My Dress-Up Darling その着せ替え人形は恋をする

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

Chōshi Amagami seichijunrei
Previously, the weekly included a summary of the January 18 Chiba TV program Chiba Asa Live Morning Compass (ちば朝ライブ・モーニングこんぱす) segment introducing seichijunrei to Chōshi, Chiba Prefecture for Amagami. Chiba TV has now uploaded the entire segment to YouTube, minus comparison frames from the anime. What wasn’t apparent from the handful of screenshots and second-hand information I came across earlier, was how much the program emphasized subculture originating practices, primarily the pilgrimage exchange notebooks (交流ノート) and leading role of Gotō Tomohiro (五頭智広) from the Kibito Amagami Fan Club (輝日東アマガミファンクラブ) in supporting the series and city, creating a welcoming environment for fans, and becoming a bridge between locals and visitors.

Comment: So much recent reporting emphasizes official collaboration promotions, often to the exclusion of the subculture and community engagement elements of anime pilgrimage. It’s easy to imagine why this happens. Promotions are by design very visible. Most are time-bound, which gives a sense of urgency, or at least freshness to the news. Rights holders, local governments and tourism promoters are actively working to push this information out, which makes reporters’ work easier. It takes greater effort to go beyond surface level understanding, find highly engaged individuals and get them to tell their stories, and examine the circuitous but ultimately more meaningful (to me, at least) paths of spontaneously arising butaitanbou and seichijunrei. I’m really happy when I see this happening.

Iwatsuki Kisekoi doll maker
The exterior of the hina doll shop in Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi o Suru is modeled on Kōjin Ningyō. But the dolls and Gojō’s character were heavily informed by guidance from Suzuki Ningyō (鈴木人形), which is on the credit roll. Both shops are located in Iwatsuki Ward, Saitama City, which is the base for an industry cluster of doll makers. Yorozū News published an interview with Suzuki Keisho (鈴木慶章), the third generation Suzuki and youngest of the named doll makers working at Suzuki Ningyō. Suzuki Keishō worked closely with mangaka Fukuda Shin’ichi during the research phase before the manga was published, walking her through the detailed work, and assented to having main character Gojō Wakana modeled after him. Suzuki Keisho is a passionate proponent of the modern style hina dolls that Gojō introduces to Kitagawa in Episode 4. After that episode aired, there was a flood of orders for these dolls, and all 300 sets of the Bell’s Kiss Series that had been made for this season are now sold out. Media coverage: Yorozū News, Crunchyroll News, Anime News Network

Yamanashi anime local promotion
Award recipients in the Yamanashi Prefecture Public Relations Competition (山梨県広報コンクール) were announced January 24. The public relations in this case are the free local newsletters published and distributed by cities and towns to residents. Winners at the prefecture level are then entered into a national competition. Minobu won the top prize in the town and village division for its 2021 February issue (広報みのぶ2月号), which featured a section introducing Yuru Camp and coincided with the broadcast of the second season. Hokuto received an honorable mention for its 2021 November issue (広報ほくと令和3年11月号), which featured a section introducing Super Cub, including commentary from mangaka Tone Kōken. Media coverage: Asahi Shimbun

Hokuto Super Cub promotion
Hokuto Anime Tourism Council (北杜アニメツーリズム協議会) is a group of local volunteers that formed in 2021 May to promote Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture and facilitate exchange between locals and Super Cub fans, in an attempt to use the popularity of the series to drive regional revitalization (地域活性化). Thus far, it has focused on installation of information boards and sales of tie-up goods. A person involved says that though visitors are patronizing shops and other businesses that appear in the anime backgrounds, the Council is working on strategies to induce fans to also shop at shōtengai and other facilities. Media coverage: Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun (version 1, version 2, version 2 print)

Comment: My impression about this group is mixed. On one hand, they have been enthusiastically engaging with fans online and on the ground. On the other, the commercial pushes are frequent and vigorous. Often the interests of visiting fans and interests of local business owners overlap and everyone’s happy. At times their interests may also diverge, but I don’t think that for a fan to come on one particular occasion and not visit a particular shop or shops means that their presence has no value.

Someone who visits and enjoys that time, for whatever reason, is more likely to return in the future and directly or indirectly encourage others to come. People invariably spend money somewhere when visiting a location for seichijunrei. At the very least, you have to eat. The more a person returns and encourages others to follow, the more potential opportunities for those visitors to patronize local businesses. But if you as a local organization see anime pilgrimage only in terms of transactions, focusing too much on sales and short term results, you potentially risk short circuiting the organic growth of fans’ relationship and values-based connections to the area.

Jashin-chan Furano collaboration
Furano announced it has reached its target of 38 million yen in furusato nōzei receipts for a fund to collaborate on production of a Furano-hen episode of upcoming series Jashin-chan Dropkick X. The supplementary budged proposal incorporating this plan was approved at the June city council regular meeting. The third season of the Jashin-chan anime adaptation is planned to include four such episodes featuring local tourism tie-ins following a general crowdfunding campaign and city-specific funding through the hometown tax system. Media coverage: Crunchyroll News

Itō Amanchu tour
Tōkai Bus (東海バス) conducted a two-day, one-night tour of locations from Amanchu! in Itō and Numazu, Shizuoka Prefecture on January 8 and 9. The tour included a bus with an Amanchu! character wrapping and several participants were dressed in cosplay. At several points, participants talked about how visiting the locations felt like coming home. Media coverage: Izu Shimbun, Izu Shimbun (print)

Comment: Sounds like they had a good time. That feeling of “I’m back” (ただいま) when arriving at an anime location, even visiting for the first time, is something I’ve experienced and others have mentioned on many occasions. I’m glad to see it included in reporting.

Super Ono Super Cub collaboration
Super Ono (スーパーおの) in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture contracted anime collaboration product maker Asunarosha (あすなろ舎) to produce Shii’s Handmade Black Bread (椎の手作り風 黒パン), inspired by the kommissbrot Eniwa Shii brings on the cross country trip in Super Cub Episode 12, for exclusive sale at the grocery store. News release: Asunarosha. Media coverage: Anime Anime

Comment: I’m being snarky, but that bread looks nowhere near as dark as the one in the anime. Not enough rye flour! On a related note, there is a large and growing section of Super Cub paraphernalia and goods for sale at Super Ono. Visitors have been calling it “Animate Hokuto branch.”

Minobusan Yuru Camp collaboration
The “kushikiri dango” (くし切りだんご) previously only available ready-to-eat at the Minobusan Ropeway summit shop in Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture, is now being offered in a souvenir package with Yuru Camp branding. The box comes frozen, with three skewers, one of each flavor, and miso tare for coating the dango. Media coverage: Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun (print)

Tatebayashi Yorimoi wrapping bus
Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture outfitted one of its local buses with a Sora yori mo Tōi Basho wrapping. It’s more a shuttle bus than a full size city bus, but a bus nonetheless. Yorimoi fan and local event organizer @MugichocoUmeeee is, with the consent of the city, planning to install a pilgrimage exchange notebook on the bus. Media coverage: Jōmō Shimbun (print). Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4

Chichibu Anohana wrapping bus
Two buses with wrappings from Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai. (Anohana) operating in Chichibu since 2014 March will soon complete their services. An exhibition (announcement, details) will be held February 27 from 11:00 to 13:00 in front of the Chichibu City History and Cultural Tradition Hall (秩父市歴史文化伝承館) to commemorate the end of the run.

Ōigawa Yuru Camp collaboration
Ōigawa Railway (大井川鐵道) and Yuru Camp will collaborate on a marketing campaign (announcement, dedicated site) that will run from February 26 to March 27. This will be active along the full length of the Ōigawa Main Line in Shizuoka Prefecture, from Kanaya Station in Shimada to Senzu Station in Kawanehon, a route which passes by multiple locations used in the series. The campaign includes character panels in stations, headmarks on trains, two-day train passes, and sales of tie-up goods that all feature original illustrations by mangaka Afro. Media coverage: Tetsudō Channel, Travel Watch

Current Season Pilgrimage

@flyingbird1124 made a pilgrimage (updated post) to Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi o Suru Episode 5.

@tad55kawasaki made a pilgrimage to Tonoshō, Kagawa Prefecture for Karakai Jōzu no Takagi-san 3 Episode 5.

@ad_motsu made a pilgrimage (updated post) to Ikegami-chō, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture for Slow Loop Episode 5.

@koyoikaze made a pilgrimage to Yokosuka; (with assistance from @kousuketukasa) Ikegami-chō, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki City (both Kanagawa Prefecture) for Slow Loop Episode 4 and Episode 5.

Past Season Pilgrimage

@lidges made a pilgrimage to Matsue, Shimane Prefecture for Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru: Dai Mankai no Shō.

@kimamanidance made a pilgrimage to Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo Metropolis; Sakuragi, Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture for Senpai ga Uzai Kōhai no Hanashi.

@hiro_senritu made a pilgrimage to (post 1) Itō, Higashiizu and Shimoda; (post 2) Nishiizu, Numazu and Izu (all Shizuoka Prefecture) for Yuru Camp Season 2.

@nagisaya_blog made a pilgrimage (post 1, post 2) to Ashikita, Kumamoto Prefecture for Hōkago Teibō Nisshi.

@niceboathime made a pilgrimage to Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture for Oshi ga Budōkan Ittekuretara Shinu.

@niceboathime made a pilgrimage (post 1, post 2, post 3) to Ginzan Onsen in Obanazawa, Yamagata Prefecture for Girlish Number.

@niceboathime made a pilgrimage (post 4) to Takayama, Gifu Prefecture for Hyōka.

@niceboathime made a pilgrimage to Kure and Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture for Tamayura.