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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.

Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

(中二病でも恋がしたい! Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

As with last season’s Tari Tari, I think Chūnibyō is going to be the show to watch for a massive dose of trains and real place based animation. Writing for Crunchyroll, Scott Green tells us that the same fan who made a pilgrimage to Enoshima and Fujisawa to film the locations featured in Tari Tari, YouTube user tskobaya, has done the same for Chūnibyō, which is set in Ōtsu, the capital of Shiga Prefecture.

As with Tari Tari, another fan (@lidges on Twitter, blog) is maintaining a Google Map with pins noting the locations depicted in the show.

My favorite anime place blog, Otaku Pilgrimages for Anime places, has also made a trip to Ōtsu to compare the animation with the actual locations here, here and here.

Opening Credits

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

The opening credits feature a grade level railroad crossing (踏切 fumikiri) and the train station ticket gate (改札口 kaisatsuguchi) at Keihan Ishiyama Station, which is served by the Keihan Ishiyama Sakamoto Line. Ishiyama Station, served by the JR West Biwako Line, is part of the same complex.

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Episode 1

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

The rolling stock is the Keihan 700 Series train.

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Students commute to high school on foot and via public transit.

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Anō Station

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Episode 2

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Episode 4

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Keihan Ishiyama Station

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Episode 5

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Walking path atop the riverside embankment (土手 dote)

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Episode 6

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Fumikiri near Anō Station

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai! Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!

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Episode 3

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This far in to the show, I still haven’t quite figured out where the plot is going, but the beautiful artwork and richly detailed settings will keep me in for the long haul! The Homra clan’s headquarters is a pub on a back street in Shibuya, Tokyo.

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The bar itself is antique, imported in whole from England. It’s interesting to think about the fact that, in the midst of the gleaming modern metropolis of future Tokyo, the proprietor Izumo has gone to such great lengths to preserve part of the past. What is it about these classic materials and designs that comforts us, and how can we incorporate the idea of preservation into modern design and architecture?

Episode 4

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Contactless payment system with IC cards and mobile phones as wallets, which functions exactly as the present-day Suica/PASMO system in Tokyo.

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Episode 5

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Pedestrian overcrossings galore

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Episode 6

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Yashiro’s favorite hole-in-the-wall meal

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The owner keeps Polaroid snapshots of the regulars

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I still can’t place this bookstore. The obvious guess would be somewhere in Jinbōchō, but chime in if you recognize the location!

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Kamisama Kiss

(神様はじめました Kamisama Hajimemashita)

Opening Credits

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

The opening credits make clear the show’s setting in Kawagoe, a city in Saitama Prefecture famous for its sweet potatoes (in Nanami’s hand, above) and preserved (and still functional) Edo period castle town structures, particularly traditional kurazukuri (蔵造り) style warehouses (also above).

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

The Bell of Time (時の鐘 Toki no kane), originally finished in 1644 and rebuilt in 1894 after burning down, is perhaps the most well know symbol of the city and features prominently on its tourism marketing collateral.

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Sweet potato ice cream!

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

The premise of the show is that Nanami unwittingly assumes the position of the land god of a local Shinto shrine, and must balance this with her desire to be a regular high school student. Complicating matters are the various yōkai (ghosts or phantoms from Japanese folklore) she must contend with, including those that support her as well as adversaries. Hijinks and hilarity ensue.

Episode 1

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

The yellow Seibu Shinjuku Line express train makes regular appearances, both in the background and during setting changes.

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

The hand-drawn map that Mikage gives to Nanami shows the location of the shrine where she is to go to stay, using the intersection of the Seibu Shinjuku Line and Tōbu Tōjō Line as a reference point. Based on this map and a quick flyover in Google Maps, it looks that the Senba Tōshō-gū Shrine may have been the inspiration for “Mikage Shrine”. That’s the only one in the general area that sits atop a forested hill, though there are several other shrines nearby.

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Nanami goes briefly to the yōkai world to retrieve her servant, Tomoe, from the red light district.

Episode 2

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Outside of the core castle town (and primary tourist destination), the city has a more modern face, though there are still old wooden homes and warehouses mixed in.

Episode 3

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

More sweet potato ice cream.

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Episode 4

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Episode 5

Kamisama Hajimemashita Kamisama Kiss

Say “I love you”

(好きっていいなよ。 Suki-tte Ii na yo.)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

See this comparison of frames from the animation with recent photographs.

Episode 1

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

The setting is Hachiōji, a city in Tokyo Prefecture but outside of the 23 special wards commonly considered the core of Tokyo.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Chūō Line

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

The protagonist Mei walks through a residential neighborhood to her part-time job at a bakery.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Mei is followed by a male customer after she finishes work, but the neighborhood konbini provides a shelter while she calls for help.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Yamato comes to rescue her, and makes it clear to the man that she is off limits to him…

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

…in a very dramatic fashion. Now would be a good time to mention that this story is aimed at a female audience, though I think the guys will enjoy it as well.

Episode 2

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Karaoke in Japan is a bit different from what we think of happening in the US. There is no singing in a large room in front of strangers. The setting is much more private and intimate, meant to be experienced with friends, and the music is really secondary to social engagement. It’s very much a third place.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Mei’s dream of a morning commute with Yamato features a true to life rendering of Hachiōji Station.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Chūō Line E233 Series train

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

The real life Excelsior Cafe (chain coffee shop) is inside the station.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Episode 3

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

All of these pedestrian streets and plazas are located around Hachiōji Station.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

Episode 5

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

The sidewalk in Yamato’s neighborhood is at the same grade as the street and painted green.

Suki-tte Ii na yo. Say "I love you"

My Little Monster

(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)

Episode 3

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

The Misawa Batting Center is clearly the third place of choice for Haru and his friends.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Evening stroll

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Episode 4

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Even after nightfall, the neighborhood around the batting center remains lively.

Episode 5

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Students walking to school

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Shizuku walking with Haru’s older brother Yūzan

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Still walking with Yūzan

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

More walking with Yūzan. In this sequence, and throughout the show, one can’t help be struck by how much of the story takes place while the players are walking. They have rich public spaces and pedestrian infrastructure that allows them to move around the city at will.

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Episode 6

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun My Little Monster

Code:Breaker

(コード: ブレイカー Kōdo:Bureikā)

Episode 1

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Vigilante justice, paranormal activity and awkward dialog. While I’m not really feeling the story in Code:Breaker, it does regularly feature transit use and public space in Tokyo.

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Episode 2

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Shopping district (商店街 shotengai)

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Shibuya scramble crossing

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Shibuya Station

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Neighborhood police box (交番 kōban)

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

The statue of an Akita in the back is Hachikō, and serves as a well-known landmark for meeting others when arriving in Shibuya.

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Episode 3

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Shotengai

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Episode 4

Kōdo:Bureikā Code:Breaker

Pedestrian overcrossing

Psycho-Pass

(サイコパス Saiko Pasu)

Episode 1

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

If you’ve ever wanted to see a dystopian cyberpunk mashup of Minority Report, Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, this show might be for you. What I really love about this genre is how it captures both the gleaming perfection of our idealized future urban environments, along with the gritty spaces between that cling to the past. The shadows provide havens to those who don’t buy into the idea that every square inch of civilization must be designed and controlled to death. They remain as the last organic, self-organizing pockets of human activity–good, bad and ugly. This is the sort of thing I sense a little when walking around a place like Hong Kong or Osaka, and is how I imagine many of our cities will look long after many iterations of the global urbanization shift already in motion.

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Look at all of the cars! Apparently, we’ve still not solved this problem.

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Holograms are used extensively to represent or alter the appearance of everything from people to places and things, making it difficult to discern what is still real from that which is simulated.

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

A remaining hangover of “real” Tokyo.

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Episode 2

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Cafe culture is still alive and well, if a bit too bright and shiny.

Episode 4

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

Roppongi looks… more or less what Roppongi looks like today.

Episode 5

Saiko Pasu PSYCHO-PASS

OniAi

(お兄ちゃんだけど愛さえあれば関係ないよねっ Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankei Nai yo ne!)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

See this comparison of frames from the animation with recent photographs.

Episode 1

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Yamanote Line E231-500 series train

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

“Next is Mejiro!” The LCD displays in the Yamanote Line train cars do look just like that. It cycles through several types of information, and on this screen is showing the car number, next station, which cars will line up with stairwells and elevators when the train stops at the platform, and other lines to which transfer is available.

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Ticket gate at Mejiro Station

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Hand-drawn map includes the train station and tracks as a reference point

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Neighborhood police box (交番 kōban)

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Shotengai

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

Onii-chan dakedo Ai sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne!

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

(さくら荘のペットな彼女 Sakura-sō no Petto na Kanojo)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

See this comparison of frames from the animation with recent photographs.

Episode 1

Sakura-sō no Pet na Kanojo The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall

Fumikiri

Sakura-sō no Pet na Kanojo The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall

Shotengai

Sakura-sō no Pet na Kanojo The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall

Sakura-sō no Pet na Kanojo The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall

Sakura-sō no Pet na Kanojo The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall

Sorata meets Mashiro at Mukōgaoka-Yūen Station, served by the Odakyū Odawara Line

Sakura-sō no Pet na Kanojo The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall

Sakura-sō no Pet na Kanojo The Pet Girl of Sakura Hall

Blast of Tempest

(絶園のテンペスト Zetsuen no Tenpesuto)

Episode 3

Zetsuen no Tenpesuto Blast of Tempest

Zetsuen no Tenpesuto Blast of Tempest

Sword Art Online

(ソードアート・オンライン Sōdo Āto Onrain)

Fan Pilgrimage Update

See this comparison of frames from the animation with recent photographs.

Opening Credits

Sōdo Āto Onrain Sword Art Online

In the new version of the opening credits, beginning at Episode 15, which reflect the escape from the prison of the virtual reality game Sword Art Online, we finally learn in what part of Japan Kirito lives. Here he stands in front of Tokorozawa Station in Saitama Prefecture, served by the Seibu Ikebukuro Line and Seibu Shinjuku Line.

Sōdo Āto Onrain Sword Art Online