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.
Media and General Interest
Ōarai Garupan collaboration
The bus company, the town itself and convenience store chain Sunkus have all actively promoted the series’ showcasing of real places from around the town. Though outside of the Tōhoku region, Ōarai still sustained substantial amounts of damage and remained submerged for some time after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the eastern part of Japan. It’s very heartening to observe how the the town has not only bounced back, but is so very proud that its neighborhoods are being “visited” by broadcast television viewers. Scott Green has been covering much of this activity at Crunchyroll News.
This use of real communities in animation and the interplay between them is something I don’t observe much in US pop culture. Do you think there’s a market for this here?
(中二病でも恋がしたい! Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!)
Rikka can’t bear to stay at her hometown after the confrontation with sister Toka, and flees back to Ōtsu by late evening train. Here she waits for the JR West Obama Line to stop at Higashi Mihama Station.
This is the 125 series EMU (electric multiple unit) train, manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
The several hour trip home affords Rikka and Yūta quiet time to talk openly about personal matters without distraction. It marks an inflection point in their developing relationship.
Which really isn’t that bad when you can enjoy them while admiring city lights reflected on the water from a riverside park.
(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
Haru and Shizuku stroll down a narrow residential street. Notice the narrow shoulder, “missing” sidewalk, and how they use the center of the street when no cars are present. In Japan, on a street this size cars are expected to proceed with caution. Cars, bicyclists and people all share and yield the same space to each other as appropriate. In a blog post this week, Danny Choo shares photos of streets like this around his neighborhood in Musashikoyama. He makes an interesting comment about how novel this seemed to him when he first moved from the UK to Tokyo, as he had been accustomed to significantly larger pavement area. (Sounds like another country I know.)
Though this stream cuts through a portion of the city, frequent use of foot crossings at regular intervals reflects the importance of pedestrian connectivity.
A new third place arrives this week. Sasayan and Asako hit the books at a sit down doughnut shop. (Perhaps inspired by Mister Donut?) When I was a visiting student at Hitotsubashi ICS we used to do the same at a place on Yasukuni-dōri in Jinbōchō called and on and, which served these over-the-top haute cuisine donuts. It was an attempt by Mister Donut parent company Duskin Co., Ltd. to go upmarket with a branded micro-chain (also here), though its website is no longer available so I’m not sure of its current fate. The setting was stylish, while remaining comfortable and low-key. The intent was for you to stay as long as desired and, hopefully, saunter back to the counter now and then for a caffeine and sugar replenishment.
Shizuku takes a public bus from the library back to her neighborhood.
(好きっていいなよ。 Suki-tte Ii na yo.)
Aiko gives Yamato a talking to on the pedestrian bridge crossing the waterway near school.
More small streets (see this week’s Monster, above)
The view from behind the counter reveals an important aspect of the bakery display strategy. The most eye catching goods are placed on the table directly in front of the large glass doors, where they are most visible to the foot traffic outside.
Simple designs built into the protective fence between sidewalk and road add character and functionality. For contrast, see Jersey barriers.
This is the part of the show where we’re supposed to go, “Awwwww.”
(コード: ブレイカー Kōdo:Bureikā)
Can you name this spot? After looking at a Tokyo map for 30 minutes I still can’t place it.
Pedestrian promenade along the waterway
Ample pedestrian lanes on both sides of this and many of the bridges that cross the river.
(ガールズ&パンツァー Gāruzu ando Pantsā)
This show highlights Ibaraki Prefecture port town Ōarai. We haven’t covered it here previously as much of the action takes place aboard a floating high school, though students occasionally take ferries back to town to visit their families. A trip back from visiting Mako’s grandmother at the hospital gives us an up close look at Kashima Rinkai Railway Ōarai Kashima Line, which runs from Mito Station to Kashima-Jingū Station. Rolling stock is the Kashima Rinkai Railway 6000 series DMU (diesel multiple unit).
Arrival at Ōarai Station
Konbini inside the station
A local bus operated by Ibaraki Kotsu takes them back to the dock to board a ferry.
(さくら荘のペットな彼女 Sakura-sō no Petto na Kanojo)
More shotengai this week
(ソードアート・オンライン Sōdo Āto Onrain)
When not logged into Alfheim Online, Kirito and Suguha move around by bus. Admittedly, not as cool as flying with fairy wings in virtual reality. The schedule indicates the bus destination is Shin-Tokorozawa Station east exit, but I couldn’t figure out the stop where the two board. SAO superfans with time to kill, your quest awaits.