The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Category Archives: Anime locations

Hirosaki Region, Aomori: Home of Flying Witch

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Terror in Resonance depicted the Aomori prefecture of Japan as a perpetually snowy and miserable locale perfect for governmental agencies to conduct secret nuclear weapons research, but this is a gross over-generalisation of the prefecture as a whole. Granted, being the northern-most prefecture on the Honshu does subject the prefecture to heavy snowfall and has a relatively cool climate, and its rugged terrain results in Aomori having a lower population density. However, this also corresponds with mountains and lakes that remain quite pristine: it is amongst the quiet plains of western Aomori that Flying Witch is set: the events of the anime are set in and around the city of Hirosaki. With a population of 176590 (September 2015 estimates), the town’s castle and surrounding cherry blossoms are the central attractions — during Golden Week, there is a cherry blossom festival held near the castle. Hirosaki is also known for its agricultural sector: besides rice, the Hirosaki region accounts for nearly a fifth of Japan’s apple production. The area has been populated since the Heian Period, and Hirosaki was renamed several times over the course of history: its current moniker was adapted in 1808 from its former name, Takaoka. Besides the Hirosaki castle, the town is also home to a collection of Western-style buildings dating back to the Meiji restoration. With its humid continental climate, summers in Hirosaki are hot, reaching a daily average of 23°C in August, while winters are mild in comparison.

  • Moving from the hustle and bustle of Yokohama to the comparatively quieter Hirosaki region marks a substantial change of pace. I live in a city of around a million people; it’s a fine balance between the quiet of a smaller town and the energy of a larger town, and I am quite happy with the city. With this in mind, the city sprawl, arising as a consequence of (presumably ill-informed) consumer preference, is very grating, since it drives up the costs of infrastructure. There’s more surface area to cover for power grids, water, transportation and sanitation, increasing the costs per person, but not everyone shares my views, and some former classmates have lectured me for not supporting subdivision growth.

  • Of course, I couldn’t give two hoots about their opinions, so we won’t peruse that topic further. Back in Flying Witch, here is a local shopping center where Makoto goes to purchase a broom for travel. The placement and storefronts of the anime incarnation closely resemble the real-world counterpart, which is located in Hirosaki’s western edge. While brooms are typically depicted as magically enhanced to be capable of flight, Flying Witch suggests that they act as conduit for magic, so a skilled Witch need not ride the broom, but can fly merely by touching the broom and willing themselves to fly.

  • While initially mistrustful of Makoto, Chinatsu warms up when Makoto agrees to take Chinatsu to her favourite doughnut shop in the mall. The real-world equivalent is a bit more ornately decorated, compared to the more conservative colours seen in the anime version, but the resemblances are quite apparent. Us Canadians are said to consume the most doughnuts per capita of any country on earth (Japan comes in second place), and this is partially owing to the presence of Tim Hortons in the country.

  • While on a walk, Makoto crosses a bridge over a small canal. A handful of these canals cut through Hirosaki, and a cursory glance at the city reveals that it is mostly low rises, with Hirosaki Castle and Park at the heart of the city. Makoto’s penchant for getting lost is a personality trait that is gradually phased out over the course of the series as she grows familiar with the area, although she still enjoys taking things at a casual pace and can appear to be going off-mission.

  • On her walk to a local fabrics shop, Makoto runs into Nao, who is on a delivery for her parents. With a maximum east-west distance of around 6.5 kilometers and a north-south distance of 6.9 kilometers (to traverse those distances would be a short 10 minute drive assuming light traffic at 50 km/h), Hirosaki is not a particularly large town, and so, one could make their way around town by bike. The city is built in the Tsugaru plains, and being relatively flat, making this trek more straightforwards than back home, where the hills and valleys present a bit more of a challenge for cyclists.

  • Café Concurio is modelled after Hiarosaki’s Taishō Roman Tearoom (大正浪漫喫茶室), located a short ways from the southwestern edge of Hirosaki park inside the Fujita Kinen park. Its naming is derived from the Taishō period in Japan — running from 1912 to 1926, this period was marked by the convergence of Japanese and Western culture thanks to increased exposure to foreign elements, reinforcing Japanese cultural values while integrating aspects from the west. It is a highly romanticised period, hence the moniker “Taishō Roman”.

  • The interior of the tea room is faithfully reproduced in Flying Witch, although in Café Concurio, the lights are dimmed, and only natural light illuminates the interior. Beyond differences in lighting, elements in the real-world equivalent make it into Flying Witch, whether it be the wooden paneling of the walls, or the stone fireplace and its attendant decorations. The major difference between the two cafés are their location: the real world tea room is located at the heart of Hirosaki, while in Flying Witch, Café Concurio is located in a quieter area.

  • The Taishō Roman Tea Room is popular amongst locals, who note that the apple pie sold here is of a particularly excellent quality and some have even claimed the Taishō Roman Tea Room’s apple pie to be the best in the city; the tea room is often crowded as a result, and naturally, the terrace seats offer the best environment to enjoy an apple pie under. With this in mind, the number of patrons means that it can be difficult to get a seat here, and while Café Concurio is depicted to be very quiet, allowing Makoto, Kei and Chinatsu to sit in the terrace, at the Taishō Roman Tea Room, some patrons sit in the inner areas during busier hours.

  • Aside from their apple pie and coffee, the Taishō Roman Tea Room also serves a variety of pastries and some hot meals. While the tea room appears to be hidden in plain sight, some English-speaking patrons have noted that the menu, while limited in variety, is excellent: the tempura soba is said to be unparalleled, and the owners speak English. Between the atmosphere and quality of the food, the Taishō Roman Tea Room seems like a location worth visiting should one ever be in Hirosaki: to really have a Flying Witch experience, one merely needs to visit the nearby Hirosaki Park by morning, and then stop by the Taishō Roman Tea Room for lunch.

  • In Flying Witch, Café Concurio is given a Harry Potter treatment in that it is bewitched to be hidden away from Muggles, and it is Makoto’s knowledge of magic that allow Chinatsu and Kei to visit, bringing to mind how Witches and Wizards conceal their locations in the Harry Potter universe using a variety of spells, with Diagon Alley being the most famous of these locations. Access is controlled by a woebegone-looking pub known as the Leaky Cauldron, and there is a special brick that must be tapped in order to reveal the entrance.

  • Construction on Hirosaki castle began in 1603, but following Ōura Tamenobu’s death a year later, the project stalled until Tsugaru Nobuhira resumed the project in 1609, finishing the castle in 1611. It was destroyed by a lightning strike that subsequently ignited a fire in 1627, and it was not restored until 1810. A large park surrounds the castle and is home to a large number of cherry blossoms that have made the park famous: towards the end of April and early May, the park’s 2600 cherry trees come into bloom, receiving upwards of a million visitors over this time-frame.

  • Makoto flies over Hirosaki Park’s southern edge en route to a fabric shop, and Sannomaru Ōtemon Gate is visible here. This particular image was captured from a staircase on Hirosaki’s Tourism Board building, close the public library.

  • Makoto, Chinatsu and Kei enter the park via the Sannomaru Ōtemon Gate, one of the five surviving gates to the castle. Located on the park’s southern end, the gate’s assembly and surroundings is rather similar to that of the Kitanokuruwa gate in the park’s northern edge, which directly faces the city (there is a small parking lot in the park’s southern end).

  • This is one of the ponds in Hirosaki Park: details such as the crookedness of the tree and the placement of ornamental shrubs are meticulously captured to reproduce actual elements from the area, and I imagine that locals familiar with the park would have no trouble picking these details out. A ways back, Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans did a scene using Edmonton, Alberta as the setting: our neighbours to the north immediately identified which buildings and locations downtown served as the backdrop for the anime’s events.

  • Originally opened in 1894, the present-day facilities at Hirosaki Station were completed in 2004 and as of 2012, has a daily ridership of around 4500. The nearest hotel, visible here to the right, is the Art Hotel. A four star hotel boasting modern facilities, it is located approximately 1.67 kilometers (just a hair more than a mile) from Hirosaki Castle and would only necessitate a 15-20 minute walk to reach.

  • A bus terminal lies just outside of the train station: Makoto takes the number five route, which takes ridsers to Namioka, Goshogawara, Onoe, Kuroishi, Okawara and the Aomori Airport. This scene brings to mind an experience I had during my Cancún conference: I had arrived at the George Bush International Airport and realised I had forgotten to arrange for transportation to the zona hotelera from Cancún International Airport. Armed with an iPhone and Google-fu, I managed to book a private shuttle that ended up costing around 50 USD for a round trip.

  • The lessons learned there is to do my research before taking off: after I sorted that out, the Cancún conference turned out to be much smoother than Laval, as my hotel was located right beside the conference venue. In Laval, owing to our last-minute bookings, a colleague and I only managed to get a hotel at the outskirts of town. It would have taken around three quarters of an hour walk this distance, but we later found a bus that took us close to the conference venue.

  • This guardrail may seem unextraordinary, and by all counts, it is an ordinary guardrail. What makes it special is  the fact that Makoto, Chinatsu and Akane are going whale watching and make a brief stop while trying to locate a sky whale. While Edmonton has been featured in an anime now, I wonder if Cowtown will do the same: our city’s still-futuristic downtown core, with its glass buildings, was featured in the 1983 film Superman III and 2001’s Exit Wounds. Neither film turned out to be critically acclaimed, and the latter turned out hilarious for trying to pass off Calgary as Detroit.

  • If an anime were ever to use locations from Calgary, I would notice almost immediately. Back in Hirosaki, a bridge provides a vantage point, looking out over a river canal. Besides providing an excellent side-by-side comparison of anime locations against their real-world equivalents, the location posts I do also offer a prime opportunity to showcase some of the scenery in anime through screenshots that are otherwise not selected (often, it’s a difficult decision) for use in conventional posts.

  • Chinatsu and Makoto cross a small bridge en route to the shopping center on their first outing in Kamisukisawa, and this bridge is roughly five-decimal-four klicks from the centre on foot. This would make a fantastic walk lasting around an hour at a casual pace, and a year ago, while in Kelowna for the Giant Walkthrough Brain performance, I walked to the Kelowna Community Theatre from the Manteo Resort on both days of the presentation. While it would be a longer walk, it can also be quite pleasant.

  • While one might imagine that it would be fairly straightforwards to recognise areas from one’s own town were it to be featured in a show, the truth is that even locals are unlikely to be familiar with every nook and cranny in their neighbourhoods. It is this reason that I am so fond of taking walks, and one of the best surprises was in fact from Pure Pwnage: while the show had portrayed Lanageddon 2005 as taking place in Calgary, for instance, it took me quite some time to work out that the setting was Bowness Community Center. It was during a Japanese cultural festival, when I visited the Bowness area myself, that things clicked together.

  • Nao finds Makoto under a pavilion during the fifth episode, after Makoto decides to follow Chito for a walk. A cursory glance at a map suggests that locations in Flying Witch are closer than they are in actuality: this is typically done to give characters a chance to share conversations while walking to a destination, and I recall a café in Glasslip that was located much further from Mikuni than initially thought: it’s quite a ways away from the city where the characters reside, but the frequency of their patronage suggests that it would be within walking distance.

  • Creative liberties such as these are perfectly acceptable, as they allow an anime to facilitate both its narrative while conveying a sense of realism (Glasslip remains an unusual exception!), and back in Flying Witch, this view of Mount Iwaki is taken from near Apple Park. With a maximum elevation of 1624.7 metres, it is a dormant stratovolcano whose last eruption occurred in March 1863, and the summit can only be reached by hiking to the top. This trek takes roughly four hours to complete, starting from a shrine, although a more widely-used route involves a ski lift that takes hikers to within half an hour of the summit.

  • There’s always a joy about visiting small towns for their tranquility, and while Hirosaki is not a small town (being only a shade smaller than Regina, Saskatchewan) by any definition, the outskirts of town have a very rural feel to it: it becomes difficult to tell where the countryside ends and the city begins until one is a ways into town. This stands in sharp contrast with Canadian cities, where build-up is found up to a certain point, and then abruptly stops, giving way to the countryside.

  • The Yuguchi Shinto Shrine is where Akane decides to provide some instruction to Makoto about spell casting: she’s taught a simple spell to summon crows in the third episode. As I’m not too versed with magic and magical lore, I wouldn’t know what the application of such a spell would be. Long considered to a symbol of respect for family in Chinese culture (孝), the crow’s call is also considered to be an ill-omen, and when I was an undergraduate student, I recalled a story where Cao Cao heard a crow’s call before his ill-fated campaign during the Battle of the Red Cliffs whenever hearing a crow’s call before an examination.

  • Inspection of any pair of images in the location posts will invariably find that the photographs (top) are much more detailed than their anime counterparts: the real world simply has unmatched textures, detail and lighting effects. By comparison, anime locations often feel much cleaner, devoid of any visual clutter: the cleaner anime renditions make them less busy and allow for focus to be directed towards things that move (such as the characters).

  • While well-known locations are expected to be reproduced with a high accuracy, one of the biggest draws about slice-of-life anime such as Flying Witch is that the artists go out of their way to ensure that even seemingly trivial locations are rendered such that they faithfully represent their real-world equivalent. This is a small street that Chinatsu walks along while following Chito around on his walk during the fifth episode.

  • The high school that Makoto, Nao and Kei attend is modelled after the Hirosaki Seiai Academy (弘前学院聖愛中学高等学校), with facilities for both middle and high school students. The school is located in Hiarosaki’s southern area, around 3.75 kilometers from Hirosaki park and seven kilometers from the locations where Makoto and Chinatsu share their first walk. Makoto is seen frequently walking to school from her residence, another indicator that distances in the anime have been modified to better accommodate the atmosphere in Flying Witch.

  • This is a Shinto Shrine in the Mount Iwaki area, an area steeped in mythology. The Slenderman Harbinger of Spring stops here briefly before continuing on with his travels, and the Shrine itself officially encompasses the whole of the mountain. Established in 780, most of the present-day structures were built in 1694 with support from the Tsugaru clan of Hirosaki Domain. The shrine hosts the Oyama-sankei, a festival held annually during the autumn equinox with a parade from the shrine to the top of the mountain as its centerpiece where where pilgrims carry colorful banners and are accompanied by traditional drums and flutes.

  • I’ll round this post off with an image of the Imaya Knitting and Sewing shop that Makoto stops at to purchase cloth for her cloaks during the finale. While nearly identical in terms of appearance, right down to the banner, placement of items and the storefront’s design, inspection of the Hiragana finds that the real shop is known as the Shimaya Knitting and Sewing Shop. It’s been five months since Flying Witch aired, and I recall giving it a strong recommendation: there has been no news of a continuation, but I have had a chance to check out Flying Witch Petit, a short anime depicting the characters in chibi. With this Flying Witch location post finishe, this marks another anime whose locations have been presented in a manner accessible for English-speakers. My next locations post will be for Kimi no na wa: the photographs are ready, and all I need are high-resolution screenshots from the movie itself.

A large part of the magic in Flying Witch, aside from the actual magic that Makoto practises, lay in how the choice of setting. Makoto is presented as a Witch who is very attuned to her surroundings, and as she is originally from Yokohama, the rural backdrop of Hirosaki offers her an opportunity to really explore the environment and master the disciplines required for becoming a fully-qualified Witch. A great many discussions, my own included, do not fully cover this, but it is the tranquil, laid-back atmosphere of the countryside that allows Makoto to focus on her tasks: life in a city is rather hectic, which would have detracted from Flying Witch‘s theme that an effective Witch is someone with an open mind and a sense for adventure amongst nature. Consequently, it should be clear that the setting has a substantial contribution to the messages being portrayed in Flying Witch; the anime brings all of this to life, and while I’ve presently not heard of any news for a continuation, the manga is on-going, so it would be most pleasant to see what lies ahead in the future, especially considering how Chinatsu’s innate curiosity about Witches and magic later lead her to apprentice under Makoto. To watch her own journey as a Witch would likely be very enjoyable, considering how well-executed Flying Witch‘s first (and only) season is.

Ōarai, Ibaraki: Home of Girls und Panzer

“There is never just one thing that leads to success for anyone. I feel it always a combination of passion, dedication, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time.” —Lauren Conrad

The last major anime locations post I did was published more than a year ago, for Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, which was set in Colmar, France. In this post, we return to the Eastern coast of Japan just north of Tokyo in the Kantō region — it is no secret that the prefecture of Ibaraki is home to Ōarai-machi (大洗町), the setting for the series Girls und Panzer. In no small part thanks to Girls und Panzer, tourism in the town of Ōarai (which I’ve romanised everywhere else on this blog as Ooarai for convenience’s sake) has been bolstered by fans of the series, who’ve come to visit locations that feature predominantly in the anime. While Ōarai in Girls und Panzer plays host to several Panzerfahren matches, the economy of Ōarai in reality is powered by agriculture and fishing: rice and sweet potatoes, along with flounder, sardines, clams and whitebait are major products from the region (as Anzu’s penchent for dried sweet potatoes can attest). In addition, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency also operates a research center in Ōarai. The town of Ōarai was created from the merger between two villages in the Higashiibaraki district, Ōnuki and Isohama, on November 3, 1954: previously the two villages were established on April 1, 1889. Less than a year later, on July 23, 1955, Natsumi (a village in the Kashima district) was annexed by Ōarai and incorporated into the town.

  • It seems appropriate to kick this post off with an image of Ōarai station. Opened in 1985, the station serves an average of around 2690 passengers daily and is situation 11.6 kilometers from the terminal in Mito. This is one of the larger location posts I’ve made, featuring thirty images of the real world location and their corresponding depictions within Girls und Panzer for a total of sixty images. In keeping with the formatting of the other location posts, each real world image is followed by a figure caption, and the anime equivalent is posted below.

  • The building seen here during the finale, when Miho and the others ride through Ōarai following their victory at the championships. A cursory glance shows just how faithfully details are reproduced, with colours and even text closely matching the real-world equivalent. A Kumon tutoring branch can be seen here: I see branches in my country, and a looking further, the company’s origins date to 1958, when Toru Kumon’s son fared poorly in mathematics. Drafting hand-written notes, his son gradually became more adept in mathematics, and caught the neighbours’ attention. Today, the tutoring company is headquartered in Osaka and has locations in forty-nine countries.

  • In an earlier post, I remarked that I would not be keen on sifting through Google Maps to locate every spot in Ōarai, but I will occasionally do so here. This particular intersection is located at 大洗駅前通り and 県道106号線: the elevated rail carrying the Kashima Rinkai Railway Ōarai Kashima Line can be seen in the background here; the differences in lighting suggest that Miho and the others return to Ōarai by morning.

  • A very large majority of the scenes from Girls und Panzer set in Ōarai can be found in the third, fourth, seventh and final episodes: most of the events of Girls und Panzer are set aboard a vast carrier known as school ships in-universe. These gargantuan sea-faring vessels are self-contained towns helmed by students with the aim of preparing them for the duties of adulthood, and one of the OVAs, “School ship war”, deals with life aboard such ships in a manner reminiscent of Discovery Channel’s Mighty Ships.

  • The narrow streets of Ōarai provide a very claustrophobic environment for armoured combat: modern doctrine does not encourage the use of main battle tanks in armoured settings, since the buildings offer opponents places of cover, and also make it much easier to conceal anti-armour weapons, whether they be RPGs or IEDs. Instead, for an urban setting, IFVs and assault guns would be better suited for engaging infantry. Miho’s preferred tactic is to lure her opponents into urban settings with plenty of cover, knowing it will throw them off.

  • During Ōarai’s first match against St. Glorianna, a majority of Ōarai is cordoned off in order to provide the tanks with an urban environment, and below, a peace officier sets up a sign in front of several shops: the one with the colourful storefront appears to be a grocery shop, and again, a comparison between the two images illustrates the level of detail that went into replicating the scenery in Ōarai for Girls und Panzer.

  • The road to the brick structure visible here, for instance, is actually adjacent to the Brian Ōarai Store and a bakery of sorts. The building’s shutters here are closed, suggesting that much of the area has been cleared to facilitate the match, although the relative lack of shadows in the anime incarnation of the location shows that even in something like Girls und Panzer, not all locations can be rendered with the same graphical fidelity as something like Your Name.

  • This is another angle of the same location where Miho manages to make use of the close quarters to quickly dispatch a handful of the Matilda II tanks. At this point in their career, Ōarai Girls’ tankers are quite inexperienced and lose handily to St. Glorianna, even with Miho’s formidable skills in their corner providing a number of their kills. A part of the joy in watching Girls und Panzer was watching Miho’s leadership helping the different teams grow and unify under her direction, while at the same time, seeing Miho re-discover her love for Panzerfahren thanks to the environment her teammates cultivate.

  • The actual street is more densely built than the anime portrayal; the latter gives a much greater sense of space compared to the real world, but these locations do indeed match up: as the real-world image illustrates, it’s directly behind the brick building, and the house behind have very similar designs. The major difference, besides density, is the fact that the grassy field is not fenced off in Girls und Panzer. Placements of shadows suggest that it is late morning or early in the afternoon.

  • The final stages of the exhibition match are settled at this intersection, and while Miho risks a maneouver to reach the Churchill’s rear, her main gun does not pack enough punch to score a mission-killing hit on Darjeeling’s Churchill. Miho later uses the same technique against Black Forest to defeat Maho’s Tiger I, and again in the movie to overcome Alice’s Centurion. The realism of the armoured combat in Girls und Panzer is the subject of no small debate, but I’ve generally chosen to remain a spectator, preferring to focus on the anime’s overarching themes.

  • In the seventh episode, Miho and her friends return to Ōarai’s ferry terminal after visiting Mako’s grandmother. They travel through the streets of Ōarai by evening, and in the distance, the Ōarai Marine Tower is visible. Even with the low lighting, the details in the anime replication of the actual town is apparent, whether it be the small symbols on the house in the foreground,  or the placement of fliers on the telephone poles and vegetation growing out of the sidewalks.

  • A vacant lot adjacent to a Panasonic store serves as the site for some vendors to set up their stands on the day of the exhibition match. Careful inspection of the sign above the storefront shows that in Girls und Panzer, the brand “Panasonic” has been swapped out for “Nanasonic”: shows usually make use of this technique if they wish to present a product similar to that of a real-world brand without going through the procedure in order to acquire the permissions to use the brand, although there are some cases where shows may use brand name products with the company’s endorsement.

  • The sign welcoming visitors to Ōarai is visible from near the town’s post office, leading to the ferry terminal. I live somewhere landlocked, so there are no ferries: the nearest substantial body of water is the Pacific Ocean, and there are ferries that move between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. I’ve not visited Vancouver Island and Victoria for quite some time, but the island does seem quite picturesque for driving around on. At some point, I should rent a vehicle and drive the island.

  • The complex visible in this image is the Resort Outlet Ōarai, a shopping center near the Ōarai Marine Tower. Miho and her friends visit this facility to purchase swimsuits during the “Water War” OVA, as well as to relax in the aftermath of their match against St. Gloriana. The location also serves as the main event centre during this match, where Ōarai’s citizens congregate to watch the first match hosted locally in quite some time. Inspection of this image shows again that details are faithfully reproduced, whether it be the placement of rooftop chimneys or the number of arches in the buildings.

  • Sixty meters in height, the Ōarai Marine Tower is one of the tallest structures in the area. It provides a beautiful panorama of the area surrounding the town, and also serves excellent ice cream. With an admissions cost of less than 10 CAD, it’s a ways more inexpensive than the 18 CAD for ascending the Calgary Tower. While eclipsed by several buildings downtown, the Calgary Tower continues to offer an impressive view of the Calgary skyline: visiting the Calgary Tower is less costly than the 168 HKD (roughly 28 CAD) for an adult ticket to visit Hong Kong’s Sky 100 Observation Deck.

  • While the Resort Outlet Ōarai is perhaps a quieter mall, its staff are very friendly, and the mall’s proximity to the ocean, coupled with a playground, makes it a suitable point for families to visit. Since Girls und Panzer aired, there’s a small diorama in the mall depicting events from the anime. For folks interested to check this out, the mall is a mere fifteen minutes’ walk from Ōarai Station, although it will take around an hour and forty minutes to reach Ōarai Station from Tokyo Station.

  • Given the vast differences in population, I imagine that for a Tokyoite would regard the Resort Outlet Ōarai the same way I see the smaller shops in places like Cochrane or Bragg Creek in comparison with the largest shopping malls in the city. I’ve got a fondness for small shops, as they exude a much warmer atmosphere and oftentimes, have unique items available for sale that might otherwise be unavailable from larger shops.

  • The Ōarai Marine Tower is visible from the original image, but is noticeably absent in the anime incarnation: a bit of reasoning will find that the overhead image of the entire Resort Outlet Ōarai buildings was taken from the southwestern corner of the tower. The distance separating the two locations is only a hundred meters.

  • This is the interior of the Aqua World Ōarai, the regional aquarium. This large hallway serves as the site of a flower arrangement exhibition that Hana takes part in, and her display, a bold and expressive statement about her love for Panzerfahren, is visible in this frame. It is here that she reconciles with her mother, who feels that Hana’s involvement in Panzerfahren has allowed her to develop a more individualistic approach for arranging flowers.

  • Covering 19,800 m² and featuring an animal population of 68000, Aqua World opened in 2002 and receives around 1.1 million visitors annually. The aquarium is open from nine to five most days, and adults are charged 1850 Yen for admissions (around 21 CAD), making it slightly more expensive than admissions for the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller (18 CAD) or Calgary’s Glenbow Museum (16 CAD). The former, I visited during the Labour Day long weekend of 2016, while in 2013, Heritage Day in Alberta meant that the Glenbow Museum was free of charge; my last visit there prior to 2013 was back when I was still a primary school student.

  • A small side road here that Miho takes to enter Ōarai from a rugged countryside actually leads to the Ōarai Isosaki Shrine, which was established in 856, destroyed in a conflict between 1558-1570 and rebuilt in 1690. Designated a site of cultural significance by the Ibaraki Prefecture, the sea is visible from the site. Folks looking to visit will note that the Shrine is open from six in the morning to five in the afternoon, and there is no cost for admissions.

  • In Girls und Panzer Der Film, Miho and Chi-han Tan’s forces evade the combined forces of St. Gloriana and Pravda during an exercise near this location, and in the original anime, Miho directs her group into the town along this road. This particular spot is only some 120 meters from where the previous screenshot was taken: a hotel occupies the left of this image, while the warehouse to the right is a seafood processing factory.

  • The facilities that Miho and the Panzerfahren club are sent to are modelled after the old Kamioka Elementary School (旧上岡小学校) in Daigo, some seventy kilometers northwest of Ōarai. The wooden school was built in 1879, during the Meiji Restoration period and has closed as an elementary school. Its construction and historical value meant the site has been preserved, with television dramas and movies being filmed on the school grounds.

  • The official site encourages visitors to check out the old Kamioka school: there is no admissions cost, and the grounds are open from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon. Its location is admittedly reminiscent of the Atlas Coal Mine in Drumheller, although in the case of the latter, there is a ten dollar charge to walk the area: I was intrigued by the old tipple and coal mining facilities, and next time I visit, I will be purchasing the “Ghost Tour” package. The site is said to be haunted, and I am rather curious to tour the tipple’s interior, as well as some of the subterranean coal shafts.

  • By April 2016, Girls und Panzer fans had visited the site in such numbers that they were interfering with operations at the facilities, and were otherwise causing disturbances in general. The site’s caretakers have since banned cosplayers from the site, although standard visitors remain free to walk around and photograph the grounds. I’ve heard that some anime fans can be generally unpleasant; while I’ve encountered a few fans from the military-moé genre with whom I’d rather not think about, in general, anime fans are ordinary folks that I have no trouble getting along with. As such, it’s quite logical to suppose that in this case, it is the actions of the few that ruin things for the majority.

  • The interior of the Principal’s office is shown in the pair of images here. Details in the interior, from the wooden panelling of the room and placement of furniture, to framed documents on the walls, are highly conserved between the real-world setting and anime depiction. The only major difference is the Championship flag hanging on the left wall.

  • While I’ve tried my best to avoid duplicate photos in this locations post, the images illustrating the broadcast room have been recycled: no other anime image quite captures the real-world version quite as effectively, with its cramped setting and clutter. Compared to the TV series, Girls und Panzer Der Film seems to have improved on the artwork in different scenes, featuring much more detailed environs than its predecessor.

  • When the engines of Saunders Academy’s C-5M Super Galaxy are heard, the girls run out into the hallways, eager to receive the tanks they’ve come to regard as dearly as family. In these frames, note the posters on the walls, which are highly accurate renditions of those found in the actual school: on the right wall, the distant image is of the water cycle, while the image closer to the camera depicts a volcano’s magma chamber and movement of magma through the Earth’s crust.

  • I’m actually one flight of steps too early in the real-world image relative to the position that the anime equivalent was taken from. The multitude of moments from Girls und Panzer Der Film evokes memories of when I wrote the review for the movie some seven months ago. It was an endeavour taking me twelve hours to complete, but looking back, I’m no longer surprised that reviewing the film on such short order after its home release had no impact on my graduate thesis. I had largely finished the thesis paper by then and was in reasonably good shape to take on the defense, so I was able to take the day off to write the review.

  • Kamoika Elementary’s exterior is visible from this shot. For the curiously-minded, this is where the school is located: compared to previous location posts, I’ve included occasional links to Google Maps so that readers may use them as starting points to explore around. I remark to the fellow who spent a fair bit of time tracking down the locations from the “Anglerfish War” OVA, that tracking down the linked locations took a total of less than ten minutes, because I’m One With the Force and the Force is with me. I realise that Ōarai location posts are probably abundant in number, but nonetheless, when I received the request to write this one, I accepted, knowing that I could consolidate a side-by-side comparison of Girls und Panzer locations under one roof — my roof, to make them more accessible. Besides Girls und Panzer, I also have a request to do Flying Witch.

Even before the rise of Girls und Panzer, Ōarai drew upwards of three million visitors per year — its beaches and golf courses aside, the area also boasts an aquarium known as Aqua World, a marina, as well as several museums. In addition to the plethora of outdoor activities, Ōarai is well-known for its monkfish. Belonging to the Lophius genus, monkfish has a moderately firm texture and is somewhat chewy, with a mild, sweet flavour reminiscent of lobster. Monkfish can be prepared in a number of ways (common means include baking, broiling, frying, grilling, steaming or poaching), and in Tom Clancy’s Threat Vector, John Clark enjoys a finely prepared dinner of monkfish while on an assignment to assassinate a known terrorist while in Libya. With a population of 16823 as of September 2015, the town of Ōarai is a fine destination for visitors looking to partake in marine sports or try out the monkfish. The city can be reached by the Number 51 highway or through the Kashima Rinkai Railway Ōarai Kashima Line, for which there is a stop in Ōarai. With the town covering only 23.74 km², the area is quite small — dedicated fans will have next to no problem identifying all of the locations in Ōarai that featured in Girls und Panzer.

Colmar, France: Home of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?

“I’ve been called many names like perfectionist, difficult and obsessive. I think it takes obsession, takes searching for the details for any artist to be good.” —Barbra Streisand

That Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? is set in a town inspired by France’s Colmar is a badly-kept secret. Located in the Alsace region of north-eastern France, Colmar is a town with a population of roughly 67 214 (as of 2009, with a metro population of 126 957) and is best known for its well-preserved old town, museums and landmarks. Colmar was founded in the ninth century and changed hands several times during the course of its history: it was taken by Sweden during the Thirty Years’ War in 1632, re-conquered by King Louis XIV in 1673 and annexed into Prussia in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War. Returned to France after World War I as a part of the terms outlined in the Treaty of Versailles, Nazi Germany annexed Colmar in 1940 and finally, in 1945, Colmar was returned back to France. The area has a sunny and dry climate as a result of its proximity to the mountains, and consequently, Colmar is home of some of the best Alsace wine. Despite its turbulent history, Colmar’s old town remains well-preserved, spared the razing and strategic bombing that leveled cities throughout Europe during wartime: Germanic and French influence is seen in its sandstone and timber-framed buildings, and its fairy tale-like atmosphere means Colmar serves as the inspiration for Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?.

  • I believe this is one of my larger location posts, rolled on in response to requests for an English-language variant of the comparison between the town of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? and Colmar, France. Here, Cocoa is walking down Grand Rue (Main Street) in search of her accommodations. Some 500 meters long, a large number of Colmar’s major attractions line this street.

  • Branching off Grand Rue is Rue des Marchands (Merchant’s Street), a smaller street lined with shops. Because Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuk Ka? depicts the passage of seasons over its run, one wonders how accurate the anime depiction of the climate was, and it turns out that compared to Colmar, summers aren’t quite as hot, while winters are a bit cooler. Colmar’s geography means that it has a sunny and dry microclimate, so rain and snow are infrequent.

  • Rabbit House’s architecture was inspired by two separate buildings: its lower floors are inspired by those of a similar building on Rue des Boulangers, with its distinct window shutters. Numerous buildings in Colmar are timber-framed, an architectural feature that was commonplace prior to the nineteenth century. Rather than dimensional lumber used in modern wooden-framed buildings, timber-framed buildings uses logs or tree trunks to form the building’s frame.

  • A shot that allows for the whole of Rabbit House to be seen shows that the upper floor likely took inspiration from a building on Rue du Chasseur: the narrow taper of the roof and singular window seen in Rabbit House is mirrored in a real-world shop. Timber-framed buildings allow for open spaces and can be quite energy efficient, but highly difficult to maintain.

  • Cocoa checks her heading near Champ de Mars, a public park that was laid out in 1745. While not seen in the photographs here, there’s also a central fountain topped by the statue of Admiral Bruat built by Bartholdi in 1864.

  • One of the coffee shops in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? features a distinct looking sign that was actually drawn off a similar-looking sign in Rue du Général de Gaulle of the village Riquewihr, which is only 11 kilometers from Colmar. With a population of 1308 as of 2006, the village widely praised for looking as it did during the sixteenth century, as it too was spared the destruction of WWII.

  • Cocoa and Chiya’s high school is modeled after Colmar’s Mediatheque. The building has at least five centuries’ of history: in the late 16th century, the west side of the building was utilised as a military hospital until  was reserved for the military hospital until 1792, when it was moved to the Catherinettes. The building retained its function as a hospital until 1937, when the Pasteur hospital was built in Colmar’s Western side. Subsequently occupied by two departments of the IUT of the University of Haute-Alsace, the building was renovated in 2012 to become a media library.

  • The Lauch River which passes through the south-eastern portion of the old town known as Little Venice and is lined by Rue des Ecoles. This section of the old town feels like it came straight from a fairy tale and has a very romantic feeling, with its colourful timber-framed buildings.

  • Boat tours of the canal are offered in Colmar, allowing one to languidly cruise the Lauch River. The guides giving the tour are versed in English and lasts around half an hour, costing six Euros per adult (around 8.70 CAD, a fantastic deal); tickets can be purchased from one of two docks, both of which are located near the bridge by Rue de la Poissonnerie.

  • The fictional town in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? draws inspiration from other European cities, as well: there are canals in Colmar, but some of the wider sections were derived off the canals found in near Au Pont Saint Martin, an Alsace restaurant at the heart of Strasbourg. Strasbourg is a much larger city located 64 kilometers northeast of Colmar; with a population of 759,868 as of 2010, the city has an Oceanic climate with warm summers and cold winters.

  • This is an image of Colmar’s Marché couvert de Colmar (Covered Market of Colmar), of which only a corner can be seen in the Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? screenshot. Located near the Lauch River at the Old Town’s southern end, the market was built in 1865, and its location along the river meant that goods could be delivered via boat. Selling a selection of local meat, cheese, spices, wine and fruit and vegetables on display, the covered market also has a small café that serves pastries, coffees and wines.

  • While Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? showcases a quiet town, Colmar is quite busy with tourists. Individuals with a sufficiently powerful GPU can view Colmar on Google Maps in full 3D and make use of the labels to pinpoint locations as I’ve done here. Unlike the town of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?, which appears to have frozen in history and remained a small town, in present-day Colmar, the Old Town is surrounded by a modern city.

  • Here is another shot of the river along Rue des Ecoles. Careful inspection of both images demonstrates again the level of detail that went into creating the setting of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?: in fact, I remarked in my review of the first season that the idyllic European setting was what appealed so much about the anime. Whereas most slice-of-life anime are set in Japan, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? dared to go the whole nine yards in creating an authentic, compelling setting that sets it apart from similar shows.

  • Not all of the locations of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? are located in France. The large, ornate pool seen in their town was inspired by Budapest’s Széchenyi thermal bath, the largest thermal/mineral bath in all of Europe. The bath is located along Kós Károly Stny. by Budapest’s City Park, and was designed by Győző Czigler in Neo-baroque style  Construction began in 1909 and the bath opened in 1913.

  • Széchenyi thermal bath’s water features a high concentration of  sulphate, calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate and is fed by two separate springs: one provides water at 74 °C, and the other supplies 77 °C water. These waters are used for medicinal purposes, helping sooth degenerative joint illnesses, chronic and sub-acute joint inflammations.Owing to its popularity, the facility underwent a major expansion in 1927, resulting in the structure that is currently seen.

  • The entrance to the pool in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? is actually the back of the building facing the pools. regions of Hungary exhibits geothermal activity, accounting for why hot springs are present there. To the best of my knowledge, the extent of geothermal activity in France is not quite to the same extent as seen in the Rocky mountains, but thermal springs can also be found in the Alsace region.

  • The outdoor pools at Széchenyi thermal bath are maintained at temperatures of 27 to 38 °C. Three separate pools are present: a central pool is for swimming, and two pools to the edges are intended for visitors to relax in. Pools in the facility’s interior are kept at 27 °C: besides acting as a pool/thermal springs, Széchenyi thermal bath also provides spa and massage services.

  • Provided that an anime’s creators disclose which locations inspired the settings of their show in a magazine interview, the locations would not be particularly difficult to find. Location hunting for anime locations in Europe is surprisingly inexpensive: at the time of publication, it would cost between 1000 to 1600 dollars to fly from Tokyo to Paris round-trip, so assuming location hunters take the more inexpensive option, I estimate that visiting Colmar and Budapest would not total more than 3000 dollars.

  • Various architectural elements seen in the backgrounds of the original pool are mirrored in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?‘s pool, although some details have also been modified. It is presumed that the pool in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? is rather smaller than Széchenyi thermal bath: the real thermal bath covers more than  6,220 square metres and features 15 indoor pools.

  • This post took a fair bit of time to compile, as gathering and assembling the information was a major time sink. Similar to my Glasslip locations post, this was motivated largely by the wish to provide an easy-to-read, English-searchable post for readers wondering about the locations of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? and for any reason, do not wish to search a Japanese-language site for the content. Thus, when I make these posts, I strive to ensure that my location posts load faster, easier to navigate and provide more useful information for the readers, so that the level of effort that goes into making anime such as Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? are conveyed.

Colmar’s major attractions lie in the old town: despite its size, the old town is pedestrian friendly, being packed with a range of shops and restaurants that serve Alsatian cuisine (a combination of traditional French and Germanic techniques, making use of pork, sauerkraut, foie gras and wine). In addition, boat tours along the canals are also offered. There are several hotels located in the Old Town with rates ranging from 25 to 200 Euros per night. It’s worth mentioning that Colmar merely served to inspire the town seen in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?: the swimming pool that Chino and her friends visit is modeled after a swimming pool in Budapest, Hungary, and the size discrepancies between Colmar and the town of Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? can be seen in a map that Cocoa is referencing (Colmar is much larger and the old town is surrounded by a modern city). With this being said, the level of detail seen in Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka? is impressive; as per the other anime locations I’ve documented here, it’s always pleasant to know that this level of effort goes into bringing an anime’s setting to life.

Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture: Home of Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” —William Morris

It’s not terribly surprising that Locodol‘s Nagarekawa was based off a real-world location of a similar name: Nagareyama is a city located in the northern section of the Chiba prefecture, bordering the Edogawa River and with a population of around 166 493 (as of 2012) and acts as a bedroom community for Tokyo. One of its better-known products is mirin, a sweet sake used as cooking alcohol. Nagareyama can be reached via the Nagareyama Line, and its name in Kanji (流山) means “flowing mountain”. Founded in the Edo period as a port, it became recognised as a city in 1967. In Locodol, the “yama” is substituted by “kawa” (流川); Nagarekawa means “flowing river”. Similar to Nagarekawa, Nagareyama is a typical community that lacks the hustle of urban Japan, but cannot be said to be a rural area, either. At present, the population of these bedroom communities are declining as more people are moving into major urban areas. Consequently, these municipalities are challenged with maintaining or constructing attractive cultural amenities, as well as developing sustainable business environments to ensure that the regions do not experience the same sort of decay that affected Detroit after the local automotive industry was no longer competitive against international brands.

  • There are twelve comparison images for this post, and as is typical of most of my present-day location hunt images, we begin with the anime location and follow up with its real-world equivalent below the bullet point. The Tone Canal is depicted in the opening sequence; opened in 1890, it was designed by a Dutch engineer and features a park with an 8.5 kilometre-long hiking path. Open year-round, it’s said to be a fine place for hanami.

  • Locodol aired during Summer 2014, so when audiences paid visits to the locations of Locodol, the cherry blossoms had long faded. The anime depicts what the Tone Canal might look like in Spring, and in Autumn, the Lycoris radiata (Red Spider Lily) bloom along the canal’s banks after a heavy rainfall.

  • This is the Suwa Shrine, located along the Tobu Noga train line. The nearest train station is Toyoshiki Station, which is within walking distance of Suwa Shrine. Visitors emark that the shrine has a high mosquito population and advise that one bring a sufficient quantity of insect repellant with them to ensure a comfortable visit.

  • This building here is known as the Shinkawaya Kimono Shop, which was established in 1846. The building the shop presently occupies was built in 1890 by Kumagoro Tsuchiya, a carpenter, and specialise in kimonos, as well as Japanese items and clothing.

  • Nanako runs and trips along one of the smaller streets in the Nagareyama region. I suddenly realize that I’ve not actually watched the ending and opening sequences to Locodol: while the anime itself was fantastic, I was not particularly keen on the opening and ending’s music. With that being said, both are nonetheless well-animated.

  • Nagareyama’s city hall is faithfully reproduced in Locodol, right down to the exterior siding, number of flagpoles, the placement of trees and the location of the building’s sign. I remark that the municipal building in Calgary is rather more impressive from an architectural standpoint: completed in 1985, it’s clad in a glass facade and has a large atrium that allows natural light to illuminate the building’s core.

  • Nanako’s walk in the ending credits take her in front of some apartment blocks near the city hall. This moment again demonstrates the attention to detail that is present in Locodol with respect to the scenery; even though Locodol is a smaller-scale anime (consistent with its theme), Feel did a superb job in capturing the feel of Nagareyama.

  • Similar to the Glasslip locations post, this locations post came about as a request from readers who wished for an English-language version of the post such that they could learn more about the Nagareyama region. Here it is. On an unrelated note, I’m somewhat surprised that the latest Locodol albums have not made an appearance yet: I was looking forwards to hearing Nanako and Yukari sing again.

  • Unlike Nanako, whose route to school involves a walk to the train station through a shopping district, my commute to campus is rather more mundane under most circumstances: I can reach campus within a twenty minutes by car or half an hour by bus. While taking the C-train is an option, my building is located on the opposite side of campus relative to the train station, whereas the bus drops me off a short ways from my building.

  • Here’s a bit of a curisoity: the world’s smallest Shrine in Nagarekawa and its real-world equivalent in Nagareyama is a Billiken, created by American art teacher and illustrator, Florence Pretz of Kansas City, Missouri as a good luck charm in 1908. They became popular in pre-WWII Japan and were enshrined in various places.

  • While Nagarekawa faithfully replicates details seen in Nagareyama, anime tend to simplify some elements for ease-of-animation: notice that the vegetation is not rendered in the anime image. The end result is that environments in anime appear far cleaner (and in extreme cases, sterile) compared to their real-world counterparts. There are only a handful of studios and creators who make an effort to capture the smaller details in the environment, such as Makoto Shinkai and Hayao Miyazaki.

  • Nagareyama/Nagarekawa station is an ordinary train station by all definitions, so I’ve got no real remarks about it (rather like the several C-train stations lining the Tuscany line). Moving along to what I’m writing about next, the YuruYuri summer OVAs and Call of Duty: Black Ops posts are definitely on the horizon: I’ve put those off long enough.

Locodol deviates from what one might typically enjoy about the better-known idol anime (Love Live! and IdolM@ster come to mind), but in my eyes, the emphasis on the ordinary is precisely why it was so enjoyable to watch. Compared to larger idol groups, the Nagarekawa Girls are about their city, working as idols for something more important than their individual aspirations. Neither Nanako or Yukari are professional idols, and Locodol goes to great lengths to illustrate that, although they might not be top-tiered singers and performers, they nonetheless perform with a passion to express their love for Nagarekawa. There was talk of a new OVA back during the summer, but given that news on said OVA has been nonexistent, I imagine that any additional adaptations of Locodol will remain a fair way into the future.

Mikuni City, Fukui Prefecture: Home of Glasslip

“Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.” —Bette Davis

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done any location posts. I will break that streak with a post detailing the differences between the Glasslip depiction and real-world town of Mikuni. While it’s been nearly a year since Glasslip aired, it strikes me as surprising that there are not any half-decent collections of screenshots comparing the locations of Glasslip to its real-world equivalent. Mikuni is a town in the Fukui Prefecture of Japan. This small town is quite unremarkable for the most part, minus the fact that it was merged with Harue and Maruoka in 2006 to form the city of Sakai. Boasting a population of 23207 as of 2003 prior to the merger, the combined cities have a population of roughly 94000 (as of 2011). Despite Mikuni’s relatively small size (it’s only double the size of Canmore, Alberta), the town is well-known for its fireworks display, which are hosted every August, and as depicted in Glasslip, some of the fireworks are floating charges distributed by boats that explode on the water’s surface to create a unique effect.

  • There are twenty-eight screenshots in this post, fourteen depicting the anime location and fourteen of its real-world equivalent. Similar to KyoAni’s depictions of their respective locales in K-On!, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Kanon and CLANNAD, P.A. Works puts in a great deal of effort into its landscapes and environments, as well. Careful inspection of this image pair finds that the individual buildings are faithfully reproduced.

  • As with the Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari location posts, I’ll comment every two images: the anime depictions are remarkably well-done and in some cases, indistinguishable from the photograph. The fastest way to differentiate between the two is that the anime screenshots are much cleaner and vivid in colour, lacking the grittier feeling in the photographs.

  • The level of details in the environments is astounding, and for all of the limitations present in Glasslip, the visuals are not anything to casually dismiss. So vividly rendered and detailed the landscapes and cityscapes are, that one might even say that P.A. Works can rival Makoto Shinkai’s artwork to some extent. For instance, this shot of the harbour was taken just outside the Mikuni postal office.

  • Because Mikuni is a relatively small city, it was possible for me to scour map data to relocate some of the spots seen in Glasslip. Hinode Bridge is near the heart of Mikuni, passing over a train route. This is the spot where Yanagi confesses her feelings to Yukinari despite knowing the latter’s feelings for Tōko. It typifies P.A. Works’ talent for making use of lighting and music to transform what would otherwise be mundane locations into places where major events happen within their stories.

  • Mikuni Ryushokan Museum is one of the landmark buildings in Mikuni for its unique architecture: situated on a hill overlooking the city, this museum was designed by a Dutch engineer and features exhibits on the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, as well as the Kitamaebune float and the Mikuni festival.

  • There’s an observatory at the top floor of the Mikuni Ryushokan Museum that provides an unparalleled view of Mikuni’s cityscape. The area is referred to as the Kirinkan Lookout in Glasslip and is the setting for several game-changers within the plot, such as Sachi’s implied confession to Tōko.

  • The Kazemichi Cafe is a favourite hangout spot for Tōko and her friends; details from the original cafe, whether it be the exteriors or interiors, are faithfully reproduced in the anime. Known as the Cafe Kotonoha in real life, the cafe serves coffees, cakes, pastries and other refreshments, although its accessibility in the anime is not reflective of its relative location to Mikuni.

  • Cafe Kotonoha is located roughly twelve klicks east of Mikuni (if we’re using Hinode Bridge as the starting point): it’s set in a quiet wooded area that’s a twenty minute drive from downtown Mikuni, contrasting the Kazemichi Cafe of Glasslip, whose location suggests a location that is accessible by foot. While artists often go to great lengths to reproduce the details in an environment, there are cases where it is convenient to make modifications to fit the story.

  • Mikuni Station was relatively easy to find: operating since 1911, the station changed hands several times and operated trains for the Japan Government Railways until 1944, when Echizen Railway (formerly eifuku Electric Railway) took over. An accident on the line closed the station in 2001, and the station reopened in 2003.

  • Sachi and Tōko share a quiet moment and some ice cream outside of Gelato and Sweets CARNA, a shop that makes use of homemade ingredients to produce exceptionally fresh gelato and gentler-tasting sweets. The more subtle sweetness in Eastern confectionary stands in stark contrast to the sweets available in North America, which are oftentimes overwhelmingly sweet.

  • The use of real-world locations in anime is typically intended to reduce the need for extensive world-building. By providing a reasonably familiar location, this would theoretically allow a particular anime to focus on the character development, and while this holds true for quite a number of anime, this is that Glasslip ultimately proved unsuccessful in executing.

  • Watari Glass Studio is located around nineteen klicks south of Mikuni station, down the road along Umisai Hill. As a glass factory, it’s open to the public for touring, featuring a small gallery and terrace. In Glasslip, the location has been modified to be closer to Mikuni (similar to the Kazemichi Cafe), and the Fukami residence was added (visible in the upper image).

  • The spot where Yukinai confesses his feelings to Tōko is the synthesis of two locations: the intersection and house are located at National Route 305 near Kado Jinja, while the bench and tree are adjacent to a grade level railroad crossing between Mikuni Station and Mikuni-Minato Station.

  • This post came to fruition when a reader asked me about providing a locations post on Glasslip for other readers that could be perused easily, without requiring the loading of resource-hogging flash advertisements or even malware. Other sites with these location comparisons simply aren’t searchable in English (some otaku “pilgrimmage” sites don’t even provide Japanese text, instead, displaying mangled strings that make them near-impossible to find again). This forms the motivation behind all of my location posts: I aim to provide interested readers with a relatively clean comparison of anime and real-world locations, on a site that’s comparatively speedy with respect to loading times, and most importantly, is in the English language.

Glasslip was noted as a disappointment as an anime from an objective perspective; English-speaking viewers initially wondered if there were aspects in Glasslip that required a more involved understanding of Japanese culture, but it appears that the anime was not particularly well-received even by Japanese viewers. Official records state that only 584 copies of the first-volume home release DVDs and Blu-Rays were sold. To put things in perspective, the last P.A. Works Anime prior to Glasslip, Nagi no Asakara‘s first volume sold some 3717 copies, and the last anime from P.A. Works that I watched, Tari Tari, sold 8389 copies. Despite this cold reception, viewers in Japan paid several visits to Mikuni for the sole purpose of traversing the same trails as the characters of Glasslip; the region reported a small increase in tourism after Glasslip was released. Thus, while Glasslip may have featured a turbulent plot stymied by poor execution, it is the next entry in the list of anime that have invested a substantial amount of effort into producing realistic environments. For all of Glasslip‘s shortcomings, the detail and care placed into the scenery and cityscapes is nothing short of impressive.