After its gripping and action-packed showdown in the fifth episode, Alice & Zoroku seems to leave its sci-fi thriller elements on the side for now, and completely focused on its heartwarming slice-of-life aspects in the latest two episodes. Instead of supernatural fights aboard a freight ship on the high seas during the middle of the night, most of the action in episode six comes from Sana simply getting lost in Tokyo’s Harajuku area. While I understand that some may find Alice & Zoroku’s momentary shift in direction a tad uninteresting, I’ve personally quite enjoyed those two laid-back family-centric episodes. Not only do we get to see Sana finally settling into her new life as a member of the Kashimura household, thanks to the more easygoing atmosphere we also got to see a couple of new environments and locations.
*All images were taken with GOOGLE STREET VIEW
In Alice & Zoroku’s sixth episode, Zoroku notices how Sana’s long hair is starting to hinder her, and decides to take her to a hairdresser. And it seems like Zoroku is a lot more fashion-forward then I would’ve made him out to be, actually taking Sana to a hairdresser in what’s considered to be Tokyo’s center of fashion and youth culture, Harajuku. He takes her to the narrow Takeshita Street, which is jam-packed with fashion boutiques, 100 yen shops, and all kinds of trendy little stores. Unfortunately, the hair salon in the anime does not seem to exist in real life. Pictured above is Takeshita Street’s east entrance.
Oh, and did I forget to mention the crepe shops in Takeshita Street? Honestly, I had the feeling that there was just one crepe stand after another (most of them with long lines and long wait times).
The anime even included the real graffiti.
Zoroku buys Sana a little pig plushie at Plush Toys, which is a Claire’s in real life, a brand that sells youth-oriented jewelry and accessories.
Takeshita Street facing eastward.
Calbee is a major Japanese snack food maker (I think I’ve only ever seen potato chips from them), and Calbee Plus is a whole store dedicated to selling fresh potato chips.
Even more crepes.
While Zoroku still has some errands to run, Sana’s haircut is already done and she starts to wander off, following a cat into one of Takeshita’s many side streets.
The cat leads her to the nearby Togo Shrine, which was built in 1940 and is dedicated to Admiral Togo. Located inside of the shrine’s compound are also a nice little Japanese garden and a pond.
The Biesel ad in Alice & Zoroku is obviously a Diesel ad in real life.
Harajuku Station entrance just across of Takeshita Street’s west entrance.
In episode seven, Zoroku and Shizuku take Sana on a field trip to show her more of the outside world, taking her to Yokohama. They get off at Motomachi-Chukagai Station, and in the background you may be able to spot Motomachi Shopping Street’s iconic entrance arch with a phoenix-shaped sculpture on top, which was also shown in other shows like Bungo Stray Dogs.
Yamashita Park stretches along Yokohama’s waterfront. I was sure the cause of Sana’s astonishment in this scene was the Hikawa Maru, an old Japanese ocean liner turned into a museum, but Sana was more interested in the ocean itself than the ship.
This uncreatively named coffee shop, The Café, is located across Yamashita Park.
Osanbashi Pier is located between Yamashita Park and the Minato Mirai district, and serves as a passenger terminal for international cruise ships.
Sana and Shizuku then head to Yokohama Chinatown. The city’s Chinatown rapidly developed after the port of Yokohama opened to foreign trade in the 19th century, making it Japan’s largest Chinatown today. Pictured above is Yokohama Chinatown's East Gate.
The Hinagiri sisters are standing in front of the backside of Yokohama Chinatown's Goodwill Gate.
Alice & Zoroku doesn’t always rely on real-world models for its backgrounds, but some of the show`s background inspirations are still clearly recognizable (like the brick building to the right in the above image, or the golden store front to the left in the picture below).
While walking through Chinatown, Sana encounters Yonaga and Asahi by chance, resulting into a supernatural chase scene including motorcycles, rockets, and even a monstrous wolf from Norse mythology.
The bottom half of the Rose Hotel is clearly recognizable, but the anime completely left out the upper half for some reason.
Luckily, Shizuku is able to diffuse the situation and is able to convince all the witnesses that they were just shooting a movie. Zoroku then treats all the girls to some Chinese food, for which he seems to have a soft spot for, since he also dined at a Chinese restaurant in the first episode, if you remember my first article about the show.
Sana and the Hinagiri sisters are quickly able to make up and clear all their misunderstandings after that. They also inform Sana that they, after the closing of the research facility, now attend an American school in Yokosuka. However, their school was actually modeled after the Yokohama International School.
The updated map:
What are your thoughts on Alice & Zoroku’s tonal shift in the last two episodes? Did it perhaps “frazzle” you? Or would you prefer a more action-packed finale? Sound off in the comments below!
You can follow Wilhelm on Twitter @Surwill.