The last installment of Anime vs. Real Life for the winter anime season goes out with a bang, as I take a look at the real-world locations of the pop rock band anime – BanG Dream! The large-scale mixed media franchise includes everything from live events with the voice actresses performing as their respective characters, to song releases, to manga, a mobile game, and of course the anime produced by Issen alongside studio Xebec. However, it surely seems like the anime slipped a bit under the radar of many, mainly due to the show premiering almost two-weeks late into the winter season. Which is a bit of a shame, because after a somewhat slow and predictable start (in all honesty, we’ve seen the ‘cheerful and energetic airhead decides to start a band on a whim, and recruits her initially-reluctant schoolmates’ premise one too many times now) the show is turning out to be a very pleasant watch, especially after Tae and Saya join the band. BanG Dream! has actually also been quite a surprise visually, by combining the standard idol anime aesthetics with some softer and mellow backgrounds, which we’ve gotten to know from studios like KyoAni. Interestingly, the show’s locations often deviate from their real-world counterparts, but you’ll be able to see that for yourself in the following comparison shots.
*All images were taken with GOOGLE STREET VIEW (images I shot myself will be marked ‘WD’)
BanG Dream! is set in Tokyo, mainly in the Kita and the Shinjuku wards. On her first day of high school, Kasumi heads through the small Jyouzousikenzyo Park on her way to school, and not the larger Asukayama Park right next to it, as one might have expected.
She then crosses the street and heads towards Asukayama Station, which initially caused my confusion, as she’s coming from the direction of Asukayama Park here. But she was heading through Jyouzousikenzyo Park in the anime, which wouldn’t have required her to change the side of the street. Anyway, that chatter is only of marginal importance, so let's move on.
Asukayama Station is a stop along the Toden Arakawa Line, the last remaining streetcar line of the Tokyo Toden streetcar system, and together with the Tokyu Setagaya Line the only tramline left in Tokyo.
The anime often leaves out and alters its backgrounds from its real-world counterparts, and as you can see, the tall building in the back is completely missing.
Kasumi gets off at the Toden Arakawa Line’s final stop, Waseda Station in Shinjuku.
BanG Dream! boasts a lot of soft backgrounds with a foible for orange filters. Also, the backgrounds and real-world locations often don’t match up par for par. The anime clearly shows Waseda Station’s roof and the street sign vis-à-vis, but a lot of the surrounding buildings don’t match up correctly.
Kasumi parts ways with her schoolmates at Tokyo Metro Tozai Line’s Waseda Station, not to be confused with the Waseda Station along the Toden Arakawa Line, as they are located quite far away from each other.
She then takes a stroll around the area, walking along the riverside paths of the Kanda River, and walks all the way to the small Sui Shrine. Right in front of the shrine is also where she first finds one of the star stickers, which Arisa put up everywhere.
Being the airhead that she is, Kasumi of course starts following the path of shiny little star stickers (that scenario would have probably played out quite differently in real life - please don’t just blindly follow a sketchy path of shiny stickers).
Thinking about it, maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on Kasumi, as I also tried to retrace the whole star sticker path that Arisa laid out. The funny thing is, that the whole route was basically a circle, and Kasumi ended up almost exactly where she started, only now on top of the Munastuki-zaka Slope, instead of below where the Sui Shrine is.
Arisa’s Shooting Stars Pawnshop does not exist in real life, there’s just a parking lot instead. It’s not quite clear in the anime, but Arisa seems to be living in the Shouen estate, currently owned by the Noma family, who founded the publishing company Kodansha. The Kodansha Noma Memorial Museum is also located in this street. Arisa could maybe also be living just next to the estate, but the whole situation is peculiar nonetheless, as the BanG Dream! manga is actually published by Bushiroad, and not Kodansha.
Kasumi and Arisa are at the foot of the steep Munastuki-zaka Slope, which appropriately translates to Chest-stabbing Slope. On the west side of the slope is the aforementioned Sui Shrine and on the east side is Sekiguchi Bashoan, where haiku poet Matsuo Basho used to live.
The Shouen property to the right and located to the left is the Eisei-Bunko, a museum displaying treasures collected by the Hosokawa clan.
Here’s the same street again, just viewed from the opposite direction. In the distance you can see the top of the Munastuki-zaka Slope, and also the wall to the left and the telegraph pole match up with the anime version, however, the small redbrick flowerpots are missing. But you’ll see in the picture below, that they’re also located in the same street, just a little further back.
The little bridge over the Kanda River is located at the foot of the Munastuki-zaka Slope.
Toden Zoshigaya Station is another tram stop along the Toden Arakawa Line. There’s no way to fully recreate the anime shot, as you’d have to be standing on the rail tracks.
This particular shot caught my eye, as I immediately recognized the location, because I visited the exact same spot for my Saekano -How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend- pilgrimage last summer. The spot is located between Gakushuin-shita Station and Omokagebashi Station, right as the railway tracks cross the Kanda River.
And that’s the same spot shown in 2015’s Saekano, just from a slightly different angle.
Who’s your favorite member of Poppin' Party, and how does BanG Dream! compare to other idol band anime? Sound off in the comments below!
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