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.
(ココロコネクト Kokoro Konekuto)
Kokoro hits full stride this week, with a new set of opening credits and several scenes that prominently feature transit use and public spaces, as well as an entire sequence involving a certain high speed railway that had this reviewer bouncing in his chair.
As before, the epicenter of activity for the club members is the pedestrian commercial district centered around Yamaboshi Kita subway station. These spaces are modeled after real life Center Kita Station, served by the Green Line and Blue Line of the Yokohama Municipal Subway, and the retail development that surrounds it.
Himeko uses a contactless IC card to swipe through the ticket gate (改札口 kaisatsuguchi).
Iori rides the subway.
A footbridge enables pedestrian crossing over an arterial road.
I also checked back at the blog Otaku Pilgramiges for Anime Places, where I first learned about the setting’s basis on areas in the west side of Yokohama. The blogger uncovered a recent video produced by @wetafun that takes viewers on a walking tour through each of the cuts in the original opening and ending credits, as well as other familiar places from the show:
Yoshifumi and Taichi are back at the famiresu.
If you watched the video above, you’ll recognize this park and pathway that’s used frequently by the club members.
Taichi accompanies Yui while she waits for her bus home.
The remaining four club members reconvene back at the famiresu for an intervention on Yoshifumi’s behalf.
It was bound to happen eventually. After all, what would a column about public transit in Japan be without an occasional geek-out over the shinkansen (新幹線).
Yoshifumi decides he must make an urgent evening trip to Sendai to meet and confirm that he no longer has romantic feelings for a past girlfriend.
Aside from a minor differences in the shape of the nose, this is an accurate rendering of the E2 Series trains, one of the two types that provide service on the Tōhoku Shinkansen, which runs between Tokyo and Aomori.
Taichi and Yoshifumi board a green car (reserved seating) on the “Hayato” (a nod to the Hayate, the second fastest of the four services on this line). Hyperdia tells me that the whole trip, including subway from Center Kita to Yokohama and JR Tokaido Line to Tokyo, would come to just over ¥11,000 ($141). The yen is currently very dear compared with US dollars, so $110 might be a closer estimate of the long term exchange rate conversion. Not so inexpensive that most folks would feel compelled to jump onto a long distance train on a whim, but you could do it if you wanted. It’s worth noting that this is a fairly extensive 400 km (250 mi) trip that would entail 2 hours, 53 minutes minutes of travel time (including local lines and transfer times). By comparison, an evening trip on Amtrak Acela on the Northeast Corridor from Washington, DC to New York (about 225 miles), also booked on the day of travel, would take 2 hours, 45 minutes (despite being a direct, high speed trip) and cost $242.
The Yokohama subway is operated by the city, but the Tōhoku Shinkansen and the portion of the Tokaido Line serving Yokohama and Tokyo are both operated by East Japan Railway Company, one of several entities created in 1987 when government owned Japan National Railways was privatized. If we are to have a future where accessible, lower-carbon and multi-modal public transit is a reality in the US and elsewhere, we need to understand the various underlying business models that make for successful networks. Trains in Japan are neither created nor perform equally, nor do they give us models for all of the situations we may confront elsewhere, but they do generate an enormous set of data on everything from construction costs to operating revenues, passenger use patterns and energy consumption that would be immensely useful for analysis by planners around the world.
After resolving the confrontation with the school board chairman, holding the ad hoc cultural festival, and jumping around tying up every single outstanding story arc (a somewhat disorienting and regrettable feature of many anime final episodes), there wasn’t much space left to get a final dose of the detailed depictions of suburban Japan neighborhoods in Fujisawa and Enoshima seascapes that made Tari Tari such an interesting production to monitor.
There were subtle hints (remarks made, obvious gifts present) in the preceding episodes that the chairman’s enthusiasm for dismantling and selling off the school’s fixed assets to a real estate developer is being rewarded privately. A plot line that tied together declining birthrates, economic activity, land use and corruption would have been something really interesting for us to dig into, but perhaps not quite fit for a show targeted to a teenage male audience.
Fortunately, superfan @Konatsu_TT has continued to diligently update his Google Map identifying locations depicted in the show:
One last look down the hill from the school, to the Enoshima Electric Railway tracks (inside the guardrails next to the main road) and Enoshima beyond.
A last view of Enoshima from the platform at Kamakurakōkōmae Station.
Tiled walkways topping the seawalls that approach the bridge to Enoshima
Pedestrian and bicycle bridge from Fujisawa mainland to Enoshima