Anime and the Real World
Yes, I know that this pops up from time to time, and this really isn’t anything new, but I’m going to mention a few anime series and the real world connections that us older fans might remember. Oh, and these are all locations that I have actually been to. So, let’s take a break from the science and enjoy some of the more interesting sights in anime and the real world connections they share.
Anime and the real world- Neogenesis Evangelion
If you haven’t heard of Evangelion, then you must have been born yesterday, because this is one of the iconic (love it or hate it) anime to come out of Japan. I won’t bore you with the details of the show but it takes place in Tokyo 3, which is built in Hakone.
Yes, you saw that right, there is an Evangelion themed guide to Hakone that points out where some of the different events in the show took place. And just in case you are wondering, I did try to use the guide while I was there, but seeing as it was in Japanese and I can’t read Japanese, it turned out to be a bit more difficult than expected.
Here we see Lake Ashi, which is seen several times in Evangelion, including during the battle with the Fifth Angel Ramiel.
Another spot that I found with an EVA connection was after taking a cable car across Mt. Hakone which was very cool, but not for those who are afraid of heights.
It may not look that bad but you are several hundred feet up and the car swings a good bit when the wind starts to blow. Not something I would repeat, and the brown area is a sulfur mine that runs up the side of the mountain. However, it is a spot that is used in the second Evangelion rebuild movie as the starting point for Rei when they fight the 8th angel Sahaquiel.
Anime and the real world- Rurouni Kenshin
If you are a fan of historical anime and/or samurai action, then you need to watch Rurouni Kenshin. It also happens to be an anime classic in my mind, but on to the historical connections. Now while most of the show takes place in Tokyo and Kyoto, I will not be featuring any locations from those cities. That being said, I can still make a couple of anime to real world connections from some other Japanese locations.
Shirakawa-go is a small historical village nestled in the Japanese Alps, that is basically their version of colonial Williamsburg in the USA. I highly recommend that if you are in the Japanese Alps you take a day trip to visit the small town, and it is not commercialized at all beyond a few small eateries and some of the locals opening up their homes, which are built in the traditional style of the 1600’s for travelers. What makes Shirakawa so interesting is that several businessmen helped to set up the village and trucked in several period style buildings from other parts of Japan to prevent them from being destroyed.
Here you can see one of the houses that Kenshin spent some time in, specifically it is from the prequel OVAs, so I’m not going to say any more about that. Now here is Shirakawa.
Not the best shot, but I’m not a Pulitzer prize winning photographer either. While I have not seen the show, the town in Higurashi was also heavily based on Shirakawa.
The next stop for Samurai and Rurouni Kenshin fans is Kanazawa, for its Samurai district, which will make you feel as if you are in the anime itself. Next up is a real Samurai house.
Anime and the real world- Inuyasha
Inuyasha was the first long running anime that I really got into back in college, and while it doesn’t hold a candle to Evangelion or Rurouni Kenshin, it holds up reasonably well. I could rehash Shirakawa for a real-life connection to Inuyasha, but since I’ve already used that for Rurouni Kenshin, I’m going to pass. Besides, I have a much more interesting connection. During the course of the main characters’ travels they come across a bat demon girl who can erect powerful barriers.
Her main role is to protect her fellow bat demons and their home. Now it just so happens that Matsuyama castle has their own resident demon that helps to protect the castle.
Oh, what the heck, I’m gonna show some more pictures of Shirakawa. This is the house I stayed in when I spent the night in Shirakawa. Now there wasn’t much in the way of nightlife in Shirakawa, but it was one of the best nights I had in Japan. Dinner was a communal experience with the owner’s family and other guests, which included a young couple, and a group of what looked like high school students. The food was good, and the sake even better, but what really made it memorable was staying up late into the night chatting with broken English and Japanese with the young couple about all things Japan and everything else. We didn’t say anything ground breaking but it was just a nice time sharing a drink with people from another culture.
Now for the Inuyasha houses, and while they look like rocks, those would actually be seashells as it prevents birds from nesting in the roof.
Anime and the real world- A Certain Magical Index
In the case of the Certain Series, the connection is not a location per say, but more of a cultural one. The Amakusa-Style Remix of Church is a group of Catholic magic users based in Japan.
Japan has had a Catholic population for a long time, but the government didn’t particularly like them very much, due to various uprisings and differences in beliefs. As such, several purges were carried out creating a number of martyrs, which now have a church in Nagasaki.
Thus, Japanese Catholics had to create various ways to hide their faith, such as making Catholic symbols, that looked like Buddhist symbols to avoid persecution. This actually translates over to their magic, which focuses on travel and staying hidden.
Anime and the real world- Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex
The major conflict in the second season in Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex revolves around refugees living on Dejima Island, which does actually exist in Nagasaki, Japan. Dejima was originally created by digging a canal through a small peninsula to create an island for Portugese traders in 1634. It was later the home of Dutch traders (1641-1853) and Japan’s only contact with the outside world for over two hundred years. Thus, it makes a nice symbolic location to stick people that Japan doesn’t want. However, it is a whole heck of a lot bigger in Ghost in the Shell than in the real world.
Anime and the real world- Azu Manga Diaoh
Azu Manga Diaoh is the original, or one of the original, heartwarming and goofy slice of life shows. It also happens to be the sole reason why I went out of my way to travel to Iriomote Island during my main trip to Japan. Ishigaki Island is the closest airport to Iromote and it is 3 hour 25minute flight from Tokyo, then another 25-minute ferry ride to Ishigaki. By the time you are on Iriomote you are only about 70km or so from Taiwan. The girls begin their trip on Okinawa with a little scuba diving before going all the way to Iriomote.
SCUBA diving On Okinawa
Anime and the real world-Pokemon
Yes you heard me, even Pokemon has a real-world connection. While I have not played the Pokemon games, they do tend to feature large bridges, which has a connection to the real world. The Shimanami Kaido connects Shikoku with the main Japan Island of Honshu crossing over several islands in the Seto Inland sea.
Come prepared for a long ride as it’s a long 70km with a couple of inclines coming on and off the bridges. Also, it’s not for those who are afraid of heights, and bring your own bike seat if you are a big guy as the Japanese seats are a little small. Now for the Pokemon version.
Well, I hope you all enjoyed a little trip to a couple of sites in Japan and their anime connections. I’ve been to 23 of the 47 prefectures in Japan, so let me know if you want to see some other parts of Japan. If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comments below.