YKK Forum

'Owners' just a simple form of schooling?

Thinking about some remarks on other threads. (this being unique enough I figured I'd start a new thread)

We don't hear much, if anything, about Kokone's owner. But we know of Alpha's, Nai's, and Maruko's. I'm trying to recall if either Nai or Maruko say anything about the training that Kokone speaks of. I don't see them say anything about it. (oi. that's a lot of stuff to sift through, I may have missed it.)

So I'm thinking that maybe Kokone didn't have an Owner, because she had a sort of schooling instead. Or more of, the concept of the Owners is much more like the Apprentice Master relationship. But here instead of a trade being learned, it is more of how to be alive. (or perhaps human?)

Just some ideas spinning in my head I thought I'd share.

- tadpol
Monday, September 20, 2004


The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that Ashinano is using the word "owner" in his own way - one that does not neccesarily match the English meaning.

I think that the "Owner" is there to guide the robot-person through the initial stages of living in society. They must get some initial training at the institute/factory, and then transition to living with a family. Kokone clearly went to such an institute as is shown here:


I suspect Alpha did too. She is aware of the fact she was one of the prototype series, and she was given the name alpha by the people (scientists) running the project it seems.


We also know that the robot usually takes the owner's name. Since Kokone has a Japanese sounding last name, I take it as indication she has/had an owner. She may have "graduated" to living on her own.

Of the five confirmed robots we have seen, here is what we know:

Alpha had an owner who left her to a period of self discovery while she was still very "young" and naive. He is expected to return "someday", an event that Alpha attached a lot of sentiment to.

Director Alpha was with Sensei, who was presumably her owner, since she took Sensei's last name. We also know that Director Alpha was taken from Sensei. So if Sensei was indeed Director Alpha's owner, then ownership is not absolute.


Kokone's owner is a mystery. She currently lives alone.

Maruko had some trouble with her owner, and changed her name to get rid of the association. She lives alone know and earns her own living, so she has either graduated, been freed, or escaped.

Nai's owner is presumably his "mom", but that is not certain. If so, then just as Maruko's experience marks one extreme, the adoption of Nai into the family marks another. One where the family completely accepts the robot.

Given these points, I believe that the "owner" is more of a guide - and usually with a limited duration. I believe the robots are meant to "grow up" and live a more or less normal life.



- dDave
Monday, September 20, 2004

I agree with you about the use of the word "Owner". Haven't seen any evidence of robot-people being forced to do anything they didn't want to.

I was going to say something here about what they may have learned at the institute, but I keep having new ideas and rambling on and on...

I wonder if the institute is also where the robot-people are created?

- Brad
Thursday, September 23, 2004

I don't get the impression that Director Alpha was "taken" from Sensei. I think the robot people are temporarily "wards" of their Owners.

That is, if the Owners are not also the Creators.

Sensei seems to have a handy repair shop at home that would suggest an unlikely (and expensive) hobby unless she once made better, pratical use of the equipment. She is the only Owner we have any real knowledge about.

Isn't it interesting that we have memories of Sensei and Ojisan's college years, but no such memories of the other Owners?

- seaweb
Sunday, October 10, 2004

Perhaps someone knows the answer to this; I'd have to re-read the first few volumes:

Does Alpha's "owner" really own her, or does Alpha call him/her that because she/he owns the Cafe?

- Doug S.
Monday, October 11, 2004

Maruko speaks of her "guard" as an owner, too; http://ykk.misago.org/Afternoon2004/84.html , so it's probably a generic term in Alpha's world - or a faulty translation.;-)

- Rainer
Monday, October 11, 2004


The Japanese grammar makes it clear that the word "owner" is being used in the sense of "my owner" rather than "the owner of the shop". I do think that they are using the word in a way that means something closer to "mentor" than "owner/master".

I believe the term "owner" is a generic term used for someone that mentors/teaches the robots. Something like a foster family.



- dDave
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

[First post in this forum]

In this and other threads I see the interpretation of the relationship between Hasseno-sama and Alpha pushed from Owner and owned towards carer and cared for. Alpha's status as robot is diminished as rationales are put forward for the treatment of the A7s, explaining how they are being moved by it towards a human mindset, citizenship and the rights that go with being a 'person'.

I lean towards suspicion when I see arguments that would make the creators', of the A7s, goal a human being. It is not the impression I got when I read (and reread) the manga, somewhat because of an objection that stayed in mind -

Why would the Creators throw technology into this complicated and risky creation of a 'person' when there already exists a tried and tested method of creating people? Judging by the presence of Takahiro and Makki one not out of vogue.

The position that the treatment of the A7s is all worked out and has a definite goal does not fit for me. With the failure of all the pervious A series, how did the creators arrive at the right formula and know it in advance?
Hasseno-sama leaves - as part of Alpha's education? More likely to me his world needs his services.
The name "Owner" carries with it a lot of baggage from earlier centuries - servant, chattel, slave. How would such a troubled world have the resources to build a robot utopia in which these things are so expunged as to leave the meaning "educator"?

Seeing no reason to bend the bots towards the 'human' I can accept that for them having an owner, near or far, and being owned may be as natural and comfortable as having food and eating. For the law (so often behind the times) and, more importantly, for the main character I see "Owner" as simply meaning that - Hasseno-sama holds title to Alpha. There may be conditions on this as long as your arm, which could affect their future relationship. But these will mean little to Alpha who is not the greatest forward planner.
If it were not to make 'humans' but for some other purpose the creation of the A7s, then why make something that would object to its/their role? An idea taken to extreme in Douglas Adams' 'Restaurant at the End of the Universe', where the main characters meet a specially bred bovine creature which introduces itself as The Dish of the Day. It then tempts (?) them with various 'cuts' and finally assures Arthur Dent that it will shoot itself humanely.

Just what treatment should be allowed with a self-aware creation whose intellectual and emotional set-up is not greatly dissimilar to our own? The way I read it, Ashinano has built the treatment of the bots around a single ethic, more than one might weigh the story down, which is:-
*Creation of a self-aware, emotional, thinking being that will suffer for you - is a monstrous act.*

The owners regard themselves in different ways (parent, guard) but revealed treatment shows no coercion. The bots are not made to suffer physically or mentally, seemingly as a rule.
The M1, "Director Alpha", Phantom, didn't like clothes, but there is no suggestion the creators chased her around to force clothing on her.
Hasseno-sama did not employ the subtle pressure of duty or it's like, when he asked Alpha if she would go with him, but put an unbiased question to her.
The Misago, with every indication of being a prototype that ran off to live in the sea, has not been, ah, deactivated. The Creators have not sought to wash away creations (robots or other weirdness) that have not behaved as they would like, from this flooded world.
If the creation does not do what the Creators want there is no correction forced upon the 'faulty' bot. The error lies with the Creators and it seems such room as is available is provided for in society for their creations.
That the Creators have created something that can suffer is also questionable. Alpha's encounter with lightning left her stunned, damaged, incapacitated but not obviously in pain. The nearest to suffering I've seen involved the super sugar.

Ashinano has not created a physically perfect world such as seen in Star Trek, but like Roddenberry's creation his characters, owners at least, show a superior ethical consistency. For me this has them fit better into their futuristic world and their presence highlights the 'hope for the future' amongst the 'aftermath of disaster' theme in the work. In my view "Owner" still carries all the historical meaning but the Owners are not tainted by it.

[Antimutt is my IRC nick & I can be tracked down on DALnet.]

- Antimutt
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Welcome aboard & congrats for a very insightful view into Alpha's world - and a great first post. I never really bought the "successor to a dying humanity" role, either, let alone "robot duplication" via some kind of "digital intercourse.<_< :-p
I can't name the page, but IIRC Sensei (the doctor who *repairs* Alpha after the lightning accident) says about the robots something like "They where originally meant as a pleasing replica" - and that is what I think, too. Everything else is pure speculation, based on a few teasers that Ashinano-sensei is dangling on front of us. Like the scene where Alpha goes to her "shooting range" with the green light - this lead to the idea, the robots might have been developed as cute-looking (and acting!) "terminators" (snicker:-).

- Rainer
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

"Pleasing replica" is a mistranslation made outside of this site.

We don't know what robots were created for.

[v4, p63]
'manzoku': enough / tolerable / satisfying
'daiyouhin': substitute / fill-in / ersatz

- kGo
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Thanks for the correction.

- Rainer
Wednesday, October 13, 2004

I wonder if the owners should have given their robots better personal names.

Alpha has been called Alpha just because she is one of Alpha-type robots. Just like R2 or 3PO.
Kokone chose her name by herself. It sounds cute but has no definition.
Maruko is more popular name for a pet than for a woman. Chibi Maruko-chan's personal name is Momoko, not Maruko.
And Nai means "nothing".

If you ever have a robot, what might you want to name it?

- kGo
Saturday, October 30, 2004

Maybe they were not expected to be so human.

- Brad
Saturday, October 30, 2004

I can see how the name "Alpha" might have simply stuck after awhile. We have a rabbit named "Bunny", cat named "Kitty", and a turtle named "Turtle". They must've had "real" names at first (which can't remember now), but after years of saying things like, "Go feed the kitty" or "Go feed the bunny", it became simpler and shorter to just say, "Go play with Kitty" or "Go watch Turtle". Hence their current names.

Maybe, thanks to her creators, "Alpha" became her de facto name for a similarly mundane reason; the newer (more advanced?) robots, with greater autonomy and training, on the other hand were able to select their own names.

- K.D.
Saturday, October 30, 2004


Also, as a prototype, there were likely many humans buzzing around both Director Alpha and Alpha checking this, measuring that, testing the other. She probably heard herself being called "Alpha" a lot.

Kokone is a production model. She would have been to function at some level right from the start. Errors, mistakes and problems that are acceptable in a prototype would have been fixed before they started producing the production A7M3 models.



- dDave
Saturday, October 30, 2004

So does that imply that Alpha is fundamentally different or flawed when compared to the M3 models?

I have never thought that before.

- Peter by the Sea
Sunday, October 31, 2004

Hmm..I think it's not that she's "flawed" as much as she's just not "perfected" yet. So maybe she's more human because she's closer to her human creators than the finished production models like Kokone and Maruko?

- Carn
Sunday, October 31, 2004

I'd say she's less "human" than Kokone and Maruko because she doesn't interact with people much. The other two robotos live in a big town and have to earn a living (Kokone's being late with the rent in indicates she doesn't earn a lot anyway -- volume 3 page 37). Alpha has the house and the cafe all to herself. I'm not sure how she can afford to run the cafe though, given the distinct lack of paying customers. I sort-of thought she had a trust fund or something similar established by Owner before he left but she can't afford paint for the cafe or a hotel room when she visits Yokohama. Hmmm.

As for her disconnection from (what's left of) human society, I think that's part of her charm for me.

- Robert Sneddon
Sunday, October 31, 2004

> I'd say she's less "human" than Kokone and Maruko because she doesn't interact with people much.

That's hardly a measure of "human". I tend to keep to myself, and I'm human. (i think)

From what product engineering I've been involved with, prototypes tend to start out with many issues. These are fixed until everything is "perfect". Then the production models are built from that design. So Alpha may have started out a bit off, but by the time the production models were being made, there probably isn't much difference.

- tadpol
Sunday, October 31, 2004


>So does that imply that Alpha is fundamentally different or flawed when compared to the M3 models?

I wouldn't say flawed, after all she was allowed to go out and live a life rather than being scrapped. But the Alpha's experience as a prototype would have shaped the final production models.

However, Alpha's sensitivity to machines does not seem to be shared by the production models. The only direct comparison is when Nai and Alpha are flying in the Texan. Nai can sense the wind on his tounge, but Alpha is projected bodily outside of the aircraft to experience flight directly.


Director Alpha may have a similar affinity, as she steers/controls Taapon with a mouth cord.




- dDave
Sunday, October 31, 2004

I think this is the first experience Alpha has with that capability:


It seems that Sensei was perhaps not fully aware of Alpha's affinity in that area.

- Doug S.
Tuesday, November 2, 2004

I'm more of the opinion that Alpha, being "...one of three M2 production models..." was a step in the right direction, but there was obviously an additional correction, leading to the advent of the M3 series...

Maruko accuses Alpha of not fullfilling a purpose and being selfish by just living for herself and her own interests when she says "...other people, other robots, are more serious about their work...". She is accusing Alpha of being a child.

True enough, Alpha experiences life in a distinctly childlike way, inasmuch as she looks at the details rather than the larger picture. She lives in the moment, focusing on her existence and spends little time thinking about the future or her place in the greater soceity. She considers her friends as just that. Friends, "family", brother, sister, acquaintence but never anything more deep. Kokone & Maruko, both seem to have relationships that strive to be more personal. Sort of proto-sexual. It's as though Alpha has the emotional makeup of an early teenager, while the M3 models posess a more late teen attitude...

The M3's are more independent, not "waiting for their parents to return", living on their own by choice, rebelling against their "owners", choosing their own identities. Alpha keeps the only name she has ever known. Stays at the cafe "playing house" until her owner comes home. Ventures out into the world in a hesitant way, having been forced to give herself permission, rather than in the purposeful quasi-goal-oriented way the M3's do as they work at "real jobs". She is maturing at a much slower pace that the M3's, who are productive, functioning members of soceity. It is as though the M3 series was accelerated to their mental state through some modification/addition to their make-up and training. Alpha on the otherhand was cared for by an individual who apperently left to allow her to mature at her own pace, but seems to still watch over her remotely, or though the knowledge that Sensei and Ojisan will be surrogates.

If indeed the M3 is a more self-sufficient work oriented version of the Alpha robot, perhaps they were intended as caregivers/workers to a dying population. They eat and sleep, but put little stress overall on the infrastructure that supports them in return for their level of usefulness. They appear fully human in every sense to the point that they aren't a distraction. They are all attractive in a pleasant, but not overtly beautiful way. They strive to be useful through a sense of self governing will.

If indeed the Taapon was meant to be an Ark which never fulfilled it's purpose, then maybe the robots were intended to be humankind's chaperones on their journey... never aging, putting little stress on the system and blending in, in an onobtrusive way. If the population was supposed to move aloft, but never made it, neither would the robots that might have cared for them. Now they all are stuck in an evolving landscape, being forced to survive just like all of the other people still on the ground, doing odd jobs in place of the likely highly structured positions they would have been intended for...

Anyway, just some thoughts... Now I need to go back to the start and re-read the whole series again. :D


- Darin
Thursday, March 17, 2005

Reply to this topic
Topic list

Contact the translator