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.
(境界の彼方 Kyōkai no Kanata)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@lidges (post) and @ankou_anko (post) both made pilgrimages to Ōboke Station in Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture for Episode 10. It seems Ankou also made an earlier trek out to Inotani Station in Toyama, back before we had realized that was not the location that appears in the show, but he used the opportunity to compare and contrast the two hikyō (secluded) stations (秘境駅), as well as share some beautiful scenery from the areas.
There were quite a few new locations that appeared this week. Some are in the alternate dimension created by the youmu “Beyond the Boundary”, a mirror of what’s on the ground below that includes bits of Kashihara, Nara and Kyoto. In the first and second frame, we’re in the second intersection on the main road running southwest from the west exit of Kashiharajingū-mae Station (橿原神宮前駅).
As with the one we’re used to seeing most episodes, this fumikiri is also on the Kintetsu Minami-Osaka Line (南大阪線), but further to the west. For anyone who previously visited Kashihara, this would have been passed on the walk to the back way into Fukada Pond and Kashihara Shrine.
The main road running northwest of Kashiharajingū-mae Station, though they’ve drawn in the hospital where the primary approach to Kashihara-jingū would be
Minami-Osaka Line near the first fumikiri, with Setagaya, Tokyo’s Jashumon cafe dropped in
A small park next to Kumenomiagta-jinja (久米御縣神社), on the walk from Kashiharajingū-mae Station to the school
Higashimuki Shōtengai (東向き商店街) in Nara
Kashiharajingū-mae Station central entrance
Retail development on the way to Mirai’s apartment complex
Mirai sends her final message to Akihito while standing in front of the main branch of Nanto Bank (南都銀行), a regional bank mainly serving Nara Prefecture. The building fronts on the main commercial street in Nara, Sanjō-dōri (三条通), but also anchors the south entrance to the Higashimuki Shōtengai.
Fukada Pond (深田池)
This bus stop under the overpass is another inside joke from the Kyoto Animation folks. It’s in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, not far from the studio. The viaduct carries the JR Nara Line (奈良線).
In the following cuts, we’ve already been transported back to Kashihara, to the main road northwest of the Kashiharajingū-mae Station central exit.
Here, we’ve hopped over to the southwest side of the station, at the last intersection on the main street before the taxi rotary at the west entrance.
Back to Nara, this is the same canal to the east side of Yamato-Saidaiji Station (大和西大寺駅) from earlier episodes, just a bit further north.
These small roads thread through residential neighborhoods that surround the school campus in Kashihara.
Akihito heads back along the main street in the direction of the train station.
Near Yamato-Saidaiji Station
Fan Pilgrimage Update
In a bit of irony, shortly after I remarked last week to a commenter about how hard it is to be really sure you know what you’re seeing in Monogatari background art, I promptly fell over myself multiple times with incorrect identifications (post has since been updated). Just as the narrative style plays with time and space, the background art, when it does incorporate real world locations, often jumps from one to the other and makes no attempt to preserve a relationship to their actual proximity. It’s not uncommon to see something from Hokkaido one moment, juxtaposed with a neighborhood in Tokyo or Kyoto the next.
Having said all that, the first frame is most definitely the Sunroad Shōtengai (サンロード商店街) in Kichijōji (吉祥寺). Those triangular braces are a very distinctive feature of the covered shopping arcade.
Kaiki asks Senjougahara to meet him for a status update while the trains are still running. They meet at Kichijōji Station (吉祥寺駅), which makes this more geographically consistent than I had expected!
Mister Donut (ミスタードーナツ) may have gone mostly by the wayside in the US, but the franchise thrives in Japan, where it is now headquartered. Their relative ubiquity, ample seating, lower price point than Starbucks and its clones (and probably the free refills) make them a popular casual meeting place. Back in October, on my first day of urban exploration in Osaka it was the first place my wife and I stopped to take a break. On the night before my flight from Tokyo back to Beijing, it was where I had a last minute meeting with an old friend before we both left town.
Shinjuku I-Land (社新宿アイランド) building, the location of the LOVE sculpture, to the west of Shinjuku Station
Update 2013/12/17: Not Yasukuni-dōri as previously indicated, but Shinjuku-dōri at the intersection above Yotsuya-sanchōme Station
The big box retail center in an open field with viaduct in the far distance has an Odaiba feel to it.
However, the very next scene has Kaiki amidst outdoor cafe seating at the Tokyu Department Store Starbucks, in Kichijōji.
Back to Sunroad
In the past several episodes, and again here, Kaiki is put against the background of the torii path at Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. As @lidges notes in a tweet with screencaptures, we’ve been seeing an awful lot of this popular tourist site in the fall anime season.
After visiting Sengoku a second time, the final segment of the episode has Kaiki moving around low-rise suburban development in search of more clues about her past. We know from past episodes that Higashimurayama, Tokyo Metropolis has been the source for some of these neighborhoods, particularly the location of the Araragi home, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not all we’re seeing.
Update 2013/12/17: Along the Tōkyū Tōyoko Line (東急東横線) track between Toritsu-Daigaku Station (都立大学駅) and Gakugei-daigaku Station (学芸大学駅) in Meguro Ward, Tokyo
(ホワイトアルバム2 Howaito Arubamu 2)
Kitahara intercepts Tōma at JR portion of Narita Airport Station (成田空港駅).
The two ride the Narita Express (成田エクスプレス), also referred to as N’EX, into the city, as he tries to persuade her to go with him to Setsuna’s party. This is one of multiple public transit options for traveling between the international airport and the special wards of Tokyo.
They disembark at Shinjuku Station (新宿駅).
(ゴールデンタイム Gōruden Taimu)
At the beginning of the episode, Kōko and Banri commute to school via the Chūō-Sōbu Line (中央・総武緩行線).
At school, Banri seeks advice from his seniors about taking Kōko on a date. When they learn that Banri, who doesn’t even have a driver’s license, intends for the two of them to travel to the beach by train, they hassle him, insisting that a sophisticated woman wouldn’t tolerate not being driven by private car. They push him to seek part-time work to ameliorate the situation, which drives (sorry) the action in rest of the episode. Banri doesn’t appear convinced of the need for a car, though does walk away from this with the intention to look for work so that he can cover their trip expenses.
This attitude of the seniors feels like a throwback to Japan’s bubble era, when cars, high paying careers, degrees and other status symbols frequently topped the list of things deemed necessary to progress into certain echelons of society or pursue partners. Things look a little different from the current vantage point, a period some have dubbed Japan’s post-growth era. Younger generations eschew some of the prized possessions of their elders as marks of superficiality and/or conservatism, though many wouldn’t have the financial means to obtain them, whatever their views.
Banri and Kōko discuss the situation at a cafe, one of the more universal third places, of which places like Tokyo have ample. Where cars and large suburban homes typically represent the privacy obtained as a reward for financial success, the third place embodies the values of community and experiences.
Banri and Yana take the Chūō-Sōbu Line to a part-time job found through Nana.
Passing by Shinjuku
The Fukui Railway Fukubu Line (福井鉄道福武線) makes multiple appearances this week. In the first, it’s used as the opening cut of the new story that begins in the second half of the episode, leading into the students’ morning commute to school.
Later, it’s shown passing quietly through town in the evening, presumably delivering Shirogane-sensei, Kyousuke and other patrons to the izakaya.
It appears again, signalling the progression of time, as the two teachers get progressively more drunk.
In the last instance, during Asahina’s flashback the light rail line’s fumikiri becomes the dividing bar between the Himaraya students and their adversaries from the neighboring school.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
We’re now in the third episode of the plan to make the Chūō Line (中央本線) operational. Not that I’m complaining (^_^)
Mitaka Station (三鷹駅)
Higashi-Koganei Station (東小金井駅)
Fan Pilgrimage Update