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
Akamatsu Ken seichijunrei talk
Love Hina mangaka Akamatsu Ken (赤松健) hosted a one hour Twitter Spaces conversation with three other mangaka discussing seichijunrei and other topics on March 7. The conversation was recorded and will be available for playback for 30 days, so April 6. Only the first 10 minutes were given to seichijunrei, and the conversation did not go into much depth, but there were a few interesting pieces of information.
Akamatsu was broadcasting from Ginzan Onsen in Obanazawa, Yamagata Prefecture. At Ginzan, the ryokan Kosekikan (小関館), which is temporarily closed for renovation, was the location model for Hinata-sō in Love Hina. Akamatsu had learned from the Obanazawa City Tourism and Products Association that the effect of Love Hina was most pronounced around the year 2000, when the manga was in the middle of its multi-year run and the initial broadcast anime had been released. Local business operators, accustomed to a mostly older clientele, were astonished by the sudden appearance of younger visitors. What makes this more remarkable is that at the time social media in its current form did not yet exist. Usenet and BBS had long been available, and Mixi had just launched, but dominant and ubiquitous platforms geared toward information dissemination like Facebook and Twitter had not yet launched.
Akamatsu thinks that although tokusatsu filming included real places and some fans did travel to them, manga and anime are jointly the main driving force behind the growth of seichijunrei because the level of accuracy in the backgrounds allows fans to identify the precise position and angle from which the same scene can be viewed in the real location.
Koganei Ochifuru exhibition
A promotional event for Ochikobore Fruit Tart was held March 5 and 6 in Koganei, Tokyo Metropolis. The promotion included a talk event in Kajino Park (梶野公園) with the voice actors of the show’s Cream Anmitsu group and director Kawaguchi Keiichirō on March 5, and exhibition of production materials from the anime at Koganei Miyaji Musical Hall (小金井宮地楽器ホール) on March 5 and 6. Photos: tweet 1, tweet 2, tweet 3, tweet 4
Kan’onji Yuyuyu dōjinshi event
Yusha-bū Kokoroe 20 (勇者部心得 にじゅーっ！), the latest installment of Yūsha-bu Mankai (勇者部満開)—a Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru fan-organized exchange event and dōjinshi spot sale—will be held July 18 at High Staff Hall (ハイスタッフホール) in Kan’onji, Kagawa Prefecture.
Toyosato Cool Japan video
A promotional video for Toyosato, Shiga Prefecture titled Toyosato: Youth is Now! (豊郷町 ただいま青春中！) has been nominated for consideration in Cool Japan Video Contest 2021 (クールジャパン動画コンテスト2021). Winners will be announced at a later date.
Comment: It is ironic that Toyosato, which has an iconic, spontaneously arising, honest-to-goodness anime seichi, can’t refer to it directly in any town promotion communications, because controlling rights holder TBS won’t allow it. But they were very clever in this video, getting a handful of kids to pose with music instruments in the auditorium, including the Korg Triton keyboard and mock Les Paul sunburst guitar, which probably were borrowed from the K-On! treasure room in the library.
Kumagaya Blue Thermal promotion
Theatrical film Blue Thermal, based on a manga by Ozawa Kana, premiered March 4. The primary setting of the work is the Menuma Gliderport (妻沼滑空場) in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. Prior to the release, the Kumagaya City Tourism Association deployed a vigorous public relations campaign intended to promote the city as a “seichi.” A film preview and message from voice actor Hotta Mayu began broadcasting, and a large display of banners were installed at Kumagaya Station. Banners and leaflets promoting information about Kumagaya as the setting and encouraging “seichijunrei” were distributed to shops that appear in the manga or film. Events collaborating with glider training centers and movie theaters have been planned. At an advance screening, when asked for comments about the film, Kumagaya mayor Kobayashi Tetsuya indicated he was looking forward to “seichijunrei inducing interest in Menuma,” then corrected himself “in Kumagaya.” Media coverage: Sankei Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun 1, Mainichi Shimbun 2
Suzuki Kisekoi hina dolls
Suzuki Ningyō (鈴木人形) in Iwatsuki Ward, Saitama City will produce a line of hina dolls based on the main cast of Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi o Suru, including Gojō Wakana, Kitagawa Marin, Inui Sajuna, Inui Shinju and Gojō Kaoru. The dolls will be created by third generation maker Suzuki Keishō (鈴木慶章), who 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. Media coverage: Otakomu, Anime News Network
Comment: There are several strange aspects to the video released by Aniplex regarding this announcement. The YouTube upload is georestricted to Japan. The video itself contains two errors. It refers to the artisan as Suzuki Akito. He isn’t. That’s Suzuki Keishō, the modern doll maker and model for Wakana. (Compare to recent photos of him in the Huffington Post Japan article from last week.) Suzuki Akito is the business’ representative director. The video also uses a dissolve transition to suggest the Suzuki Ningyō physical shop was the model for Gojō’s shop in the series. It isn’t. The exterior is based on Kōjin Ningyō, a different shop in Iwatsuki. Maybe only a handful of butaitanbou-sha care about a building facade, but to misidentify the interview subject and central person for the project is a bizarre level of oversight.
Uji Eupho collaborations
Keihan Electric Railway (京阪電気鉄道) and Hibike! Euphonium will hold a one-day only promotional event on March 19 anchored at the Historical Park of Tea and Uji Town (お茶と宇治のまち歴史公園) in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture. This is actually an extension of the multi-part Keihan Railway x Hibike! Euphonium 2021 (京阪電車×響け！ユーフォニアム2021) collaboration held, with some adjustments due to Covid-19, from 2021 September to November. This new event will include a tea canister making activity, display of anime scenes with photographs of corresponding real locations, commemorative headmarks on Keihan Uji Line trains, Keihan tie-in goods sales at the venue, and a digital stamp rally around the city using smartphone app Butaimeguri. News release: Keihan Electric Railway. Media coverage: Mantanweb, Spice
On the same day, multiple shōtengai in Uji will launch a Eupho themed promotional campaign (announcement 1, announcement 2) that will run from March 19 to April 17. More details about this will be available on a dedicated website launching next week.
Hokuto Super Cub stamp rally
To commemorate the first anniversary of the Super Cub anime premiere, the Hokuto Anime Tourism Council (北杜アニメツーリズム協議会) will hold a stamp rally in Hokuto, Yamanashi Prefecture from April 9 to May 8. Participants who complete the rally receive an original sticker. On the opening day, voice actors Yomichi Yuki (Koguma) and Nanase Ayaka (Reiko) will be the featured guests in a talk event at 13:00. Media coverage: Mantanweb, Yorozū News, Moca News, Otakomu
Wakayama Summer Time promotion
Kofune Ushio, the main character of upcoming series Summer Time Rendering, will be appointed as the first “Wakayama City Anime Tourism Ambassador” (和歌山市アニメ観光大使) in a ceremony on March 24. The character will be used in marketing communications promoting tourism to the city. The series, which is set in Wakayama City and includes characters speaking Wakayama dialect, premieres April 14. Tanaka Yasuki, the creator of the manga on which the series is based, is also from Wakayama City. Media coverage: Mantanweb, Animage Plus, Comic Natalie, Spice, Pash Plus, MyNavi News, Crunchyroll News
Yuru Camp guide
JTB Publishing published Rurubu Yuru Camp Camp Book (るるぶ ゆるキャン△キャンプBOOK), the imprint’s third in a series of guides featuring the Yuru Camp series, on March 9. The first and second guides, published in 2020 and 2021, focused on locations that appeared in the anime. This new volume emphasizes camping knowledge, including gear, tent setup, fire making, and recipes for camp cooking. It also contains interviews with mangaka Afro and actor Ōhara Yūno, who plays Kagamihara Nadeshiko in the live-action adaptation. Media coverage: Anime Anime 1, Anime Anime 2, Comic Natalie, Travel Watch
Future Season Pilgrimage
@ad_motsu made a pilgrimage to Daiba, Minato Ward; Ariake, Kōtō Ward; Haneda Airport in Ōta Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Dōkōkai Season 2 PV and key visual.
@Roan_Inish made a pilgrimage to Dogenzaka and Udagawachō, Shibuya Ward; Kita-Aoyama, Minato Ward; Marunouchi, Chiyoda Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Heroine Tarumono! Kiraware Heroine to Naisho no Oshigoto PV.