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
Ōarai Garupan legacy
Hiro’oka Yūji (広岡祐次) was staff at Bandai Namco Arts, which was involved in the production of Girls & Panzer, and represented the series on the ground in Ōarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, developing connections with the town through moderating event panel discussions and managing the train wrapping campaigns. He left Bandai in 2019 March, later opening a co-working office space in Ōarai, and in 2020 October launched the website Arise Gift (アライズギフト), which sells local goods from Ōarai, including Garupan merchandise. In an interview about his activities, Hiro’oka recalls observing Garupan fans visiting the city for seichijunrei, many becoming repeaters, communicating casually with local shopkeepers. Hiro’oka thinks this was the origin of Ōarai local businesses reaching out beyond the city, and he was inspired by people who had managed to reinvigorate the area in the aftermath of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Media coverage: Tokyo Shimbun
Teibo director interview
Ōkuma Takaharu (大隈孝晴), director of Hōkago Teibō Nisshi and himself an avid fisherman, gave a long interview with fishing enthusiast magazine Tsuribito. Not surprisingly, the interview is heavy on fishing shop talk, but Ōkuma explains how the production went to great lengths to convey experiences with authenticity and appeal to hobbyists, but not descend so deeply into specialized knowledge that casual viewers would be left behind. Ōkuma participated directly in location hunting and photography, even going fishing in Ashikita, Kumamoto Prefecture, where the series is set. Ōkuma asked mangaka Kosaka Yasuyuki (小坂泰之), who is from Kumamoto Prefecture, to direct the location hunting team to the specific locations depicted in the work, and supervise the use of local dialect by the cast. Several of the voice actors are from Kumamoto Prefecture. Ōkuma says donations and furusato nōzei contributions by fans of the series have helped Ashikita in its recovery efforts after severe flooding in 2020 July. Media coverage: Tsuribito
Kyoto Shimbun has published several articles on Kyoto Animation art director Watanabe Mikiko (渡邊美希子) over the past year and a half. Watanabe was one of the victims of the 2019 July arson attack on the studio. In a 2020 October tribute published during the theatrical release of Gekijōban Violet Evergarden, that last work in which Watanabe contributed, the writer focuses on her approach to creating background art. Watanabe expressed the idea that “everyday scenery is important teaching material” and would often travel to various places with a camera in search of references. In a studio publication she wrote, “Flowers, soil, stones, the surface of water, townscape… I just attempt to create the beauty that is already there.” Media coverage: Kyoto Shimbun
Toyako Manga Anime Festa
The 11th Toyako Manga Anime Festa (TOYAKOマンガ・アニメフェスタ) (TMAF) would have been held in 2020 June, but was cancelled due to concerns around Covid-19. The event held in the onsen town of Tōyako (洞爺湖町), Hokkaidō Prefecture hosts cosplay, itasha, dōjinshi spot sales, and live performances and discussion panels featuring vocalists and voice actors. TMAF had originally been meant as a one-time event to celebrate the centennial of the onsen district in 2010, but its popularity brought it back annually, growing from around 3,000 attendees in 2010 to as many as 73,000 in 2018. The production staff of Sora no Method were aware of the existence of the festival while planning the series, which is primarily set in Tōyako and neighboring Sōbetsu, and held a presentation with discussion panel by the voice actors at the 2014 June event, prior to the 2014 Fall broadcast. At the 2015 June event, an exhibition of anime keyframes was held. With News 1, With News 2
Tenhama Yuru Camp collaboration
Tenryū Hamanako Railroad (天竜浜名湖鉄道) marketing collaboration with Yuru Camp launched February 12 and runs until the end of August. The campaign includes a wrapped train on the Tenryū Hamanako Line (天竜浜名湖線) and commemorative tickets. Media coverage: Shizuoka Shimbun 1, Shizuoka Shimbun 2 (video)
Saga Zonsaga collaboration
Contents tourism researcher Kawashima Tarō interviewed Konno Kenji (近野顕次), who has been a key figure linking Saga Prefecture with the Zombie Land Saga production and marketing collaborations, first as staff at the Saga Prefecture Film Commission (佐賀県フィルムコミッション) during original consultations and location hunting in 2016 Spring, and from 2018 April at the Saga Prefectural Government Public Relations and Public Information Division (佐賀県庁広報広聴課). When the series premiered in 2018 October, Konno was credited as Public Relations and Public Information Division Zombie Official (広報広聴課ゾンビ係) and has a guest voice role as the Drive-in Tori mascot. Konno notes that, while much of the show humor is self-deprecating and paints the region in unflattering ways, the care with which locations are depicted, as well as a sense of genuine affection for Saga from the anime production staff, which led to rich friendships between anime and prefecture staff, made the digs inconsequential. Konno felt that for someone who is not a professional screenwriter to speak out on script content would have detracted from the quality of the series. Ultimately, he says that if the work concept had shown no consideration for the local situation, the prefecture would have just chosen not to cooperate. Media coverage: With News
(ゆるキャン△ SEASON2 Yurukyan Season 2)
Minobu (身延町), Yamanashi Prefecture
Fujimura Tadahisa (藤村忠寿) returns for a second guest performance, this time as Īda-san, the liquor shop owner from Itō. Fujimura is one of the two creators of How do you like Wednesday? (水曜どうでしょう), a travel themed TV variety show that aired on HTB in Sapporo from 1996 to 2002.
Ike Ike (池池) is in real life just one Ike (池), a nihonshu made in Izu. Hiroi (広井酒店), the shop used as the location model, sells Ike and other locally made nihonshu.
(のんのんびより のんすとっぷ Non Non Biyori Nonsutoppu)
Although the rice terraces have been replaced by grassy hills and a building added in the background, I’m pretty convinced that sgo alopha has the right location here. This scene is viewed from an observation platform very close to the campground.