Alpha Hatsuseno is an android who runs a café, goes on adventures with her friends, and lives a fairly normal life.
In the post-apocalypse.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō, a science fiction manga by Hitoshi Ashinano, differs from other post-apocalypse stories in some very dramatic ways. The vast majority of post-apocalypse stories tend to depict a ravaged world, a fearful and violent population holding onto whatever they can, and the fear that things will never get better. Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō is a bit more hopeful, depicting a peaceful, if small, human population making the most of their life in a world that is slowly, but surely, dying.
The world of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō is one ravaged by a devastating, unnamed calamity which caused a massive shift in the environment, extreme climate change, and rising sea levels. The series sometimes hints at some sort of societal collapse and massive government shift, referring to a “social upheaval.”For all intents and purposes, the series takes place in the post-apocalypse, or what many would consider the post-apocalypse.
And yet, people make do.
The world of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō is one in which society is functioning, people are happy, and conflict is not commonplace. Humanity is vastly reduced, certainly, and the great cities of old are long overrun and buried, but this isn’t really seen as an awful thing. In fact, people almost seem more content living in a smaller-scale world.
Of course, the world is not a naively idyllic place. At several points, the series hints that fears of being attacked are still commonplace, and that people still buy and carry guns to use for self-protection.
In addition, the series does sometimes hint at the dark past which resulted in the current state of the world, from people using anti-aircraft missiles as fireworks to shots showing Mt. Fuji having erupted.
But for all the series hints at conflict, it largely depicts a peaceful era. Humanity’s future is left uncertain and the series does suggest that robots may outlive humanity. But rather than struggle and fight against this, the remaining human population lives their life and accepts their fate.
Yokohama Kaidashi Kikō represents what I’d like to see more often out of post-apocalyptic fiction: A quiet post-apocalypse. Most post-apocalyptic fiction ends up falling into the same tropes, depicting a world where people need to scavenge for basic resources, where anyone you trust will inevitably stab you in the back, and where what’s left of the world is a barren, decrepit wasteland. I’ve seen more than enough of these stories and they’ve all just become so tedious and dull.
Another example of a story which embodies the “quiet post-apocalypse” idea is NieR, an action RPG by Cavia. The world of NieR is one where humanity is dying off, as illness claims more and more lives and monsters known as shades roam the wilds and attack people. NieR’s world is not a hopeful one, nor is it a peaceful one. But it’s not a barren wasteland, nor are resources so scarce people need to hoard them and fight one another over them.
NieR’s world is one in which people go about their daily lives in the cities they have crafted, protected by the walls they have built, and doing trade with neighboring cities. In the face of extinction and humanity becoming an endangered species, the remaining population has chosen to rebuild society and make the most of it, rather than struggle and make conflict with one another.
The idea of the post-apocalypse being a barren wasteland where might makes right is ultimately fueled by natural assumption that you cannot trust others. In the face of the end of the world as we know it, we assume that you can only trust yourself. But people have survived disasters and societal collapses before, and rebuilt from the ground up. The apocalypse doesn’t have to be happy, but the post-apocalypse doesn’t always have to be hellish.