Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Welcome to this week’s review of notable instances of public transit use and urban design, as well as discussion of place identity and culture, through anime currently broadcast or screening in Japan and simulcast internationally via the web. This review also documents seichijunrei (聖地巡礼 holy land pilgrimage) and butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting), which are pop culture tourism and place-based engagement induced by the use of real locations in show settings.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

(小林さんちのメイドラゴン Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

@ssslocation (gallery) and @626shin (post) made pilgrimages to Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture; and Higashi-Nihonbashi and Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō, Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Episode 1.

@tesra1141 and @unimaru_ additionally contributed a large amount of research and information to the location finding group effort.

Opening Credits

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

This new and atypical Kyoto Animation work has its protagonist commuting into central Tokyo from an apartment in Koshigaya (越谷), Saitama Prefecture. The studio has eschewed the usual photo-realistic backgrounds and effects heavy animation of its recent series for something that returns to fundamentals. But it’s not a revamp of the art style in Nichijou, which was more polished and borrowed from its manga source. The rougher, pencil sketch and watercolor backgrounds have echoes of the Munto OVAs, from the early days when KyoAni was transitioning away from contract work for other studios and experimenting with its own style for the first time. I furrowed my brow a bit the first time I saw the previews, worrying about the substance of the story. It’s definitely silly, but not dumb. It’s also the first Kyoto Animation work with an adult age main cast. There are a lot of interesting things to like here.

Episode 1

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

It isn’t mentioned, but Tōru flies over the Akihabara (秋葉原) commercial district in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo Metropolis as she seeks Kobayashi after their meeting in the mountains. Surreptitious otaku reference, check.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Commuting by dragon is probably faster than the subway.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Koshigaya Station (越谷駅)

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

The office where Kobayashi works is in a fictional building drawn at the Higashi-Nihonbashi intersection (東日本橋交差点) in Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

The three walk southeast along Kiyosubashi-dōri (清洲橋通り) after work.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

They round the corner onto Amazake Yokochō (甘酒横丁), a 400 meter street lined with restaurants and shops selling alcohol and traditional confections in Nihonbashi-Ningyōchō (日本橋人形町). Tourism sites describe this area as a small slice of Shitamachi in otherwise modernized central Tokyo, but to be honest, little of that flavor remains here. Kotobuki-dō, the model for the confectioner in 3-Gatsu no Lion, is nearby.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

The model for the izakaya is actually back on Kiyosubashi-dōri, directly facing Meiji-za (明治座), a large theater. However, the buildings that flank it are modeled loosely on those on Amazake Yokochō at the location depicted in the previous cut.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Amazake Yokochō

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

When the second dragon observes the sky clearing after Tōru’s outburst, this is also Amazake Yokochō.

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Koshigaya

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Koshigaya Station west exit intersection (越谷駅西口交差点)

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid 小林さんちのメイドラゴン

March comes in like a lion

(3月のライオン Sangatsu no Raion)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

@Roan_Inish made a pilgrimage to (post 1) Shinkawa, Chūō Ward; Jingūmae, Sendagaya, Shibuya Ward; Kita-Aoyama, Minato Ward; and Kasumigaokamachi, Shinjuku Ward; and (post 2) Shinkawa, Hatchōbori and Kyōbashi, Chūō Ward; and Sendagaya for Episode 13.

Episode 13

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

3-gatsu covers a large amount of new and old ground in a series of walks. The first follows Smith’s match morning routine, as he mindlessly inhales breakfast before a meandering walk to the shōgi hall.

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Jingūmae (神宮前), Shibuya Ward

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Sendagaya (千駄ヶ谷)

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Kan’nonzaka (観音坂), a slope in Sendagaya

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Japan Shōgi Association (日本将棋連盟)

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium (東京体育館)

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Aoyama 3-chōme intersection (青山三丁目交差点) in Kita-Aoyama (北青山), Minato Ward

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Smith contemplates the outcome of his match as he passes through Kasumigaokamachi (霞ヶ丘町), Shinjuku Ward. Much of this area is comprised of Meiji Jingū Gaien, a park built around multiple sports facilities and which is currently undergoing extensive redevelopment as part of preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Rei begins his commute as usual from Shinkawa (新川), Chūō Ward. It has been alluded to many times before, but this is the first we see imagery of the entire walking route he takes from his apartment in Shinkawa to Tokyo Station.

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Sumida River Terrace (隅田川テラス) is a riverside paved walk that spans Kōtō, Chūō, Taitō and Katsushika wards.

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Minami-Takabashi (南高橋), the oldest iron truss bridge in Tokyo

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Rei crosses Takabashi (高橋) from Shinkawa into Hatchōbori (丁堀), Chūō Ward.

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Kyōbashi (京橋), Chūō Ward

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Chūō Line (Rapid) (中央線快速)

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Sendagaya Station (千駄ケ谷駅)

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

March comes in like a lion 3月のライオン

Japan Shōgi Association

Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

(昭和元禄落語心中 -助六再び篇-)

Episode 2

Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen 昭和元禄落語心中 -助六再び篇-

Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen 昭和元禄落語心中 -助六再び篇-

Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen 昭和元禄落語心中 -助六再び篇-

Snow Pilgrimage!

While many hunkered down indoors as a heavy storm brought up to 80cm of snowfall and the coldest temperatures of the winter across Japan, not a small number of seichijunrei fans and butaitanbou practitioners saw a unique opportunity to capture their favorite anime pilgrimage locations during and following the winter blast. Though there were some train delays, thankfully everyone made it back safely and without getting frostbitten. They also produced some stunning images.

Uji (Hibike! Euphonium)

Daikichiyama

Uji Bridge

JR Nara Line

Uji Station

Uji River and bridges

Keihan Rokujizō Station

Toyosato (K-On!)

Many fans ventured out to Toyosato, but the best images came from the local tourism association’s official Twitter account, which tracked the storm over two days as it piled on a white blanket.

https://twitter.com/toyosato_kankou/status/820440986031558656

https://twitter.com/toyosato_kankou/status/820807015685496832

Kyoto

Fujinomori (Tamako Market)

Momoyama-Minamiguchi Station (Clannad After Story)

Kamo River delta (Tamako Market, K-On!, Uchōten Kazoku)

Ōtsu (Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!)

In addition to Chūnibyō locations, Ōtsu is popular among fans for the frequent anime promotional collateral featured on Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line trains. @ewi regularly captures the rotating marketing material and published a set of images from the storm.

Takayama (Hyōka)

Hida (Kimi no Na wa.)

Yuwaku Onsen (Hanasaku Iroha)

Komoro (Ano Natsu de Matteru)

Takehara (Tamayura)

Even parts of Hiroshima Prefecture got a good dusting.

 

Special Items

Media and General Interest

TV Tokyo program YOU wa Nanishini Nihon e? (Why Did You Come to Japan?) broadcast a segment featuring an American on pilgrimage to Ikebukuro, Tokyo for Durarara!! @fiathissia captured the entire segment in a series of short videos. Otapol published an article analyzing the segment.

Ascii published an interview (part 1, part 2) with Sakata Atsushi from the Kuki City Commerce and Industry Association and Matsumoto Shinji from the association’s Washimiya branch, reflecting on ten years of pop culture tourism for Lucky Star. This is a long discussion and there are many humorous stories of how the pair had to feel their way as they went, at a time when there were few models for how a municipality should respond to fervent fan interest, but a few key themes emerge. One is that, though sales of anime goods has been part of the many campaigns over the years, these items are intentionally priced little over their cost to engender goodwill, and management has always emphasized responding to fans’ desires and creating a high quality experience for them over revenue generating opportunities. They joke that, comparing the cost of managing special events and the profit from goods, they probably lose money. In addition, the cost of managing special events is defrayed greatly by enthusiastic and sustained volunteer help. At the time of the Lucky Start broadcast, and still to some extent today, otaku in Japan are stigmatized as having poor social skills, yet contrary to this prejudice, the fans visiting Washinomiya Jinja have largely demonstrated affinity for organization and courtesy, the extent of which has surprised even local police.

Keihan Electric Railway, Uji City and Hibike! Euphonium will collaborate on a promotional campaign featuring limited run anime goods and a digital stamp rally using augmented reality smartphone app Butaimeguri, beginning January 21. A special event featuring Eupho creator Takeda Ayano is scheduled for April 8. Butaitanbou community leading figure @ye_bi_su assisted Butaimeguri with creating the content for the app. This is the first instance of Kyoto Animation directly authorizing one of its works through Butaimeguri. (Lucky Star and Hyōka also appear on the platform, but publisher Kadokawa is the primary rights holder for these works.) More information: Keihan press release, Hibike! Euphonium website announcement, Keihan campaign information website, coverage in Kyoto Shimbun.

Nikkei Technology Online published an article about how Ōarai, Ibaraki Prefecture (Girls und Panzer) and Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture (Wake Up, Girls!) have leveraged augmented reality smartphone apps that facilitate anime pilgrimage to sustain pop culture tourism interest.

Gentousha plus (article) and animate Times (article) published stories about the January 12 special event at Shimogamo Jinja in Kyoto to promote the second season of Uchōten Kazoku, including appointment of a special ambassador of goodwill designation for cultural works that promote the city.

animateTimes published an article about Yūri!!! on ICE creator Kubo Mitsurō visiting Karatsu, Saga Prefecture. Most of the information is translated to English in an article by Anime News Network.

Izu Shimbun published an article introducing pilgrimage locations in Shizuoka Prefecture for multiple anime series.

Tōō Nippō published an article introducing pilgrimage to Aomori Prefecture for Shinkai Makoto film Kumo no Mukō, Yakusoku no Basho (The Place Promised in Our Early Days).

Other Current Season Pilgrimage

@Surwill compiled a Street View tour of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture for Minami Kamakura Kōkō Joshi Jitensha-Bu Episode 1.

@aga3104_keyaki made a pilgrimage to Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture for Gabriel DropOut Episode 1.

@tenohira17 made a pilgrimage to Mitaka, Tokyo Metropolis for Masamune-kun no Revenge OP, Episode 1 and Episode 2.

@ssslocation made a pilgrimage to Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture for Demi-chan wa Kataritai Episode 2.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@touyoko_com made a pilgrimage (updated: post 1, post 2, post 3) to Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, completing season coverage for Hibike! Euphonium 2.

@golgo_juusou (post 1, post 2) and @lidges (post) made pilgrimages to Karatsu, Saga Prefecture; and Iizuka and Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture for Yūri!!! on Ice.

@touyoko_com made a pilgrimage to Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture for Udon no Kuni no Kin’iro Kemari.

@ktism1228s made a pilgrimage to Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture for Orange.

@anime_pq made a pilgrimage to Kumano and Kihoku, Mie Prefecture for Nagi no Asukara.

@mikehattsu made a pilgrimage to (post 1, post 2) Iwami and (post 3) Tottori City, Tottori Prefecture for Free!

@mikehattsu made a pilgrimage to former town of Kasumi, now part of Kami, Hyōgo Prefecture for Air.