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.
Media and General Interest
Seichijunrei and location collaboration
Asahi Shimbun published a notably comprehensive article that explains the basic premise of seichijunrei, notes specific goals of an October 17 event to educate and link more local municipalities in Saitama Prefecture (already known as a seichi for several popular works) with anime production companies, and highlights several examples of works from A-1 Pictures and P.A.Works to illustrate potential outcomes from collaboration.
Seichijunrei and tourism
ZUU Online published a dense and statistics heavy article that attempts to capture the history and current scope of anime contents tourism, cities examples of especially notable sites such as Washinomiya Jinja for Lucky Star, and discusses intentions of the Visit Japan and Cool Japan initiatives to promote this activity to foreign tourists. It notes the 2013 partnership between Visit Japan, Expedia and website Tokyo Otaku Mode to promote tourism in general and seichijunrei specifically, though does not mention that the entire relevant section of the TOM website is now shuttered.
Saitama Kokosake seichijunrei
withnews published an article about seichijunrei to Chichibu and Yokoze, Saitama Prefecture for Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. (called Kokosake for short), with particular attention to the fan exchange notebook left at a local temple, which came as a surprise to the supervising priest. The article explains that while Chichibu has long been accustomed to seichijunrei subsequent to Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (produced by the same studio), it is a new experience for Yokoze.
Seibu Bus released a detailed map and timetable (PDF) explaining how to use its bus lines to visit the locations featured in Kokosake.
Uji Eupho seichijunrei
Kansai TV morning television program Ohayō Asahi desu (おはよう朝日です) ran a 10 minute segment on Hibike! Euphonium, with heavy emphasis on seichijunrei to Uji, Kyoto Prefecture.
Kyoani and Do fan event
Kyoto Shimbun published an article about the Kyoto Animation and Animation Do fan event Watashitachi wa, Ima!!, held over 2015 October 31 and November 1. The article mentions fans were able to observe creation of real background art for upcoming works in the temporary studio setup in one area of the main hall. I wrote a report of my experience at the exhibition with plenty of photography here: Kyoto Animation and Animation Do Fan Event 2015.
Komoro Natsumachi promotion
Mainichi Shimbun published an article about Komoro City’s public recognition from the Nagano prefectural governor for its efforts to drive regional revitalization and promote contents tourism for Ano Natsu de Matteru.
Sōka Rēkan map
Mainichi Shimbun published an article about the official map produced by the culture and tourism division of Sōka, Saitama Prefecture to promote contents tourism for Rēkan!
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Classic Monogatari. When pressed for some sort of transition, traffic signals run amok will do nicely.
What begins as something that looks pulled straight from a Donkey Kong game, turns out to be actual pedestrian infrastructure.
The spiraling ramp connects the ground with the pedestrian lane of the Konohana Bridge (此花大橋) in Konohana Ward, Osaka. Truth is stranger than fiction.
The covered, moving walkway comes from a different location, the Harumi Triton Bridge (晴海トリトンブリッジ) in Kachidoki, Chūō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis.
There is a very striking change to grittier textures and more realistic (for Monogatari) backgrounds as Hanekawa and Araragi enter the low income housing blocks to find Oikura. These apartment blocks come from Musashimuraya, Tokyo Metropolis.
This has appeared before in Monogatari Series Second Season, Episode 23. I can’t remember if any butaitanbou practitioner has found a definitive location match. I still think it’s supposed to be in Odaiba, Tokyo.
Monument Valley in Arizona, United States, with what’s most likely a Mister Donut added. No sign of Shinobu, though.
Throughout the argument sequence between Hanekawa and Ougi, Shōwa-looking roadsters cycle around in the backgrounds. The finally come together as the audience in a large theater at the apex of the fight. Symbolism, or just playful weirdness?
Even with its flat, stylized backgrounds, Monogatari uses extreme lighting, color and texture changes to make them feel like completely different places, sometimes from moment to moment. At times it seems more like commentary on the medium itself, a jab at formulaic adherence to color schemes and normative setting design, rather than something in service of the narrative.
What passes for a plaza adjacent to the housing blocks is an almost alien, very sterile and unwelcoming barrens. What’s alarming is how many real public spaces in cities across the world that look and feel just like this.
Without transitions, the trio relocate to other common spaces. This is Higashimurayama Central Park (東村山中央公園) in Higashimurayama, Tokyo Metropolis.
Hikarigaoka Park (光が丘公園) in Nerima Ward, Tokyo Metropolis. The two parks are blended together to create this scene, a common technique in Monogatari works.
Higashimurayama Central Park
We’ve seen this neighborhood before, a side street off Meiji-dōri just north of Shibuya Station, in Episode 12 of Monogatari Series Second Season.
Bicycle parking at Naoetsu High School
(コンクリート・レボルティオ～超人幻想～ Konkurīto Reborutio: Chōjin Gensō)
Like Monogatari, Concrete Revolutio paints with simplified and stylized urban forms and textures. However, it remains more grounded in reality and, despite its fictional era names and fantasy premise, draws heavily from early and late Shōwa period imagery.
Empire State Building in New York, United States stands in for the enemy city in the cross-hairs of the powers that be. This is a work of fiction, right?
Toei Uzumasa Eigamura (東映太秦映画村) is both the Toei Kyoto studio for filming jidaigeki (period dramas) and a theme park open to the public. I asked Moriwaki Kiyotaka if he could confirm this location, as I’ve never been inside Eigamura. His reply: “It’s looks like it, but the bridge is a little different. The lantern stands are spot on, though.” Moriwaki would know. As curator of the Kyoto Film Archive, he’s probably spent more time on set and evaluated more films shot at the studio than most people on the planet.
Reader Gones helped shed some addition light on this scene. The reason the second frame doesn’t quite look like Eigamura is because it isn’t. It’s actually Warp Station Edo (ワープステーション江戸), a jidaigeki studio operated by NHK in Tsukubamirai, Ibaraki Prefecture. Now we have to wonder, why go to the trouble of combining the two places.
Common areas in a large rail and bus hub are appropriated by activists.
This will become modern Shinjuku, or so we are told.
I’ve seen this bridge once in an old photograph, but can’t recall the name. I believe it is no longer extant, but at one point crossed the Sumida, Arakawa or Kanda river. If you can help out, let us know.
JNR Class EF81 (国鉄EF81形電気機関車)—I think.
Sensō-ji (浅草寺) in Asakusa, Taitō Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
Nippon Budōkan (日本武道館) in Kitanomarukōen, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
Use of izakaya as third place. Under the rail viaduct, even better.
(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)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Tea house Life Lapsang (ライフ・ラプサン) in Asashikawa, Hokkaidō Prefecture
Sakurako-san remains the leader among shows aiming for photo-realism and real locations in background art.
Kōban (交番), local police substation
Tōkō Lavender Park (東光ラベンダー公園)
Yamashita Orthopedic Clinic (山下整形外科クリニック)
Limestone cave Green Park (鍾乳洞グリーンパーク) in Tōma, Hokkaidō Prefecture
Tea house Life Lapsang (ライフ・ラプサン) in Asashikawa
Uniqlo Asahikawa Nagayama Powers shop (ユニクロ 旭川永山パワーズ店)
Sakurako-san reflects the reality of dependence on private automobiles for many parts of Japan beyond major cities. Despite the perception of the country as having widespread compact development and ample public transit, many areas struggle with the same sprawl and fossil-fuel dependence challenges as elsewhere.
Asahikawa Station (旭川駅)
(すべてがFになる Subete ga F ni Naru)
It has been looking as if Subete ga F ni Naru plans to do the bulk of its storytelling indoors, but we got some interesting peeks at a real public space during a flashback scene in the most recent episode. This is Ōme Station (青梅駅) in Ōme, Tokyo Metropolis.
Nya Nya Magari (にゃにゃまがり Meow Meow… Bend/Curve?), an alley decorated with cat themed artwork
Ōno Hardware Store (大野金物店) Honchō 1-5-2 shop, in the center of Ōme
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@ssslocation made a pilgrimage to Omotesandō, Ebisu and Shibuya Station area in Shibuya Ward; Ōizumi-gakuen Station and surrounding commercial district in Higashi-Ōizumi, Nerima Ward; Asakusanbashi, Taitō Ward; Bunkyō Civic Center in Kasuga, Bunkyō Ward; Ogikubu Station and surrounding commercial district in Suginami Ward; and Shinjuku 3-chōme, Shinjuku Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for the OP, Episode 1 and Episode 2.
Reused animation from the first season, here is the swanky suspended monorail the Ashinaka High School students take to their island campus.
Now that I see the map again, the coastline doesn’t look nearly as much like Tokyo Bay and the Shōnan area as it did in my mind. Probably best not to worry about it too much. In the K series, background fidelity takes a back seat to fun, fantasy and bishōnen. Now, if we only had some plot.
Musaigen no Phantom World
- @gromit1446 made a pilgrimage to Nishi-Kamakura Station in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture based on a pre-PV marketing image, and a casual reconnaissance walk around parts of Kamakura and Fujisawa subsequent to the PV release for Kyoto Animation’s Musaigen no Phantom World, premiering 2016 January.
- @habusan initiated the Field Guide at Butaitanbou Matome Wiki, using cuts from the PV to identify locations in Kamkura and Fujisawa.
- @ssslocation made a pilgrimage to Kamakura and Fujisawa for the PV.
Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda.
- @touyoko_com made a pilgrimage to Chichibu and Yokoze.
- @lidges made a pilgrimage to Chichibu and Yokoze.
- @habusan updated several iterations of the Field Guide to Chichibu and Yokoze.
- @MatsuYan made a pilgriamge to Chichibu and Yokoze.
@makotomatic (post), @sagra_k (post) and @fragments_sue (post) made pilgrimages to Shōkei no michi, the annual bamboo lantern festival held in Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture and depicted in depth throughout the Tamayura works. All posts feature exceptional photography.