Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

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.

Tamako Market

(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.

Episode 9

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

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.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

This is one of the few times we see students walking along the east, rather than the west side of the canal.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

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.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

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.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Anko rushes from the shōtengai to Yuzuki’s street to deliver a gift and say goodbye before his family moves.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Again, the street is more like a commons or yard, not the sole domain of car traffic.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

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.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

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.

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

Tamako Market たまこまーけっと

At the end, Tamako and Anko deliver Mochizo’s birthday cake, as with the other events, in the street.

Love Live! School Idol Project

(ラブライブ! Rabu Raibu!)
Watch: Crunchyroll

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.

Episode 9

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Akihabara (秋葉原) takes center stage this week.

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

The background art is very much up-to-date, showing the construction site where the old Radio Kaikan building had once stood.

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

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.

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

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.

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

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.

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

The elevated tracks are the Chūō-Sōbu Line (中央・総武緩行線).

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Kanda River (神田川)

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Eri pulls Nozomi away from her chores as a shrine maiden (巫女 miko) at Kanda Shrine (神田明神), to propose the idea of performing a concert in Akihabara.

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

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’.

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Love Live! School Idol Project ラブライブ!

Mangirl!

(まんがーる! Mangāru!)
Watch: Crunchyroll

Episode 10

Mangirl! まんがーる!

Mangirl! also makes a stop in Akihabara where the Earth Star team monitor sales activity of their manga publication.

Mangirl! まんがーる!

Mangirl! まんがーる!

And a brief stint in a maid cafe, for good measure.

Oreshura

(俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru)
Watch: CrunchyrollHulu

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).

Episode 9

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

Hanenoyama Station is decked out with posters advertising upcoming fireworks (花火 hanabi).

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

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.

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

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.

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

This specific neighborhood is based on the Nakayama (中山) area of Hachiōji.

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

Oreshura 俺の彼女と幼なじみが修羅場すぎる

Minami-ke

(みなみけ)
Watch: Funimation

Episode 48 (Tadaima Episode 9)

Minami-ke みなみけ

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.

Minami-ke みなみけ

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

(さくら荘のペットな彼女 Sakura-sō no Petto na Kanojo)
Watch: CrunchyrollAnime NetworkHulu

Episode 21

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou さくら荘のペットな彼女

Sakura Dormitory’s residents head home through the local shōtengai, where at this point it seems everyone knows them by name.

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou さくら荘のペットな彼女

Boku no Imōto wa “Ōsaka Okan”

(僕の妹は「大阪おかん」)
Watch: Crunchyroll

Episode 8

Boku no Imōto wa "Ōsaka Okan" 僕の妹は「大阪おかん」

Namika complains to Kyousuke about not being able to memorize the many train and subway routes in Tokyo.

Boku no Imōto wa "Ōsaka Okan" 僕の妹は「大阪おかん」

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.

Blast of Tempest

(絶園のテンペスト Zetsuen no Tenpesuto)
Watch: Crunchyroll

Episode 21

Blast of Tempest 絶園のテンペスト

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.

Blast of Tempest 絶園のテンペスト

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!

Blast of Tempest 絶園のテンペスト

Blast of Tempest 絶園のテンペスト

Blast of Tempest 絶園のテンペスト

Amnesia

(アムネシア Amuneshia)
Watch: CrunchyrollAnime Network

Episode 9

Amnesia アムネシア

Escaping Toma’s imprisonment, the Heroine flees through Ikebukuro (池袋) back to her apartment.

Amnesia アムネシア

Amnesia アムネシア

Toden Arakawa Line (都電荒川線)