K Return of Kings

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.

2015 Fall Season Overview

Each season, from a place and pop culture tourism perspective, we generally have a leading show from either Kyoto Animation or P.A. Works, sometimes both. Fail that, one of the multiple offerings from A-1 Pictures will often feature a detailed and faithfully rendered setting based on a real location. In 2015 Fall, with KyoAni and P.A. on broadcast hiatus as future works are under production, and A-1 focusing most of its effort on theatrical release Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterun Da., other studios will have a window of opportunity to showcase their background art chops in broadcast anime. Most of the shows I’ll look at this season are returning series. In addition to those included below, I expect Owarimonogatari will provide the abstract urban textures and Easter egg locations typical to its franchise, though the opening episode was a one-hour exposition set entirely indoors. I’ve always been a fan of studio Bones for its content choices and creative storytelling, though not necessarily suited to this weekly analysis. With the studio’s Concrete Revolutio, I think there will be some interesting bits to extract after wading through the trippy color palette and mashup of retro urban aesthetics with a fantasy story. This fall will have a different overall feel, but I’m hoping for some good surprises.

Noragami Aragoto

(ノラガミ ARAGOTO)
Watch: Funimation

Fan Pilgrimage Update

@Roan_Inish made a pilgrimage to Ōizumi-gakuen Station in Higashi-ōizumi, Nerima Ward, Tokyo for the OP and Episode 1.

Opening Credits

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

The second season of Noragami, also produced by Bones, drops us right back where we were. The opening credits again feature sweeping Tokyo cityscapes as backgrounds to character action.

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

The elevated pedestrian footbridges (横断歩道橋 ōdan hodōkyō) and activity node at Ōizumi-gakuen Station (大泉学園駅) in Higashi-ōizumi, Nerima Ward return as an anchor point for the series’ compass, though we jump to other places too.

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Hiyori waits at a grade level railroad crossing (踏切 fumikiri)

Episode 1

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Omotesandō (表参道)

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Ōizumi-gakuen Station

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Shakujii Park (石神井公園) in Sakujii, Nerima Ward

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Seibu Ikebukuro Line (西武池袋線)

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Ōizumi-gakuen Station

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Students take the pedestrian path atop the river embankment (土手 dote) on the evening commute home from school.

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Shakujii Park

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Ending Credits

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

Noragami Aragoto ノラガミ ARAGOTO

K Return of Kings

Watch: HuluViz Media Neon Alley

Episode 1

K Return of Kings

K is also back for a new installment, a sequel to the first broadcast season and subsequent theatrical film. To date, it remains my favorite work in the “no discernible plot, but fantastic visuals” genre. The saturated color palette, use of devices with holographic digital displays and other shiny bells and whistles give the show a near-future or slightly alternate reality feel, though once down on the street, most of our familiar Tokyo is alive and well. Along with other works by relatively young studio GoHands (Coppelion, Seitokai Yakuindomo), I appreciate the full use of the anime medium in background art that, while based in reality, isn’t restrained from flights of whimsy when it desires.

K Return of Kings

Shibuya (渋谷) scramble crossing

K Return of Kings

Yamanote Line (山手線)

K Return of Kings

Shibuya scramble crossing

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

Shibuya Center-gai (渋谷センター街)

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

Starbucks Shibuya Tsutaya shop in the Q-FRONT building, overlooking the Shibuya scramble crossing

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

Foreground: Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) and Takashimaya (高島屋) Times Square

Background: Shinkuku Gyoen (新宿御苑)

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

Marunouchi 1-chōme intersection (丸の内一丁目交差点). The rail viaducts enter Tokyo Station from the north, just off frame on the right side.

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

One aspect I really like in K is its use of privately owned public space (POPS). Here, Yata enters the Marunouchi Building (丸の内ビルディング), part of a cluster of privately owned commercial buildings surrounding and connected to Tokyo Station and each other through an extensive underground concourse. These spaces generally come about through negotiations between real estate developers, rail operators and the city, in which the developers are given financial incentives to include publicly accessible amenities and transit links in building plans during both new and redevelopment projects.

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

Neighboring Shin-Marunouchi Building (新丸の内ビルディング) is also part of the Marunouchi cluster.

K Return of Kings

Looking down from the nearby Dentsu Building (電通本社ビル) observatory. Near the top of the frame is the main entrance to the inner market of Tsukiji Shijō (築地市場), the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world, which will close and relocate in 2016.

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

K Return of Kings

Concrete Revolutio

(コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~ Konkurīto Reborutio: Chōjin Gensō)
Watch: FunimationDasuki

Episode 1

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Ginza Wako (銀座和光) department store in Ginza, Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis

In wide angle shots, the garish colors and flat drawing style has a simplistic, American comic feel to it. But look closer and you can see details that come to the fore when specific elements of the environment are called out.

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Sparks from the streetcar pantograph

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Streetcars were once a common sight in Ginza, first in 1882 as horse-drawn carriages, then electrified from 1903, and eventually taken out of service in 1967. Only two streetcars remain from what was once a network covering much of Tokyo. However, plans exist to reintroduce streetcars to this part of the city, with a line connecting Ginza and Harumi. (more 1, more 2)

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Rail viaduct exiting Kinshichō Station (錦糸町駅), off frame on the right side, in Kōtōbashi, Sumida Ward, Tokyo Metropolis

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Chūō-Sōbu Line (中央・総武緩行線). This 101 series (101系) trainset was used on the service from 1963 to 1988.

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Matsuya Ginza, perhaps? As with the Monogatari franchise, we often aren’t quite sure if we really recognize a location or if we’re just extrapolating based on something that seems familiar.

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

Concrete Revolutio コンクリート・レボルティオ~超人幻想~

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls

(アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ Aidorumasutā Shinderera Gāruzu)
Watch: Daisuki

Fan Pilgrimage Update

@ssslocation made a pilgrimage to Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture for Episode 24.

Episode 24

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

Tōkyū Setagaya Line (東急世田谷線) crossing near Wakabayashi Station (若林駅)

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

Yokohama Landmark Tower (横浜ランドマークタワー)

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

Cosmo Clock 21

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

Pacifico Yokohama (パシフィコ横浜)

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

National Convention Hall (国立大ホール) at Pacifico Yokohama

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

Pukarisan Bridge (ぷかりさん橋)

The Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls アイドルマスターシンデレラガールズ

 

Special Items

@ts_kobaya made a video pilgrimage to Chichibu and Yokoze, Saitama Prefecture for Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterun Da.

@habusan published a partially populated Field Guide to Chichibu and Yokoze, Saitama Prefecture for Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterun Da.

@rimatai made a pilgrimage to Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture for Lance N’ Masques.

@sky_dj_ made a pilgrimage to Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture for the manga Onsen Yōsei Hakone-chan, an anime adaptation of which premieres 2015 October.

@ye_bi_su made a pilgrimage to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture; multiple locations in Tokyo inner wards; and Chōfu, Tokyo Metropolis for Wake Up, Girls! Seishun no Kage, the first of two planned theatrical film sequels to the TV series.

@ssslocation made a pilgrimage to Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture for Charlotte.

@sky_dj_ made a pilgrimage to Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture for Million Doll.

@shira_ry made a pilgrimage to Enoshima, Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture for Himōto! Umaru-chan.

@sky_dj_ made a pilgrimage to Shizuoka City, Shizuoka Prefecture for Sore ga Seiyū!

@lidges made a pilgrimage to Tōyako, Hokkaidō Prefecture for Sora no Method.

@Roan_Inish made a pilgrimage to Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture for Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren.

@SSEBTBM883 updated a previous pilgrimage to Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture for Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Rokodoru Yattemita.

@fureshima made a pilgrimage to Saijosan in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture for Non Non Biyori.

@fragments_sue (post) and @ktism1228s (post) made pilgrimagea to Ogawa, Saitama Prefecture for Non Non Biyori.

@darkflame_esper made a pilgrimage to Nanao, Ishikawa Prefecture for Hanasaku Iroha.

@ktism1228s made a pilgrimage to Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture for Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (Anohana).