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
Eki-chan Honey (えきちゃんハニー @821kg) shared additional photos of recent repairs and repainting work on tobidashi in Toyosato, Shiga Prefecture. Most of the tobidashi are K-On! characters that are installed at various places around Toyosato. A few were brought over from other cities for touch ups. Photos: tweet thread
Toyosato temporary closing
In line with the current extension of the state of emergency and special alert stage four in Shiga Prefecture, admission to and tours of the former Toyosato Elementary School (豊郷小学校旧校舎群), a K-On! seichi, have been suspended until September 30.
Super Cub fashion
Fashion website Spur published a photo shoot of models posing with Super Cub motorcycles at locations in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture featured in Super Cub.
Hula Fulla Dance promotion
A new trailer has been released for Hula Fulla Dance, which will premiere December 3. The film is one of three anime works under Zutto Ōen. Project 2011+10… (ずっとおうえん。プロジェクト 2011+10…), itself part of broader efforts by Fuji TV to support disaster recovery in the Tōhoku region following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The Iwaki, Miyagi Prefecture setting has been announced previously. Media coverage: Comic Natalie, Anime News Network, Crunchyroll News
Tajimi Yakumo promotion
Yakunara Mug Cup mo: Niban Gama, the second season of the promotional anime for tourism to Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture, will broadcast in October. The production released a preview of Yakumo no Hōkago, the live-action segment featuring the series’ voice actors touring Tajimi that, as in the first season, will comprise the B-part of each episode. Media coverage: Anime News Network, Crunchyroll News
(小林さんちのメイドラゴンS Kobayashi-san Chi no Meidoragon S)
Fan Pilgrimage Update
Episode 10 Part A
This was an extraordinary episode. There’s a lot to digest, but if I had to pick a central theme, it would be noticing things. Our viewpoint character is Kanna, so in particular we are being nudged to notice things, big and small, in the way that a child might. This is a lot of fun. I’ve split the review into two subheadings to delineate the two separate but related stories.
In Part A, Kanna runs away from home, flying across the world and landing in New York City. I once lived in the city for a few months, then commuted in by train for several years. Early work took me to industrial manufacturing zones in Queens and Brooklyn. Later on, I spent a lot of time exploring Chinese immigrant communities. After I had gotten interested in urban studies and street photography, but before I ever set foot in a shōtengai with my upgraded kit, I spent a lot of time walking around different New York neighborhoods, trying to figure out what it was I wanted to do. While I don’t know the city as thoroughly as, for example, Tokyo, it’s still fun to see familiar places in anime, even the touristy ones.
Undetermined. New York has been gentrifying rapidly over the past several decades. Film location scout Nick Carr (@scoutwithnick) has remarked that some of his clients are surprised to learn that the gritty street scenes from existing films and TV shows are, in quite a few cases, staged sets. Can you still find alleys that look like this? Sure, but you’ll have to do some searching. Are you likely to find one a block or two away from Times Square? The odds are low.
Kanna and her new friend Chloe set off on a romp around Manhattan.
I think this is Terrace Drive, on top of Bethesda Terrace. The bollards and bricks are similar, and this is the only place I am aware of that has red bricks in the park. The fence in the background doesn’t match, however.
I think these are 4 Bryant Park and Salesforce Tower, viewed from the west side of Bryant Park, though some other buildings that show up in the subsequent pan don’t match. The former building is where Kinokuniya New York is located. This used to be one of my hangout spots. I would pick up a few books, the get food in the cafe, sit at the bar up against the window and stare out at the park.
There aren’t any landmarks, but the shape of the pools, and the fence, trees and lampposts on the perimeter, make me think this is Pier 62 Skatepark.
I’m not sure what to make of the warehouse district. The tower with the spire in the background is One World Trade Center. This angle makes me think it’s a long telephoto shot from Jersey City, around the Newport area, along this orientation. The building with the angled roof in the center would be 200 Vesey Street. But the only thing in Newport these days are high rise condominiums.
Then in the wide shot, it looks like we’re viewing lower Manhattan from Brooklyn, about this orientation. My best guess is Red Hook, which is a mix of industrial and residential, though nothing like this view exists there either.
As this shot pans over to reveal the horizon, we’re over lower Manhattan again.
Central Park is the dark area on the right side.
Weehawken, New Jersey
Episode 10 Part B
Koshigaya (越谷市), Saitama Prefecture. All of the Maid Dragon locations in Episode 10 Part B are in Koshigaya, either literally or notionally.
A main theme of the series is that dragons have historically roamed about from place to place, never anchoring anywhere, and not relying on others for support. However, the dragons that have come into Kobayashi’s life either sought out or fell into situations where they have integrated into human society, become attached to human companions (and the other dragons), and for the first time begin to think of themselves as having a home. Kanna regrets her tantrum and begins to miss her life in Koshigaya. She comes to the conclusion that home is a place to which you can always return, and be welcomed, even after you and the people you live with get mad at each other.
I can’t explain it well, but there is a different quality to the background art of Koshigaya upon Kanna’s return, relative to earlier episodes. For one, many of the spots are appearing for the first time, or are new angles of existing locations. There is also a concerted focus on the details of small things and things close to the ground. I think part of this is the Kanna viewpoint. But I have experienced this too, even as an adult. It often happens when returning home after being away for a few weeks. Or going to a neighborhood I used to visit often but haven’t seen for a while. Retracing the same route as part of a routine makes me habituate, ignoring the finer details and moving through on autopilot. Being away and then returning is like a reset button. You see things anew.
Even the fictional apartment building, seen at Kanna height and with different lighting from usual, feels a little different.
After reconciliation, Kobayashi and Kanna spend a day exploring the areas around the river.
Not even out of the front walk, Kanna is already pulling Kobayashi’s gaze downward, to notice the kinds of things one would tend to ignore on a hurried walk to the train station on the morning commute.
Blotchy light applied in compositing makes another impactful appearance. This time, the trees are still but the people are moving through the light.
Koshigayashi Central City Hall (越谷市 中央市民会館)
With this sequence, I realized I’ve misunderstood the location of the fictional apartment building. It is frequently framed tightly or with just a bit of bridge in the background. Both seasons use multiple parks and residential streets in Higashi-Koshigaya, on the north side of the river, to depict the neighborhood around it. I’d just assumed the apartment was there too and never reconsidered. With this shot and reverse shot, it’s obvious that it’s actually on the south side of the river, in Kawarazone. I feel foolish now, but I’m glad I got that straightened out!
One thing I appreciated at the Kyoani fan events were the displays of set design diagrams and maps used to establish the orientation of things in the world of the work. This always helped clear up questions about why certain things didn’t quite make sense relative to real world spatial relationships.
The English translations of the buildings are a little confusing. The former is an assembly hall, while the latter is the city government office.
Frogs on the ground, and weeds
Heiwa Bridge (平和橋). This is actually two named bridges end-to-end, Heiwabashi and Shin-Heiwabashi. Kanna and Kobayashi are on the former, walking back to the south bank of the river.
Ants filing into a manhole bring us back to the ground, again.
Thus begins Kanna’s quest to search for and document manhole covers.
@york21c notes that in hunting around the city, he found none of the manhole covers match what is depicted in the background art. However, some of the generic designs may have informed the simpler ones. He recommended this resource to get a sense of the various decorative covers used in Koshigaya. @ssslocation found that the city produces collectible cards featuring the cover designs.
Further down the same street (Street View)
There is a shop here, but it’s not a cafe and the facade is different.
This is where I originally thought the apartment was located.
The building with awning and utility pole differ from the actual location. There is also a narrow street between the buildings. The vending machine and park are there, as is Higashi-Koshigaya 7-chōme Shīnoki Park (東越谷七丁目しいの木公園), directly across the street. This park appeared several times in Season 1.
The note about shop closing days makes the background feel like a real place. This was one of the first things I remember learning how to decipher when I lived in Japan.
While Kobayashi looks out at the rain, Kanna once again moves her gaze downward, noticing the water flow into the storm drain.
Yuru-chara being rushed to take cover from the rain: totally normal thing that actually happens.
Yuru-chara being shoved into vehicles, elevators, through subway turnstiles: also taken directly from real life.
Particle-scattered sunlight, tenshi no hashigo (天使の梯子)
Specular highlights on water puddles
Leaked anti-freeze rainbow. The episode is almost over, but we are still noticing things.
It has been a busy day for everyone. I am tired too!
(白い砂のアクアトープ Shiroi Suna no Akuatōpu)
We don’t see it until later in the episode, but Kai passes Azama Port, which is adjacent to Azama Sun Sun Beach, on the way to the aquarium.
The cast return to Kamee for another round of scheming. Does Onion Beer taste good?
Use of social media between individuals has long been integrated into storytelling in manga and anime. However, P.A. Works seems to be one of the few places creating series that emphasize its use by businesses and promotional organizations as a marketing channel.
Azama Port (安座真港)
Chinen Marine Leisure Center (知念海洋レジャーセンター)
Azama Sun Sun Beach
Future Season Pilgrimage
Other Current Season Pilgrimage
Past Season Pilgrimage
@Bf109K1 is making a cycling pilgrimage of the cross country journey in Super Cub Episode 12, traveling the route from Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture to Cape Sata in Kagoshima Prefecture, one section at a time. Since the previous update, he has added a new article (butaitanbou 3) covering Jigyōhama, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture to Cape Sata, Minamiōsumi, Kagoshima Prefecture.