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.
This week Tari Tari adds more depth to several places with which we’ve now become familiar. The house where Wakana lives doubles as her father’s business, a teahouse and souvenir stand on a hilltop overlooking the western shore of Enoshima. The real life name of the shop is Aburaya Island Teahouse.
Because it grows richer with new additions each episode, I’m going to keep referring back to this wonderful Google map that tags locations with screenshots of scenes from the show. If you can read Japanese, follow @Konatsu_TT for real time updates regarding the show and the map:
Fujisawa shoreline to the east side of Enoshima
Near the mainland end of the bridges leading to Enoshima, Wakana unexpectedly bumps into Sawa’s mother, who received minor injuries after a surfing wipeout.
Wakana helps Okita-san return home to Jōchi-ji. In the background, we can see the catenary for the Yokosuka Line and Shōnan-Shinjuku Line passing through Kitakamakura Station at the bottom of the hill. It was at this point in writing this post that I did a facepalm, finally realizing after five episodes that I’ve been here before. I had spent an entire day wandering the temples at Kamakura. After visiting the Great Buddha, I hiked up into the mountains toward the northwest. I got great views of the town below and Fuji-san way off in the distance, but I had miscalculated the time it would take to get back into town and was having a difficult time navigating in the dark (compass and map, but no GPS). I wandered right into Jōchi-ji (having no idea what it was, at the time) thinking I might need to find a place to bundle up for the night. Not finding anyone around, I continued on and was relieved to soon see mercury vapor lamps peeking through the trees and Kitakamakura Station not far beyond.
Wakana cycles on the protected sidewalk following along the shoreline and Route 134.
(ココロコネクト Kokoro Konekuto)
Taichi reprises his role as therapist to his female friends, this time taking on Himeko and Iori together, and separately in turn. The trio first stops in an urban park after leaving school.
Taichi and Iori go off to continue their private conversation.
A reservoir would not, at first glance, seem to be the kind of location conducive to social interaction. But in Japan, the approach of making utilitarian infrastructure serve a secondary role as public space pops up in a number of places. Seawalls may be topped by promenades. Rivers may be surrounded by wide berths, called dote (土手), which are intended to prevent flooding of nearby areas. These grass covered embankments play host to all manner of activity, from picnics to sports, for the majority of the time. One of the most memorable scenes from Honey and Clover, where everyone is crawling around in search of four leaf clovers with Hagu (a metaphor for each individual’s search for a one true calling and happiness), happens on a dote. The scene is so deeply laden with the ethos of the story, it is used in many of the posters and other promotional images.
So it’s not so surprising to find these large steps leading Taichi and Iori down to the water’s edge.
The discussion between Taichi and Himeko happens in school and at a later time, but is followed by another quick stroll through the pedestrian square in the commercial district.
(人類は衰退しました Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita)
Last week I expressed the hope that Humanity Has Declined would get back to being good and weird. It did not disappoint. We open with a scene of The Mediator, her assistant and grandfather (a researcher of human civilization and history) having tea and cake in the latter’s office. In the background is a collection of rifle and pistol “specimens”.
The earlier project to construct a monument to human development (with emphasis on its material culture) has been resurrected. The UN chief leading the effort recognizes the significant role of electricity in historic (to them) human civilization, so all manner of electronic devices have been scavenged for use in a festival to celebrate the launch of the research. Though power has heretofore been a scarce resource, the chief announces discovery of a new source and his plans to expand its use in the village.
Nearby ruins of what had been advanced urban development will be a prime source of material for building the monument.
The fairies announce they must leave, as they cannot survive in the presence of the electromagnetic radiation that will be emitted once power use becomes more prevalent. They caution Mediator regarding the many dangers from which they have shielded the humans.
The launch event
Research begins. The Mediator and her assistant are assigned to what they were told was a small park, but when they arrive at its location they find only the entrance to an underground bunker.
The park apparently was inside, one of many sections of a labyrinth of constructed environments.
One room features a large pile of electronic waste.
A still working computer explains the layout of the city above. Its residents, fearful of electromagnetic waves, has constructed it as a self-contained, shielded environment, shut off from the outside world.
I have not read the manga on which the show is based, so I can’t say for certain whether all of these random pieces will lead up to a focused direction, or if we’ll be left to make our own conclusions. From everything up to this point, it does seem we’re to be made to understand that our repeated cycle of producing, acquiring and discarding stuff was one of the contributing factors in the decline of the environment and human civilization.
Ryusuke enters a dream world after giving his body over to the ghost of Rokka’s deceased husband. There he meets a fairy-like incarnation of Rokka, who recounts an image of a tree shaded sidewalk visible from a young boy’s (presumably her husband as a child) hospital room. Unable to leave the hospital, the young boy catalogs the scenes that pass by over the seasons to shield himself from loneliness. Other than this and a few fleeting glimpses of the neighborhood where the main story takes place, this episode is all about the characters.
Pes rescues Kurimi and Sho from the storm in his Prius, while demonstrating the obstacle sensing automatic braking safety feature. I haven’t exactly been kind to this series of animated shorts. On the one hand, I admire Toyota having taken such a creative approach to advertising their products. I’m also, despite wearing my green heart on my sleeve, not anti-car. I’m pro mobility choice, so I want people to have as many choices as possible, and for each choice to have as small of an environmental impact as possible. As far as cars go, a plug-in, hybrid or high efficiency gas engine car from Toyota is about as good as they come. What bothers me is marketing products to children, and furthermore, the message that one’s life cannot be nearly as complete or as rich as it can be without owning a personal car.