Everyone has that playlist or soundtrack that gets them psyched. Whether you're planning a night out, or need some extra energy for a morning run, music and podcasts have a way of making things way more entertaining.
While normally you might not think listening to someone talk about grocery shopping would be considered a pump-up jam, you need to reconsider. Trader Joe's is coming out with its own podcast, and it sounds more exciting than any grocery store podcast has a right to be.
Most of the setting of Kyoto Animation series Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! (中二病でも恋がしたい!)—Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions in English speaking markets—is set in the city of Ōtsu, Shiga Prefecture. However the second season, subtitled Ren (戀)—Heart Throb, includes two episodes of a school trip to Kyūshū. This article explores locations featured in Kagoshima, the final destination on that trip.
This anime pilgrimage was part of my first visit to Kyūshū, the most southwesterly of Japan’s four main islands. I had traveled to Kagoshima City to participate in the Eighth Butaitanbou Summit, held in 2015 July. This was a big step for me, as it was the first event I attended after becoming a member of the Butaitanbou Community (BTC). Butaitanbou (舞台探訪 scene hunting) is an intense form of pop culture tourism in which practitioners identify, travel to and photograph the real world locations used as the basis for settings of manga and anime. Because it was my first summit, I was asked to do a self introduction. With the help of Tachikichi (たちきち @tachikichi) translating, I was able to give everyone a chance to see and hear the mysterious foreigner who had been engaging with them over Twitter for the prior three years. It was a really joyous occasion to finally find my tribe and discover they were as curious about me as I was about them.
As is tradition at these summits, the day following the meeting offered tours to anime pilgrimage locations in the area, led by BTC members. Though a few small groups headed out across Kagoshima Prefecture, like the majority of attendees I stayed in the capital city for the Chūnibyō option. There were so many of us, we were split into several groups to make moving around easier. I ended up in the care of Seki (セキ @seki_saima), the main organizer of the tour, which I couldn’t have been happier about. Seki is a location expert for Chūnibyō specifically and Kyoto Animation works generally, the longstanding manager of the BTC Kansai branch, one of the handful of people who came to see me the first time I met butaitanbou practitioners face-to-face in Kyoto, and a good friend that I rely on for guidance.
Including the tour, I visited the Chūnibyō settings in Kagoshima on 2015 July 18-20. In addition to printed materials provided by Seki, and verbal guidance from him and other BTC members on the tour, I referred to Seki’s butaitanbou articles (Episode 6, Episode 7) for details about the location.
Onsen Hotel Nakahara Bessō
The summit space and our lodging are at the Onsen Hotel Nakahara Bessō (温泉ホテル中原別荘), where the students stayed during their trip. After the conclusion of the main meeting and again after dinner, I join others hunting around the hotel.
The back of the summit agenda is helpfully filled with screenshots, though many people brought their own references. Before everyone had smartphones and tablets, butaitanbou practitioners used to walk around with a stack of thumbnail sheets like this while searching for locations.
The people staying in Rikka and Nibutani’s room graciously let us trample over their belongings.
Though early pilgrims who visited shortly after the 2014 February broadcast saw the hotel as it had been rendered in the work, later renovations left notable changes.
The change from red to blue carpet and from dark to light trim moulding gives the hallway a different feel, though the configuration hasn’t changed.
The lobby is quite different, however.
There’s a wall in what was originally an open space behind the stairs, and the green desk is just kind of hanging out. The lighter colored marble floor, walls and moulding, as well as brighter lighting, give the whole lobby a more modern and spacious feel.
There’s a new clock in a new location, and the souvenir kiosk has been moved from the front to a back corner.
The green payphone is over here by itself.
The entrance to the onsen is still behind the stairs.
Hotel staff are wonderful throughout our stay. During the summit, the manager talked at length about the original meetings and location hunting with Kyoto Animation during the early production phase, as well as the hotel’s encounters with Chūnibyō pilgrims prior to our event. Service staff in Japan, though generally professional and courteous, tend to avoid straying too far from protocol. But the Nakahara Bessō front desk is eager to go off script and answer our nerdy questions as thoroughly as they can.
Seki is a member of a circle that creates anime pilgrimage dōjinshi, selling publications at Comiket and online. Whipping up a bespoke guide pamphlet for our tour was no stretch for him. The quick reference map is available as a free download directly from Seki’s website.
Central Kagoshima is fairly compact. We can see the Shiroyama observatory, one of our stops, from the front of the hotel, though we have a lot of ground to cover before we get there.
And we’re off!
Kagoshima Central Park
Many scenes are found in or just off the edge of the park in the city center.
Opposite the northwest corner of the park, we encounter our first Saigō Takamori (西郷 隆盛) of the day. Kagoshima was the location of Saigō’s birth and death, and where he led a group of disaffected samurai in armed resistance against the imperial government near the beginning of the Meiji period, known as the Satsuma Rebellion. You can’t throw a rock in Kagoshima without hitting something referencing Saigō.
From the same street corner, you can use a long focal length to get this shot peering back into the park.
From the northeast corner of the park, Rikka and Yūta hold back the dark forces emanating from Sakurajima looming in the distance.
Finally, we swing back to the south side of the park, which faces the Nakahara Bessō.
Mikoshi (portable shrines) staged in the park are the first clues that we’re going to encounter a surprise later in the day.
We take a shuttle bus part way up Shiroyama (城山). We’re bound for the top, but make a quick stop at the souvenir center and Saigō monument en route. It’s also the first of what will become many occasions that I end up sitting with my friend Nobu (のぶ @nobucafe) on a bus. Nobu is a very accomplished butaitanbou practitioner, particularly with regard to works set in Kansai and Hokuriku regions. We have a shared affection for tonkotsu ramen from a shop called Muteppō.
This is also my first time meeting Tesra (テスラ @tesra1141) face-to-face. Tesra is one of my earliest connections in the community, someone I chatted with often, long before either of us were members of the BTC. His energy and curiosity are so contagious that it’s hard not to be drawn into his world when you spend time with him.
Around 2013, particularly during the broadcast of Kyōkai no Kanata, a small group of butaitanbou practitioners began experimenting with extended monopods to capture the high angle shots often ignored during scene hunting. Tesra was at the center of this “Monopod Cluster”, as they called themselves. There aren’t many high angle cuts to worry about in Kagoshima, but he takes a bunch of fun shots from over our heads to record the events for posterity.
From the Shiroyama observation platform, though there are clouds and some haze, we can still see most of Sakurajima (桜島), an active volcano that is a symbol of Kagoshima and occasionally blankets the city with a layer of ash.
The original plan had been to descend via the hiking path, but it is unfortunately closed temporarily after part had been washed out during heavy rainfall. The shuttle bus driver whips around curves and drifts between lanes on the descent. We joke that this attraction is part of the Shiroyama tourism package, as people lose their grip on the straps and fall over one another.
Somehow, we make it to the memorial at the base of the mountain intact and praise the solid ground for its stability.
Shiroyama Iriguchi Intersection
From the entrance to the Shiroyama driveway, we continue back toward the city center on foot.
Never let it be said that Kyoto Animation isn’t thorough with details. Even piles of volcanic ash on the side of the road make it into the backgrounds.
Though tramcars appear in the backgrounds, one feature of Kagoshima all but left out is the grass-lined tramways. Anywhere the trams go, there’s a nice strip of green down the middle of the street.
All groups reconvene in Tenmonkan, Kagoshima’s central business district, for lunch at Tenmonkan Mujaki (天文館むじゃき), where Rikka and Yūta stop for kakigōri (shaved ice dessert).
Our large group has a special section reserved on an upper level, so we don’t have a chance to observe the dining area used in the anime, but the food is the same.
Mujaki is a full service restaurant—
—though most people know it as the supposed originator of the shirokuma, a Kagoshima variant of kakigōri that includes agar jelly, sweet beans and fresh fruit toppings. There are actually several theories as to the origin of the dessert, but Mujaki seems to be credited more often than not. I wonder if kakigōri otaku have heated debates about this sort of thing.
Rikka and Yūta also order a kurokuma, which is flavored with dark brown unrefined sugar syrup.
Of course this happens.
On the way out, we’re caught off guard as we become stuck behind a troupe of drummers and mikoshi bearers using the arcade as a staging area. The BTC summit and tour happened to end up being the same weekend as the Ogionsaa (おぎおんさぁ), a popular and raucous Kagoshima festival in which women wearing happi coats and men wearing nothing but fundoshi (loin cloths) parade through the city carrying mikoshi. Local festivals are something I really enjoy, so although I had come for an anime pilgrimage, this is a lot of fun for me too.
After finding a tunnel out of the crowd, we make our way on foot to Kagoshima Port (鹿児島本港), short walk from Tenmonkan. Parts of the original port fortifications support modern buildings, while others are left as a record of what it once looked like.
Here is a cut that, while you can get everything in the frame shooting from the ground, requires a high angle shot to get the perspective right.
Perfect for a monopod!
We head back to Tenmonkan for the last few shots of the day.
Yūta walks through the Terukuni Omotesandō (照国表参道), a covered shopping arcade that flanks either side of Terukuni-dōri (National Route 225) in the center of the city.
Ogionsaa is now in full swing. As we’re getting our shots in the arcade, Seki looks back and forth between our group and the procession of mikoshi going right through the last location we planned to capture. Eventually he shrugs his shoulders, smiles in resignation and yells out, “Matsuri!”
Newlyweds Sakamoto Ryōma (坂本 龍馬) and Narasaki Ryō (楢崎龍)—she is commonly called Oryō (お龍)—visited Kagoshima on what is said to be the first honeymoon by a Japanese couple. These statues appear in Chūnibyō, though in all the commotion we almost miss them.
We manage to get over to the Izuro Intersection (いづろ交差点), though aren’t surprised to see the festival has taken over the space. It’s time to accept the unexpected turn of events and enjoy the moment!
I’m able to return the following day to get the last two shots, as I’m staying in Kagoshima to do some shōtengai research.
But I like to think of the festival as a happy accident. On the surface, butaitanbou is about the discipline of finding and collecting the shots as they appear in the creative work. However it’s often the surprises I find along the way that I enjoy the most.
* * * * * *
You're reading Pilgrimage to Kagoshima for Chunibyo demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren by Michael Vito, originally posted at likeafishinwater.com. This post may be reused under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, which requires crediting Michael Vito as the author, linking to the original post, the absence of any commercial purpose, such as banner and link advertising, and including the same Creative Commons license in the derivative work or reprint.
Wes Anderson’s Japanese cinema-inspired stop-motion film Isle of Dogs has been the subject of controversy. Accused of racism (or at the very least racial insensitivity) towards Japan and Asian cultures in general, the movie comes at a time when Hollywood has made numerous missteps in their handling of Asian-themed works, such as the casting of non-Asian Scarlett Johansson as Motoko Kusanagi in Ghost in the Shell. As an Asian-American, I initially came out of the film without feeling offended or bothered by its contents and dressing. I still do not believe it to be a nasty film, but as I’ve reflected on my experience with Isle of Dogs by way of my long history as an Asian amd an anime fan, as well as the criticisms others have written, I find that the core issue isn’t so much racism in the “hatred or marginalization of a people” variety. Instead, it’s that the exoticization of Japan in the film can leave Asian viewers feeling we’re being othered, that we’re not the “intended audience.”
As an anime fan for the past two decades, I’ve seen both the anime being produced and my own experience with them change. When I first got into it, anime was something very foreign, very different, very exotic. Compared to the cartoons I was familiar with, it did seem like a new world, made all the better by the fact that I, as an American living in the US, was not its assumed audience. While the anime industry is increasingly aware of the global market (see the whole “Cool Japan” push by the country’s government), some of that “otherness” persists, reflecting the 99% ethnically Japanese population of Japan.
For example, in many anime set outside of Japan, the main character is often still Japanese, or at least half-Japanese—as if to assure the target audience that there is a relatable point. The spacefaring Macross franchise, now decades old, reflects this tendency in its many protagonists’ names—Ichijou Hikaru, Isamu Alva Dyson, Nekki Basara, Kudou Shin, Saotome Alto, and Hayate Immelman. So when the American exchange student Tracy Walker showed up, I saw her in the same light as those Macross characters, even if she isn’t the protagonist. While I don’t agree with the notion that she’s a “white savior” character, but rather an awkward yet well-meaning character with a bit of a self-righteous savior complex, I registered her in my mind as that American audience stand-in character. However, thinking about that moment was when it clicked for me: if she’s supposed to stand in for the American viewer who’s stepping into this film ostensibly about Japan, what does her presentation say to Asian-Americans watching it? One potential interpretation: Asian-Americans are second-class Americans in the theater.
That’s not the message that Isle of Dogs communicated to me, and I think that the lack of Asian actors playing the dogs themselves isn’t too big a deal, but I can definitely see why the film’s presentation can make Asians like myself feel like strangers in our own home. By extension, I can see why non-Asians could be sensitive to what they’re seeing as affronts of cultural appropriation. The film’s decision to leave the Japanese untranslated (outside of a literal interpreter character summarizing what some of the characters say on occasion) didn’t affect me too greatly; I’m fluent in Japanese. But the decision to not subtitle them means that direct engagement with those characters is lost for the assumed audience, and for non-Japanese-fluent Asian viewers, it can potentially create a greater sense of alienation. Again, for me as an anime fan, something like “Megasaki City” isn’t offensive because it doesn’t sound too far off from “Tokyo-3” (the 3’s pronounced “three” like in English) from Neon Genesis Evangelion, but the film is rife with imagery and symbols that might end up feeling less like loving homages and more like snarky plundering if the Asian-American audience already feels like they’re being told to “stand over there.”
I’m not familiar with Wes Anderson films, so I can’t speak to his auteur style. I’m also not an expert on Kurosawa Akira, so I have only a vague sense of how Anderson references him and other Japanese filmmakers. At most I’m very familiar with Miyazaki Hayao. Within this limited personal context, my feeling is that Anderson through Isle of Dogs tries to exoticize not Japan, Japanese culture, or Japanese people, but rather the feeling of wonder and difference that he got from Japanese film and filmmakers. One of his core staff members, Nomura Kunichi, was apparently brought on specifically to help with authenticity and treating Japanese culture with respect.
Because those films are so associated with foreign interpretations and expectations of Japan, however, drawing from those sources so readily while unabashedly acknowledging them through the Japanese setting of Isle of Dogs can make audiences, such as Asian-Americans who have to deal with the challenges of being Asian-American, bristle with suspicion. Bringing up the question of cultural appropriation is important, and I think the film itself has enough teeth (no pun intended) to stand up to the doubts and concerns, but those questions should not be ignored or assumed to “not really matter.”
George R. R. Martin’s latest tale of Westeros, Fire and Blood, will be released on November 20, 2018, and is available for pre-order now. Fire and Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Thrones (A Targaryen History) will look back at some of the history that led to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire, focusing on the intrigue and tragedy of the Targaryen family. The book is a continuation of a much shorter piece in 2014’s illustrated in-world history The World of Ice & Fire, that was written by Martin and collaborators Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson.
F&B promises the “full tapestry” of the Targaryen’s history, and includes the origin of the three dragon eggs that changed the course Daenerys’ life.
Here’s the full, fiery cover:
And the full blurb for the book promises a tangled history told by a maester of the Citadel:
The thrilling history of the Targaryens comes to life in this masterly work by the author of A Song of Ice and Fire, the inspiration for HBO’s Game of Thrones.
With all the fire and fury fans have come to expect from internationally bestselling author George R. R. Martin, this is the first volume of the definitive two-part history of the Targaryens in Westeros.
Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.
What really happened during the Dance of the Dragons? Why did it become so deadly to visit Valyria after the Doom? What is the origin of Daenerys’s three dragon eggs? These are but a few of the questions answered in this essential chronicle, as related by a learned maester of the Citadel and featuring more than 80 all-new black-and-white illustrations by artist Doug Wheatley. Readers have glimpsed small parts of this narrative in such volumes as The World of Ice & Fire, but now, for the first time, the full tapestry of Targaryen history is revealed.
With all the scope and grandeur of Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Fire and Blood is the ultimate game of thrones, giving readers a whole new appreciation for the dynamic, often bloody, and always fascinating history of Westeros.
It’s worth noting that as exhaustive as Fire and Blood promises to be, it’s still only the first half of an encyclopedic Targaryen sage—a second volume is planned for release after the final book in the main ASOIAF series has been published. You can learn more about Fire and Blood over at Barnes and Noble’s site.
We celebrate our 100th episode and over 8 years of podcasting!
The premise of these reviews is simple: watch the first episode of a series and then immediately sit down to record a review mini-podcast. The reviews are five- to ten-minutes long and entirely off the cuff. As always we only review new shows (so no sequels or continuations) and try to avoid anything that just looks outright awful.
Sentence: Free to Go
First impressions of Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku from A-1 Pictures. It is streaming on Amazon Prime. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Golden Kamuy from Geno Studio. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of You Don’t Know Gunma Yet from Asahi Productions. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These from Production I.G. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Megalobox from TMS Entertainment. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Gegege no Kitaro (2018) from Toei Animation. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Crossing Time from Ekachi Epilka. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Lupin III Part 5 from Telecom Animation Film. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
Sentence: On Parole
First impressions of Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food from Another World from Sunrise. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Magical Girl Ore from Studio Pierrot. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Gurazeni: Money Pitch from Studio Deen. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
Sentence: Lock ‘Em Up and Throw Away the Key
First impressions of Fist of the Blue Sky: Regenesis from Polygon Pictures. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Kakuriyo Bed & Breakfast for Spirits from Gonzo. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Dances with the Dragons from Seven Arcs Pictures. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
First impressions of Comic Girls from Nexus. It is streaming on Crunchyroll. DOWNLOAD
It took 29 years, but someone in the pastry world has at last realized the untapped marketing potential of an official Simpsons doughnut. Alas, that someone was Krispy Kreme Australia, and why America’s favorite doughnut chain would partner with America’s favorite animated series on the opposite end of the...More »
This year marks Harry Potter’s 20th anniversary, and Scholastic is celebrating by giving them a new cover treatment from Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Brian Selznick.
The whole series of covers form one long mural when placed side by side, allowing readers to follow the characters through the entire series. Selznick had this to say about the project:
I’m a huge Harry Potter fan (a proud Hufflepuff!) and to be asked to illustrate the 20th anniversary edition covers was an absolute honor. I knew this project came with so much responsibility to the stories, as well as to the readers. I revisited the books and was especially moved by the relationships between the characters in J.K. Rowling’s magical world, so I wanted these covers to reflect that. One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of the process was drawing seven independent covers that would stand on their own, while making sure that they also lined up to create one single satisfying image. It took dozens and dozens of sketches to get it right, and I am thrilled to share my great love for the books with these new illustrations.
Here are the covers!
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
These brand new editions will hit shelves in the U.S. on June 26th. For more info, head over to Entertainment Weekly.
Ongoing Investigations: Red-colored Elegy, Lu Over the Wall, Generally Cute, Free! Take Your Marks, The Great Passage.
Song: The Great Passage OP “Shiokaze” by Taiiku Okazaki
Food for Thought: What unfinished anime would you like to see more of?
Topics: Kunihiko Ikuhara Reveals Sarazanmai Anime, Shinichiro Watanabe Reveals Carol & Tuesday Anime, HIDIVE Comes Out of Beta, My Anime List Adds Digital Manga Store, Digital Manga Sales Beat Print for the First Time.
In 2017 October I had five free days between consecutive weekend events in Kyoto, and decided it was a good time to make my first visit to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands and the only one I hadn’t yet traveled to. The first stop on my loop was Kagawa Prefecture, where I planned two days to check out Takamatsu (高松) and nearby Shōdoshima (小豆島), looking for settings used in anime series Udon no Kuni no Kin’iro Kemari (うどんの国の金色毛鞠)—released in English-speaking markets as Poco’s Udon World. Though I did a little research before arriving, my goal for this visit was not to prepare a report of comparison images, so I didn’t collect a set of screen captures to hunt, though I ended up photographing a few scenes anyway. I mostly hoped to use Udon no Kuni as a pretext to explore new places. It was also on this stop in Kagawa that I wanted to make good on a promise to visit an important friend.
I visited on 2017 October 23-24 and referred to blog posts and a map created by butaitanbou (scene hunting) practitioner Lidges (リジス @lidges) to guide myself around Udon no Kuni settings in Takamatsu and Shōdoshima.
Due to a typhoon passing through the night before, my morning shinkansen leaving Kyoto is delayed, but I’m eventually on my way. As in the opening scene of the series, my first glimpses of passing from Honshū to Shikoku are looking out across the Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海) from the JR Marine Liner as it crosses the Great Seto Bridge (瀬戸大橋).
The train crosses into Shikoku at Sakaide before turning east toward Takamatsu. At some point I might like to stop in Sakaide to do a pilgrimage for the Yūki Yūna wa Yūsha de Aru series, but for now this is as close as I get.
I leave my bag in a locker at Takamatsu Station and hop on the Kotoden Kotohira Line to head toward what is now a late lunch. The lines operated by the Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad are a fun way to get around town. When I’m in Takamatsu again, I’ll make a point of riding more of them and photographing them. Though the lines use full size carriages, all of those I observed run two car trains, and the right-of-way is narrow and directly abuts roadways, so it operates more like a tram.
Even with Kotoden it’s a bit of a hike to the place I want to go, so I keep telling myself there is a tasty bowl of udon waiting for me.
Bukkake Udon Daien (ぶっかけうどん大円) features in the second scene of the first episode, where Sōta and Shinobu meet for lunch.
Ha! A special closing—no Daien for me today. There is a shop of huge udon chain Hanamaru a little further along the road, so I don’t go hungry—though since I can eat Hanamaru up the street from my apartment in Shanghai, this kind of misses the point of coming to the home of udon. Kagawa is referred to as Udon Prefecture in some tourism marketing campaigns.
I walk back in the direction I came and continue on to Ritsurin Garden (栗林公園) one of the main tourism sites in Takamatsu.
Scenes of the garden appear in the series opening credits and several episodes.
After I check in my hotel and rest a bit, I take a late afternoon walk past the train station and around the port, catching great clouds and a sunset while I’m at it. Post typhoon weather often leads to unique and photogenic atmospheric conditions.
In the series and in real life, this pier is a popular fishing spot. At the end is the Takamatsu Port Tamamo Breakwater Lighthouse (高松港玉藻防波堤灯台)—often called the Red Lighthouse (赤灯台). A lighthouse was originally put into service here in 1964, though the current tower, the first lighthouse in the world to emit light from its entire structure, was built in 1998.
The pier is normally open to the public, but is closed due to the previous day’s severe weather, so I can only see the lighthouse from a distance on the first night.
Lidges was one of the first butaitanbou practitioners I encountered years ago. It was through his eyes that I learned many of my early lessons about anime tourism and the community of people who engage in it. Over time I understood that, though everyone has valuable and interesting material to share, Lidges’ approach of putting quality and depth as priorities in his reporting on his blog Tsurebashi (つればし) and printed dōjinshi established him as an authority on the topic. Even now, as newer writers from in and outside the core interest community pick up the beat, and there is a general shift toward speed and quantity of output at the expense of depth, Lidges remains adamant about taking as much time as needed to create anime tourism reporting that offers deep background discussion on the creative work and communities.
From time to time, Lidges and I have misunderstandings. Sometimes these are over small things, sometimes larger issues, but we always talk them out. This has led to good discussions about the anime tourism community and its norms, social issues in Japan, and friction that can arise during cross-cultural exchange. As a result, I feel I have a closer relationship with Lidges, having hacked our way out of the weeds in these conversations.
I have met Lidges face-to-face quite a few times. He is a permanent fixture at butaitanbou community events, and we once happened to both be going to Takehara, Hiroshima Prefecture on the same day. The last few meetings always ended with the same question, from him to me, of when I was ever going to come to Shikoku. I was honest that there were a lot of places above it in my queue, but that I would eventually get there. After the anime adaptation of Udon no Kuni was announced, I promised that after the series was finished I would come to Kagawa Prefecture, where he lives, and share a meal with him.
When we planned this dinner during my visit, I told him I was happy to take a train over to the west side of Kagawa, where he lives and works. Not necessary, he said. Then I suggested we meet at an equidistant point between us. He told me that if Takamatsu was where I would be, then that is where he would come to see me. On a weeknight. I continue to be awestruck by the generosity of others in the butaitanbou community toward me.
We’ve come to the Yashima shop of Ikkaku (一鶴 屋島店), which serves honetsukidori (骨付鳥), a local specialty of bone-in roasted chicken leg.
In Udon no Kuni, Sōta, Shinobu and Poko come here for lunch.
A meal of honetsukidori is a good way to find out how comfortable you are with your friends. There are no utensils, no graceful way to approach it, you just grab this large hunk of meat using the bone as a handle, find a spot to sink your teeth, and rip it apart caveman-style.
With that as an opening, we knock out a handful of anime tourism related topics that have come up over the past year, Lidges shows me the dōjinshi he’s working on, and I float some of my ideas about the story I would like to tell through a documentary film about anime tourism. We talk about being an otaku in Japan versus overseas, how the term is defined differently by non-Japanese who use it. Ultimately—and this is my favorite thing to do when I spend time with otaku friends—we leave behind the world of pop culture and talk about existential matters of importance—careers, families, Lidges’ cat, the less than inspiring breakfast at the Toyoko Inn. When most of your interactions with someone are through tweets, it’s necessary and reassuring to be reminded that there is a human being who is trying his best to get through life on the other side of the avatar.
I’m up early the next morning for what I think is going to be a visit to Yashima, only to find a notice at the bus stop across from Kotoden-Yashima Station saying the driveway had been washed out during the typhoon and bus service would be suspended until repairs are made. I could have walked around Shikoku-mura at the base of the mountain, which also appears in Udon no Kuni, but I kind of had my heart set on throwing clay tiles from the top of the mountain, so I decide I’ll save it all for another visit. The upside is I now have time to look around the city center some more.
Takamatsu Tokiwachō Shōtengai (高松常磐町商店街) and Sanbiki no Kobuta (三びきの子ぶた) appear in Episode 2.
Takamatsu Marugamemachi Shōtengai (高松丸亀町商店街) appears briefly in the opening credits.
These are just two arcades out of a network of covered and open air shopping streets that crisscross the center of Takamatsu. I wind my way around as many as time allows and make mental notes of places I’d like to investigate further in the future. Walking and photographing shōtengai is my other primary research beat, so this is a lot of fun for me.
This is also a chance to hit up Sanuki Rock (讃岐ロック), a shoyu ramen shop recommended by Brian at Ramen Adventures.
It may not be udon, but the shoyu used to flavor the soup comes from Shōdoshima and every part of the bowl is excellent. I’m going to declare that this washes away my sin of eating Hanamaru the previous day.
After all of the walking, I think I’ve earned a slice of cake back at Sanbiki no Kobuta.
Shikoku Ferry operates two kinds of boat services between Takamatsu Port and Tonoshō Port (土庄港) on Shōdoshima. In Udon no Kuni, Sōta and Poko take the larger ferry, which can carry cars and is a one hour trip. I opt for the speedboat ferry, which cuts travel time in half.
As the ferry approaches Tonoshō, my nose picks up a strangely familiar smell, which turns out to be roasting sesame seeds at the Kadoya sesame oil plant. This would be the same Kadoya I used to buy at the supermarket when I lived in the United States. Small world. Shōdoshima’s most well-known exports are olives and olive oil, but other oils and soy sauces are also produced here.
From Tonoshō port, there are public buses, rental cars, and rental bikes in the town nearby, but I like to use just my feet if distances allow. It’s a half hour walk from the port to the shore on the south side of the town.
Because of the curve in the road, at first I only see the narrow tunnel for cars, stopping in my tracks and wondering if I’ll be able to find a safer way through the rocks without backtracking too far. Then I see someone coming toward me and I walk ahead to discover there is also a pedestrian tunnel, just out of view. All is well.
The tide is in when I reach Angel Road (エンジェルロード), so I don’t have the chance to walk out to Yoshino on the exposed sandbar. Most people are smarter than me and check the tide schedule before coming. Though with few people around at high tide, it’s a nice place to meditate and take in the Seto Inland Sea. I get into a conversation with a guy who had come for fishing when we’re both seduced by a very affectionate homeless cat.
The ride back to Takamatsu becomes the best part of the day, watching another sunset ending in a pink sky over the water.
With calm seas again, access to the Red Lighthouse is restored.
As I go into trance staring up at the lighthouse, I reflect on how restorative and calming the two days have been. A main theme of Udon no Kuni, consistent with my experience on the ground, is that life unfolds at a gentler pace here than in the large cities—which sometimes is exactly what you need.
I searched for a recommended udon shop for my last meal in central Takamatsu, but couldn’t come up with anything that was convincing. The best I could do was a chain shop near Takamatsu Station that, while a little better than Hanamaru, is probably nothing like the udon euphoria fans seek out at unique makers in far-flung locations. Lidges-senpai, you’re going to have to get me straightened out the next time I come to Udon Prefecture.
* * * * * *
You're reading Pilgrimage to Takamatsu and Shodoshima for Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari by Michael Vito, originally posted at likeafishinwater.com. This post may be reused under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, which requires crediting Michael Vito as the author, linking to the original post, the absence of any commercial purpose, such as banner and link advertising, and including the same Creative Commons license in the derivative work or reprint.
The eighth season of the mobbed outdoor food market starts March 31
The viral novelty foods, carefully curated bites, and long lines of outdoor Brooklyn food market Smorgasburg return on March 31 with new additions ranging from the uber-trendy Japanese shaved ice treat kakigori to whole grilled lobsters.
There will be 100 food vendors at both the OG Williamsburg and Prospect Park sites, with old favorites like Bolivian Llama Party, Ramen Burger, and the Good Batch returning. In the new category, Asian food reigns supreme: Korean fried chicken, Japanese shaved ice, Sichuan rice noodles, and seafood donburi bowls all join the lineup. There’s also Lebanese food from Brooklyn Heights restaurant Boutros, baked goods from an Eleven Madison Park alum, and that aforementioned whole grilled lobster, topped with garlic butter, lemon and parsley, and served over noodles. A full new vendor list is below.
Though it does still regularly launch new brands and give a widespread platform to food entrepreneurs, Smorgasburg is certifiably no longer the scrappy market from its early days. Tourists and locals stream in by the hundreds every weekend, and the market has expanded to Industry City in Sunset Park, Los Angeles, and even Osaka, Japan in pop-up form. It also had a brief, failed foray into Soho in 2017.
Williamsburg + Prospect Park
504 HN Market: Honduran baleadas, made with flour tortillas and topped with refried beans, Honduran cheese, cream, and avocado. Other varieties include eggs and chorizo.
Big Mozz x DO: Deep-fried cookie dough from Big Mozz and DO.
Bonsai Kakigori: Japanese shaved ice, flavored with strawberries & cream or matcha persimmon.
Btarts: Butter tarts, a Canadian specialty, made with butter, eggs, and Canadian maple syrup.
Dashi Fried Chicken: Korean fried chicken
Frico Italia: Italian “pie” made with potatoes and three Italian cheeses
King St. Kitchen: Baked goods from a former pastry chef at Eleven Madison Park, including a peanut butter and chocolate fudge brownie, golden oat cookies, and gluten-free olive oil citrus bundt
Lobsterdamus: One of Smorgasburg LA’s most popular stands for its mesquite-grilled whole lobsters topped with garlic butter, lemon and parsley, and served over noodles. There’s also lobster truffle fries and lobster nachos.
PopdUp: Cold brew teas, sourced from Taiwan
Ya Ya Noodz: Sichuan rice noodles steamed and rolled with shrimp, pork, or butternut squash.
Boutros: This Cobble Hill restaurant will be serving pork shawarma tacos and bulger fried rice
Bread & Monkey: A high school freshman selling banana bread
Himalayan Horizon: A Himalayan street food known as shabaley, or fried circular pockets of dough filled with buffalo, beef, or potatoes and served with ginger-scallion and tomato-fenugreek sauces
Yoshimoto Fish Company: Donburi bowls, with sushi rice and fish imported from Japan. Toppings include fatty tuna, herring roe, uni, and red snapper. Bowls start at $30 each.
Are you so ramen-obsessed that you feel the need to publicly declare your allegiance to Menya Musashi’s tsukemen over rival Tokyo chain Setagaya’s? Of course you are. Now, Uniqlo has come to your rescue. The clothing chain just released a collection of tees with graphics honoring Japan’s top ramen...More »
Henry Selick. Key and Peele. Netflix. "Wendell and Wild" is a one-of-a-kind animated feature.
The post Netflix To Produce Henry Selick’s ‘Wendell and Wild’ Starring Key & Peele appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
Lucasfilm announced today that a live-action Star Wars television series is in the works, to be helmed by Jon Favreau. The actor and director, who helped launch the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s Iron Man, will serve as executive producer for the series in what sounds like a showrunner capacity: writing and producing, while overseeing a stable of writers.
“I couldn’t be more excited about Jon coming on board to produce and write for the new direct-to-consumer platform,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in the official announcement. “Jon brings the perfect mix of producing and writing talent, combined with a fluency in the Star Wars universe. This series will allow Jon the chance to work with a diverse group of writers and directors and give Lucasfilm the opportunity to build a robust talent base.” May we suggest some contenders?
In addition to his work within the MCU, Favreau has also gotten to play in the Star Wars universe, with roles in the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series (as Pre Vizsla) and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story (in an unidentified role). “If you told me at 11 years old that I would be getting to tell stories in the Star Wars universe,” he said in the announcement, “I wouldn’t have believed you. I can’t wait to embark upon this exciting adventure.”
No word yet on plot or title, but last week CinemaBlend reported on how Lucasfilm had, curiously, filed a bunch of trademarks for something called Star Wars Resistance. Considering that they likely waited to drop this news until right after Star Wars: Rebels wrapped, one wonders if all of this is connected…
The series will premiere on Disney’s new direct-to-consumer platform—that is, the streaming service announced in late 2017. No release date has yet been set for Favreau’s series, but it wouldn’t premiere before 2019, which is when the streaming service is expected to launch. Favreau’s project joins a number of other new Star Wars stories in progress, including new movie trilogies from Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
To keep its head above water, the Coca-Cola Company over the years has experimented with energy drinks, seltzers, fruit juices, bottled coffees, and even milks (as well as “milk flavored” products, such as Fanta Lactic). But until now, Coke has steered clear of booze. That seems to...More »
Child actress Yuzuki Shiraishi chooses this hashtag for her Instagram post that depicts a fairly candid shot of her stepping away from an older woman splashing water and onto a cat. The woman is Shirase Kobuchizawa’s grandmother. Yuzuki is on her way to request that Shirase take over her job as “high school girl reporter” along for the ride in the Challenge for the Antarctic expedition.
A well-known actress who according to Mari Tamaki’s (Kimari) internet research has 38,000 followers, Yuzuki shouldn’t have to beg for followers in a hashtag. It doesn’t matter that her idol debut was with a horrendously-titled song, “The Follow-backs Don’t Stop,” there’s no world where someone as popular as Yuzuki should be begging for followers, never mind promising to follow them back, which is often seen as social media suicide. Yet she does, in this post that only has two likes, two reblogs, and zero comments, less engagement than I received last night for random musings about Madeline L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door.
The image doubles as A Place Further Than the Universe‘s third episode introduction, an episode where Yuzuki will later learn that she has made friends without having to try — also that having friends doesn’t mean that said friends will be the sycophants she’s used to, which is actually a very good thing. #IFollowEveryoneWhoFollowsMe might be Yuzuki’s #brand, but it doubles as a reflection of her personal insecurities, distain for certain aspects of her job, and desperate desire to have real friends. Yuzuki opens the episode by trying to pass off her job to the ill-equipped Shirase in order to lead a more normal high school life with her classmates. She ends the episode with three new friends — Hinata Miyake, Kimari, and Shirase — and a promise to go to Antarctica together.
A Place Further Than the Universe director Atsuko Ishizuka is no stranger to pointed visual trappings and unique color filters. She’s used a myriad of clever visual tricks in her previous series — most recently Hanayamata, No Game No Life, and Price of Stride: Alternative. This also isn’t the first anime to use SNS/Instagram to focus on themes of ephemerality and time. Sayo Yamamoto framed the entirety of Yuri!!! On Ice through social media, both in the series ending sequence and later in a major plot twist that recontextualizes the entire show.
Although Instagram isn’t the most prevalent social media platform in Japan, it’s the one with the highest growth rate over the past year or so. It’s easy to see why Kimari and company would choose this microblogging platform to document their daily lives as well as their trip to Antarctica — in fact, once they partner with Yuzuki and her project, it’s part of their job. Ishizuka uses this to focus on certain thematic elements in each episode while also poking fun at her characters.
The title of each episode is introduced by a social media post identifying one or more of the main characters doing something fun, training, or working on the ship. It’s an evolved form of photo booth purikura, where the girls add the episode title and doodles of penguins in the margins (this is also present in the series’ ending, drawings appear next to the characters). Every post has more to it than meets the eye, and ties into dramatic elements or themes of the show.
In the image above, Kimari is having tea with her best friend, Megumi Takahashi. In most of the series’ social media posts, a looping animation occurs and this one seems no different. Kimari continues to put sugar in her tea multiple times in what appears to be a similar animation loop. Only right before the image cuts to the show does Megumi’s arm reach out and stop Kimari from adding more. A Place Further Than the Universe uses this simple image to explain the dynamics of Kimari and Megumi’s relationship — one that will be challenged in this episode and is ultimately left ambiguous due to Kimari’s departure. Kimari overly-relied on Megumi in the past which led to a toxic co-dependency. Megumi enjoyed the fact that Kimari relied on her so much and Kimari used Megumi’s friendship as a crutch to not move forward in life. The Antarctica trip, and Kimari’s new friend group, break this cycle, leading to a rift between the two that isn’t wholly resolved before Kimari leaves.
A Place Further Than the Universe isn’t a comedic slice-of-life series as much as it is a coming-of-age drama that also manages to hit comedic beat after beat to lighten the mood. Ishizuka’s masterful attention to detail, especially in these social media posts, adds both comic relief and melancholy transience to what is ultimately looking like a story about Shirase coming to terms with her mother’s death. After all, it takes a talent like Ishizuka to turn an episode titled, “The Follow-backs Don’t Stop” into a poignant reflection on friendship.
Two entertainment conglomerates - Walt Disney Company and Viacom - have revealed the first details about their streaming plans. Here's a look at what they're planning to each offer.
The post The Streaming Wars Are Here: Disney And Viacom Offer First Details About Their Services appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
Two new series from "Gravity Falls" artists have been greenlit at Disney.
The post Disney TV Animation Will Produce 2 New Series: ‘Amphibia’ and ‘The Owl House’ appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
In the 68-year history of the Berlin Film Festival, Wes Anderson is the first person to win the best director award for directing an animated feature.
The post Wes Anderson Makes History At Berlin With Best Director Win; Reka Bucsi Wins Short Film Award appeared first on Cartoon Brew.
BBC Studios and Narrativia are teaming up to bring Terry Pratchett’s Discworld to television, starting with a six-part series titled The Watch.
Deadline has reported that after plentiful rumors, Discworld will undergo a brand new adaptation for the small screen, produced by BBC Studios and Narrativia, the production company founded by Pratchett and currently run by his daughter Rhianna and business partner Rob Wilkins. Simon Allen (Strike Back, The Musketeers) is writing the series under the working title of The Watch.
This should excite Discworld fans, particularly those who are fond of Sam Vimes and the City Watch. It’s likely that the series will center around Ankh-Morpork’s police, which would be an excellent way of introducing new fans to the Disc and all its denizens. This is just a preliminary piece of news, with no actors or dates set for the production, but it’s good to know that we can expect more Discworld in our futures.
Before this glorious age of alt-milks, lactose-intolerant and other milk-averse customers had to resign themselves to hot chocolate that was thinner and less rich than it might otherwise be. No more: It’s a new era of macadamia, oat, and almond milks, all of which are deeply appealing with warm, melted...More »
The landlord claims the family-run shop is using too much water
The Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory — one of New York’s oldest and finest ice cream shops — is fighting an eviction notice from its landlord. The Post reports that the owner of the building at 65 Bayard St., between Mott and Elizabeth streets, has been trying to push out the famed family-owned spot for allegedly using too much water.
But the Seid family, which has run the shop since 1978, says it’s a farce. Landlord Nolan Cheng — not the ice cream factory tenant — is responsible for water bills, the Seid family claims in a lawsuit filed this month. “My landlord is just really unbearable,” co-owner Christina Seid tells The Post. “He is doing anything he can to get us out to get a higher rent.”
The Seids and Cheng have been fighting about the water bills for years, with court cases dating back to 2011. As part of the dispute, Cheng claimed that the ice cream family was maliciously wasting water to rack up bills, while the Seids allege that they’re inappropriately being pushed out of the low-rent spot that costs $1,000 per month. The landlord purchased the building from the Seid family in 2005 for $3.8 million, according to Department of Finance records.
The narrow ice cream shop is known for celebrating flavors more common in China than the U.S., such as durian, red bean, and lychee. It’s been in the same family since it opened about four decades ago.