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 life locations in anime settings.
In addition to K, a handful of other fall shows began to air this week. Several interesting bits stood out, but I’m going to evaluate a second episode for each before making a call on inclusion for weekly review.
(ココロコネクト Kokoro Konekuto)
We’ve arrived at that point when one season’s shows have mostly wrapped, but the next’s are just beginning to start, hence the decreasing length of this column. Fortunately, Kokoro finishes strong with a continuation of the walkable urban infrastructure from the previous episode.
The final showdown between club members and antagonist Heartseed plays out on this footbridge that spans a busy arterial road.
In the aftermath, club members reflect on what they’ve learned while strolling through the city in the wee hours of the morning.
This is the double decker E4 Series shinkansen. I’m going to guess the strange shadings are the result of a sub-par attempt to illustrate shadow and glare (most bullet trains are quite shiny), rather than having entered the station through a fiery tunnel of doom. This is the Max Nasuno service on the Tōhoku Shinkansen, which runs between Tokyo and Kōriyama. You can tell it’s Tokyo Station by the orange striped Chūō Line train in the background and Marunouchi buildings in the opening between platform overhangs. This historic icon just completed a five year, ¥50 billion ($645 million) refit, returning the original portion of the transit hub to its state prior to sustaining heavy damage during the WWII bombing of Tokyo.
Yui reconciles with an old friend about to depart. In reality, you wouldn’t be able to get this close to the train without a ticket or IC card swipe, as shinkansen require passing through a special set of gates separate from the rest of the normal paid fare zone. This is true to an extent for all other trains in cities (unless one is already inside the fare zone), though the systems become more porous and less automated the further into the country you go.
One last ride on a local train with Inaba
This story arc is finished, having covered the events of Hito Random, Kizu Random, and Kako Random (ヒトランダム, キズランダム, カコランダム), the first three of nine volumes in the Kokoro Connect light novels. An additional four episodes covering the next volume, Michi Random (ミチランダム) was announced for Spring 2013, though it’s not clear yet if it will be broadcast or available only on disc. If I can get my hands on it, you’ll definitely hear about it here.
Generally, I like to watch a couple of episodes of a new show to get a feel for the story and figure out if there are enough elements to merit inclusion for the full treatment here. I won’t get into the story background just yet (the episode is primarily introductions without much context, anyway), but there was too much eye candy to not at least include a stack of frames this week.
The setting is a future Tokyo, though plenty of present day landmarks make the locations easily recognized. Here we’re in Shibuya, standing in front of Shibuya Station, looking across the scramble crossing at buildings that bear striking resemblance to QFRONT and Shibuya 109.
The high rise on the left would be Shibuya Mark City, owned by the Keio Corporation, which also operates the rail line which terminates in a station inside the building.
The hologram train status displays are one hint that it’s not 2012 anymore.
There currently aren’t any suspended monorails in Tokyo, so don’t start planning any pilgrimages to this one just yet.
The students attend (currently non-existent) Ashinaka High School, the campus of which is set on an island in Tokyo Bay, roughly between Odaiba and Shinagawa.
The train station interfaces directly with the school.
Students swipe smartphones to charge train fare and exit the system. This is possible in Tokyo today in 2012, via Mobile Suica, and has been available since 2006.
The bridge carries traffic, trains and pedestrians.
Back to familiar scenes in Shibuya.
Shibuya scramble crossing
Waiting area in front of Shibuya Station
The textured, yellow inlays are wayfinding aids for the visually impaired, and are found everywhere in cities in Japan.
The “Kokyu” (Tokyu) department store still watches over the crossing from its perch above Shibuya Station.
Shops with sandwich boards and merchandise on sidewalk display
The entrance to Omotesandō Hills
Wonder if Comme des Garçons paid for that little inclusion at the bottom.
Omotesandō-dori. Note the footbridge on the left.
In real life, the HMV music store is no longer. It’s now a Forever 21.
In front of Shibuya Station. The green rail car (upper left) is actually there today. It’s an English language tourist information kiosk.
(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
(絶園のテンペスト Zetsuen no Tenpesuto)
(新世界より Shin Sekai Yori)