I'm a newbie to the whole world of YKK, though I have now read the entire translated manga (and got it on order), so please excuse me while I indulge myself on a bit of conjecture.
We know that in Alpha's world humanity is dwindling, in population and technology if not in size, though there is a nice echo of that in the giant plants that keep appearing. I'm reminded of the way the early British natives were theorised to have started our legends of "the little people" as they were displaced by later settlers to these islands. I was wondering though, what would our species actually do if faced with a similar impending twilight and I can sort of see several approaches in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou.
The obvious thing is to leave some sort of library or archive. But where to put it? Earthquakes and floods could destroy any ground based building, freak waves and storms could sink a floating one. If you can manage it, there's the sky, and in YKK we have the Taapon. Some interior shots clearly show a huge library, and they are growing plants on board, so there may also be a seed bank, of both plants and animals. The ship is capable of growth, of self operation, could it even depart Earth entirely one day? In any case, until humanity can reach it again it holds it's precious cargo safe in the stratosphere.
That takes care of the knowledge, what about the species? Well, biotechnology has obviously reached a considerable peak in the past of Alpha's world and, if she isn't a supernatural creature (which would be sort of fun), we have the Misago and any others of her kind. Could she be an engineered form of "wild human"? Unaging, superhumanly strong, fast and tough, well capable of looking after herself in a world devoid of human civilization. She's certainly not human though, her mind seems to be locked in a never-ending childhood, ruled by instinct. One far distant day, will some internal timer let the Misago "grow up"?
Alpha and the other robots may also be a solution. Though there were obvious problems in the development of robots, with many generations before the Alpha 7 series, Kokone seems to feel that they are formed of humanity's best impressions, though their actual memories (judging from Alpha) are not exceptionally good. They are unaging, though their inability to heal serious injury seems to be a problem (their skin must be able to heal minor damage otherwise they'd soon be pretty ragged, particularly Alpha). The M1 alpha seems to have been selected as the ideal Director for the safe environment of the Taapon, but was that the only use they were destined for? It's been commented that "our" Alpha seems to be the most "human" person in YKK. How ironic would it be if robots, who you might think to be the very antithesis of humanity, turned out to be the method of preserving what it means to be a human being.
Finally we have the Watergod and the other strange semi-fungoid entities that have appeared. Were they once human, part of a project that allows an individual to endure, to survive, but only by transforming to an utterly inhuman form? A fungus holds the record for being the single largest life form on the planet. Where do the roots of these strange creatures go? All part of one vast organic computer network? The odd "buildings" we've seen some people have postulated as being organic computers, are the Watergod and her kind downloading into these repositories?
All of the above would seem to be different solutions to the same problem- How can humanity leave a legacy of itself behind when civilization is about to collapse? Each seems to take a different aspect of our species to preserve- the knowledge, the genes, the "humanity" and the individual. Were these all projects working independently of each other? Were they all co-ordinated parts of a much greater plan? Or have I got the wrong end of the stick entirely? I'd be interested in hearing what other people think.
In any case, we may never know, YKK is not principally concerned with telling the story of how our species faces it's end. It's telling the story of an exceptionally cute robot and her coffee shop.
I, personally, have no complaints whatsoever. 8)
- Andy Tucker
Saturday, April 3, 2004
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