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 sacred site pilgrimage) and butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting)—on this website referred to collectively as anime pilgrimage—which are forms of place-based engagement induced by the use of real locations in show settings.
Tari Tari goes on a transit binge this week. First is a nighttime shot of the Shonan Monorail suspended track and supports.
But it’s all Enoden after that.
The choir club is unable to find a practice space at school, so instead relocates to Wien’s home via train.
I grew up with the US suburb/exurb system of public school buses, affectionately referred to as yellow dragons. The first time I was in Japan, seeing not just high school students but much younger children walking and taking mass transit to school was something that took me some time to process. In Japan, education in navigating urban environments on foot begins as early as first grade, with approved walking routes, school staff supervision for part of the trip distance, and adorable yellow hats to increase their visibility and signal drivers to exercise more caution than normal.
Small streets allow for through auto traffic, but at reduced speeds and with increased caution. Not sure what the rules are with regard to barreling through on a horse.
(ココロコネクト Kokoro Konekuto)
It’s a light week for Kokoro Connect. As usual, the club members walk down through the commercial district at the end of the school day.
Himeko waits on the platform for her train home.
(夏雪ランデブー Natsuyuki Randebū)
Atsushi/Ryūsuke makes his escape. We see more of the neighborhood around Rokka’s flower shop and apartment. Note the scale on these streets. The lane is wide enough for a car to proceed with caution, the sidewalk consists of about 30cm of shoulder and another 30cm of the tiles covering the drainage channel. Storefronts come right up to the edge. A few interesting things happen in this situation. These kinds of streets generally encourage local and delivery traffic over through driving. Low speeds allow pedestrians and cyclists to use the center of the street when available, but safely move to the edges when cars pass. Stores, especially markets, push offerings on display as far out as the lane line. The space can be incredibly intimate, while still maintaining a high level of functionality.
Rokka treks out after nightfall to search for Atsushi/Ryūsuke. This sidewalk is slightly wider and separated by the street with a protective railing.
The railings are not continuous, which makes me think this is still a small neighborhood street, but may have points of increased activity, particularly near intersections with faster roads.
Rokka’s late night journey takes her to a mountain retreat to which she suspects Atsushi/Ryūsuke may have fled. It is incredible how far public transportation networks reach across Japan. Exceptionally remote areas may not be served by trains, though many still have buses which connect to the closest rail station. Only a very few hard to reach places and deeply rural parts of the country offer no alternatives to private automobiles.
We’ve seen it in just about every episode, but to complete the theme of the week, here’s the flower shop on its small street, with displays filling up the sidewalk/shoulder.
(人類は衰退しました Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita)
We get a review of the previous episode’s events, with additional details added and something of a resolution (or what qualifies as one by Humanity’s standards). Most interesting is the back story for the returning assistant. He is said to have come from a tribe that completely died out, leaving him to grow up alone. Lack of interaction with others is identified as as large factor contributing to his taciturn nature and lack of memorable personality. His absence is said to have been a journey of personal discovery though meeting new people and new places, from which he could triangulate his own sense of self. The treatment in this story is a bit flippant, but I think there is a lot of valuable planning insights that can come out of the idea that we are social beings and need to build communities that serve that end.