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Welcome to this week’s review of notable instances of transit, place and culture as rendered in anime currently broadcast in Japan and simulcast internationally via the web. For a detailed outline of the approach, please refer to the explanation in the inaugural issue. Links to streaming sources are included when available, though not all may have current episode available at the time this column is published.

After this issue, the review will be on break for three weeks, as I’ll be traveling in China and Japan, including conducting some field research in… transit, place and culture (a real stretch). Look forward to a hefty post on or about November 10, when I’ll have had a chance to get caught up. See you on the other side!

My Little Monster

(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
Watch: Crunchyroll

Episodes 1 and 2

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

At first glance, Monster doesn’t appear that deep (it is for young viewers, after all). Based on a manga of the same name, the story revolves around the relationship between studious Shizuku Mizutani and maladjusted (but thoughtful and vulnerable) truant Haru Yoshida. Though melodramatic and often childish, the introspection of individual characters in quiet moments as they search for meaningful friendships makes me think there’s more here than meets the eye. That, and there are quite a few examples of walkable neighborhoods and social interaction spurring third places, so away we go!

In the frame above, Shizuku is leaving the game center (batting cages, pachinko, etc.) where Haru seems to be a regular.

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

Later, the two begin to warm to each other at a burger joint, though Haru’s surly companions aren’t doing much to enhance the encounter.

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

Shizuku and Haru connect after she convinces him to seek friends that are supportive and considerate of his needs.

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

Shizuku takes a break from studying to go on a date with Haru. Here the two walk on a protected sidewalk built into a reinforced river embankment (土手).

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

The grocery where Shizuku works part-time places its more colorful offerings into the front opening and out onto the sidewalk to catch the attention of passers-by.

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

Students walk to school.

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

Third wheel Asako Natsume, who is seeking a tutor, tags along on a subsequent outing.

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

The three continue Asako’s consultation at a nearby park.

tonari no kaibutsu-kun my little monster

Asako tests the limits of Shizuku’s patience during an all-night study cram session in the game center’s lounge.

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Watch: HuluVIZ ANIME

Episode 2

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K continues where it left off, with lots of running around Shibuya. Here is a great aerial shot of the Shibuya Station complex and bus lanes.

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I’m squeezing this in while attending New York Comic Con, so please forgive me for again leaving you with a wall of screen shots. There’s lots to talk about in this show and I promise we’ll dig into all of it.

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Center Gai (I refuse to call it Basketball Street)

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Bunkamura

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Upcoming

More new shows launched this week. Kamisama Kiss (which appears to be set in Kawagoe) and PSYCHO-PASS might work as regular items in this column. There are a handful of others that, while I may not single out for detailed review, have interesting bits that illustrate just how ubiquitous depictions of public space and mass transit are in manga and anime.