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 Summer Season Overview
It’s another season premiere week! While the past spring has been on the quiet side with a few notable highlights, this summer looks to be a busy lineup for works with rich settings and high potential for pop culture tourism. With a large amount of content, I’ll continue to put works loosely into tiers, concentrating effort on the few I find most interesting, while still including highlights and news for others.
In the first tier, the popular front-runner will most likely be Love Live! Sunshine!! (Sunrise), set in Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture. The original Love Live! School Idol Project two anime seasons were notable in that their broad popularity and easily reached location model in central Tokyo drew many general viewers into casual seichijunrei (聖地巡礼 holy land pilgrimage). Numazu is a bit off the beaten path and requires bus travel once in the coastal city, so my hunch is that overall pop culture tourism numbers may be lower, but the unique location may energize more of the core butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting) community. Or, perhaps this will be the tipping point that propels anime seichijunrei for regional locations squarely into the spotlight, who knows.
Orange (Telecom Animation Film, TMS Entertainment) features a large amount of detailed artwork using Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture as its backdrop, is a bit more grounded with regard to story content, and is the one I’m most interested to see develop.
Kuromukuro (P.A. Works) continues into its second cour of the studio’s nod to its home in Toyama Prefecture.
The second tier includes several shows that could turn out to be just as engaging, though at first glance appear not to emphasize heavily detailed settings to the same extent as the preceding. Two Tokyo-set shows, New Game! (Doga Kobo) in Asagaya, Suginami Ward, and Amaama to Inazuma (TMS Entertainment) in Musashisakai, Musashino, both include imagery from well-known shōtengai there. Kyūshū appears relatively infrequently in anime, so the Ōita setting of ReLIFE (TMS Entertainment) is cause for interest.
Other series that may be of interest but I won’t cover week to week include Rewrite (8-bit) and Active Raid: Kidō Kyōshūshitsu Daihachigakari 2nd (Production IMS).
Several more shows will premiere this upcoming week. Planetarian: Chiisana Hoshi no Yume (David Production) and Amanchu! (J.C.Staff) are likely candidates for first tier review. Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! (Feel), Qualidea Code (A-1 Pictures), and Handa-kun (Diomedéa) will also be evaluated for inclusion.
(ラブライブ！サンシャイン!! Rabu Raibu! Sanshain)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@maxbreakerz2mei does not publish butaitanbou posts, but was the first person to make a detailed pilgrimage for Episode 1, sharing the adventure in real time as a stream of tweets.
Yasuda-ya Ryokan (安田屋旅館)
The setting—Numazu (沼津), Shizuoka Prefecture—is new, but the plot formula appears largely unchanged. In this case, the idea of a regional school (versus one in the middle of the capital) in danger of being closed due to declining population actually jives quite well with reality.
Adjacent to the Nagaisaki Junior High School bus stop (長井崎中学校バス停)
Before we depart for Numazu though, we need our obligatory spin through the Akihabara (秋葉原) commercial district in Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo Metropolis.
Akihabara Station (秋葉原駅)
Numazu Nagaisaki Junior High School (沼津市立長井崎中学校)
Making bus routes and schedules clear for visitors coming by public transit was a known concern discussed by local groups involved in tourism planning and promotion.
Awashima Marine Park (あわしまマリンパーク)
Awashima Marine Park Frog Museum (あわしまマリンパーク カエル館)
Dried fish is one specialty commercial product Numazu businesses hope will gain some visibility through the city’s association with the anime.
Mito swimming beach (三津海水浴場)
Nagaisaki Junior High School bus stop
Fan Pilgrimage Update
@megtan made a pilgrimage to Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture for Episode 1. We haven’t heard from Megumegu for a while, but this is not his first foray into butaitanbou, having created the authoritative series of articles for Aku no Hana. His new post for Orange includes a detailed Google Map for Matsumoto that will be helpful to anyone interested in making a pilgrimage.
Matsumoto (松本), Nagano Prefecture. The sheer number of cuts in the first episode is quite heavy. The sequences of static images in particular feel a little forced, but since a lot of care appears to have gone into the location research and painted backgrounds, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to explore the city more organically in subsequent episodes.
Susukigawa Ryokuchi Park (薄川緑地)
Jōyama (城山) area
From a vantage point at the east entrance of Matsumoto Station, looking east on Prefecture Route 63. The main commercial street divides the Chūō (中央) area to the north from Fukashi (深志) area to the south, both of which comprise the city’s central business district.
Chūō Nishi Park (中央西公園), also known as Flower Clock Park (花時計公園)
Intersection in front of the Nakamachi Warehouse Museum (中町蔵の会館)
In front of Yohashira Jinja (四柱神社)
Entrance to Agata no Mori Park (あがたの森公園)
Susukigawa Ryokuchi Park
Agata no Mori Park
Former Matsumoto High School (旧制松本高等学校)
Mount Kōbō Tomb (弘法山古墳)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Though the ‘Toyama Mall’ depicted in the show does not exist, @ankou_anko discovered that it borrows design elements from two buildings both in Kurobe (黒部), Toyama Prefecture, the Toyama Technical Institute Shinkawa Center (富山県技術専門学院新川センター) and Kurobe City International Cultural Center Colare (黒部市国際文化センターコラーレ).
Indeed, all of the street scenes from this week’s episode come from the commercial district in Kurobe.
(ニューゲーム Nyū Gēmu)
The opening sequence quickly outlines the transition of main character Aoba from student (tree lined river embankments and uniforms) to working adult (transit card, crowded trains and suits), though many Tokyo children are already quite familiar with the public transit routine as high school students.
IC transit card swipe
Keiō Line (京王線) bound for Shinjuku Station
Chūō-Sōbu Line (中央・総武緩行線)
Asagaya Station (阿佐ヶ谷駅)
Lunch break takes Aoba and new coworkers for a walk near the office, beginning at the Minami Asagaya Suzuran-dōri Shōtengai (南阿佐谷すずらん通り商店街).
Suzuran leads into the south end of the Asagaya Pearl Center Shōtengai (阿佐谷パールセンター商店街).
Misty Asagaya (Misty 阿佐ヶ谷) in the Asagaya Pearl Center Shōtengai
(甘々と稲妻 Amaama to Inazuma)
Musashino Place (武蔵野プレイス)
The public library and meeting space, along with its outdoor grounds, is adjacent to Musashi-Sakai Station. The arcade and library in Musashino, Tokyo Metropolis appeared frequently in the P.A. Works series SHIROBAKO.
My hunch is Inokashira Park (井の頭恩賜公園), but will update if I learn otherwise.
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Though ostensibly set in Ōita, the train design used in the opening scene looks a lot like the Seibu 2000 series (西武2000系) trains formerly used on the Seibu Shinjuku Line.
Izakaya used as third place
Ōita Uenogaoka High School