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.
(たまこまーけっと Tamako Māketto)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
This week saw a rather remarkable (to me, at least) sequence of events during and after the episode 6 broadcast. During the 1:00am Kyoto broadcast, whoever had access to the Twitter account for the Masugata Shōtengai (桝形商店街), @kyoto_masugata—the real life shopping arcade that is the model for Usagiyama Shōtengai—started live tweeting observations about places that appeared. Immediately after the broadcast, @kaga_ywyk set out on a “real-time” pilgrimage, tromping around Kyoto in the cold and dark, tweeting the new locations that appeared in the episode as he found them. I’m not sure what was more astounding, him running around at 2:00am or all of the people on Twitter staying up to follow along and egg him on. The next day, others pilgrims local to Kyoto went to confirm those locations by the light of day. I did a double take when I saw that the Masugata Shōtengai was communicating with several of them via Twitter, helping with directions and place identification. But it gets even better. Several out-of-town pilgrims made their way by train to Kyoto on Friday afternoon and evening. As they arrived in the city, they began communicating with each other via Twitter, realizing that they were all closing in on the same places. I didn’t catch whether it was preplanned, but a group of Kyoto locals and visitors, all Tamako Market fans, ended up converging at 喫茶 華波 ・ BAR 華波様楽, the bar/cafe in Masugata Shōtengai that was the inspiration for Tamako Market‘s Stars and Clowns (星とピエロ) record/coffee shop.
In my work with Third Place Media I try to find ways to jump start engagement between people in communities. I want to be able to open channels of communication so that local government, businesses and residents can all exchange useful information about their needs and interests. If need be, I produce materials like films, photo and written content to give them something to talk about and get the conversations started. I had a neat conversation with Erica Friedman (@Yuricon) several weeks ago about anime pilgrimages. We were trying to figure out what the triggers the behavior, as I think understanding that could be a powerful tool to incorporate into my approach. She pointed out that engaging with the work, be it manga, anime or other, is the essence of being an otaku. She continued, “If you can’t write or draw or make AMVs or cosplay, at least you can make a pilgrimage and see the actual location. It’s another way to connect to do more than just read/watch.” I added that there’s something about emotional ties to place that drives some of the incredibly dedicated pilgrimages we see.
It’s my heartfelt belief that everyone, ultimately, craves places imbued with meaning. This is why we travel somewhere like Kyoto, or Venice, or Cairo, or whenever we find something unique and interesting. I think that all communities can have their own magic. Perhaps not on the same scale of some famous neighborhoods and cities, but meaningful in local context. In order to pull those unique things out of the fabric of a community, people need to talk openly and often. I’m still very early in figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, I think a combination of live events, marketing and social media will be the baseline approach, but if I find something out there that can light a fire under people and get them to jump into engagement activities without hesitation, I’m going to run with it as far as I can. It’s probably not feasible to have every neighborhood shopping district made into an internationally popular animated show, but watching all of this activity in Kyoto unfold spontaneously, in real time, pretty much blew my mind. I’m still twitching. Let’s move onto the show.
Tamako washes the neighborhood bodhisattva.
She notices that in the heat of summer, footfall in the shōtengai drops to nearly nothing at midday.
At the bath house, she proposes a “chilling” haunted house as a promotional event to attract people to the arcade.
Plans are refined at Stars and Clowns, the record shop/cafe.
The bath house’s unused storage space is donated to the cause.
An announcement is made over the PA in the shōtengai to donate cardboard and other needed materials.
The adults begin to see mysterious and chilling sights, such as will-o’-the-wisps in the shōtengai and a bloody salaryman on a pedestrian overcrossing over the canal.
Advertisements for the haunted house go up.
The event is successful. The genuinely frightened shop owners spreading their own fears around the neighborhood increases interest in the haunted house.
At the after party, Kanna reveals that she had contrived the “ghost” sightings.
Her plan is hatched at the intersection of Imadegawa-dōri and Teramachi-dōri.
This overcrossing is just north of Fujinomori Station (藤森駅).
An unexpected entrant this week, Mangirl! (portmanteau of manga and girl) is a series of manic, 3 minute shorts based on a 4-koma comic strip about a group of young women trying to launch a manga magazine. This episode has them barreling across Japan to research settings for incorporation in pieces drawn by their star mangaka.
The itinerary is loaded with famous venues across the country, as well all of the transit choices needed to get to them.
They start out leaving Tokyo on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen (東海道新幹線) bound for Kyoto.
Kyoto Station (京都駅)
Kobe Naval Training Center (神戸海軍操練所)
The Indiana Jones style route map features a Shinkansen instead of airplane. The animator has conveniently included the “N700” model number on the side of the cars. This leg is Kobe to Hiroshima, so Sanyō Shinkansen (山陽新幹線).
Tomo no ura (鞆の浦)
Night bus to Kagoshima (鹿児島)
Shiobitashi Onsen (塩浸温泉)
One of the lines of the Nagasaki Electric Tramway (長崎電気軌道)
(〜ダ・カーポ III〜 Da Kāpo III)
Lots of time in the Sakura Shōtengai this week. Kiyotaka runs into Sakura while shopping.
An astute observer, Twitter user @yutonyanBT, discovered these signs indicating the pedestrian only hours for a street in Onomichi that are an identical match to those in this show. While I wasn’t able to do much digging, I did pull up these blog posts (1 and 2) from a fan pilgrimage to Onomichi for the 2005 anime Kamichu! Though the croissant-shaped island in Da Capo III is clearly made-up, many of the scenes in the show bear striking resemblance to photographs of Onomichi.
Later, Ricca engineers some quality time with Kiyotaka with an evening stroll in the shōtengai.
(さくら荘のペットな彼女 Sakura-sō no Petto na Kanojo)
Sorata, Nanami and Mashiro walk to Suimei High School to check Yūko’s entrance exam result.
I have a hunch that Suimei might be modeled after the Ikuta campus of either Meiji University or Senshu University, but haven’t been able to determine if that holds any water.
In a flashback, Jin and Fūka argue at a playground as train passes overhead.
Later, they’re on the pedestrian overcrossing above the train right-of-way.
Everyone walks back to Sakura Dormitory.
The Heroine meets Ukyō on a pedestrian overcrossing in Ikebukuro.
Ikki speaks with the Heroine while standing beside the tracks of the Toden Arakawa Line (都電荒川線) in front of her apartment.
The staff of Hitsuji no Meido is headed again on the retreat to Shinano (信濃), Nagano Prefecture. In this iteration, they take not the Shinkansen but a long distance bus, departing from the terminal at Shinjuku Station (新宿駅).
(絶園のテンペスト Zetsuen no Tenpesuto)
Hakaze battles Hanemura in Yokohama (横浜), specifically the Minato Mirai (みなとみらい21) central business district on the bay. The crescent shaped building is part of the InterContinental Hotel. The Ferris wheel is Cosmo Clock 21.
The skyscraper on the right is the Yokohama Landmark Tower (横浜ランドマークタワ), the third highest building in Japan.
“Kotoura Station” modeled on Urayasu Station (浦安駅)
(ラブライブ! Rabu Raibu!)
As part of a competition to determine the group’s leader, everyone goes to Akihabara (秋葉原) to pass out promotional flyers. Check out my photo-essay on Akihabara, published yesterday.