Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Anime Town, Kamiigusa

Kamiigusa is 10 stops west of Takadanobaba, on the Seibu-Shinjuku line. (Rather than trying to find the station entrance for the Seibu line in Shinjuku, it may just be easier to take the Yamanote line from Shinjuku and transfer to the Seibu line in Takadanobaba). Because the Sunrise animation studio has an office here, the people of Kamiigusa have declared this to be "anime no machi" (Anime Town).

The real draw here is the 2 meter-tall bronze Gundam statue just outside the station, in front of the police box. It's a small station; so as you go out the one exit, walk around the building to the right. In addition, the city has a series of Gundam banners hanging from the street posts around the station. Apparently, the banner design changes periodically.

(Banners inside the station.)

(More banners.)

When I went, there were a number of posters on one wall inside the station promoting "Kamiigusa, anime no machi", and a 4-panel cartoon entitled "Suginami Kuronyan" (Kuro-chan from Suginami). This is #5 in the series, and was drawn by Shinichi Suzuki, former member of Tokiwa Mansion and currently the curator of the Suginami Animation Museum (SAM is about 1 mile south from here).

After looking at the statue, I went to the nearby kiosk and asked the clerk inside if there were any other items in the area related to the statue. She didn't really seem to understand my question, and I know that my Japanese isn't that great, but when I repeated it, she answered "no". Just to be on the safe side, I wandered in a 1 kilometer radius around the station. What I found:

A 7-11 one block away had a Gundam statue near the window plus an ad for some Gundam goods (there's a Gundam promo campaign going on now in many convenience stores, but this is the only one that has a Gundam statue); a few Gundam posters in shop and bank windows either advertising the latest TV series or the 25th anniversary of the show; and a painting on the shutter grate of a closed shop. Otherwise, I guess that the clerk was right - the main attraction here is the statue, but the painting is really good, too.

The really big find was the Sunrise building, which I described in the previous post. (The painting on the shutters is across the street from Sunrise.)

Script for Suginami Kuroyan, #5. Art by Shinichi Suzuki
1) Mom: Good afternoon.
Teru: Ah! I want to draw Kuronyan.
Granddad: You want to draw him, Teru?
2) Granddad: Kuronyan, act like a model now. We're going to get a great picture here.
Kuronyan: It better be good.
3) Teru: Don't move!
Granddad: Hey, Kuronyan, be patient!
Kuronyan: Yawn.
4) Teru: I'm done!
Granddad: Hoh, it's just like him.
Kuronyan: What is that!!

(Poster in a store window advertising the TV series.)

(More views of the statue.)

(Here, he looks like he's hailing the taxi at the right of the photo.)

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