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
Kan’onji Yuyuyu dōjinshi event
Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru dōjinshi circles and fans gathered for Yusha-bū Kokoroe 19 (勇者部心得 じゅうきゅーうっ！), the latest installment of Yūsha-bu Mankai (勇者部満開)—a fan-organized exchange event and dōjinshi spot sale—on February 20 at High Staff Hall (ハイスタッフホール) in Kan’onji, Kagawa Prefecture. Of particular note, butaitanbou-sha Lidges’ circle Tsurebashi (つればし) published a new work in their Yuyubu (ゆゆぶ) series of Yuyuyu seichi location guides. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4, tweet 5
— リジス (@lidges) February 20, 2022
Nagasaki Irozuku hanami
An Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara fan-organized cherry blossom viewing tour of Nagasaki locations featured in the series, hosted by butaitanbou-sha Astral (アストラル @fragments_sue), will be held April 2 from 14:00 to 18:00. Those interested to participate can register here.
Shizuoka Yuru Camp collaboration
In the 12th Location Japan Awards (第12回ロケーションジャパン大賞) presented by tourism and regional revitalization magazine Location Japan on February 17, the Yuru Camp Season 2 and Shizuoka Prefecture marketing campaign received a special prize in the approval rating division (特別賞・支持率部門). Media coverage: Oricon News, Shizuoka Shimbun, Junkan Ryokō Shimbun
Iwaki Hula Fulla Dance collaboration
Theatrical film Hula Fulla Dance premiered in Japan on 2021 December 3. This 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. Director Mizushima Seiji spoke about location hunting in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture and the scenario development process in interviews with Anime News Network and Asahi Shimbun. This film is accompanied by the most aggressive tourism marketing campaign of the three Zutto Ōen works, with multiple promotional components active before, during and long after the theatrical run.
Spa Resort Hawaiians (スパリゾートハワイアンズ) is the primary setting and is the focal point of the promotional campaign. Beginning in 2021 November, the Spring Park Plaza venue within the resort included a display with the synopsis of the film and a PR video with voice actor Fukuhara Haruka, who voices protagonist Natsunagi Hiwa. A preview of the film was held on November 17, including an appearance by voice actor Tomita Miu, who is from Iwaki. On December 3, the day of the premiere, the Spring Park Plaza added an exhibit comparing scenes from the film with images of corresponding real locations, the resort added a special hula performance to the schedule to commemorate the premiere, and character themed hotel rooms became available for stays. Media coverage: Fukushima Minyū Shimbun 1, Fukushima Minyū Shimbun 2
The special performance will run once each day and features the six hula dancers that participated in motion capture sessions during film production. In addition to the Spring Park Plaza exhibition and this performance, a special food and drink menu and tie-up goods sales corner will be available until 2022 May. Media coverage: Fukushima Minyū Shimbun
Idol group Philosophy no Dance performs the film’s theme song “Sunflower.” Together with dancers from the real Hula Girls group, of which the fictional main characters are members in the film, the idol group filmed a music video on stage at Spa Resort Hawaiians, released prior to the film premiere. At a special event at the resort on December 19, the idols and dancers recreated the music video in front of a live audience, before director Mizushima took the stage for a discussion. Media coverage: Crunchyroll News, Anime News Network, Fukushima Minpō
Beyond the resort, the film also includes depictions of multiple rail stations and train travel. Rail stations and other Hula Fulla Dance locations in Iwaki will feature in a digital stamp rally through a collaboration with location-based game Ekimemo! (駅メモ！), which will run from 2021 December 3 to 2022 September 30. News release: Mobile Factory. Media coverage: Tetsudō Channel
Iwaki Film Commission Council (いわきフィルム・コミッション協議会), Hula Fulla Dance, Iwaki City, Iwaki Chamber of Commerce (いわき商工会議所) and Iwaki Tourism and Machizukuri Bureau (いわき観光まちづくりビューロー) have all been involved in the production and distribution of a “butaitanbou map” that includes several locations in the city beyond the resort and was available from December 13. Media coverage: Fukushima TV, Fukushima Minyū Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun
Odaiba Love Live bus
In a tourism promotion demonstration on January 22 and 23, Navitime Japan, working with a long list of business partners and under the auspices of the Japan Tourism Agency, operated Tokimeki Odaiba Bus With You, covered previously. This was a reservation only tour bus service that visited locations used in Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Dōkōkai.
The company held a reporting session on February 17 to discuss outcomes from the experiment. Among participants who responded to a survey, 97% indicated they would like to ride a similar service again, and they were willing to pay between 1000-2000 JPY for it. This is 2-4 times the income earned from a normal bus route one-day pass and would make such a tour bus cost effective for the operator. It was pointed out that although the service could guarantee a certain number of participants were delivered to commercial facilities as part of the tour, there were no measures to encourage consumption of goods and services once there. It was suggested to distribute incentives such as coupons and reconsider the tour route and disembarkation times at certain facilities to that end. Media coverage: Response
Tatebayashi Yorimoi illustration
To commemorate the first anniversary of Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture commissioning the four main characters of Sora yori mo Tōi Basho as “Tatebayashi Anime Ambassadors” (館林アニメアンバサダー) for use in public relations communications, a new illustration created by staff at studio Madhouse has been released. The illustration will be used in a panel display at Tsutsujigaoka Fureai Center, and incorporated into future projects and tie-up goods. Media coverage: Jōmō Shimbun
Ōigawa Yuru Camp collaboration
There was additional reporting on the Ōigawa Railway (大井川鐵道) and Yuru Camp collaboration campaign that will run from February 26 to March 27, covered previously. Media coverage: Mainichi Shimbun 1, Mainichi Shimbun 2
Nanjō Aquatope map
Okinawa Film Office (沖縄フィルムオフィス) announced it has completed and is preparing distribution of a Shiroi Suna no Aquatope “location map” (ロケ地 Map) for Nanjō, Okinawa Prefecture. The use of the neutral term rokechi is consistent with other guidance materials issued by the film commission.
Comment: This is, in my opinion, a reasonable approach to communicating information about anime locations as part of a tourism promotion strategy. By waiting until after the series has aired to reveal detailed information, butaitanbou-sha have a window of opportunity to engage in discovery. More broadly, in the absence of a vigorous tourism push concurrent with broadcast, the seichijunrei-sha, general viewership, and local concerned parties themselves can better gauge the level of spontaneously arising interest in travel motivated by the work.
By not using the terms “butaitanbou” or “seichijunrei” to name or describe the map, it does not conflate subculture originating practices with promoted tourism, nor does it prescribe an intention to a visitor’s purpose. It is simply information for individuals to use as they wish. Furthermore, from the sample image the map appears to include only the main points of interest, with one pin per location. If you want to locate each of the individual features in those areas, or minor locations not included in this map, you’ll have to do your own hunting or consult butaitanbou-sha blogs. I think this is a good balance.
This is not a complete return to the 2010-2015 norm of waiting to see if a series “hits” before engaging in outreach. During the broadcast there were modest efforts to call attention to the use of Nanjō and promote the city’s furusato nōzei campaign, which helped fund this map. But the restraint displayed is an encouraging course correction. Sustainable anime tourism will have to not only leave space for but embrace grassroots activity.
Current Season Pilgrimage
@626shin made a pilgrimage to Ikegami-chō, Kawasaki Ward, Kawasaki City and Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture; Misakichō, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo Metropolis for Slow Loop ED, Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 4 and Episode 5/6.