Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~ Quiet Country Café ~ Volume 2 -

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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: All
  • Region: 2 - Japan
  • Released By: Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.
  • MSRP: ¥5600
  • Running time: 42
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~ Quiet Country Café ~ Volume 2

By Paul Grisham     May 02, 2003
Release Date: March 05, 2003

Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~ Quiet Country Café ~ Volume 2
© Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.

What They Say
OVA based on the popular manga in Monthly Afternoon magazine. The anime boasts breathtakingly beautiful background artwork and 5.1 ch sound.

The Review!
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~ Quiet Country Cafe continues with the story of Alpha?s sojourn to Kamakura. Though it remains a fairly faithful adaptation of the manga on which it?s based, this OAV comes off feeling like little more than a summary of a longer, and more interesting story.

This volume also includes both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo track, and it still sounds very good. However, the 5.1 track is somehow less impressive this time around, with most of the sounds coming from the forward channels. The ambient sounds, apparently recorded on location in and around Kamakura, are less seamlessly mixed into the show this time. The 2.0 track is still very high quality and is on par with the mix from volume one. Once again, I am grateful for the isolated music track, even though no new music seems to have been added from the previous episode.

Once again, we get a very vibrant and rich video, which, in some ways is more satisfying than the previous volume. By giving Alpha changes of location throughout the episode, there are a greater variety of colors and textures in this episode. The show is still interlaced, but I still think it looks very nice.

This package is sure to please more than a few fans, as Kokone graces the cover this time around. Though Kokone has only a small role in this episode, it is perhaps appropriate to feature her on the cover, as her scene is perhaps the best in the show. The illustration by manga creator Hitoshi Ashinano is quite lovely. In all other aspects, the package matches volume one?s.

The menu is similar to volume one?s except that it substitutes the illustration of Kokone from the cover for the main menu. Once again, the viewer can select the desired audio track directly from the main menu. Submenus use the Choro Club?s wonderful score as background and feature some of the excellent background images.

The extras here are similar to the extras included with volume one, though there are none of the production storyboard comparisons that I enjoy so much. What is surprising is how the extras on this volume show the shortcomings in what wasn?t provided with the first volume. Included here are promotional materials and non-credit ending animations for the second episode. A promotional video for the first episode may never have existed, but certainly the omission of not including the first episode?s non-credit ending animation is glaring.

(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)

Café Alpha having been damaged by a typhoon in the previous episode, Alpha wanders around the Kamakura countryside doing odd jobs and basically meeting new people. She travels for several months, basically describing her experiences in an extended preamble. What follows is a collection of vignettes – some humorous, some touching, some simply delightful – that show Alpha at a variety of stops along her journey. These stories follow the same basic approach of the manga with a minimum of dialogue and plot, but with lots of attention to the basic pleasures of life.

Long time fans of the manga will be pleased to know that their favorite characters get some screen time – especially the mysterious Misago who is animated for the first time in this episode – but once again, director Tomomi Mochizuki seems content to merely reproduce the manga as literally as possible, rather than providing the necessary background or framing story. The end result is a rather odd viewing experience that for manga fans will feel like flipping through old family albums, but will leave new viewers either confused or unsatisfied. The best outcome of viewing Quiet Country Café would be that old fans rediscover their passion for the story, or that new fans will fall in love with the pastoral milieu and seek out the manga.

That isn?t to say that there isn?t quite a lot to like about what has been presented here. Each of the vignettes that make up this episode is interesting in its own way, though some are certainly more accessible and enjoyable on their own than others. Working best are some of the scenes involving the residents of Yokosuka going about their business in Alpha?s absence. My personal favorite is Kokone?s story, in which she travels to visit Alpha, only to discover her gone, and the letter announcing her plans left unread in Alpha?s mailbox. Kokone?s relationship with Alpha is both complex and simple at the same time, and her expressions while staying in Alpha?s house overnight are totally charming. Maki and Takahiro share another extended scene, which does more justice to their characters than the epilogue from the previous episode.

There are also hints of the larger mysteries in the manga story, as Alpha meets a male android, the first time she has ever met such a thing. We are teased, briefly, with the broader, unanswered questions about who Alpha really is, and how this world, at once familiar as our own, but transformed into a post-industrial paradise, came to be. Like the manga, this OAV offers no answers, much less a properly articulated question, but suggests that the journey of discovery is the reward in itself.

And therein lies the problem with this OAV. While the manga series continues on, with no end in sight, with this episode, the Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~ Quiet Country Café anime series has come to its end. Depending on the vagaries of marketing and licensing, there may or may not be another animated encounter with Alpha and her companions. The open-ended storytelling of the manga series works because of the open-ended nature of the series. We do not expect each story to answer all the questions, or to ever provide any narrative closure. We have entered into a contract with the manga creator Hitoshi Ashinano that we are only seeing pieces of the whole, but that the whole exists.

With a two-episode OAV series, however, that open-endedness does not work. With a finite length series, where the end is in sight, we grow to expect some sort of closure from the viewing experience. This is a lesson that the creators of the first OAV series seemed to understand, structuring their series with a kind of emotional climax at the finale. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~ Quiet Country Café does not so much conclude as merely stops. The final, post-credit moments are touching and sweet, and seem to suggest that some form of logical conclusion has been reached, but most viewers will find themselves unhappy that no more of the story will follow.

It is a strange paradox, but what readers find perfectly acceptable about this series will only frustrate viewers. Though each constituent story in this episode is enjoyable, the sum feels significantly less than the whole. Translating a narrative work into another medium is tricky because what works with one will not work with the other, and changing too many things risks alienating the fans of the original. It seems as though, in their attempt to produce a product that would satisfy long-time fans of the manga by remaining perfectly faithful to the source material, the creators of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou ~ Quiet Country Café forgot to make an animated series that would hold up on its own.

It?s a pretty and pleasant viewing experience, but at the end only feels like an appendix to a rich and rewarding story – a story that deserves long-form conversion to animated form, but which will almost certainly never receive it. Though part of me wants to promote the series at all costs, at inflated Japanese video prices, the series is tough to recommend.

Japanese Language 2.0 Stereo,Japanese Language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround,Isolated Score Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround,Production Character Sketches,Background Illustrations,No-Credit Closing Animation (ED2),Episode 2 Promotion Video

Review Equipment
Panasonic Panablack TV, Codefree Panasonic RP56 DVD player, Sony ProLogic receiver, Yamaha and Pioneer speakers, Monster cable. (Secondary equipment, Pioneer 105s DVD-ROM, ATi Rage Fury Pro, ViewSonic A90f, PowerDVD 3.0)


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