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.
(たまこまーけっと Tamako Māketto)
Watch: Anime Network
It has arrived. Included in the many new shows and season launches in the past week was the much anticipated original work (not based on a novel or manga) from Kyoto Animation, Tamako Market. I’m pumped, but my own reasons for being so keen on this show have little to do with the more or less direct import of KyoAni’s popular moe character designs from K-On! and, not to anyone’s surprise, everything to do with the setting. Among anime with settings based on real places there has always been a glut of Tokyo. I love Tokyo, but it’s done so often that it’s always a breath of fresh air to travel somewhere farther afield. Tamako Market takes us not only to Kyoto, but far beyond the popular temple walks of Higashiyama and into the shadow of the Imperial Palace to an unassuming, workaday neighborhood at the edge of Kamigyo Ward near Demachiyanagi Station. Specifically, the story revolves around the people and events of the Usagiyama Shōtengai, a covered pedestrian shopping street painstakingly modeled on the real life Masugata Shōtengai (桝形商店街). If you follow the end credits closely, after the voice cast and production staff, all of the local businesses on which the Usagiyama shops were based are listed. It seems there was a very concerted effort to pull the community into the show. I’m so excited about all of this that I’ve decided this time to make my own Google Map of location spotting from the show, rather than borrow one from the fan community. This way I can get as precise as I like with pin placement and details, and hopefully create something that’s more useful for fans that don’t read Japanese.
Let’s first look at the opening credits:
Yes, Tamako is very kawaii, but don’t let that distract you from all of the neat things going on behind her.
Here and in the show itself, we’re constantly moving into the shop spaces and back out into the common lane, just how shōtengai (商店街) are normally experienced in daily use.
These are the shopkeepers/owners of each business.
Did they really have to call it Bunny Mountain? Anyway, on to the episode.
Tamako and friends leave school, using this pedestrian bridge to cross the canal. The school is close to Fujinomori Station (藤森駅), served by the Keihan Main Line (京阪本線). Since this is quite far across the city from Usagiyama, I would hope this means we’ll get to see some train trips in the course of events.
This is the west entrance to Usagiyama.
Tamako stops by vendors to pickup groceries for her family.
Tamako’s frequent customer stamp book
Take a look around:
Tamako and her friend Mochizō live just off the shōtengai. Their families run competing mochi shops that face each other across the lane. The families live in the back and upper levels of the shops. I haven’t yet figured out what these are in real life, as they don’t have obvious signage.
Tamako and Anko walk through the shuttered shōtengai after dinner to go to the local public bath house (銭湯 sentō).
The bath interior and exterior of Usa-yu (うさ湯) are based on an actual bath house, Nishiki-yu (錦湯), but you won’t find it in this location, near the shōtengai. Nishiki-yu is down in the center of Kyoto, near Karasuma Station.
Tama-ya, Tamako’s family shop, puts away the noren with the shop name when not open for business.
The school campus is based on and located at the Seibo Jogakuin (学校法人聖母女学院).
The shop owners plan what to do for Tamako’s birthday. Everyone knows everyone here.
Tamako spends time at this record and coffee shop in Usagiyama.
Seems we couldn’t get away without the obligatory shot of a pagoda with Kyoto in the background. I’m guessing Tō-ji.
(ラブライブ! Rabu Raibu!)
Honoka plans to save her high school by forming a club to produce pop idols that will drive a resurgence in student applications. Yeah, I’m not feeling it much, either. But, the fictional Otonokizaka school is set in, as the promotional material states, between Akihabara (秋葉原), Jinbōchō (神保町) and Kanda (神田). I guess Shinochanomizu just doesn’t have the cool factor to merit mentioning by name, which is kind of the premise of the show.
If you’ve been missing the Chūō Line since Say “I Love You” ended last month, you’re in luck.
The UDX Building in Akihabara is now UTX and houses the competing high school that give Honoka the idea for the idol club.
Yodobashi-Akiba is now Edobashi-Akiba. A pun, I would guess (Edo is the old name for Tokyo).
If you blinked you probably missed it. In the new opening credits for the second half of Sakurasou, Misaki and Sorata are out and about. First Misaki is eating takoyaki in the shōtengai on the south side of Tsūtenkaku in Osaka’s (大阪) Shinsekai (新世界) district.
Then she’s having miso ramen, complete with corn and butter topping, in front of Sapporo Clock Tower (札幌時計台), while Sorata carts some very large crabs. Western analogs might be gnawing on a baguette in front of the Eiffel Tower or a slice of pizza at the Empire State Building. It’s meant to scream, “Hey, look, we’re at this famous place doing local stuff!” Let’s hope they actually deliver the goods and this isn’t just going to be unfulfilled foreshadowing. ^_^
I got all excited when this flashback episode had everyone headed to Kitazawa in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward. This is one of my most favorite places to be in Tokyo and the subject of a short film that I’m in the midst of producing.
Unfortunately, other than a couple of club interiors and a street, we don’t really get to see all that much of it.
Probably in February or March I’ll be able to show you all of the neat things you’re not seeing.
The plot exposition in Amnesia, based on a visual novel, rolls off…exactly like a visual novel. It’s not very engaging as a show, but there does seem to be potential for urbanism discussion, so we’ll keep an eye on it for the moment.
Catenary of a train line in the background
(俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru)
Even in this suburban neighborhood, Eita and Chiwa can still walk to the supermarket to pickup groceries for dinner.
They also walk to and from school.
Oh, Masuzu, what are you going to do when Chiwa finds out about this?
Manabe tries to make friends with Kotoura by walking home from school with her.
“Pedestrians and Bicycles Only” Why?
Because it’s a shōtengai. A little one, anyway.
(〜ダ・カーポ III〜 Da Kāpo III)
Even visual novel based fantasy/harem anime rides the bus.