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.
2016 Spring Season Overview
Welcome to season premiere week! 2016 Spring will be somewhat unusual but still interesting with regard to locations in anime. Usual suspects Kyoto Animation and A-1 Pictures are out of the, uh, picture.
P.A. Works is taking the uncharacteristic direction of going with a mecha anime, Kuromukuro, but since it also features locations based on Toyama Prefecture (where the studio headquarters is located) and we generally love their artwork, we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and see where they take us.
Flying Witch (J.C. Staff) will be the show to watch for photo-realistic settings. It explicitly features the city of Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture in northern Tōhoku and has been anticipated by the seichijunrei-butaitanbou community (pop culture tourism) since the anime adaptation was announced.
Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge (Silver Link) wasn’t on my radar until after the first broadcast, when a few Hiroshima residents took note of the city’s use, which happens surprisingly rarely in anime.
Concrete Revolutio (Bones) returns for its second season of Technicolor Shōwa.
It’s my goal to make the weekly review a bit leaner than it has been. I’d like to pull it back toward more quality over quantity, as when I first began, but I also have a new, very small human at home that likes getting up at all hours of the night for crazy party time. Notwithstanding the circumstances, I do have two second tier review shows that I’ll include, so long as they have interesting content.
Mayoiga (Diomedéa) is set in rural Yamanashi Prefecture, though since we’ve already found the titular “lost village” as of the second episode, I’m not sure how much more there will be to note.
Netoge no Yome wa Onna no Ko Janai to Omotta? (Project No. 9) isn’t getting high marks (or any marks) for narrative or character depth, but since I was impressed with how the young studio handled background art in last season’s Shōjotachi wa Kōya o Mezasu, I’d like to see if there is more where that came from.
Other series that may be of interest but I won’t cover week to week include Kumamiko, High School Fleet, Sansha San’yō, Bakuon!!, Shonen Maid, Anne Happy, Space Patrol Luluco. I’ll report on butaitanbou activity for these shows as it comes up.
Media and General Interest
@katoyuu compiled a simple but incredibly useful list of anime broadcast series and films beginning from 2000 that incorporate a real location in the show setting in some way. The list is organized by release year and links to the “Legwork” archive of butaitanbou blog posts.
Uji Eupho activity
In advance of the April 23 premiere of the theatrical film summarizing the first season, there has been a surge in Eupho related activity in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture. Keihan Electric Railway is running an official collaboration from March 31 to August 31 that includes marketing collateral in trains and stations, and a stamp rally. Kyoto Shimbun published an article about a talk given by Takeda Ayano, author of the Hibike! Euphonium manga source material and herself an Uji native. Kyoto Shimbun also published an article about pop culture tourism to Uji, including quotes from butaitanbou community member and Kansai branch manager @seki_saima. Jōnan Shinpō published an article about the Keihan collaboration, Takeda talk, and a guided Eupho seichijunrei tour of Uji.
Kamioka cosplay ban
Sanspo.com published an article about a possible ban on cosplay at the former Kamioka Elementary School in Daigo, Ibaraki Prefecture, an historic building and popular pop culture tourism destination for both live action drama Hanako to An and anime Girls & Panzer.
Hirosaki Flying Witch collaboration
Mainichi Shimbun (article 1, article 2), Kahoku Shimpō (article 3) and Mantanweb (article 4) published pieces on the official collaboration with transit operators in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, where the show is set. Promotional collateral includes vehicle wrappings and in-car announcements.
Koe no Katachi schedule
Mantanweb (article) and Netorabo (article) report Koe no Katachi release date has been announced for 2016 September 17. The theatrical film is directed by Yamada Naoko (K-On!, Tamako Market), produced by Kyoto Animation, and is set in Ōgaki, Gifu Prefecture.
(ふらいんぐうぃっち Furaingu Uitchi)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@ye_bi_su made a pilgrimage to Hirosaki for Episode 1. As with Wake Up, Girls!, Ebisu has offered himself up as the lead explorer and promoter of Tōhoku-based works. For those planning their own pilgrimage, he has created a Google Map identifying locations featured in the work with reference images to supplement his butaitanbou blog posts.
The establishing shot at the very opening of the first episode is the Ōu Main Line (奥羽本線) passing through farm plots, with mountains in the distance.
A JR train ticket is drawn with full detail.
In anime cliches, a mountain viewed from a passing train is often going to be Mount Fuji, but our Tōhoku setting here brings us past Mount Iwaki (岩木山).
Hirosaki Station (弘前駅)
There is a high level of detail and accurate location names on signage in the station, in the bus rotary and on the buses. In conjunction with the broadcast, the Kōnan Railway (弘南鉄道), which shares the station with JR East and also operates area buses, has extensive promotional material installed in its facilities and vehicles, to both advertise the show and promote local tourism.
With public transit available, a witch need not rely solely on a broom for mobility.
The show sets out a large amount of compass establishing cuts, taking Makoto by bus from Hirosaki Station to her host home, then subsequently to multiple locations around the city, including historic points of interest. The whole package is subtle enough that you don’t get the sense you’re watching a tourism advertisement, but given the marketing collaboration, there is a good chance some of these choices were made deliberately with that intention.
North end of Fujimi Bridge (ふじみ橋)
National Route 28 (国道28号線), passing through Akudo (悪戸). This is close to Ringo Park, which appears later.
Shimoyuguchi bus stop (下湯口バス停)
The TV program is an on-location report from Hirosaki Apple Park (弘前市りんご公園).
Kamisukisawa Bridge (紙漉澤橋)
Aeon Town Hirosaki Hinokuchi (イオンタウン弘前樋の口)
Ishiba Residence (石場家住宅) is an historic building adjacent to Hirosaki Park. Ebisu reports the sake seller that occupies this unit is hosting a seichijunrei notebook for pilgrims to record their visit.
Hirosaki Gakuin Seiai Junior High School (弘前学院聖愛中学高等学校)
Miyama Lake (美山湖) is in Nishimeya village (西目屋村), to the southwest of Hirosaki.
Adjacent to the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Camp Hirosaki (陸上自衛隊弘前駐屯地), which is near the school
Hirosaki Park (弘前公園)
Shimoyuguchi intersection (下湯口交差点)
Shimoyuguchi bus stop
(田中くんはいつもけだるげ Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
There are no butaitanbou blog posts for Tanakeda yet, but @terukichi84 and @summer_072 have been posting series of side-by-side images on Twitter since the broadcast. I used their information to confirm the locations that appear in the first episode.
Hiroshima Central Park (広島市中央公園)
Hiroshima Chūō-dōri Shōtengai (広島中央通商店街)
Cafe used as third place
Hiroshima Hondōri Shōtengai (広島本通商店街)
Fast food chain used as third place
Hiroshima Motomachi High School (広島市立基町高等学校)
Students walk home from school on the evening commute.
Tanaka and Ōta take a meandering walk home, beginning at the west end of Hondōri Shōtengai, before the the arcade begins.
Hattendō (八天堂) honten in Mihara (三原), Hiroshima Prefecture
I was about to say all of the central Hiroshima locations that appear in the show could feasibly be traveled via foot, streetcar or bus, thus the setting appeared to be a “whole cloth” use of the city. Mihara is a 70 minute train trip from Hiroshima, so it seems more likely that this location is grafted in, rather than the pair making an evening trek for cream buns.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Many elements of the setting are fictional, but as the Kurobe Dam is used as the basis for the research facility, I’m hoping we’ll see at least a little bit of real world Tateyama (立山), Toyama Prefecture blended in.
In the real world, a ropeway and trolleybus link the dam with nearby areas.
This ride looks a bit snazzier.
IC transit card swipe. The trains and station architecture may be sleek and futuristic looking, but near-field communications chips in a convenient, wallet-sized card still rule the day.
Kurobe Dam (黒部ダム)
Ministry of Defense (防衛省) in Ichigaya, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo Metropolis
Shin-Minato Bridge (新湊大橋) in Imizu (射水), Toyama Prefecture
(コンクリート・レボルティオ～超人幻想～ Konkurīto Reborutio: Chōjin Gensō)
Yoyogi Kaikan (代々木会館) was used in the TV drama Kizudarake no Tenshi (傷だらけの天使), where it was called the “Angel Building” (エンジェルビル). It is now abandoned (廃墟 haikyo).
We pickup where the first season left off, so more Shōwa-inspired streetscapes, trippy colors, socio-political turmoil and a non-linear plot. I’m hoping this all makes sense once it’s over, but I’ll continue to enjoy the scenery on the way.
Okinawa protest in Hibiya Park (日比谷公園), Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo
Izakaya used as third place
Chōfu Airfield (調布飛行場)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
There are no butaitanbou blog posts yet, but @obsidiana_verde posted several side-by-side image comparisons from his visit to several of the locations. @high__k and @animeseichi continue their butaitanbou community service of tracking down locations with Google Street View and posting to Twitter. I used their information to identify the locations that appear in the first episode.
Hatsukari Parking Area (初狩パーキングエリア) on the Chuo Expressway in Ōtsuki (大月), Yamanashi Prefecture
Michi no eki Dōshi (道の駅どうし), a roadside rest area
At this point, the bus has already entered Dōshi village (道志村), Yamanashi Prefecture, where the subsequent bridge used in the show’s key visual is also located. Though the postal code uses the nomenclature “village” and the population is extremely small (1,865), the area is actually quite large (79.57 sq km). From a quick search, it appears to be a popular destination for camping and nature retreats.
Tsubaki Bridge (椿大橋) in the Tsubaki subdivision of Dōshi
There are no indications yet that anyone has found a location resembling the deserted village itself. It may be a fictional setting.
(ネトゲの嫁は女の子じゃないと思った? Netoge no Yome wa Onna no Ko Janai to Omotta?)
The eyecatch leading into the second half of the episode uses a photograph of a train station platform, however the location isn’t discernible from the image.
Kashiwa (柏), Chiba Prefecture
Shin-Kashiwa Station (新柏駅)
Though the main cast first know each other only as avatars and net handles, by the second half of the episode they’ve already jumped from their virtual third place in the digital world to a real one in the physical world.