Did you know that Nerima ward in Tokyo is regarded as the birthplace of anime production in Japan? Toei Animation, formerly known as Toei Doga, made Japan’s first full-color animated feature film, The Tale of the White Serpent, in 1958. The studio is situated at Oizumi Gakuen in Nerima. Mushi Production, which made Japan’s first TV anime series, Astro Boy, had its headquarters in Nerima as well. Statues and guide maps are placed at stations on the Seibu Ikebukuro line to celebrate their association to anime. I’m going to show them to you in this article.
The New ‘Galaxy Express 999’ Runs on the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
The new Galaxy Express 999, designed by original creator Leiji Matsumoto, is an 8-carriage train decked out with characters from the manga, including Maetel, Tetsuro, the Conductor, Mi-kun, Captain Harlock, Tochiro, Emeraldes, and Queen Millennia.
This special train will run until March 2019 on Ikebukuro line, Chichibu line, Toshima line, and Sayama line. Its carriages are wrapped with sheets of printed vinyl, therefore such trains are called ‘Wrapping Trains.’ You can find anime-themed ‘Wrapping trains’ running for a limited time in many places in Japan.
After getting off the new Galaxy Express 999 at Oizumi-Gakuen station, the Conductor from Galaxy Express 999 greeted me near the ticket gates. Just so you know, the departure jingle of the trains at this station is the main theme song of the theatrical anime Galaxy Express 999. Actually, Leiji Matsumoto, the creator of the original manga, has been living in the neighboring town of Oizumi Machi for more than 50 years. Nerima ward made him an honorary citizen in 2008. He designed the special train because of his affection for the town and the ward.
After getting out from the north exit of the station, I turned left and the pedestrian deck was in front of me. There I saw the statues of anime characters that made me feel a bit nostalgic.
Meet the Anime Characters from the Good Old Days at Oizumi Anime Gate
The first statue was Astro Boy, who’s known as Atom in Japan. He was the protagonist of Japan’s first TV anime series, Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom), which aired between 1963 and 1966. The series was made by Mushi Production, the studio of original manga creator Tezuka, near Fujimidai Station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line. There were more statues of anime characters that originated in Nerima ward. Every statue, including Astro Boy, is life-sized in accordance with its original setting.
Joe from Ashita no Joe (Champion Joe) was here as well. It’s a TV anime series based on the manga of the same title which was serialized in Weekly Shonen Magazine from 1967 to 1973. The original manga was written by Ikki Kajiwara under the pseudonym Asao Takamori, and was illustrated by Tetsuya Chiba. The anime adaptation of the hugely popular manga was made by Mushi Production.
Oizumi-Gakuen Station is the nearest station to Oizumi Machi, where the creator of Galaxy Express 999, Leiji Matsumoto, still lives. The manga was adapted into an anime by Toei Animation, which called themselves Toei Doga when the anime series was aired and the theatrical movie of the same title was premiered.
The female statue sitting on a bench was Lum from Urusei Yatsura, a popular manga serialized in Weekly Shonen Sunday. The story became more popular when it was adapted into a TV anime series and many theatrical anime movies were also produced. The creator of the manga, Rumiko Takahashi, is living in Nerima ward.
The Oizumi Anime Gate was created in 4 April 2015 as a symbol of entering the genesis of anime. A Nerima anime chronology is also displayed here. It’s a public space in front of the north entrance of Ooizumi-Gakuen station and welcomes everyone.
Next time you plan a trip to Japan, you should visit the place and see part of the history of anime!
Oizumi Anime Gate
The Seibu Ikebukuro line Oizumi-Gakuen station, North Station Entrance
Guide Maps at Stations of the Seibu Ikebukuro Line
Nerima ward has been prompting themselves as the birthplace of Japanese anime and has placed guide maps with associated anime characters at each station. So far, 20 stations have the guide maps; mainly on the Seibu Ikebukuro line, but also on the Seibu Shinjuku line, the Tokyo metro Yurakucho line, the Toei Ooedo Line, and the Tobu Tojo line. I’ll show you some of the ones that I visited.
Fujimidai station (Seibu Ikebukuro line)
The guide map at Fujimidai station featured Astro Boy, which first aired in 1963 and then spawned many sequel series and movies. Astro Boy was chosen for Fujimidai station because its original manga creator, Osamu Tezuka, once lived in this area. His studio, Mushi Production, was also here when they made the first series.
Nakamurabashi station (the Seibu Ikebukuro line)
GeGeGe no Kitaro
At Nakamurabashi station, the guide map featured GeGeGe no Kitaro, which was produced by Toei Doga, now Toei Animation, based on the manga of the same name, which was serialized in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine.
Sakura-dai station (the Seibu Ikebukuro line)
The guide map at Sakuradai Station highlighted Cyborg 009. Its anime series, aired in 1966, was made by Toei Animation, which was called Toei Doga at that time. Shotaro Ishinomori, the creator of the original manga, lived in Sakuradai.
Ekoda station (the Seibu Ikebukuro line)
At Ekoda station, its guide map is themed with Nodame Cantabile, which received an anime adaptation in 2007. It was chosen because Musashino Academia Musicae in Ekoda was a model for Momogaoka College of Music where the heroine Megumi Noda studied piano.
Apart from these four stations I introduced above, there are 14 more stations that have guide maps featuring various anime characters, including Yes! PreCure 5 Go Go!.
Anime Town Nerima Guide Map Information (Japanese only)
The History of Anime
Nerima ward in Tokyo is referred as the birthplace of anime, since it’s the place where Japanese anime production made its first steps. There are places used as the settings of various anime and anime-related artefacts as well. Please visit Nerima by the new Galaxy Express 999 train which runs on the Seibu Ikebukuro line and Shinjuku line until the end of March in 2019. Many anime characters are waiting your visit.