I am going to skip my usual practice of giving the publication date of the work I am reviewing because … as much as I hate to shake your faith in me as an all-knowing sage of SFF, I must admit that I am not sure when volume two of Hitoshi Ashinano’s Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō was published.
In this volume, author Ashinano returns to the twilight world of his protagonistAlpha Hasseno, cafe owner and Alpha 7 M2 series robot. We are given eight short pieces; seven that show Alpha’s world as it is, and one that hints at how it got that way.
Sorry about the tiny cover art. I could not find a larger image.
This story picks up where volume one left off Alpha receives a package and a message from her owner, who vanished years ago. What has prompted her owner to break his long silence?
We learn a few things from this story — chiefly that Alpha is effectively immortal and also that she is fairly comprehensively ignorant about other robots, to the point that she cannot even recognize a fellow robot. For the most part the story raises more questions than it answers. Why would one design gynoform robots so that they had to french-kiss each other to exchange information?
Alpha also uses her tongue to eat and talk (just like humans). I suppose this means that robot tongues have a LOT of specialized sense receptors; it could also mean that information is transmitted chemically rather than electronically. How does this compare to a human tongue? Thanks to Trevor Green and his tireless research, I can safely say that “the bandwidth of a human tongue is at least 2 MHz.” So robot tongues must have even greater bandwidth!
Or perhaps the author just wanted to draw two women kissing.
300 Image Capacity
Alpha’s owner’s has sent her a camera of advanced design. There is probably a user’s manual in the box, but Alpha uses the gift to further bond with Kokone, her newfound robot friend.
A bit of googling reveals that Kokone means “Heart Sound.”
I know two is a small sample, but the fact that Alpha and Kokone are both gynoids makes me wonder if there are any androids …
Ayase and the Kamas
Takahiro’s quest to meet the Misago yields an unexpected harvest: a new friend!
I am just going to assume the scene where Takahiro considers the odd feelings he experienced after seeing the always naked Misago are intended to have no erotic subtext. He is feeling the usual human yearning for mystery. Right?
Inability to digest protein turns out to be an Alpha-problem, not a general design choice. Kokone believes protein digestion is a teachable skill of the sort transmittable through robot kissing. Sadly, Alpha is too shy to take Kokone up on her offer to help.
Later, Alpha attempts to overcome her inability to digest protein through sheer willpower. This effort goes … poorly.
Note to self: “Should I show you the digestive action?” may well be the worst come-on line ever.
Determined to make the best possible use of her camera’s large but finite number of exposures, Alpha sabotages herself by seeking only perfection.
Alpha attends the 10th annual Kamakura Fireworks show.
The weapons of the old human world still exist but the purpose to which they are put is very different: harmless entertainment rather than destruction.
Alpha enjoys a day at the beach with her elderly friend, Ojisan, and his former mentor.
As Alpha swims in the ocean, Ojisan remembers a trip he and his sempai took along the same stretch of coast, one last tour of the seaside before the ocean took it back.
This would have been a perfect place for Ashinano to provide more information about what exactly happened to the world we inhabit now. Ha ha ha this isn’t that sort of series. About all we learn is that the process was inexorable, but slow enough that nobody seemed particularly concerned.
This series appears to me more about savouring moments than answering questions. I do believe that Ashinano knew more about his world, and its history, than he lets on. All he gives his readers are hints and allusions. The comic itself is engaging enough that I don’t care if I never find out exactly what happened.
I suspect that this is a series that needs to be experienced slowly, so I am going to resist my tendency towards archive binging.