GBE2 Blog On Prompt 67: Thoughts on a Yokohama Shopping Log

This is for GBE2 Prompt 67 Peace

 So, you know that anecdote that you may or may not have heard about the difference between the way men write and women write? The one where a man and a woman in some kind of creative writing course have to collaborate and the woman keeps wanting to do moody thoughtful scenes contemplating her navel or her ex-boyfriend and the man wants to write something with some action or whatever so he starts passive aggressively sniping about the woman’s character within the context of the story? And there’s this Mars/Venus dichotomy that is actually kind of stupid and annoying? (Especially when I can name many (male) characters written by male writers have the moody navel contemplating going on.)

My brain at this point in time is responding to this prompt in a similar manner.

My fiction has a deficit when it comes to quiet moody contemplation, which is what half of my brain says this prompt calls for. It wants to describe warm domestic scenes featuring hot cocoa and rain on the roof and possibly a cat curled up on someone’s lap purring. It wants to weed the garden or sit by a pond to watch tadpoles. None of these scenes are in and of themselves moody, but could all be taken that way.

The other half thinks this moodiness is extremely stupid and is griping about it, even though I know that there is actually nothing wrong with quiet moody contemplation. This other half thinks that contemplation is pretty boring! It is also convinced that people will be bored by cogitation or quiet scenes involving scenery descriptions that may or may not be purple. It feels that you have to have some kind of conflict or battle or argument for the story to be interesting.

Which is not true, because Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou (“Yokohama Shopping Log” or “Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip.”) is a very slow, quiet and contemplative manga about the slow decline of civilization after an ecological disaster, as observed by a robot named Alpha who runs a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere. This is somehow not depressing at all. (I am not being facetious here. The tone is a little sad as things fall apart because of a lack of resources, but you never get the feeling that the decline is in any way a bad thing, and there is never a sense of fear or desperation concerning the collapse.)  

The main character is charming and gregarious, and the people she interacts with are interesting and engaging. The quiet, slice of life storylines juxtaposed with the post-apocalyptic setting makes for some fascinating worldbuilding though very little gets explained. (For instance, there are trees that mimic streetlamps and fungus that mimics buildings, but no one knows their purpose or why they exist. There is also a mysterious, apparently immortal being called the Misago that makes periodic appearances. There is also some implication that some extensive genetic engineering has taken place on various plant and animal species.)     

You will not be able to find this manga anywhere in English except on fan-translation sites, which is a damn shame because it is probably one of the best post-apocalyptic stories I have ever read. (And to make the first part of this prompt response relevant to the second part of this prompt, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou was written/drawn by a man.)  


Special Note: Please do not give me a link to any of the aforementioned fan-translation sites.

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Filed under GBE2, manga/anime, prompt

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