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.
(好きっていいなよ。 Suki-tte Ii na yo.)
Everyone returns home via Hachiōji Station.
Kitagawa remembers her childhood neighborhood in a flashback.
Pedestrian overcrossing in front of Hachiōji Station
Vendors have setup stalls for the matsuri (祭) at the shrine.
Families gather to wait for the fireworks to begin.
Even the residential neighborhood where Mei lives has been strung with lanterns.
Mei wants Yamato to see her dressed in a yukata before the evening concludes.
Guess he liked it.
(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
The sun finally rises on New Year’s Day. The friends debate whether it’s the horizon (which they can’t see) or the building tops that mark the precise point. This discussion demonstrates awareness of the relationship of our built environment with the wider physical and biological environment.
Natsume edits her blog at a sidewalk table outside of a cafe.
The episode revolves around Haru, who is running around town in search of something he won’t name, dropping pieces of gear in the process, including his mobile phone. What happens after that is significant. Since they can’t contact Haru, each stops by the Misawa Batting Center to check for him and leave the items. No one coordinated this. The batting center has been their third place throughout the story, so it was inevitable that they would each think to try this.
On a residential street, Yuu finds Nagoya, Haru’s pet rooster.
Shizuku runs out of rice while cooking dinner, so walks to the nearby store to pickup a new sack.
She encounters Yuu, who is lost and trying to find the batting center to return Nagoya.
Yamaken arrives with Haru’s keys.
Everyone concludes Haru must have been searching for Nagoya. They send out a search party for him.
Yamaken gets lost. Shizuku leads him back to the main street.
Natsume, Sasayan and others search for Haru at one of his favorite places, the river embankment (土手 dote).
On the stairs leading up the hillside to Shizuku’s neighborhood, she finally finds Haru and discovers that he wasn’t looking for Nagoya, but a glowing insect he’d been chasing (never mind that it’s winter).
That’s the end for now. No word yet on whether we’ll see more of this gang in the future. On the whole, this was a terrific slice-of-life story showing how young adults in Japan benefit from a built environment and transit options that allow them large degrees of independence.
In a flashback, we see Fushimi and Yata’s first encounter with the Red King. Here they are bumming around the end of Center Gai, where it opens up into the Shibuya scramble crossing.
Shibuya Station and crossing in the background
After evacuation from the school, students rendezvous in the train terminal.
This is the last of K for this season, but there have been reports of a sequel being green-lighted. If I had to sum up this season, it’d be something like: stunningly gorgeous artwork, no story. Maybe you had to read the manga to get this one?
Sword Art Online
After rescuing Asuna and defeating Sugou, Kirito finally has time to meet with friends, who have secretly planned to congratulate him for completing Sword Art Online and setting everyone free. It’s significant that, for a story that takes place almost entirely in virtual reality online games, everyone makes the effort to meet at a physical third place. The party is held at the neighborhood bar operated by player Agil which, from the position of the afternoon sun relative to Tokyo Skytree, looks to be somewhere in Sumida Ward.