YKK Forum

Gender in YKK

As far as I know, robots in the world of YKK cannot reproduce. So why were they designed with a specific gender?

- Peter by the Sea
Sunday, October 3, 2004


As far as we know, nothing says that they can't reproduce. So the short answer, untill Ashinano clears things up, is "I dunno".



- dDave
Sunday, October 3, 2004

As dDave says, there is nothing which says they can or cannot reproduce. No data does not equal an automatic negative. Remember that, although Alpha and her sisters are called "robots", we don't know for sure what that means. The conventional clankety-clank ("Danger, Will Robinson!") concept of robots certainly doesn't apply.

As far as the gender of the robots is concerned, I'm of the opinion that, even if robots are incapable of sexual reproduction, there is ample reason to make them similar to humans. They're supposed to *be* human - I am convinced that the purpose of the robots is to survive after the impending extinction of mankind.

- abunai
Monday, October 4, 2004

While a negative hasn't been given, I would be suprised to learn that robots in YKK can reproduce despite their humanlike traits.

That said, gender is a defining trait in human beings. One of the biggest ones, even if the exact expression of it varies between cultures. One strong enough that I imagine that even were the robots made truely genderless, people would call them one or the other anyway, as they do with many animals of uncertain gender, or even with inanimate objects.. Furthermore, given that the robots are so humanlike in every other manner, it would be a notable and even jarring omission.

In addition, it seems there were differences between male and female A7s, to go by what Nai had to say. Whether in physical or mental makeup, something had to explain the early loss of most of the males. What those differences are and why they were made, that I have no idea of.

- Kunou-chan
Tuesday, October 5, 2004

I WONDER if any of the robot people can reproduce.

If that were the case, I think we would have seen some evidence of their "children" by now, yes?

Also, if so much destiny had been put into the life cycle of robot people that their self-replication had been arranged for, wouldn't there be a nativity program and probably some supplemental hardware (a "maternity ward" perhaps) with which robot people would be familiar? I think an "impulse" to reproduce (like "sexual allure") would need to be there, too. Does her wandering suggest this impulse?

But then, Alpha wasn't sure how to operate a camera that obviously had been designed for her use, was she? So, something so profound as reproduction might need to be "learned," as it is with humans, at their peril. Perhaps there is even a surprise periodic cycle of opportunities, like "going into heat?" Or like insects, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reproduce, their raison d'existence (so to speak).

Of course, Alpha first appears to us as a near-adult with few memories. What if the robot people have a gestation period that keeps them unawares from the initialization through early adulthood. Sort of like "The Five Star Stories," where the fatimas are kept in gestation chambers until they're "done," or like like Saber Marionettes who are kept in stasis until they are "called forth." Would Owner have kept Alpha in such a "maternity ward," and where would it be? Right there in Alpha's house?

But setting aside the reproduction idea for a moment...is there any clue that suggests there is any current robot production?

Also, if Alpha is an early prototype, then she absolutely must have been restarted...all the later production models are much better informed and have more experience, don't you think?

- seaweb
Wednesday, October 6, 2004

A reset of a robot-person.. scarey thought.

- Brad
Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Sorry about the delay. Didn't mean to post & run! I agree that the author has never shown any evidence that robots cannot reproduce in the biological sense. On the other hand, we haven’t seen any child robots. (like seaweb said, Alpha herself appeared as an adult)

You guys are now going down the same line of thought as me. ^_^ I probably should have asked a more general question: “Why did humans make robots in their own image?”

Mating is not necessary for (the individual's) life. But being biologically female or male is an inescapable feature of living things from spiders, to clams, to flowers, to cats, to humans. This feature helps shape behavior (& to some extent outlook on life). Therefore, making the robots male or female, embeds them in the world of living things (as does having the robots drink, eat, sleep, etc). If they were genderless, the robots would be transcendent creatures, more like angels than folks.

The main thing that bothers me is that barring trauma & defects (many male robots), the robots may be immortal. (interesting though, Kokone does see a robot grave in chapter 45: http://ykk.misago.org/Volume6/45.html)
This immortality would set them apart from humans & every other living thing. (please let me know if there is contrary info)

So why were the robots made? Maybe they are meant to persist after humans disappear? Maybe they are meant to help solve the world’s problems (Director Alpha???) Or maybe they are an experiment to understand human life by recreating it in whole (much like Craig Venter’s dream to create an artificial Minimal Autonomous Living Cell).

Kokone came closest to asking this question. Wouldn’t be great to be able to ask your creator why were you created?

- Peter by the Sea
Wednesday, October 6, 2004

If robot-people are immortal, then having them reproducing all over the place would cause some problems!

If they are intended to keep the memory of the human race alive, you would want them to have some way of replacing lost robot-people. Immortal or not, robots could be lost in accidents. Or maybe even the robot-people will eventually fade away...

If they were not designed to reproduce, maybe some day in the distant future, some robots will get together and figure it out.

- Brad
Thursday, October 7, 2004

I thought that was a memorial for the entire Alpha series. I find it very interesting that:

1. There were once so many robots that technical manuals were published about them.

2. Now there are very few robots living very ordinary lives.

3. None of the humans talk to the robots about the past.

As for immortality and reproduction, we do know the robots do not age in any way we can see. That does not mean they have no life cycle. Eventually, they could wear out, break down, or develop malfunctions. Since they appear to be bio-engineered artificial life, it is not impossible that they possess some sort of reproductive potential.

- Loran
Thursday, October 7, 2004

It appears from to me that sexuality is something the robots have as a benifit. Not for reproduction, but as a way to connect to each other.

I think the male robots have more emotional connection than human males, and staying overnight does have the same emotional power as it does for the humans.

And the sexual power can be intense, as we see http://ykk.misago.org/Volume8/44.html when the pilot and Alpha meet.

- Steven
Sunday, October 10, 2004

To Loran's second point:

Can we be certain there are few remaining robot persons?

We only know of the ones we have been introduced to (and that single grave/memorial that suggests others have passed). There seems to be no protocol of differentation enforced between humans and robot people, and indeed, a harmony seems to exist between the characters we know (the reason for which is perfectly unclear). Perhaps they don't stand apart from humans anymore.

For all we know, robot persons could exist in parity or beyond with the surviving human population. Maybe it's their number and their routine services that comprise their gift...providing comfort and maintaining the illusion of community for the few actual human survivors.

Maybe as the humans reach their end, they retire from the scene to spare the robot persons any anxiety and thwart any attempt to sacrifice themselves.

Maybe Owner left as his own final days approached (perhaps to a hospital), sending the camera and note when the end was near.

- seaweb
Sunday, October 10, 2004

Hmm. Since YKKs robots seem as capable as humans are, and humans buildt them in the first place they can, if nothing else, reproduce by building more robots.

I think the robots were gendered primarily in order to, well, allow them to have sex. - Human sexuality is after all a very profound part of our nature and since YKK's robots are clearly intended to be either human or better-than-human omitting it would have been quite a grave error... Although the designers obviously did not simply duplicate the forms and spectrum of human sexuality, since all the robots we've seen appear to be bisexual*, and possibly less driven by it than most humans are, although we really haven't seen enough robots to tell.

*In a most inapropriate thought it occurs to me that this may have been a "bug-fix" for the fact that the male robots died off in droves. If they never figured out why, building more would have been extremely cruel, and leaving the female bots to live out eternity without the possibility of experiencing love would have been inconsciable. OTOH, they may have been that way from the start on the grounds that their sexuality is about love and bonding rather than reproduction.. No way to tell.

- Izer
Monday, October 11, 2004

Greetings, all. I'm just getting back into the habit of reading this forum, and would like to throw out a few thought on this topic:

1. Gender and sex have 2 different meanings
2. Robot sexuality may not be the same as human sexuality.
3. Eastern and Western attitudes differ.

More on this as time allows.


- Doug S.
Monday, October 11, 2004

That bugfix idea is interesting. That is the most simple explanation for the 66% rate of lesbianism found so far in YKK galbots.

I was also thinking about motherhood and fatherhood... two important aspects of human life tied directly to gender. There doesn't seem to be THAT drive in the robots.... in fact, I'm drawing a blank as to whether any mothers or fathers have been identified in this manga. Can anyone remember one?



- Kempis Curious
Monday, October 11, 2004

From Alpha's and Nai's first greeting, it seems that they have the equipment to have sex, tho the lack of male robots may make reproduction moot. Same-sex love (Maruko) seems alive and well.

Given the presumably marginal conditions on the Earth, too many robots may be a bad thing. Reproduction for immortals should be a controlled thing. Overpopulation is much more likely otherwise.

All the robots seem the same, so no genes or genetic variation?

Alpha seemed to start out with owner in an adult body.

- Kerry
Monday, October 11, 2004

KC, do you think a "66% rate of lesbianism found so far in YKK galbots" be high or low compared to the human population? :)

- seaweb
Monday, October 11, 2004

Ha ha, I wouldn't know. But how could a woman read this manga and _not_ have a girl-crush on the gals in YKK? : D

I think I should revise the numbers, too. I forgot about Director Alpha, though she might be gay. There's plenty of opportunities for lovin' with the old cleaning lady! ^_^


- Kempis Curious
Monday, October 11, 2004

I wonder at the engineering flaw in the male bots. From a strictly engineering standpoint, female bots should be at a disadvantage, unless it was a matter of energy budget. Alpha seems to need very little for upkeep.

Maybe the male bots were given high risk tasks. It wasn't so much a matter of fragile bots, as bots in harms way. Though the text does indicate they couldn't do the work required.

It does seem that Alpha and the others are drawn more 'feminine' than is necessary. Not that I am complaining.

Part of the sexuality is to emphisise the sparcity of the population. Sexuality requires connection, and in the YKK world, there is so little connection to make

- Steven
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Re: my last post.

I'm not saying that the robots of YKK are asexual, just that they may not have the same sexual drives that humans do, and therefore the relationships termed lesbian by western mindsets may be nothing more than deep affection between two people of the same gender. (Yes, I do think of them as people. Not human, perhaps, but people nonetheless)

As for the third point, I was referring not only to the difference in attitudes about sex, but also to the differing attitudes towards robots / androids in general.

- Doug S.
Friday, October 15, 2004

Massaraksh, let me draw your attention to some details. There is no evidence that robots in YKK are aging, or growing in some ways. Alpha is wondering about how quickly Takahiro grows (Ch 65.). Looks like she is not able to that.

Robots seems quite similar to humans in their physiology - they eat, breath and react in most humanlike way. It's logical to presume they can reproduce as well, but you can only speculate about them having or no "tools" for sexual reproduction (still quite a hot theme, I agree) - there are no facts.
Maybe they are gemmating.

Thought it looks like they do have a bellybuttons (Alpha on ch.86 cover(quite troblesome to be sure), and Misago in ch.23,
presuming she is a robot too) - but I'm not certain. It can be counted as detail about their origin, but you still can't tell are they "born" fullsized, as babies or somehow else. Or maybe author just misdrawn.

Ashinano-san still able to turn things into any way he'll decide. Still, all is covered with 3-meter thick layer of mystery.
After reading his interview on this forum, I'm wondering does he have a certain picture of events in YKK himself =^_^=.
It's even possible that there will be some kind of hentai or violence later. Who knows. The Japanese are crazy.
Manga is beautiful and mysterious. Don't spoil the pleasure of reading it by trying logically understand it. It can't be done yet,
by the way.

- Drake
Monday, October 18, 2004

I'm wondering if "sexuality" is the best word to apply to Alpha & friends, especially since we aren't sure how it applies to them. The word I think perhaps fits better is "sensuality". We've already had ample evidence & even direct statements that scents, sights & other experiences make up their very essence. They are perhaps even more innately sensual than us humans. Physical sensuality is just one more aspect of that (granted a rather enjoyable one...).

- cybernezumi
Thursday, October 21, 2004

Yet another way to look at this question is:

Would YKK be the same story if Alpha were a male robot?

- Peter by the Sea
Friday, October 22, 2004

Good spot on the bellybutton, Drake, I hadn't thought of that. However, perhaps it is as functional as the robogals' breasts. It's assumed that the robots start life in full adult bodies, so therefore their naughty bits are either non-functional or just for fun. So I think it's decorative like their hair.

Alpha as a male? That would appeal less to us heterosexual male fans. Often Alpha doesn't do much in a chapter... one of the reasons I still watch her is because she's _dreamy_ :D . Heavens sakes a male Alpha would require a male Misago as a polar opposite character. A naked guy running around eating raw fish and REALLY scaring the kids. Ugh. ^_^ This scene would be obscene with Makki and some feral dude: http://ykk.misago.org/Volume1/58


- Kempis Curious
Saturday, October 23, 2004

Hee hee, Kempis Curious, that made me crack up. ^_^ I'm just imagining the owner of the cafe that Kokone frequents as the Misago...XD XD

- Carn
Sunday, October 24, 2004


Here's a question. If the "naughty bits" of the robot people are just cosmetic approximations or useless, WHY was the camera connection and the robot-to-robot download port located in their mouths?

It's true that good designers would have have all the peripherals connecting to the same port with the same plug type. And the mouth is easily accessible, especially if your connection isn't wireless. But the mouth seems to be the comm port.

I think we've discounted active, purposeful sexual intercourse among the robot people. The surviving models we see seem not to have fittings to accept auxillary weapons systems that other robots once may have utilized.

What OTHER ports could be hidden in the remaining obvious spots...and what would those ports connect to?

- seaweb
Monday, October 25, 2004

I think our beloved robots are drawn with all their bits because they look nicer that way :)

But while we are having fun theorizing about it.. A robot body that looks human would be very usefull if a way could be found to transfer human conciousness into it.

Maybe "children of humanity" is more literal than we thought...

- Brad
Monday, October 25, 2004

> I think our beloved robots are drawn with all their bits because they look nicer that way :)

Well, to a certain point you'd want robots to fit in. If you read Gunnm you'll notice most of the cyborgs in it have little to barely any resemblance to humans at all in some cases. Though, it wouldn't be the same story if Gally didn't look like a teenage female cyborg either.

> Maybe "children of humanity" is more literal than we thought...

In this instance, I believe humans will make robots in their own image in order to understand what makes a human different from a robot. This is a difficult question which people are struggling with it seems, in certain situations, people are no different to robots/zombies - if you've seen Shaun of the Dead, this is a good example.

- PC
Tuesday, October 26, 2004

someone pointed out that the female robots are drawn "too" womanly. truth to tell, i think this is mostly an artifact of the genre. i believe that ykk is published in a shounen, or at least a male-targeted, magazine. from my (admittedly not extensive) experience, one of the core differences between shoujo and shounen is the sex of the gratuitously scantily-clad persons. both genres include profound, insightful stories as well as ridiculous fluff of varying quality; but all types of stories tend to throw in a certain amount of sex-appeal -- eye candy, if you will -- in the form of sexy ladies for shounen and dreamy guys for shoujo. personally, i just let it be and enjoy the depictions of beautiful people.

a more mundane, internal, and, indeed, supplemental explanation (as the two are not mutually exclusive) is that a human, if he's going to create an anthropoid robot, might as well make him/her beautiful -- why not? wouldn't you?

by the way, since male genitals are considered pornographic, and female genitals are not even readily visible on naked women, it's much easier to include some nudity with female characters than male characters without seeming to be drawing porn.

- anitra
Saturday, August 6, 2005

someone asked the question of why robots are built to look like humans. i don't think anyone addressed that question very much, so i thought i'd drop a line (or twenty) about it.

functional robots, such as we currently have in factories and research facilities and whatnot, look nothing like humans and their designs are based more on their intended function than any comparison with living organisms.

however, robots like alpha are something else. she has no purpose, no job.

well, that's not entirely true, is it? there is extensive speculation on this forum about what the purpose of the robots is -- and presumably we will find out more about it as the series continues. but whatever their purpose is, it is deep, the way it is for humans. do humans have a purpose? maybe, maybe not -- but ultimately, whether we do or no, we each need to look into ourselves and find our own answer about what our purpose is; and robots have _that_ kind of purpose, a purpose that may exist or may not -- the robots may simply have been created to be another form of human reproduction, in a way, and thus as human as possible -- but each individual robot has no conscious access to it and must find her own way.

so when we go about making such a creature, how do we build it? when we built the robots that make our microchips, we built them around their function. but the only model that we have for building a sentient, mentally stable creature is ourselves. how different from human-like can we make a creature and still be able to design her to be mentally stable? we don't even know. but i think that copying what we know -- combined with a kind of reproductive drive (even if humanity isn't dying out) -- is probably what fuelled the desire to make the robot in human form. this idea extends to include such otherwise (possibly) useless features as the breasts, genitals, and bellybuttons (did adam and eve have bellybuttons?). this whole paragraph is personal conjecture, of course, because there is no discussion of this in the story, but i think it is quite plausible -- and is as much an explanation for human-like robots in a story as for why an artist might choose to write a story about a human-like robot.

- anitra
Saturday, August 6, 2005

As for the lack of male robots, lets assume that during the "violent past" the humans were more like the humans are today. Then the female robots were used for "service applications" while the male ones would be for military use.

Maybe the male robots were killed as soldiers in the wars for the last resources after the apocalypse. Maybe there was a war between robots and humans. When it comes to genocide, "kill all males" was an often used method in the past and recent history. Maybe "we" used it again, regardless if they can breed or not.

I really like Nais answer to Alphas question. "I'm as much male as you are female" gives her every information she needs and leaves us totally in the dark...

- Beaker
Sunday, August 7, 2005

Here's a sidelight on gender & sexuality in YKK: the old Anne Rice vampire novels, esp. the first three (the "Lestat" novels). Not that I'm a big fan, but I remember the sexual/emotional aspects as being really interesting, & maybe applicable here.

In A.R's stories, vampires still have genitals (duh) and memories of human sexuality, but no explicitly sexual desire anymore. They don't get it on. Their emotional needs are as strong as ever, though, and this leads to very strong attractions between them - love, jealousy, joy, loneliness - with no regard to gender, age or culture. Dialogue between two of these characters soulds exactly like that between two human lovers, even though 'sex' as we define it isn't anywhere on the menu.

Anyway, it shows that robots without human-style sexuality would have no particular reason to attach themselves to any one gender or age. It all just kind of floats around in zero gravity...

- terry
Monday, August 15, 2005

Reply to this topic
Topic list

Contact the translator