In the future, a cataclysmic event has changed the face of the Earth forever, and as sea levels continue to rise, humanity enters a peaceful twilight age. As the declining population reverts to a more peaceful way of life, in a quiet corner of
It’s actually been a while since I read YKK, but as one of my enduring favourites in the slice-of-life genre, and a manga that has stuck in my mind long after its last volume concluded. For a long time, I entertained the idea of writing about it, until inevitably this piece just had to be written.
Among slice-of-life fans, YKK is often spoken of with hushed and reverent tones, and indeed, this is no idle praise, for it is a title truly deserving of respect. Published over a period of twelve years, the series’ fourteen volumes weaves a captivating tale of the life of the robot Alpha, as her world slowly expands from the environs around her coffee shop to the farthest reaches of
Unfortunately, superb as it is at bringing this world and its daily activities to life, one thing YKK never does is explain the circumstances of the world in which it is set. Although it is perfectly possible to enjoy it without knowing all the answers, curious readers may long for more clarification on the mysterious disaster that changed the world, the strange life forms that resulted, and even the origins of Alpha and her fellow robots. The only explanations for these are more abstract and metaphysical than they are detailed and factual, although this does at least fit in with the tone of the series.
Although Alpha is the centre of the story, YKK relies on a solid cast, some of whom our lead never actually meets. From Kokone, a fellow robot who becomes preoccupied with discovering the origins of her kind, to Takashiro, a young boy who, in contrast to the immortal Alpha, grows up over the course of the series, each character adds an extra dimension to the series, and their emotions and interactions are always a joy to see.
Visually, YKK uses a spare yet oddly attractive style, with a minimum of pen strokes used to sketch out a world that seems simple at first glance, but holds additional depth and beauty when examined more closely. In some chapters, dialogue is minimal to nonexistent, leaving the artwork to speak for itself- a move that would doom some series, but only enhances this one.
A staple entry in the slice-of-life genre, YKK’s brief anime adaptation and lack of licensing means it may have passed under the radar of many, but anyone who enjoys Aria and its brethren should immediately make the effort to promote it to the top of their reading list if they haven’t already sampled its greatness.
Volumes: 14 [complete]
Creator: Hitoshi Ashinano