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
Washinomiya and Lucky Star retrospective
Spice published part 4 of an article by Seichikaigi representative director/“seichijunrei producer” Kakizaki Shundō (柿崎俊道) about the history of anime tourism and continued fan engagement in Washinomiya, Kuki, Saitama Prefecture for Lucky Star. In this section, Kakizaki first recounts a vignette from 2018 September of anime pilgrims determined to hold a barbecue in Washinomiya despite torrential rain, in lieu of the cancelled Hajisai festival. He then jumps back to his first involvement with the Saitama prefectural government, which on the heels of the initial boom surrounding Lucky Star summoned him to meetings to discuss plans to leverage anime as a tourism driver. Kakizaki had published a book on seichijunrei in 2005, still a nascent phase prior to the first broadcast of Suzumiya Haruhi and just over a year into the manga serialization of Lucky Star. In 2008, he was unaware of the growing wave of awareness of the topic and himself had lost interest in it, so was surprised by the sudden enthusiasm by local government and shōtengai. (part 1, part 2, part 3)
JMAG News published a series on anime pilgrimage locations for Yurucamp, including four location reports covering Yamanashi City, Lake Shibire, Minobu, Lake Motosu and Fujinomiya, and an interview with Mukawa Kiyoshirō (武川清志朗) from the Yamanashi Tourism Promotion Organization (やまなし観光推進機構). The interview is the most interesting part, in which Mukawa talks about the thought process and preparations that went into creating the website promoting locations as they appeared in the series, and communicating with local stakeholders about creating an environment to receive anime pilgrims and opportunities for tourism revenue. Mukawa says the Organization had not previously supported promotion based on an animated work, and the decision to commit resources to the project was made without knowing whether the series would be popular or not, but considered it a worthwhile risk to anticipate tourism rather than begin from a reactive position. Despite a trend of media criticizing behavior of anime pilgrimage fans in 2018, Mukawa says his encounters with visitors gave him the impression that Yurucamp fans are on the whole well-mannered.
Shizuoka Shimbun anime pilgrimage coverage
Seichikaigi volume 25 features an interview with reporter Hashizume Mitsuru (橋爪充), Deputy Chief of the Eastern Japan Bureau at the Shizuoka Shimbun, who is responsible for the paper’s regular coverage of anime pilgrimage and contents tourism in Numazu for Love Live! Sunshine!! since the series first aired in 2016.
Numazu seichijunrei repeaters
Shizuoka Shimbun published an article about a recent survey conducted by Shizuoka Eiwa Gakuin University sociology professor Mōri Yasuhide (毛利康秀), finding over 80% of Love Live! Sunshine!! fans traveling to Numazu are repeat visitors, of which about 60% have visited 10 or more times. Only 16.9% responded as first-time visitors, compared with 31.9% when the same survey was conducted in 2017.
Seichijunrei as Heisei history
NHK published a history of the Heisei era told through keywords, including the term seichijunrei and films Kimi no Na wa. and Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni in the section for 2016.
Irozuku Nagasaki seichijunrei
Nishi Nihon Shimbun published an article about seichijunrei to Nagasaki for Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, highlighting the Mori no Majo Cafe for its importance as a location both in the fictional work and as destination and meeting place for fans, despite its location far from the central business district.
Zombie Land Saga pilgrimage guide
Saga Shimbun published an article about the March 14 release of its special edition Zombie Land Saga pilgrimage guide, which includes interviews with voice actor Hondo Kaede (Minamoto Sakura), Cygames president Koichi Watanabe and director of animation Takenaka Nobuhiro.
Franchouchou concert in Saga Prefecture
At a live performance in Tokyo on March 17 by Franchouchou, the idol unit from Zombie Land Saga, a follow up concert to be held in Saga Prefecture was announced, with more details to follow. Media coverage: Saga Shimbun, Comic Natalie, Crunchyroll
Code Geass stamp rally
Merumo published an article detailing the experience of completing the Code Geass digital stamp rally managed by the Tokyo Anime Tourism Executive Committee and Anime Tourism Association, running from February 9 to March 25.
Anime Seichi 88 Walker 2019 Edition
Kadokawa published Anime Seichi 88 Walker 2019 Edition (アニメ聖地88Walker 2019年版), a guide based on the list of anime pilgrimage locations chosen by the Anime Tourism Association. Several butaitanbou-sha evaluated the magazine (here, here and here), finding that the proposed tour courses involve significant travel distances and aggressive pacing, coming away with the impression that the creators hadn’t attempted the itineraries to test for feasibility. My take is that, whether the itineraries are feasible or not, stopping quickly at only one or two locations per work, then zipping to the next city via shinkansen, doesn’t capture the spirit of exploration, immersion and savoring an experience that seichijunrei embodies. Media coverage: Web Newtype, Anime Anime