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.
(響け! ユーフォニアム Hibike! Yūfoniamu)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
As I settled in for this premiere—and watched my feeds for chatter and activity in the hours and days following the broadcast—it struck me that it felt as if it had been a while since the last time there was this much collective excitement from the pop culture tourism community with regard to a Kyoto Animation work. Tamako Love Story was a wonderful film, though we were all very well acquainted with the Demachi Masugata Shōtengai and other settings by then. The second seasons of Chūnibyō and Free! made some interesting excursions to locations off the beaten path, but their main settings were, for the most part, revisits to the initial installments. Amaburi was set almost entirely on the grounds of a fictional amusement park. It hasn’t been since Kyōkai no Kanata in 2013 Fall that we really had the opportunity to deeply explore unknown places. At the time of the broadcast, most of Kashihara hadn’t even been covered with Google Street View, harkening back to the days when butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting) was truly an adventure into uncharted territory.
Hibike! Euphonium takes us to Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, close to Kyoto City and well known among the fan community as the location of the Kyoto Animation studio, but otherwise unfamiliar and ripe for discovery. One wonders what kinds of self-referential gags they may have planned, like when Konata dragged everyone on a pilgrimage to the studio in Lucky Star. I’d be tempted to draw myself into the background, walking to work in the morning. We shall wait and see. In the meantime, the rapid burst of butaitanbou activity in the days after the broadcast, par for the course for most Kyoto Animation and P.A.Works series, sparked a lively discussion over Twitter among the community about whether being the first or fastest discoverer was the default metric by which to determine success in this kind of pursuit, or if other factors were equally meaningful. By nature of the medium, it was/is an open ended discussion, but the general themes that emerged were that it was ultimately up to the individual to determine his own motivation, and measure against that. For some, the notoriety that comes with speed is what drives them. Others are invested in the emotional content of the work, and reserve pilgrimage for the places they felt most meaningful in the context of the story. Yet others maintain that butaitanbou or seichijunrei (聖地巡礼 holy land pilgrimage) is simply a vehicle by which they learn of new places to explore and experience. Once there, absorbing the atmosphere and culture of the place is prioritized over the painstaking framing of the actual cuts from the animation. There’s no right answer, just the one that’s right for you.
Fortunately for us observers, the fastest explorers are also among the most diligent and comprehensive investigators, and they’ve set the bar high for how to go about plowing through the mountains of beautiful animation:
@seki_saima (post), @etesuke (post 1, post 2), @kai881 (post), @kbt_tigers1985 (post), @thunder_cycle (post 1, post 2, post 3), and @mi_kawana (post 1, post 2, post 3) made pilgrimages to Uji, Kyoto Prefecture for Episode 1.
The clock sits in a pocket park facing the southern end of Uji Bridge (following frame).
Uji Bridge (宇治橋)
Overlooking Uji from Hadoyama Ryokuchi Park (羽戸山緑地)
River embankment (土手 dote) and high voltage lines to the southeast of Rokujizō Station (六地蔵駅)
Nagoya Congress Center (名古屋国際会議場)
Kyoto Concert Hall (京都コンサートホール)
Overlooking Uji from the summit of Buttokusan (仏徳山), also called Daikichiyama (大吉山), in Daikichiyamafuchi Park (大吉山風致公園)
Ajirogi no michi (あじろぎの道) is a cherry tree lined walking path along the Uji River.
As a side note for the cinematically-inclined, we can see in shots like this heavy use of simulated chromatic aberration (color fringing) and very shallow depth-of-field. To my memory, the first instance of these effects appeared in the experimental interlude scenes of Kyoto Animation’s Nichijou, also directed by Ishihara Tatsuya. They were used more extensively in Hyōka and, along with telephoto lens camera shake effect, have since become defining features of the Kyoto Animation aesthetic. It’s sometimes hard to believe this is broadcast anime, as the production values reach closer and closer to their more expensive feature film counterparts.
Todō Senior High School (莵道高校)
Rokujizō Station (六地蔵駅)
Wonderful attention to small details, such as the crossing signal button
IC transit card swipe. The PiTaPa (ピタパ) network is somewhat unusual in that it is post-paid and requires a credit check to open an account. Most other transit cards in Japan are prepaid, declining balance types. PiTaPa is interoperable with ICOCA and many smart transit cards from other major metropolitan areas.
Keihan 13000 series (京阪13000系) trainset operating on the Keihan Uji Line (京阪宇治線). I’ve asked friends to help with observing the mechanical sounds of the trains on the Uji Line for comparison with the sound effects track. In Tamako Love Story, the sounds of the train platforms in Kyoto Station were live, on-site recordings, not stock sound files.
Ajirogi no michi
The intersection where the manshon appears is south of Byōdō-in (平等院), however the structure itself comes from another location.
Uji Jinja (宇治神社)
Kyoto Prefectural Route 7, Kyoto-Uji (京都府道7号京都宇治線)
IC transit card swipe
Kumiko’s morning commute begins with boarding a train at Uji Station (宇治駅)—there are two, this is the Keihan Railway station.
Kumiko sits shoulder to shoulder with salarymen on their way to work. In her internal dialog throughout the episode, she wrestles with many common concerns of teenagers coming of age. But behaviors like unaccompanied use of public transit, shared by secondary school students everywhere in Japan, show a rather adult level of independence and interaction with the world relative to that of North American peers.
(長門有希ちゃんの消失 Nagato Yuki-chan no Shōshitsu)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
You may need to reset your brain for this one. Previous anime adaptations of manga Suzumiya Haruhi no Yūutsu and light novel Suzumiya Haruhi no Shōshitsu were produced by Kyoto Animation. Though the studio was just beginning to develop its own style at the time, the high level of detail that went into those settings and background art are of a completely different nature than the market standard package we will get from studio Satelight, based on a manga spinoff from the original light novel series. That said, this is still a nostalgic return to old stomping grounds for franchise fans, who remember the unexpected waves of otaku descending on Nishinomiya (西宮), Hyōgo Prefecture. Those Kyoto Animation productions generated one of the earliest instances of anime pop culture tourism with enough volume to become known outside of interest circles. At the time, many in Nishinomiya were caught off guard by the sudden attention, and not all visitors were met with open arms, particularly those visiting the public high school. Perhaps as a result of those experiences, the butaitanbou community has since established a set of norms about not disturbing sensitive areas of local communities, not widely sharing the locations of schools and purely residential areas, and generally being good ambassadors in their encounters with residents. Way back when I watched Haruhi, I had no idea I was seeing a real community, so I’m looking forward to revisiting the hallowed grounds in Hanshin.
Nishinomiya-Kita High School (西宮北高等学校)
Kōyōen Station (甲陽園駅)
Nagato still lives in the same manshon. Asakura humming the Hare Hare Yukai melody as she prepares dinner was a nice nod and wink.
Amagasaki Chūō Shōtengai (尼崎中央商店街)
Sanwa Hon-dōri Shōtengai (三和本通商店街). This shopping arcade, the multiple segments of the Amagasaki Chūō Shōtengai, and several other markets are clustered together and referred to collectively as Genki Machi (元気街), between two train stations at the center of Amagasaki.
The photo calendar in the butcher’s shop has an image of a slope in Kōyōen Honjō-chō (甲陽園本庄町), near the Kōyōen Elementary School (甲陽園小学校).
Kita-Shukugawa Bridge (北夙川橋)
Koshikiiwa Jinja Kita bus stop (越木岩神社北バス停)—formerly Shukugawa Tandaimae (旧夙川短大前)
Ginsui Bridge (銀水橋)
Konbini in the small commercial district surrounding Kōyōen Station (甲陽園駅)
Hinoike Park (樋之池公園)
Nishinomiya-Kita High School
(やはり俺の青春ラブコメはまちがっている。続 Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu Kome wa Machigatteiru. Zoku)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
This week picks up the second half of the students’ school trip to Kyoto. They begin at Tōei Uzumasa Eigamura (東映太秦映画村), also called Toei Kyoto Studio Park, a film set for production of jidaigeki (時代劇 period dramas).
Update 2015/04/14: Ryōan-ji (龍安寺)
Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大社)
Bamboo groves in Sagano
Togetsukyō Bridge (渡月橋)
Kyoto Station (京都駅)
(ハロー!! きんいろモザイク Harō!! Kin’iro Mozaiku)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
The second installment of Kinmoza quickly reviews the primary setting from the first season, but treads no new ground. As before, Fosse Farmhouse, located just outside Bath, England, is the model for the Cartalet home. The bed and breakfast is operated by Caron Cooper, who spends part of each year in Japan, teaching British cooking techniques and tea etiquette.
If you blinked, you might have missed the cute nod to Fosse on the jam jar.
Keisei-Usui Station (京成臼井駅) in Sakura (佐倉), Chiba Prefecture is the common meeting point for the cast each morning, before they board a train on their commute to school. Curiously, in the first season the actual train trips were never shown, but implied by the sequential appearance of Keisei-Usui Station and Mimomi Station.
All of the shots with students walking a tree shaded, protected sidewalk come from a stretch of road between Mimomi Station (実籾駅) and Mimomi Hongō Park (実籾本郷公園) in Narashino (習志野), Chiba Prefecture. The sidewalk and park comprise a portion of the students’ daily commute to school.
Mimomi High School (千葉県立実籾高等学校) is just beyond the park.
Near Mimomi Hongō Park
Always glad to see that the running to school with toast hanging out of mouth trope is still alive and well.
Keisei Main Line (京成本線), south side of the tracks adjacent to Mimomi Station
( レーカン! Rēkan!)
Sōka (草加), Saitama Prefecture
@SSEBTBM883 made pilgrimages to (post 1) Arashiyama, Ukyō Ward, Kyoto for Saenai Hiroin no Sodatekata; and (post 2) Ōsu, Naka Ward, Nagoya for the manga source material Saenai Hiroin no Sodatekata～egoistic-lily～, Volume 2.