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.
2020 Summer Season Overview
Welcome back to a new season of anime settings and background art. Covid-19 is still disrupting production schedules, along with just about everything else in the world, so this summer there are fewer series that fall under the scope of this column, and fewer series in general. But what we do have includes quite a few interesting works, some of which were disrupted in the previous season and are now beginning again.
There are no changes to the format of the review. I won’t single out any series for detailed analysis each week. Media and general interest, and reports on pilgrimage activity will continue as always. If something exceptional arises in a particular show, I may include a special section to cover it.
Hōkago Teibō Nisshi (Doga Kobo) is one of the disrupted spring series. To recap, Teibō is set in the coastal fishing villages of Ashikita, Kumamoto Prefecture, and was much anticipated by butaitanbou-sha. Prior to the original premiere, several scene hunters traveled to Ashikita for the manga and anime preview. Just aired Episode 4 features a train journey on the Hisatsu Orange Railway Line to the Yamamoto Fishing Gear Center head shop in Kumamoto City. Ashikita is among many locations affected by flooding and mudslides in the Kyūshū region in early July.
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Kan (Feel), the third and final season of the series, was delayed in its entirety. The “long-awaited return of an old friend” I meant to refer to the setting, which has always been popular among butaitanbou-sha. Now that it’s finally here, I remember how much I identify with Hachiman. The series is set primarily in Chiba City, Chiba Prefecture. Episode 1 includes a long sequence at Kasairinkai Park in Rinkaichō, Edogawa Ward, Tokyo Metropolis.
Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai! (ENGI) is a lot of fun, but has a little location identity confusion. It’s Kōbe, Hyōgo Prefecture, from a handful of postcard shots in the OP and ED, and reportedly there are more locations in the episodes. It’s also Sengai, Miyagi Prefecture, specifically the ekimae area, which thus far provides almost all of the urban street scenes. But there are also key visuals and other marketing images that have Uzaki and Sakurai in Kurayoshi, Misasa, and along the Uradome coast in Iwami (all Tottori Prefecture). Clearly, Uzaki-chan is a Free! seichijunrei fan.
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T (J.C.Staff) never completely stopped production, but has instead aired in fits and starts since it began in January. Hopefully the extra time means a strong finish. As always, parts of fictional Academy City are based on areas of Tachikawa and Tama, Tokyo Metropolis. The new ending credits include a sequence of locations in Barcelona and Sitges, Spain.
Fruits Basket (2019) (TMS Entertainment and subsidiary 8PAN) continues where it left off. The main settings in Denenchōfu, Ōta Ward, Tokyo Metropolis; and Nakahara Ward, Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture are now well worn. Episode 17 features a school trip to Kyoto. This is an overused trope, but at least it’s something new.
Fugō Keiji Balance:Unlimited (CloverWorks) also restarts this season. Thus far the series has a collection of Tokyo locations, including metropolitan police headquarters in Kasumigaseki, and a car chase through Ginza, Shinbashi and Tsukiji. Kanbe’s mansion is the former Imperial Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, originally built in Uchisaiwaichō, Chiyoda Ward, now preserved at the Meiji-mura open-air architectural museum in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture.
Kanojo, Okarishimasu (TMS Entertainment) includes locations in Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward; Nakaitabashi and Nakajuku, Itabashi Ward; and a beach episode set in Shimoda, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Great Pretender (Wit Studio) includes locations from Los Angeles, Beverley Hills and El Segundo, California, United States.
The God of High School (MAPPA) is set in Seoul, South Korea.
Media and General Interest
Hōkago Teibō Nisshi real life location Ashikita, Kumamoto Prefecture is one of many cities in the Kyūshū region impacted by flooding and mudslides in early July. The ongoing manga on which the series is based has gone on temporary hiatus. Mangaka Kosaka Yasuyuki, who lives in Kyūshū, successfully evacuated with his family, but is unable to continue writing under the circumstances. Promotional events planned in Ashikita that had already been delayed when Teibō anime production was disrupted in the spring, have been postponed. Widespread damage to coastline, homes and businesses includes locations depicted in the manga and anime, such as the Takohigeya fishing gear store, called “Tenguya” in the works. Media coverage: Sankei Shimbun, Anime News Network
The official Twitter account for the series called out the disaster donation and furusato nozei (hometown tax) options for sending direct assistance through the Ashikita city website. The anime will also donate 300 yen from each sale of the Nendoroid figure of protagonist Tsurugi Hinata through manufacturer Good Smile Company.
— 「放課後ていぼう日誌」公式 (@teibo_bu) July 28, 2020
— 「放課後ていぼう日誌」公式 (@teibo_bu) July 28, 2020