Otaku USA Magazine
Yokohama Station SF [Manga Review]

You may think you’ve seen bleak dystopias in fiction, but how about a world that’s turning into an enormous, all-devouring subway system? In Yokohama Station SF, the titular port city stop begins to “self-propagate,” apparently due to a bug in an AI construction program. It’s the gray goo scenario of cyberpunk science fiction, but instead of nanobots converting all matter into goop, everything is turned into subway corridors. After 200 years of this, Yokohama Station has engulfed Tokyo and Mount Fuji and is still spreading across Japan. The relatively fortunate live inside the station, where train passes embedded in their brains mark them as citizens, while society’s rejects are cast outdoors to eke out an existence scavenging near the trash chutes.

When Hiroto, one of the outsiders, acquires a rare five-day station pass, he leaps at the opportunity for indoor adventure. His mission: find the leader of the rebel Dodger Alliance, said to be at the impossible-to-reach Exit 42. Inside Yokohama Station, Hiroto is plunged into a bewildering society where enforcement of the station’s rules has become the basis of a totalitarian government. He finds an ally in Shamai, a child spy from northern Japan, where humanity is still fighting off the relentless encroachment of the station. But Shamai isn’t what he seems to be, and neither is anything else Hiroto encounters in the station’s labyrinthine corridors.

Gritty, stylish sci-fi art sells the outlandish premise, making the grimy train-station world weirdly plausible. Though the story is sprinkled with jokey references to real-life Japanese rail systems and overextended construction projects, the concept is mostly played straight, generating dystopian horror tinged with absurdity. The endlessly expanding train network is like a public transit version of the out-of-control corporate bureaucracy in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

As action-packed as the first volume is, it feels like it barely scratches the surface of Yokohama Station, with its subcultures, rival factions, glitchy technology, and levels upon levels. (There’s so much going on in this train station that it hardly has room for trains.) Yokohama Station SF promises to be a wild ride, so get on board now. Recommended.

Publisher: Yen Press
Original Story: Yuba Isukari
Art: Gonbe Shinkawa
Rating: Older Teen