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
Google Map Update
New locations added and tallies updated.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Otaku find all sorts of little details on which to fixate. I have trouble seeing a train or shōtengai and not immediately jumping to figure out where it is. @los_endos_, who brought us the earliest pilgrimages from Kyoto for Tamako Market, has been paying special attention to all of the records that appear in the show’s Stars and Clowns (星とピエロ). This past week, as a gift he presented several of those records to @Hananamiyouraku, the manager of the real life Hananami cafe/bar in Masugata Shōtengai (photos: 1, 2, 3).
Several pilgrims were quick on the draw this week, trekking out to find the street where Anko meets Yuzuki in Episode 9, just a bit north of the academy. @lidges was already in Kyoto as of Saturday morning (Japan time), so we’ll hopefully have a good and thorough update post sometime next week.
The neighborhood really comes alive this week. In addition to the shōtengai, which is explicitly pedestrian space, many of the side streets, by not being overrun with traffic and parked cars, become extensions of both the shopping arcade and private shops and residences in its general vicinity. There are many examples of interactions between vendors and customers, between neighbors, and a fluidity of space and usage of space that drive home many of the valuable benefits of compact development that emphasizes walkability.
This is one of the few times we see students walking along the east, rather than the west side of the canal.
Anko is on the sidewalk of this bridge that crosses the canal. It’s the first complete street crossing north of Fujinomori Station (藤森駅), but the third pedestrian crossing.
Mochi is usually produced with the aid of modern machinery, but occasionally the traditional method using a large mortar and pestle is featured as a special event. This is frequently associated with calendar New Year, but in this case Usagiyama Shōtengai has set aside a special day for celebrating mochi itself. The street becomes an extension of Tama-ya and RicecakeOh!Zee.
Anko rushes from the shōtengai to Yuzuki’s street to deliver a gift and say goodbye before his family moves.
Again, the street is more like a commons or yard, not the sole domain of car traffic.
Tamako hears her father singing and realizes it’s the song she’s had in her head but can’t identify. She drags Mamedai and all of her friends into the shōtengai and up the stairs to Stars and Clowns, the record shop/cafe. The cafe owner has been trying to help her identify the song for quite some time. What I love about this moment is how the compact nature of the neighborhood means one instant everyone is in the street or inside the shop, but the next they’ve moved to a completely different place, as if it was another room in a large house. This compression of distance and blurring of boundaries between spaces is something I really adore about neighborhoods in Japanese cities.
Everyone learns that Mamedai and Kunio, the cafe meister, were bandmates in their younger years. The song had been written and sung by Mamedai to Tamako’s mother.
At the end, Tamako and Anko deliver Mochizo’s birthday cake, as with the other events, in the street.
(ラブライブ! Rabu Raibu!)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@lidges was in Tokyo and sends this pilgrimage report on most of the places that appear in the show up through Episode 8. We see pretty much everything but Otonokizaka High School itself, which further makes me think it’s either created for the show, or based on a building somewhere outside this part of Tokyo.
Akihabara (秋葉原) takes center stage this week.
The background art is very much up-to-date, showing the construction site where the old Radio Kaikan building had once stood.
Kotori’s part-time job as one of the legendary maids of Akihabara is discovered, leading to a chase around the backstreets of the pop culture and electronics bazaar.
Kotori recalls how she was approached with the job opportunity. She’s standing in front of the UDX building, part of the Crossfield complex, with the elevated tracks of the Yamanote Line and Keihin-Tōhoku Line in the background.
Kotori is employed by Cure Maid Cafe. Like the Akihabara branch of Gamers, Cure’s name, signage and even the premises appear in the show as they do in real life, without the creative camouflage typical in anime and manga. After a decade and a half of near constant intake of Japanese pop culture/otaku subculture, and having had my omuraisu adorned with hearts and animals drawn in ketchup and blessed with plenty of moe-moe-kyun, I forget that the concept of a meido kafe (or the related butler cafe) probably seems a bit bizarre to the uninitiated.
The elevated tracks are the Chūō-Sōbu Line (中央・総武緩行線).
Kanda River (神田川)
When the rest of the group learns of Eri’s plan, to sing in Akihabara on a Sunday afternoon, they are both excited and nervous about the prospect of singing in a public space in front of so many people. What’s being referred to is the weekly pedestrianization of Chūō-dōri in the Akihabara retail district, usually from 1:00pm to 6:00pm, known as hokōsha tengoku (歩行者天国), lit. ‘pedestrian paradise’.
Mangirl! also makes a stop in Akihabara where the Earth Star team monitor sales activity of their manga publication.
And a brief stint in a maid cafe, for good measure.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@butaiwalker was out in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward (杉並区) to find the model used for the school that appears in many episodes, as well as Hachiōji (八王子) to see the new areas that appear in Episode 9 (blog post).
Hanenoyama Station is decked out with posters advertising upcoming fireworks (花火 hanabi).
As we’ve seen before, Hanenoyama is a composite of many places around the greater Tokyo area, but the wide angle shots and the city edge scenes in this episode would put it as mostly “located” in Hachiōji.
Ai leads Eita out of the main part of town, to the neighborhood where they played as children. Though this is a suburban neighborhood bordering on farmland, it’s still far more compact than most US suburbs, enough so that walking across town is manageable.
This specific neighborhood is based on the Nakayama (中山) area of Hachiōji.
Episode 48 (Tadaima Episode 9)
A large portion of Minami-ke is set either in school or around the Minami sisters’ kotatsu, but every so often we get a glimpse of their neighborhood, such as this shōtengai.
Sakura Dormitory’s residents head home through the local shōtengai, where at this point it seems everyone knows them by name.
Namika complains to Kyousuke about not being able to memorize the many train and subway routes in Tokyo.
They have gone out for a stroll around Omotesando (表参道), a high-end retail district focused around a central, tree-lined promenade that spans through Tokyo’s Minato and Shibuya wards.
(絶園のテンペスト Zetsuen no Tenpesuto)
News of catastrophic doom is always more impressive when it’s broadcast via jumbotron in a large public space. This one is on the Q-Front building, across from Shibuya Station on the famous scramble crossing.
Hakaze and Aika talk and eventually battle on this river embankment (土手 dote), under the train trestle. These embankments are designed for flood control, but also serve as a type of public space. This particular one has both a grassy flat as well as concrete reinforced slopes that include stairways and walking paths. We’ve seen this before during Yoshino’s flashbacks. I’ve assumed it to be somewhere in Fujisawa, based on earlier episodes, but if you know exactly where it is please let me know!
Escaping Toma’s imprisonment, the Heroine flees through Ikebukuro (池袋) back to her apartment.
Toden Arakawa Line (都電荒川線)