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 holy land pilgrimage) and butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting), which are pop culture tourism and place-based engagement induced by the use of real locations in show settings.
Media and General Interest
Alps no Shōjo Heidi
The Japanese language service of SWI, part of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, published a series (article 1, article 2, video) marking the 45th anniversary of the original broadcast of Heidi, Girl of the Alps (アルプスの少女ハイジ Arupusu no Shōjo Haiji), the 1974 Takahata Isao television anime adaptation of 1881 Johanna Spyri novel Heidi. The novel and series are set in Maienfeld, Switzerland, and the latter precipitated the first known example of anime seichijunrei. The articles are based on public talks and interviews, primarily centered on the experiences of the original location hunt in 1973 July, with staff who returned to Switzerland to commemorate the anniversary and revisit Maienfeld. Character designer Kotabe Yōichi regretted that Takahata, who passed away last year, wasn’t able to join the reunion.
I dug back and read earlier Heidi related stories on the SWI site. In a 2009 article, echoes of outright antipathy by Swiss broadcasters and various arbiters of culture to the Japanese adaptation still come through clearly. At the time of the original broadcast, and for several decades after, many in Switzerland were put off by the anime’s departure from the world depicted in the novel, as well as indigenous sense of Swiss culture in general, particularly the series’ near complete elimination of religious elements. It wasn’t until 2015, through earnest research efforts and collaboration between Japanese and Swiss scholars of Heidi contents, that “Japanese Heidi” began to be rehabilitated. Understanding that the anime series was aimed at the needs and expectations of a Japanese audience, as well as being aware of the existence of serious Heidi interest among Japanese, helped soften some of the objections to the adaptation. The tone toward the series is downright reverent in the 2018 Takahata obituary, by which time intellectual property from the anime had already become integrated into local tourism marketing campaigns. Last month, “Japanese Heidi” got its own exhibit at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. What a difference a decade or a few make.
Comic Treasure 34
Butaitanbou and seichijunrei circles were represented at Comic Treasure (こみっくトレジャー), a dōjinshi convention held twice annually in Osaka.
— ノリ＠どこか行きたい (@norinorimax1969) September 8, 2019
— 常夏@6/29関東出張 (@tokonatu1224) September 8, 2019
— 夷（ゑびす）@聖地移住本制作中 (@ye_bi_su) September 8, 2019
— もりっつ (@moritz6011) September 8, 2019
— リジス (@lidges) September 8, 2019
— KEIHI@新刊委託中🍈 (@112233aabbccdde) September 8, 2019
— セキ (@seki_saima) September 8, 2019
Fukasawa cultural festival Just Because! exhibit
School cultural festivals that are open to the public are one of the very few occasions when it’s permissible for people who are not affiliated students and staff to enter and photograph school grounds, thus a rare chance for anime pilgrimage. Fukasawa High School in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, the setting of Just Because!, takes things one step further. As in 2018, the first festival held following the series original broadcast, at the September 7 event students again created a special exhibit featuring key frames, background art and character panels provided by the anime production team.
— フラバー (@flyingbird1124) September 7, 2019
— しん (@626shin) September 7, 2019
Nagasaki Minami cultural festival Irozuku pilgrimage
The September 7 cultural festival at Nagasaki Minami High School was the first opportunity for fans of Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara to tour the grounds.
— てつはら⚡️ (@tetsuharan_kon) September 7, 2019
— ばんばん@色づく世界の明日から (@bankai3574) September 7, 2019
— ばんばん@色づく世界の明日から (@bankai3574) September 7, 2019
Shichirigahama cultural festival Aobuta pilgrimage
The September 7-8 cultural festival at Shichirigahama High School in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture was the first opportunity for fans of the Seishun Buta Yarō series to tour the grounds.
— shin (@shinyas1485) September 7, 2019
— びーとる (@btle_kg) September 8, 2019
Chichibu Anohana and Kokosake revival screenings
Chichibu City and Seibu Railway will host revival screenings of Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. and Kokoro ga Sakebitagatterunda. in anticipation of the 2019 October premiere of upcoming Okada Mari film Sora no Aosa o Shiru Hito yo, which, like the previous works, is also set in Chichibu. The films will screen September 21-22 and tickets will be distributed by lottery.
Uji tourism seminar
Professor Katayama Akihisa (片山明久 @bsaku0214) will coordinate Monogatari Kankō (ものがたり観光), a seminar on various tourism contents specific to Uji, including Genji Monogatari, held September 21 at Kyoto Bunkyō University in Uji. Lectures include a presentation by butaitanbou-sha Ebisu (夷 @ye_bi_su) about discovering Uji tea culture through Hibike! Euphonium.
— bsaku (@bsaku0214) September 3, 2019
Toyosato Elementary School
BS TV Tokyo program Departure! Local Line (出発！ローカル線 Shuppatsu! Rōkaru-sen) introduced former Toyosato Elementary School in a segment about Ohmi Railway. K-On! tobidashi and posters are visible in the background.
BSテレ東の出発！ローカル線 聞きこみ発見旅に豊郷 (1/2) pic.twitter.com/VfqJ0I3CZe
— こがしねぎ (@koge2negi) September 9, 2019
Kimi to, Nami ni Noretara location hunt
Asahi Shimbun affiliated site &M published an article about the production team’s location hunting at the Chiba Institute of Science in Chōshi, Chiba Prefecture for Yuasa Masaaki film Kimi to, Nami ni Noretara (Ride Your Wave).
Gifu Location Tourism Conference
Sixteen cities and towns in Gifu Prefecture formed the Gifu Location Tourism Conference (ぎふロケツーリズム協議会), which aims to develop best practices for local governments to work with live-action and anime productions that utilize locations, building on the traditional film commission model but adding fee-based assistance services and negotiating for use of intellectual property by local governments in marketing efforts. Media coverage: Gifu Shimbun
Saga Otaku Guidebook
Saga City based Kamikaze Production published the first edition of Saga Otaku Guidebook in June, with plans to release a new edition every three months. The intention of the pamphlet is to leverage anime pilgrimage locations in Saga Prefecture to promote local pop culture oriented shopping, events, and food and beverage businesses. It is available in tourist information offices at major rail stations in Saga Prefecture, Animate retail locations in Kyūshū, and anime shops in Tokyo and Osaka. Media coverage: Mainichi Shimbun
Doratori Imari tourism promotion
In response to Zombie Land Saga fan visits to the Drive-in Tori head shop in Imari, Saga Prefecture, the owner of the restaurant and Imari city council have installed a local tourism information corner as part of ongoing public relations efforts leveraging the series’ poularity. Media coverage: Mainichi Shimbun