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.
(中二病でも恋がしたい! Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!)
This week opens with everyone meeting at Keihan Ishiyama Station to accompany Rikka on a trip to her hometown. This station, in the heart of the commercial center of Ōtsu, is a hop, skip and jump away from Kyōto.
Rikka hasn’t given a detailed explanation of why she needs friends to come with her, but it’s clear that something is troubling her.
The destination is “Higashi Hamami” Station (modeled after Higashi Mihama Station on the JR West Obama Line). Otaku Pilgrimages has already made it out to Fukui Prefecture to take some photographs. That guy/girl is quick! The students would have had to have changed trains at least twice, possibly in Kyoto, though there are a few possible routes. The train interior featured in the episode is most likely the Thunderbird or Shirasagi limited express.
On this late night bike/rollerskate-shoes ride through Mikata District and along the shoreline of Wakasa Bay, Rikka reveals to Yūta the internal strife she masks with her peculiar behavior.
The eerie glowing points on the horizon are actually fishing boat navigational lights through the fog. Rikka claims to have seen an image of her father just beyond this line after he passed away, and believes him to still be waiting there for her, if only she could break the boundary between them. For the first time, Yūta understands that the fantasy world she has created is actually a coping mechanism to insulate her from the trauma of her father’s death, abandonment by her mother and loss of her childhood home. As an American raised on Disney and Looney Tunes, it’s still easy for me to underestimate animation as a medium for exploring serious, real world issues and conflict. Shows like Chūnibyō are what draw me to anime. The use of detailed settings and nuanced storytelling are communications strategies that I’d like to make signature features of the work I do through my startup, Third Place Media.
Neko creates an optical illusion to help Yashiro escape from his pursuers. What better place to simulate than the scramble crossing in front of Shibuya Station when all vehicle traffic has red signals and the intersection floods with people.
(神様はじめました Kamisama Hajimemashita)
The Bell of Time (時の鐘 Toki no kane) makes its first in-show appearance.
Nanami has begun to fall for Tomoe. To get closer to him, she diverts them from their normal route directly returning to the shrine, dragging him around to see the Kawagoe city sights.
The yellow train in the foreground is the Seibu Shinjuku Line, which would take you from Kawagoe into Tokyo via Seibu Shinjuku Station, or via Ikebukuro Station with a transfer to the Seibu Ikebukuro Line.
I think this is supposed to be the aquarium at Sunshine City, Seibu’s entertainment complex near Ikebukuro Station.
Which would make this the observation deck atop Sunshine 60, the highrise at the center of of the Seibu development. Did you notice how much the Seibu name pops up? Private rail companies in Japan are frequently owned by conglomerates that operate a portfolio of businesses, including commercial and residential assets. The business strategy is to maximize the productive value of the rail right-of-way by building multiple use complexes (generally retail, food and entertainment) above and around transit stations, particularly large hubs, to generate additional revenue streams. Co-locating these with transit creates built-in foot traffic for the complexes, but the quality of the offerings is also a competitive differentiator that may influence an individual’s choice of rail line when multiple options are available. It’s a really interesting facet of transit oriented development and is one of the reasons I think Japan, at least in the Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka megalopolis, has a much more sophisticated market compared to the US and many other countries.
These two articles are good overviews of the rail-retail ecosystem in Tokyo:
(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
Shizuku and others make a trip to the central business district to pick up materials needed for the school cultural festival.
In the park, boys from another school plead with Asako to share tickets to the festival.
Shizuku’s home is up on a hillside. She descends and climbs an extensive public staircase each day. Moderate exercise built into daily routines is one of the reasons why people in Japan, Europe and other countries that have not engineered personal physical activity out of mobility do not deal with the severe public health threat of obesity as in the US.
(コード: ブレイカー Kōdo:Bureikā)
Super wide, guardrail protected and tree shaded sidewalk
Lively evening street
(好きっていいなよ。 Suki-tte Ii na yo.)
Mei and Yamato walk to and from school, but not much for us to dig into this week.
(サイコパス Saiko Pasu)
Akane meets with friends at the cafe from previous episodes, but not much for us to dig into this week.
(絶園のテンペスト Zetsuen no Tenpesuto)
I had a hunch that Mahiro and Yoshino’s hometown was in Fujisawa, but most of this show is set in post-apocalyptic ruins and without recognizable landmarks I couldn’t be sure this wasn’t a generic seaside town. In Yoshino’s flashback, the sidewalk stretching along the shore of the Sagami Bay between Enoshima and Kamakura is quickly apparent.