Imagining Tokyo: Kanda Shrine and Love Live!

Tokyo is a city with two lives: the day to day reality of a bustling metropolis and a virtual life recreated in games, film and anime. As the capital of Japan, the city looms large in the Japanese imagination, occupying a space that is equal to Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York combined in the United States. Unlike most American media, particularly animation which usually relies on fictional locations, the centrality of Tokyo is reflected in the often exacting way the city is reimagined in popular culture. From Shibuya in Persona 5 to Akihabara and its environs in Love Live! and Akiba’s Trip, accuracy is a notable trademark of the city’s virtual second life. Arguably, given the widespread nature of images of Tokyo and the nearly 40 million people in the greater metropolitan area, it would be jarring to see familiar places rendered incorrectly.

This summer I am working on a digital project on the 1964 Olympics. Among the tools I am using to examine the connections between the Olympics and the modern day is Knightlabs’ Juxtapose, which allows for the comparison of images to create before/after representations of Olympic sites. I am also using it to pursue a personal interest in the making of a virtual Tokyo as a means to comment on the history of a location and the way popular culture has sought to appropriate, redefine and ultimately transform the physical real space from which fictional worlds took its inspiration. The first location I am tackling is Kanda shrine, made popular in anime fandom by Love Live! School Idol Festival. Here the way Kanda shrine is shown in the anime can be seen to closely parallel the real world location in this Juxtapose image. Move the slider back and forth to see the comparison.

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