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!)
I’m sad to report that this is the last episode of Chūnibyō, but let’s hope that there will be another great transit laden and non-Tokyo-centric show coming in the near future.
The attendant explains that the last train won’t make it to his destination before the line shuts down for the night.
He sets out on bicycle, headed to the Wakasa Bay coast in Fukui Prefecture. That’s about a 60 mile trip, quite a haul.
After retrieving Rikka and escaping from her grandfather, who mistakes him for a burglar, Yūta takes Rikka back to the water to observe the fishing boat lights that she has associated with her desperation to see her late father.
Yūta urges Rikka to speak to her father.
Closure found, they continue their escape from the local police, who have caught up to them.
Riding off toward the horizon is a well worn TV and film trope. In this usage, I wonder how the ratio of cars to alternate transportation stacks up from country to country.
(好きっていいなよ。 Suki-tte Ii na yo.)
Megumi often tries to curry favor by treating others to meals and entertainment. Here at the karaoke parlor, others see through her actions and abandon her. This is a good example of how third place is just as much about people and relationships as it is about physical venue.
Megumi takes the train home, with tail between her legs.
Time for a quick stop at the neighborhood konbini.
Mei rushes out the door for a date with Yamato.
Hachiōji Station (八王子駅)
Chūō Line (中央本線)
In a dream, Mei has a flashback of attending a matsuri (祭) with her family.
(となりの怪物くん Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun)
Haru and Shizuku continue their discussion at the bus stop.
Haru and Natsume sample a local taiyaki stand. In many parts of Japan, it’s considered rude to eat or drink while walking, so you’ll see a bench or stools placed outside small shops so that patrons can enjoy a snack while it’s still hot.
With everyone on break for the winter holiday, strolling and being part of the scene around town are the orders of the day.
On new year’s eve, Sasayan calls to remind the others not to sleep through the night. It’s time for hatsumōde (初詣), the first shrine or temple visit of the new year. The associated Ōmisoka (大晦日 new year eve) and Shōgatsu (正月 first few days of new year) celebrations are but one type of traditional Japanese festivals, or matsuri. At times like these, shrines and temples become the social focal points of the neighborhoods in which they reside.
Throughout the evening, the temple rings its bell 108 times, a symbolic number of multiple elements within Buddhist belief.
For a small fee, you can purchase paper fortunes from vendors at the festival.
If your fortune is less than auspicious, you are to tie it to a nearby fence to prevent it from coming to pass.
Everyone ends the night waiting on the roof of the batting center to watch the sun rise over the city.
(神様はじめました Kamisama Hajimemashita)
On a trip into town, Nanami discovers that the residents of Kawagoe (川越) have the perception that the shrine is abandoned and haunted. It’s no wonder they have so few visitors.
Seibu Shinjuku Line (西武新宿線)
Though we’ve seen much of Kawagoe, parts of Tokyo and the interior of the shrine, this episode is really the first to focus entirely on the shrine grounds. Here, Nanami stands under the torii (鳥居), the gate found at the entrance to Shinto shrines.
This is the chōzuya, a fountain of water used for purification of hands and mouth before prayer.
Saisenbako (賽銭箱), offering box
Haiden (拝殿), hall for worship and ceremonies
Nanami decides the solution to Mikage Shrine’s image problem is to hold a special matsuri to attract new visitors. It’s definitely the week of matsuri in anime. She hands out flyers in Kawagoe’s historic district.
Tomoe pulls out ornate robes and begins training Nanami to perform kagura (神楽) as part of the planned festival. These are theatrical Shinto ritual dances, credited as being a primary influence in the development of Noh (能) theater. The kanji for kagura is the same as in the Kagurazaka neighborhood in Tokyo.
An acquaintance of Lord Mikage wants to put Nanami to one final test. He (she?) casts a cloud of miasma (瘴気 shōki) over the shrine. Though we have since dispelled the belief of miasma theory as a disease and decay transmitter, the modern abstract meaning of a depleting or corrupting atmosphere is an interesting parallel between what has happened to Mikage Shrine and what happens in our own public space. Early in the episode, Tomoe notes that shrines which have been left unattended by their god tend to attract miasma. They fall into disrepair and become uninviting places, driving away would be visitors, reinforcing the cycle of decline. The same thing happens in our streets and neighborhoods when some force (politics, budgets, crime, etc.) causes a place lose its spark. People avoid it, leading to more neglect and deterioration. Someone has to step in and take proactive measures to stop the slide and begin again, as Nanami has tried to do here.
Nanami desperately tries to clear the miasma, but with her limited divine powers is unsuccessful and runs away in frustration. We’ll have to tune in next time to see how it ends.
(コード: ブレイカー Kōdo:Bureikā)
Hitomi’s attacks around Japan begin.
Ogami watches the attack begin from the National Route 6 bridge crossing the Sumida River. This is the same place he had met Hitomi in the flashback during the previous episode.
Tokyo Skytree (東京スカイツリー)
Everyone has figured out that Hitomi is holding the prime minister atop a broadcasting tower, but they can’t determine which. A nationwide search begins. (It’d be too easy to just check Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree first, right?) This is Sapporo TV Tower (さっぽろテレビ塔).
I haven’t yet seen an announcement from one of the US based simulcast services, but I’m hoping we get to see the upcoming Tamako Market, about a young girl, cooking and her local shōtengai (商店街). The Usagiyama shōtengai in the story is based on the actual Masugata shōtengai in Kyoto.
Official website: http://tamakomarket.com/