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.
More new shows launched this week. Kamisama Kiss (which appears to be set in Kawagoe) and Psycho-Pass might work as regular items in this column. There are a handful of others that, while I may not single out for detailed review, have interesting bits that illustrate just how ubiquitous depictions of public space and mass transit are in manga and anime.
(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
At first glance, Monster doesn’t appear that deep (it is for young viewers, after all). Based on a manga of the same name, the story revolves around the relationship between studious Shizuku Mizutani and maladjusted (but thoughtful and vulnerable) truant Haru Yoshida. Though melodramatic and often childish, the introspection of individual characters in quiet moments as they search for meaningful friendships makes me think there’s more here than meets the eye. That, and there are quite a few examples of walkable neighborhoods and social interaction spurring third places, so away we go!
In the frame above, Shizuku is leaving the game center (batting cages, pachinko, etc.) where Haru seems to be a regular.
Later, the two begin to warm to each other at a burger joint, though Haru’s surly companions aren’t doing much to enhance the encounter.
Shizuku and Haru connect after she convinces him to seek friends that are supportive and considerate of his needs.
Shizuku takes a break from studying to go on a date with Haru. Here the two walk on a protected sidewalk built into a reinforced river embankment (土手).
The grocery where Shizuku works part-time places its more colorful offerings into the front opening and out onto the sidewalk to catch the attention of passers-by.
Students walk to school.
Third wheel Asako Natsume, who is seeking a tutor, tags along on a subsequent outing.
The three continue Asako’s consultation at a nearby park.
Asako tests the limits of Shizuku’s patience during an all-night study cram session in the game center’s lounge.
K continues where it left off, with lots of running around Shibuya. Here is a great aerial shot of the Shibuya Station complex and bus lanes.
I’m squeezing this in while attending New York Comic Con, so please forgive me for again leaving you with a wall of screen shots. There’s lots to talk about in this show and I promise we’ll dig into all of it.
Center Gai (I refuse to call it Basketball Street)