’t understand a lot about this comic but what I do understand is that at some point Matsuki and Takahiro will be a couple, and there are good odds that Takahiro won’t quite understand how that happened. Matsuki will.
The reader is taken on a tour of Alpha’s cafe, as seen through the eyes of an unidentified customer.
After getting caught in a downpour, Alpha and Takahiro share a bath. This is much more significant to Takahiro than it is for Alpha.
And Matsuki immediately picks up on what is going on as soon as she sees Takahiro.
Short Essay: Improvised Song:
Exactly what it says on the tin.
What an odd thing, to present musical entertainment in a purely visual form.
Once again, Ashinano hints but never explains the nature of this world. It is clear that this is a deliberate choice, because he manages to make what is going on between Alpha, Takahiro and Matsuki perfectly clear without anything in the way of overt infodumping.
Since both Kokone and Sensei are baffled by the essential humanity of the robots, I suspect that this is an unplanned, emergent feature. Did the builders simply want to leave as humanity’s relic immortal Chinese Room robots, and got lucky? I don’t expect I will ever find out. But I will be reading future volumes just in case….