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.
2022 Summer Season Overview
Welcome back to a new season of anime settings and background art.
Lycoris Recoil (A-1 Pictures) is without a doubt this season’s front runner. We can think of the setting as a series of concentric rings expanding out from Tokyo Skytree, with the densest activity at the center. Notably, some locations have been altered aesthetically to give a faint impression of a near future setting, and place names have been obscured or omitted, but there is more than enough of good old Tokyo for you to figure out where they are. More time is spent in Oshiage, Sumida Ward than anywhere else, and this is implied to be the location of fictional cafe LycoReco, but Chisato and Takina’s assignments and adventures take them to other districts close to this home zone, and a few beyond it.
Thus far, beyond Oshiage we have seen Taihei, Yokokawa, Kinshi and Mukōjima, also in Sumida Ward. Yanaka, Adachi Ward is the pickup point for Walnut and includes a transfer from the Tōbu Railway limited express Ryōmō at Kita-Ayase Station. The train and station are real, though Ryōmō doesn’t stop here and Kita-Ayase is a terminus, so no transfers are possible, but let’s not get hung up on details. Multiple vehicle chases and the ending of the Silent Jin fiasco take us though Sumiyoshi and Fukagawa, Kōtō Ward; Horikiri and Kosuge, Katsushika Ward; and Rinkaichō and Hirai, Edogawa Ward. Chisato’s tour makes stops at Asakusa, Taitō Ward; a cruise on the Sumida River (which has a tie-up promotion in the process of launching); and Chiyoda and Marunouchi, Chiyoda Ward. The final scene of Episode 5 is Tsukuda, Chūō Ward. There is a one-off shot of Udagawachō, Shibuya Ward in the OP. All locations are Tokyo Metropolis.
It is an encouraging sign when there is a large, spontaneously arising response to a new work. Floating and testing theories, comparing notes, and working on a shared goal is what makes butaitanbou so interesting to me. @ssslocation, @flyingbird1124, @tesra1141, @unimaru_, @yamabito0, @rica0867, @Deep_adultweet, @kurubushiking, @koyoikaze, @ad_motsu and @heero_yuy2 are looking into location for LycoReco.
Yofukashi no Uta (Liden Films) gives the impression of covering a large area due to very high number of unique cuts (and all of Nazuna’s flying around) but, as of Episode 5, the setting is almost entirely contained in Minami Ward, with a few spots spilling into Sakura Ward, in Saitama City, Saitama Prefecture. Many of the locations are clustered around Musashi-Urawa Station. Kō and Akira live in the same danchi, public housing that usually takes the form of large clusters of apartment buildings of the same design, often with integrated public spaces, like the parks where the cast often meet each other. Based on the manga, there will potentially be trips into Tokyo. Director Itamura Tomoyuki brings a bit of Monogatari series flavor to many aspects of this work, including the background art, with exaggerated colors and frequent cutaway shots of infrastructure. @ssslocation, @flyingbird1124, @626shin and @heero_yuy2 are looking into locations for Yofukashi no Uta.
Hataraku Maō-sama!! (3Hz) returns, after nearly a decade, for a second season. Katsu-doon!!! (I’m really happy about this.) As before, our anchor location is Sasazuka, Shibuya Ward, though the MgRonald’s is based on what had been a Mos Burger in adjacent Hatagaya. The building is still there, but it is now a sushi shop. It has not appeared yet, but Emi lives in Eifukuchō, Suginami Ward. Episode 3 is a visit to Tokyo Dome City in Kōraku, Bunkyo Ward. All locations are Tokyo Metropolis. Part of my interest in Maō-sama stems from nostalgia. You can see from the series index on Legwork that there was significant butaitanbou interest at the time of broadcast. Like many series during that period, there were no location-based tie-up promotions. All butaitanbou and seichijunrei activity was spontaneously arising. But it’s also a fun comedy and, at times, insightful social commentary. I am looking forward to spending more time with this bunch.
Love Live! Superstar!! (Bandai Namco Filmworks) returns for a second season. Thus far, we have mostly retread familiar locations from the first season and past music videos in Yoyogi Park (Yoyogi-Kamizonochō, Jinnan), Jingūmae and Shibuya, Shibuya Ward; and Kita-Aoyama and Minami-Aoyama, Minato Ward. Kōzushima briefly appears by way of a video call. Kinako’s introduction sequence adds quick stops at the Hachikō statue in Udagawachō, Shibuya Ward; and Shiba, Minato Ward. All locations, including Kōzushima, are Tokyo Metropolis. A promotional wrapping bus is currently operating in Kōzushima and will run a regular fixed-route until September 25. @ad_motsu, is again the lead butaitanbou-sha, and @habusan and @Deep_adultweet are also looking into locations for Love Live! Superstar!!
Summer Time Render (OLM) continues into its second cour. In terms of location, there have not been any surprises since the setting was established. Multiple butaitanbou-sha and seichijunrei-sha have traveled to Wakayama City, Wakayama Prefecture, and a few also to Ogijima, Kagawa Prefecture. Toward the later part of the first cour and continuing into the second, as the action intensifies, settings are becoming limited to interior locations, so discussion and investigation have cooled. @fragments_sue continues to be the lead butaitanbou-sha during the broadcast, and @flyingbird1124 and @_xckb have also published detailed reports. Active tourism promotion through media communication by Wakayama City has also subsided, though the maps and other resources are still available online and on the ground. There was an exhibition of character panels, reproduction keyframes, and messages from voice actors at the Wakayama Civic Library in July.
Jashin-chan Dropkick X (Nomad) returns for a third season. As always, Jinbōchō, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo Metropolis is our anchor location. Expanding on the success of the Chitose special episode in the second season, this third installment is partially crowdfunded through a general campaign for naming rights to the season and episodes, and the furusato nōzei (hometown tax) programs of three additional Hokkaidō cities, Obihiro, Kushiro, Furano, as well as Minamishimabara, Nagasaki Prefecture, yielding a tie-in episode for each. We will see Kushiro, the first of these, next week. Other anime have used crowdfunding to support production, but Jashin-chan is the first to do this through furusato nōzei. Additionally, many cities have offered tie-in anime goods for furusato nōzei, but Jashin-chan is the first case in which the gift is the anime itself. @JuantheMad_ is looking into locations for Jashin-chan.
Mamahaha no Tsurego ga Motokano datta (Project No.9) is set in Kyoto, though place names are obscured. @etesuke, @whitekurosuke, @heero_yuy2 and @fragments_sue are looking into locations for Tsurekano.
Kanojo, Okarishimasu (TMS Entertainment) returns for a second season. Thus far, there have been multiple scenes in Shinjuku, Shinjuku Ward and Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward. The ED is a montage of barely processed photos from Chōfu; Nishi-Shinjuku and Shimo-Ochiai, Shinjuku Ward; Toyosu, Kōtō Ward (preceding all Tokyo Metropolis); and Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. @Deep_adultweet and @flyingbird1124 are looking into locations for Kanokari.
Shine Post (Studio Kai) is unclear about where it wants to be. The anchor is a live house where the nascent idols perform, modeled on a location in Shimokitazawa. The first several episodes include scenes at Asagaya Pearl Center Shōtengai, Meiji Jingū Stadium, and the Nippon Budōkan. All of these Tokyo locations make sense in context of their specific scenes, but the abrupt transitions between them lead to a lack of cohesion. Then there is the OP, which includes shots of Inokashira Park, the Akasaka-Mitsuke pedestrian bridge, and several yet unidentified locations. The ED is a montage of European urban scenes, including Barcelona and Paris. None of this background art is bad. In fact, it is all quite good. It just doesn’t flow or come together as a whole.
Kumichō Musume to Sewagakari (Feel, Gaina) includes multiple establishing shots of Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo Metropolis in the OP and ED, of which the latter are processed photographs. In the episodes, there are several scenes that appear to be Kabukichō. However, much of the show takes place inside a large residential compound and a suburban neighborhood along a river.
Teppen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Drive) brings together manzai teams from different parts of Japan to a training program at a dorm, which I suspect does not exist, in Osaka. We get establishing shots of the usual suspects, like Osaka-jō Hall, Tsutenkaku, Dotonbori and, because this is a show about manzai, Namba Grand Kagetsu. However, thus far the characters do very little interacting with the city. For each of the teams, there are either flashback scenes or references, some rather obscure, to their respective hometowns. We have gotten to know three of them so far. Young Wai-Wai represents Kansai, and Kyoto is specifically mentioned, though the stage where they originally performed is actually in Inokashira Park in Musashino, Tokyo Metropolis. Akudare Ōkoku represents Kantō, specifically Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. Shinryakusha represents Hokkaidō. Buttercream sandwiches are the specialty of Rokkatei in Obihiro, which come up frequently as a running joke, and the head shop is used in a one-off gag. There’s also an appearance of the Sapporo Clock Tower, and references to Lake Kussharo in Teshikaga and its resident lake monster Kussie. @heero_yuy2 is looking into locations for Teppen.
Fūto Tantei (Studio Kai) has a fictional setting, Fūto City. The building housing the detective agency is modeled on a location in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture. However, the rest of the city appears Tokyo-inspired. There is what appears to be a reference to Rainbow Bridge, an obvious reference to Shibuya 109, and a ladder street that makes me think of Nezumizaka in Bunkyō Ward. There are a few other street scenes and a fountain plaza. There are probably references to the Tōei sets used in the production of live action tokusatsu Kamen Rider W, on which this series is based, that are going completely over my head.
Engage Kiss (A-1 Pictures) has a fictional setting, Baylong City. It appears to be heavily inspired by Macao, with multiple references to its skyscrapers and casinos. There is also the island city connected to a mainland by long bridges part. However, the pagoda-styled skyscraper that towers over the city more closely resembles Taipei 101. Macao and Taipei have somewhat similar light rail systems, though the designs of the cars and stations lean a little toward the Taipei Metro. Then there are the ginkgo sidewalk railings and literal depictions of the Studio Alta building in Shinjuku, Asagaya Pearl Center Shōtengai, Chūō-dōri in Ginza, and probably some other Tokyo references.
Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru (Silver Link) thus far doesn’t have much going on beyond the school club room. There is a new year shrine visit, through it’s not the shrine that appears in the manga. There could potentially be a Kyoto visit.
Bucchigire! (Geno Studio) is set in Kyoto during the Bakamatsu period (1853-1867).
Hoshi no Samidare (Naz) includes a school campus modeled on the Shizuoka University of Science and Technology in Fukuroi, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Shoot! Goal to the Future (EMT Squared, Magic Bus) is set in Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture. A tourism promotion tie-in campaign in Kakegawa is underway.
Aoashi (Production I.G) continues into its second cour. This wasn’t on my radar last season, but it included multiple scenes in Tokyo Metropolis, Saitama Prefecture and Ehime Prefecture. @heero_yuy2 has previously looked into locations for Aoashi.
Love All Play (Nippon Animation, OLM) continues into its second cour. The main setting is Chigasaki-Minami and Nakamachidai, Tsuzuki Ward; and Nōkendai-dōri, Kanazawa Ward (all Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture). There were visits to Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture and Kyoto in the first cour.
Kakkō no Iinazuke (Shin-Ei Animation, SynergySP) continues into its second cour. Investigation at the beginning of the series indicated the setting draws loosely from locations along the Meguro River in Nakameguro, Kamimeguro and Higashiyama, Meguro Ward, Tokyo Metropolis. Interest in the series subsequently evaporated.
BanG Dream! Morfonication (Sanzigen) is a two episode special released via terrestrial broadcast and YouTube on July 28 and 29. It includes several scenes at Izumi-Tamagawa Station and along the Tama River in Komae, Tokyo Metropolis.
Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love Starish Tours (A-1 Pictures) is a special episode that functions as a bridge between earlier installments of this large media mix franchise and its upcoming theatrical film. The first part of the special includes a scene in Shibuya, some vaguely urban Japan backgrounds, and some vaguely European countryside backgrounds. Then it abruptly transitions to a glamping trip in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, with backgrounds and place names rendered in careful detail. There is a Karuizawa tourism promotion tie-in campaign linked to this.
Eiga Bakuten!! (Zexcs) is the film sequel to the broadcast series and premiered July 2. Like the series, the film features Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture and is coupled with a tourism promotion campaign. Bakuten!! 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.
Eiga Yuru Camp (C-Station) premiered July 1. It is not a direct continuation of the broadcast series, nor an adaptation of a later part of the ongoing manga, but a separate story in which the characters have grown up and become working adults. In the film, the main cast is initially spread among locations in Akishima, Tokyo Metropolis; Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture; and Kōfu, Fujikawa and Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture. They reunite in Minobu for a project to recondition and reopen a campsite, which is modeled on actual campsite Minobu Shizen no Sato (みのぶ自然の里). Ayano is still in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture. Many butaitanbou-sha and seichijunrei-sha have already visited locations that appear in the film.
Gekijōban Tsurune: Hajimari no Issha (Kyoto Animation) is the film sequel to the broadcast series and will premiere August 19. In the PV, all of the scenes include locations already known from the series. The primary setting is Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture, with one borrowed location from Kenroku-en in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. The rival school is a composite of architectural elements from Kyoto, Kyōtanabe, and the Meiji-mura open-air architectural museum in Inuyama, Aichi Prefecture.
Media and General Interest
Kan’onji Yuyuyu beach cleanup
Fans of Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru, dubbing themselves the “Real Hero Club” (リアル勇者部), organized a litter pickup of Ariake Beach in Kan’onji Prefecture on July 17. Media coverage: Shikoku Shimbun. Photos: tweet 1
Kamiichi Ōkami Kodomo event
There was additional reporting on events in Kamiichi, Toyama Prefecture from July 23 to September 4 commemorating the 10th anniversary of Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki, covered previously. Media coverage: Chūnichi Shimbun
The 50th Komoro Citizens Festival “Dokansho” (第50回こもろ市民まつり「ドカンショ」), which was scheduled to be held for the first time in three years on August 6 in Komoro, Nagano Prefecture, has been cancelled due to an emerging Covid-19 wave affecting the area. As a result, the Natsumachi Ren (なつまち連) will also not take place, but the Natsumachi Omotenachi Salon (なつまちおもてなしサロン) still plans to hold its planned event at Honmachi Machiyakan (ほんまち町屋館) on August 6 and 7 for Ano Natsu de Matteru fans who visit the city.
Uji cosplay event
Kyoto Shimogamo Salon will organize a private cosplay photography event at the Taiyōgaoka Family Pool (太陽が丘ファミリープール) of Yamashiro Sports Park (山城総合運動公園) in Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, with sessions on September 3, 4, 10 and 11. The location is used as a setting in Hibike! Euphonium Season 2 Episode 2.
Washinomiya Lucky Star survey
Izuki (伊月 @bluetwintail) publishes a dōjinshi annually about Washinomiya and Lucky Star. Part of each issue is a fan activity and “state of the seichi” report based on survey data. The survey is available online.
Shibukawa Initial D promotion
As part of an anime tourism promotion project, Shibukawa, Gunma Prefecture facilitated the launch of three taxis, one from each of three companies operating in the city, that are outfitted with Initial-D themed visuals. One car mimics the black and white Toyota AE86 and has a “Fujiwara Tofu Shop” logo, a second mimics the yellow Mazda RX-7, and a third features illustrations of the cast. The taxis will be in service until 2023 March. A representative from Nippon Chūō Kōtsū, which operates the “AE86,” pledged to comply with the Road Traffic Act, indicating they will “make great effort to drive safely, without drifting.” Editor’s note: Boooo. Media coverage: Tokyo Shimbun
Kakegawa Shoot promotion
Kakegawa, Shizuoka Prefecture launched a Shoot! Goal to the Future marketing promotion that will run from 2022 July 27 to 2023 January 26. The campaign includes a digital stamp rally using smartphone app Butaimeguri, posters that depict the cast at various locations in the city, and a small exhibition of materials at the Kakegawa Central Library. News release: Kakegawa City, Kakegawa Tourism Association, series official site. Media coverage: Asahi Shimbun
Enoshima Tari Tari promotion
Tari Tari released an illustration on July 1 commemorating the tenth anniversary of the series premiere. It was made available for sale as a B2 size tapestry at Shima-no-chaya Aburaya (島の茶屋あぶらや) on Enoshima in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture beginning July 30. Aburaya will also host a small exhibition of illustrations and other materials. The sales and exhibition are planned to run until October, though sales may end earlier if the goods sell out.
Fujikawa Yuru Camp local promotion
The 2022 August issue of Kōhō Fujikawa (広報ふじかわ令和04年08月号 No. 149), the town published free local newsletter distributed to residents, features two pages introducing locations that appear in the Yuru Camp broadcast series and theatrical film Eiga Yuru Camp. @fureshima2223 published screenshots of the relevant sections for archival purposes.
Uji Eupho promotion
Just before the launch, Keihan Electric Railway (京阪電気鉄道) announced the addition of one more component, a digital stamp rally using smartphone app Butaimeguri, to the Hibike! Euphonium marketing promotion that will run from 2022 August 1 to 2024 February 15. The stamp rally will be active from August 1 to November 30. Details of the other parts of the campaign were covered previously. News release: Keihan Electric Railway
Mizube LycoReco promotion
The Tokyo Mizube Line (東京水辺ライン) water bus that appears in Lycoris Recoil Episode 5 will operate a promotional tie-up cruise, three runs on August 21, featuring announcements recorded by cast voice actors and music from the series. Tickets cost 1,500 JPY and will be distributed by lottery, with application online from August 1 to 11.
Hokkaidō Golden Kamuy promotion
A Golden Kamuy digital stamp rally using smartphone app Butaimeguri, which includes locations across Hokkaidō, will run from 2022 August 1 to 2023 March 31.
Warabi Cramer promotion
Warabi, Saitama Prefecture launched a promotional project utilizing Sayonara Watashi no Cramer. In the campaign, 20 local business operators nominated characters from the series to “work” at the businesses as part-time employees. Business cards bearing the characters’ names and positions will be printed, and can only be obtained by visiting those specific shops. A lottery was held in cases where multiple businesses have selected the same character. The results of the character “draft” are being announced in local cable TV broadcasts between August 2 and 8, and released on the channel’s YouTube account on August 5. Media coverage: Go Guy Net
Tōkai Kisen Love Live promotion
Tōkai Kisen (東海汽船) is offering a gosen’in (御船印) featuring the Love Live! Sunshine characters from Sunny Passion beginning August 5. The stamp is available only at the Tōkai Kisen Kōzushima office. A gosen’in is a ship’s version of the goshuin (御朱印) issued by shrines and temples. News release: Tōkai Kisen, series official site
Marugame Yuyuyu goods
Marugame City Tourism Association (丸亀市観光協会) is launching sales of Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru tie-up goods at the Marugame Castle (丸亀城) souvenir shop beginning August 5.
Numazu Love Live promotion
LaLaport Numazu (ららぽーと沼津) will hold a Love Live! Sunshine!! goods sale promotion from August 5 to 15. The campaign will include a pop up shop, as well as tie-up goods with multiple shopping center retailers, all of which are unique to the location. News release: Mitsui Fudōsan Retail Management, series official site
Kan’onji Yuyuyu promotion
In conjunction with the Kan’onji, Kagawa Prefecture Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru stamp rally from August 5 to September 4, covered previously, there will be a sales event featuring tie-up goods produced by local retailers at High Staff Hall (ハイスタッフホール), and an unveiling ceremony for the installation of Yuyuyu tourist information audio content at Kotohiki Park (琴弾公園), both on August 6.
Odaiba Love Live bus tour
Mirai Things, Hinomaru Jidōsha Kōgyō, and Navitime Japan, with the cooperation of Project Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Dōkōkai, launched the full rollout of Tokimeki Odaiba Bus With You, which will run from August 6 to September 19. This is a reservation only tour bus service that will visit locations used in Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Dōkōkai, featuring a wrapped vehicle that has in-car announcements recorded by cast voice actors. A trial version of the product was conducted in January, in which routes were tested and feedback collected from participants, covered previously here and here. The full service includes three routes, available for two weeks each. Compared with the trial run, the full version adds announcements by all the cast members, goods sales on the bus, and incentives to encourage consumption of goods and services at target stores in commercial facilities visited as part of the tour.
Karuizawa Utapri tour
A tour package tie-up with Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love Starish Tours: Tabi no Hajimari that includes accommodation, rally and goods in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture will be offered from August 19 to October 1. Media coverage: Comic Natalie, Numan
Current Season Pilgrimage
@ad_motsu made a pilgrimage to Oshiage, Yokokawa and Kinshi, Sumida Ward; Sumiyoshi, Kōtō Ward; Asakusa, Taitō Ward; Horikiri and Kosuge, Katsushika Ward; Yanaka, Adachi Ward; Marunouchi and Chiyoda, Chiyoda Ward; Rinkaichō, Edogawa Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Lycoris Recoil OP, Episode 1 through Episode 5.
@flyingbird1124 made a pilgrimage (updated: post 1, post 2) to Taihei, Oshiage and Mukōjima, Sumida Ward; Asakusa, Taitō Ward; Fukagawa, Kōtō Ward; Chiyoda and Marunouchi, Chiyoda Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Lycoris Recoil Episode 1, Episode 4 and Episode 5.
@Deep_adultweet made a pilgrimage to (post 1) aboard the Tōbu Railway limited express Ryōmō; (post 2) Yanaka, Adachi Ward; Horikiri and Kosuge, Katsushika Ward (all Tokyo Metropolis) for Lycoris Recoil Episode 2.
@flyingbird1124 made a pilgrimage to Chōfu; Nishi-Shinjuku and Shimo-Ochiai, Shinjuku Ward; Toyosu, Kōtō Ward (preceding all Tokyo Metropolis); Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture for Kanojo, Okarishimasu Season 2 ED.