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.
Special Note: The weekly review will be off for the next three weeks while I’m in Japan. In addition to my usual urban walks, I have planned a seichijunrei trio of Hibike! Euphonium, Chūnibyō and K-On!, and will attend both days of the Kyoto Animation and Animation Do special fan event Watashitachi wa, Ima!! I’ll also meet with friends from the butaitanbou community (BTC) and, hopefully, squeeze in some much needed R&R.
(櫻子さんの足下には死体が埋まっている Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru)
Outside of Hakodate and Greater Sapporo, Hokkaidō Prefecture tends to get short shrift with regard to use in anime settings, so it’s always interesting to me when something new comes along. Protagonist Shōtarō calls out the explicit use of Asahikawa (旭川)—the landlocked, second-largest city in the prefecture—as the main setting at the beginning of the first episode.
Asahiyama Zoo (旭山動物園)
Mashike (増毛), Hokkaidō Prefecture
After last week’s brief departure from past norms, director Shinbō slips back into customary Monogatari textures. This facility appears to be new to the series—
—while use of the Nagoya Congress Center (名古屋国際会議場) as Naoetsu High School is an old favorite.
At the episode halfway point, Araragi and Ougi suddenly jump through a sequence of frames that alludes to some of the masterworks of Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher (1898-1972). The first frame is a reference to Other World (1947).
The Monogatari franchise is known for hiding all sorts of things in its visual content and wordplay. Obscure locations are the most tangible of these Easter eggs, but references to more erudite subjects and abstract concepts are also there as inside jokes for the subset of viewers sharp enough to pick them up. While the Escher bit could be considered in line with this trope, it’s also significant that Escher was a pioneer—if not the pioneer—of the perspective warping, use and abstraction of urban textures from multiple geographies, and incorporation and mutation of architectural styles from multiple cultures that is the Monogatari animated works’ stock-in-trade. Perhaps this is Shinbō/Shaft’s nod to the grandfather that inspired the creation of the franchise’s many settings over the years.
Sky and Water I (1938)
Not really sure, but the brick-walled aqueduct looks a little like the focal point of Waterfall (1961)
Print Gallery (1956)
Back to the “real” world of Monogatari
A very Shōwa-looking candy shop
Kachidoki Bridge (勝鬨橋), crossing the Sumida River in Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
Rainbow Bridge (レインボーブリッジ) on steroids and, based on location context from the first season, located further south and connecting to a non-existent island in Tokyo Bay
Shibuya (渋谷) scramble crossing
Extended scenes set at the river embankment (土手 dote) in this episode.
@BloodRambo made pilgrimages to (post 1) Setagaya Jashumon in Daita, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo Metropolis; (post 2) Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture and Fushimi Ward, Kyoto; and (post 3) Nara and Kashihara, Nara Prefecture for Gekijōban Kyōkai no Kanata I’ll Be Here: Mirai-hen.