Ikebukuro is known for being the home of one of Tokyo's best otaku districts. Popular anime merchandise retailer Animate's main office located there, and it is also often used as the setting in various anime. In this article, we will introduce anime which have featured Ikebukuro, while traveling to the places that have served as inspirations for anime settings!
Making our way through Durarara!!
The anime Durarara!! is very popular in countries across the world. This anime is actually set in Ikebukuro. Let's try to experience the place in real life.
Reunion Scene with Best Friend Kida
The first spot we'll visit is directly outside of the ticket gates of the JR Ikebukuro Station. This place was featured in the first episode in the scene where Mikado Ryugamine, (who was visiting Ikebukuro for the first time) is reunited with his best friend Kida. Not just the building, but also the signs and pedestrian traffic were carefully reconstructed, so being in this place lets you experience the same sort of feelings that Mikado must have felt during the first episode.
Musical Note Monument
After a few minutes walk from the station, you will arrive at Sunshine Street. This was the street where Kida led Mikado as he showed him around, and if you happen to visit here during the holidays, you will be surprised by the great number of people milling about. If you turn from the main street onto a side road, you will arrive at the park which has the musical note monument featured in the anime's opening theme.
If you walk a little further, you can see the building where the anime's Russia Sushi, where Simon was handing out flyers. Of course, Russia Sushi doesn't really exist, but the place where Shinra is walking in the opening can be seen here, and the building with the giant bowling pin behind him does really exist. If you walk further along the underpass, you will arrive at the Higashi Ikebukuro Central Park, where Mikado and his classmate Anri hid in Episode 3 of Season 1.
Higashi Ikebukuro Central Park
Right in front of Otome Road is Sunshine 60, which is adjacent to this park where you can spot many cats and birds and have a relaxing time, because there aren't that many people around. The park also has benches, so it might not be a bad place to have a light lunch. The places we've seen from the station to this park are often displayed as settings in the first season of Durarara!!
Heading back to the station, we come to the Mutsumata pedestrian bridge. This is where Mikado, Kida, and Anri were gazing at the setting sun in the season 1 opening, and this is also the bridge they often cross when going home from school. Mutsumaya-rikkyo overpass is a footbridge that crosses over the Yamanote Line, and you'd definitely feel like you became a part of the Durarara!! world if you gaze at the sunset from this bridge. The scenery still looks beautiful from here, even though the sunset shines through the middle of a group of buildings, so you may even lose yourself in a bit of sentimental nostalgia at the view.
In Front of Sunshine City
Let's go back again to Sunshine street. This place in front of Sunshine City probably looks pretty familiar to you if you're a big fan of this anime, because this is the place featured in the climatic eleventh episode of season 1 when Mikado summoned the Dollars.
The Headless Rider
This is the place where the people gathered one by one, and where the Headless Rider stood. By standing here, you can definitely remember the excitement you felt while watching the anime. Seeing these places that were featured in season 1 of Durarara!!, any fan would be surprised at how well the anime brought Ikebukuro to life. The streets where the characters run around wild in Durarara!! are exactly the same as Ikebukuro.
Making our Way through Penguindrum
Next on the list is Penguindrum, another popular anime that debuted July 2011. In this popular story created by Director Kunihiko Ikuhara, who also made Revolutionary Girl Utena, Ikebukuro is also often featured. Let's look at the places which appeared in this anime focusing on Ikebukuro Station's East Entrance.
The Setting at Ikebukuro Station East Entrance
You immediately enter the world of Penguindrum once you exit the east entrance of the Ikebukuro Station. In particular, the two statues you see immediately after going out of the east entrance leave quite an impression in reality, just like they did for characters in the series. They were made by a popular French sculptor, and really are placed at the east entrance of Ikebukuro Station. Penguindrum often features the scenery around Ikebukuro Station's east entrance, so you really see familiar scenes from the anime as you walk around the place.
The Place with Penguin Statues: Ikefukuro
Speaking of the east exit, the priceless Ikefukuro owl statue inside the east entrance was changed into a penguin statue in the anime, as the the animal is pivotal to the series. You might find it fun to try and spot the differences you see in reality versus Penguindrum.
Making Our Way Through Scenes from The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
Next, we introduce the science fiction animated movie called The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, which was set near Ikebukuro. This film was created by Director Mamoru Hosoda, who also created Summer Wars and Wolf Children, and has a lot of fans. This movie modeled one of its settings after Fujimi slope in front Gokokuji Station, which is two stations before Ikebukuro through the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line.
You will arrive at Fujimi slope after a 15-minute walk from Gokokuji Station. Those who have seen the movie will immediately recognize it. This where the the protagonist, Makoto, and her classmate, Chiaki, often parted ways. This slope, which is located in a quiet Japanese neighborhood, became an important place in the film, and visiting here allows you to peer into the world inside the movie, as well as into the daily lives of Japanese people.
Let's Explore Ikebukuro!
Ikebukuro is famous for its many anime shops, but, like we've discussed, it also serves as the setting for many anime. When sightseeing in Tokyo, never forget to take in the anime settings you encounter, and experience the world of anime on a whole new level!