Welcome to this week’s review of notable instances of transit, place and culture as rendered in anime currently broadcast in Japan and simulcast internationally via the web. For a detailed outline of the approach, please refer to the explanation in the inaugural issue. Links to streaming sources are included when available, though not all may have current episode available at the time this column is published.
(たまこまーけっと Tamako Māketto)
Watch: Anime Network
Google Map Update
A few new pins. Tallies updated.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@Yamatonomiya writes a brief report about the changeover to spring themed banners and decorations in Demachi Masugata Shōtengai (出町桝形商店街). New banners include a poster of the key visual from Tamako Market:
@los_endos_ snapped a few more photos of the same:
I was pretty floored by this from the shōtengai official Twitter account (@kyoto_masugata):
It includes the most common keywords and hashtags used by anime pilgrims to promote the local spring matsuri, which was featured in an earlier episode. The person managing the account is very social media savvy.
The cherry blossom wave is making its way through Kyoto, and @ye_bi_su got a great picture of the sakura along the canal near Fujinomori Station, which we saw in earlier episodes:
Kiyotaka Moriwaki (@mk_pai) returned to Kyoto Animation the Tamako poster that had lived in the Museum of Kyoto for the past few months, now enhanced with a few fan notes and doodles:
All things must come to an end. In the last episode we get a review of all the familiar places around the Demachi (出町) neighborhood in Kyoto, and a few new corners.
Shop owners convene at the usual social hub, the bath house, to pepper the prince with questions.
The commotion has left the shōtengai empty and shutters closed at midday. It’s a trigger for Tamako, as the only other time she can remember a similar scene was the day her mother passed away.
Dera presses Tamako for a response to her suitor’s appearance in town. She launches into the story of her experience growing up in the shōtengai. She remembers running errands at a very early age and learning to interact with the shopkeepers. When she began attending (and walking to) school, they would send her off in the morning and welcome her back in the evening. She notes how the lively and friendly atmosphere in the shōtengai gives one the feeling of attending a festival, every single day. This place and everyone in it are the most precious parts of her life. At this juncture, nothing and no one could make her give that up.
Once the marriage candidate business is over and done with, the prince returns to visit the shōtengai, now back in the swing of business.
He also makes a comment about the festival-like sensation of being in the shopping arcade.
A final convening at the cafe.
Usagiyama Shōtengai prepares for New Year.
Mochizo finally avoids being thwarted in delivering a birthday gift to Tamako. The narrow lane between the mochi shops is more front porch than street-like.
I had an interesting though completely unscientific observation about reactions to the series as a whole. Westerners writing about Tamako Market occasionally got hung up about the lack of more prominent relationship development, conflict and resolution, such as between Tamako and Mochizo. The Japanese audience was more inclined to accept it as simply a story about a place, the many relationships between the people in it, and the everyday events that happen there, the bread and butter of the slice-of-life genre. While there’s nothing wrong in having a preference for certain kinds of narrative elements, I wonder if the divide speaks to broader cultural lenses. I try to use blanket statements sparingly, but it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that Westerners, in aggregate, would be more likely to look at things from the perspective of individuals (especially those with whom they most identify), while Japanese (other group oriented East Asian cultures, as well) would have a wider aperture that includes setting and community. It’s important, because if those biases exist, they have implications for urban planning, especially investment in infrastructure, public space and other commons. I’ll stop there before I get too many people fired up, but what’s your take?
You can count on two things almost always being present in a series finale: melodramatic farewells, and trains. Rita is headed back to England, so it’s a flight out of Narita for her.
Jin and Nanami are going to Osaka, on the Tōkaidō Shinkansen (東海道新幹線).
The display on the side of the car isn’t clear, so we can’t tell what service it is. Would have been cute if it was a Hikari (ひかり), for which Sorata named the one cat that he doesn’t give away.
700 series Shinkansen
Misaki drops the remaining residents back at Mukōgaoka-Yūen Station (向ヶ丘遊園駅), near Sakura Dormitory.
I think you know what this is.
(ラブライブ! Rabu Raibu!)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
The Chūō Line (中央本線) makes a brief appearance.
Digital advertising displays in Akihabara Station (秋葉原駅).
(絶園のテンペスト Zetsuen no Tenpesuto)
Mahiro and Yoshino leave Tokyo for Fujisawa, so this is either the Odakyū Odawara Line (小田急小田原線) or Odakyū Enoshima Line (小田急江ノ島線) Both trains are needed for this route and have rolling stock with similar blue markings. Were you to make this trip in real life, you wouldn’t actually see what’s depicted in the show as neither leg passes near the coast.
We pickup from last week, boarding the train for a trip to a beach town. The destination isn’t identified, but as with many Tokyo-located show, somewhere in Kanagawa is always a usual suspect.
They’re in a green car, so reserved seating and more legroom.
(〜ダ・カーポ III〜 Da Kāpo III)
Sakura must leave, but the newspaper club asks her where she wants to spend her last day with them. Her answer: the shōtengai. A girl after my own heart.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
So far, I’ve only mentioned pilgrimages (聖地巡礼 seichijunrei) that relate directly to shows currently broadcasting, but this is only a subset of all the activity going on, to say nothing of the libraries of material about past shows created by the more prolific pilgrims. A few interesting bits caught my attention this week:
@paffue published a post covering Jinbōchō (神保町), which appeared in the February 2013 original video animation of Joshiraku (じょしらく). A full TV season had aired in Summer 2012. Jinbōchō isn’t notable for much other than having a lot of book stores, but it has special meaning for me as that’s where I lived when I was a student in Japan. It was fun to see the subway station and buildings that I used to walk past everyday, and the Fujiya market where I did most of my grocery shopping. The OVA and TV series from Read or Die have story lines set in Jinbōchō, and it’s the location of protagonist Yomiko Readman’s home. For me, I guess it’s a little taste of what it might feel like for the many viewers in Japan who see their neighborhood or familiar places regularly featured in animated works.
@kaga_ywyk found this paper analyzing anime pilgrimage behavior, by Dr. Hiyoshi Yoshitani, a professor at Komatsu University. It linked to a similar paper by Dr. Yoshitani from 2012 that includes special focus on pilgrimages to Yuwaku for the show Hanasaku Iroha. Both are beyond my ability to understand in depth, but sounds like he would be a fun professor to have ^_^