Real Place Background
Holy crap, that is my house!

"She refers to a phenomenon of moviegoing which I have called certification. Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere."

Everyone loves some good Scenery Porn every now and then. It's a wonderful means of immersion. If the creators make a background and scenery vibrant and detailed enough, you might even be able to convince yourself that you're actually there!

...Wait a second, is that my house?

Congratulations, you have just encountered the Real Place Background — a subset of Scenery Porn where the scenery in question is based on a real location. This goes beyond just simply making use of notable landmarks. Sometimes every building, storefront, stairway and streetpole will be lovingly re-created for the purposes of the show, no matter how inconsequential.

Locations used for this purpose tend to become the subject of otaku "pilgrimages", a prime example being the Washinomiya shrine which is used in Lucky Star.

This is far more common in TV shows, comics and games that are set in real places (e.g., New York, Tokyo, or Paris).

See No Communities Were Harmed when the setting is highly recognizable, but never gets mentioned by its proper name. Even a mix is possible, when the town is never mentioned by name, but settings like train stations or streets are. Attention to detail in backgrounds is one possible aspect of Shown Their Work.

Not to be confused with GIS Syndrome.


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     Anime And Manga  

  • Kyoto Animation is quite well known for this, to the point that fans have managed to track down the location and angle of the place on which the background of individual scenes were based.
  • BECK does this a lot during their tour of America. And seems to have Shown Their Work.
  • The series Durarara!! recreates much of Ikebukuro (a section of Tokyo) — sometimes disturbingly so. (That vending machine Shizuo uprooted and tossed around in Ep. 3 actually exists.) People have even made montages of the many suspiciously familiar places they've found in the anime.
  • According to fans of Gunsmith Cats, you can tell when its location scouting in Chicago was done by the state of repairs on some of the buildings.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry is set in the Hinamizawa village, inspired by real-life Shirakawa.
  • Kamichu! does this with Onomichi in the Hiroshima prefecture. See here. Of course, everything looks a little newer in the anime—it's set in the period between spring 1983 and spring 1984.
  • Eden of the East for Washington, D.C. and parts of Tokyo. The mall that Takizawa lives in is a real place - Lalaport in Toyosu. The movie theater in the show looks exactly like it does in real life.
  • K with Shibuya, though in the show, they call it Shizume. Scepter 4's headquarters, Bar HOMRA, and the Elaborate University High are also all based on real locations in Tokyo.
  • Love Live!, with Akihabara and surrounding areas. The main area on Chuo Doori around the station is shown quite a few times. The maid cafe where Kotori works is real, as is Honoka's parents' wagashi shop. Apparently their manju really are as great as Umi says (the bridge in the above video also shows up frequently in the anime). And of course, Kanda Myojin, one of the most important Shinto shrines, where Nozomi works as a Miko-in-training. The shrine even had collaborations with Love Live, which is actually nothing new for them - they had similar things with popular Kabuki actors over a hundred years ago.
    • Sunshine! is also based on a real seaside town.
  • Sound of the Sky's Seize is based off Cuenca, Spain. Fans have even gone there to take photos of locales shown on the anime.
  • Naoki Urasawa's Monster takes you mostly through the scenery of the former Communist bloc, like Germany and Czechoslovakia, as it tries to unravel the mystery of Johan's creation and his past, though some other settings occur as well, such as Southern France.
    • You can find his references for some of the streets and buildingshere.
  • Most iterations of Digimon do this, at least before the places in question get torn apart by kaiju. Some of the best examples are the Fuji TV station in Digimon Adventure and the extensive scouting of Shinjuku's surrounds in Digimon Tamers.
  • Tentai Senshi Sunred takes place in Kawasaki, Japan, and matches it shot for shot. The art style of Sunred might not be the one usually associated with this trope, but the locations are all too real.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima!:
  • The town of Kamakura, in the Kanagawa prefecture in Japan, is popular as a setting for anime and manga series, in large part due to its extensive seaside beaches, numerous historic sites with lots of Shrines and Temples, and its distinctive local train service, Enoden. As a matter of fact, the train crossing near Kamakurakokomae station is depicted so often that it can be considered cliché.
    • Elfen Lied. Lucy winds up on Yuigahama beach. The stairs of Gokurakuji temple get a lot of screen time, up to and including the emotional ending. Enoshima island and the Benten bridge leading up to it are used for the ultimate battle in the anime, with lots of screen time for the Enoshima Light House Observatory.
    • Uta Kata. Most of the attention is on the shrines, parks and temples within Kamakura itself. Enoshima island and its tower form the backdrop of one of the more dramatic episodes. And then there are the two episodes in which the main characters head for Yuigahama beach.
    • In Aoi Hana, characters are often depicted traveling on the Enoden line. Enoshima island and the Benten bridge are shown as well, but the show gains bonus points for having a scene in the Iwaya cave. The "Milk Hall", the show's main hangout spot, is a real location and the famous Elfen Lied stairs are also shown, this time in a more romantic setting.
      • Mangaka Takako Shimura even based the design of Fujigaya Academy, especially the long woodland path leading up to the gate, on the real-life Kamakura Literature Museum.
    • Twin Spica takes a more stylistic approach, although the shorelines and the Yuigahama boulevard where Asumi goes jogging are clearly recognizable.
    • In Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Alpha takes a trip to Kamakura, with a very prominent view of Enoshima.
    • Shinryaku! Ika Musume is set on Kamakura's Yuigahama Beach.
    • A Channel has the obligatory Beach Episode, in which the girls take the very recognizable Enoden train ride to their destination.
    • Tsuritama is explicitly set at Enoshima.
    • Ping Pong is another Enoshima-set show, with the final scene of the series taking place on the beach near the island.
    • The events within Tari Tari are also set in Kamakura, particularly around Enoshima.
    • HeartCatch Pretty Cure!, which usually takes place in the fictional Kibougahana, has the characters visit Kamakura, which also happens to be Tsubomi's former hometown, for an episode.
    • Hanayamata takes place in Kamakura and Enoshima.
    • In Ten Yori Mo, Hoshi Yori Mo, the last volume takes place in Kamakura, with Mio and Shou becoming a Battle Couple to protect it from an earthquake, a huge fire and then a tsunami, dying in the process.
    • Aiura is set in Kamakura. Some local landmarks appear regularly, such as the gate of the Museum of Literature. There are depictions of locations from other towns mixed in, though.
    • While Slam Dunk refers mostly to the "Kanagawa Prefecture" and never openly mentions Kamakura by name, it's pretty clear that the action is set there too: Shohoku High is modeled after a high school from the city itself, and the famous railroad crossing near Kamakurakokomae Station appears in the first OP. In July 2015, a group of Taiwanese tourists got in trouble for getting into the aforementioned high school without authorization.
    • The anime of Myriad Colors Phantom World makes heavy use of Kamakura locales. The main characters travel with the Shōnan Monorail, and Shōnan-Enoshima Station makes a regular appearance. Also, the stairs to Reina's house are clearly modeled after the stairs of Gokurakuji temple.
    • Though most of The Vision of Escaflowne takes place in the fantasy world of Gaea, a number of real-life landmarks plus a sweeping scenery shot of the ocean from a mountainside reveals that Hitomi's high school where the story starts is in Kamakura.
  • According to this blog, many of Your Lie in April settings takes place in Nerima-ku, Tokyo.
  • Someday's Dreamers II: Sora takes place against photo-realistic real-life backgrounds. Of special note are Biei in Hokkaido, hometown of the main character Sora, and the hip Tokyo neighborhood of Shimokitazawa. In one episode Sora and Kohta also go on a date in Kamakura.
  • Amanchu! largely takes place in the town of Ito on the Japanese Izu peninsula, which is known for its abundant hot springs. The big building at the shore where the cast gets together a few times is a well-known local landmark.
  • Umi Monogatari is set on one of the subtropical Japanese Amami-Oshima islands. It doesn't get any explicit mention though until the DVD special.
  • Darker Than Black is big on this. All three major localities the TV show takes place in, Tokyo, Sapporo and Vladivostok, were painstakingly researched to the point where indeed it was possible to pinpoint the time the references were taken by the state of specific buildings alone.
    • To the point that it explicitly binds the action to January 2008. The large-scale redevelopment that begun in Summer 2008 in preparation to 2012 APEC summit, has changed the downtown Vladivostok to the extent that it would be impossible to miss, had the action happened any later.
  • Cat Planet Cuties is set in Okinawa. The credits reveal that the staff worked with the Okinawa tourism board, and does it ever show. There is almost no part of the show that's not showing off the island, its wildlife and its attractions at one point or another.
  • Tamayura takes place in Takehara, a small seaside town of in the Hiroshima prefecture of Japan, not far from Kamichu!'s Onomichi. The town is rendered with painstaking detail, up to and including touristic signs.
  • Fractale contains detailed shots of the west of Ireland, and the town in episode 2 is a lot like Galway.
  • Grave of the Fireflies featured locations that were accurately based on real places from the Kobe prefecture.
  • Only Yesterday used actual railway stations.
  • Hanasaku Iroha is set in a town modelled after Yukawa. Comparison pictures can be found here.
  • The girls from Strawberry Marshmallow live in the town of Hamamatsu, in Japan's Shizuoka prefecture. The artist loves to sneak in references, like maps and local landmarks, and sometimes even mentions them by name.
  • Many of the locations in Yubisaki Milk Tea are real places in Tokyo, often surprising detailed drawn. A collection of pictures of the real places can be seen here.
  • Yuritetsu is about four girls which form a railway club and naturally goes by real trains to real stations and sights all over Japan. Their local station Yurigasaki-Joshikoumae is a renamed Hino Station on the Chūō Main Line in Tokyo, but the other places goes by their real names, be it the big Ueno Station in Tokyo or the secluded Koboro on Hokkaido. And since one of the girls, Hakutsuru Tsurumi, is a fan of a series which is obvious K-On!, they are also visiting the above-mentioned Toyosato Elementary School.
  • Natsuiro Kiseki takes place in Shimoda, a seaside town on Japan's Izu peninsula. The show is rife with shots of the town's eye-catching surroundings.
  • Plastic Memories is heavily implied to take place in Singapore. As you can see in this comparison, the city-state's districts and landmarks such as Orchard Road and the Bugis+ mall, are replicated down to the last bit of detail.
  • Sailor Moon is largely set in the Azabu Juuban district of the Minato ward of Tokyo. There is ever a fan produced book on the topic of how heavily the show draws from the area Warriors of Legend: Reflections of Japan in Sailor Moon.
  • Joshiraku the second short have the girls visiting various places in Japan while providing some trivia about the location.
  • 3-gatsu no Lion uses places in the Tsukishima Area in the Chuo-ward of Tokyo as a reference for the setting, particularly the Tsukishima and Tsukuda districts. The author even marks the locations she used in the omake.
  • Girls und Panzer is set in and around the port city of Oarai, including one episode where a battle took place in its streets. In a case of The Red Stapler, it has caused a three-fold increase in tourism to the town. Which is exactly what the town council hoped to happen.
  • The anime of Sunday Without God has two notable examples. The Valley of Death arc displays the Port du Gard, a Roman aqueduct located in France, and at the beginning of the Class 3-4 arc, the characters briefly visit a church based on Saint Peter's Basilica, which is also shown in the opening.
  • The setting of Bokura no Kiseki is based on Sendai, Miyagi.
  • The bridge in Arakawa Under the Bridge is based on a real bridge located in Tokyo's Arakawa ward. In the anime, some shots even contain the Tokyo Skytree under construction.
  • Glasslip takes place in Mikuni, a small seaside town in Japan's Fukui prefecture.
  • Futsū no Joshikōsei ga Locodol Yattemita is set in Nagarekawa. Its real-world counterpart, Nagareyama, is a mid-sized town in the Chiba prefecture that is relatively close to Tokyo.
  • The town in Is the Order a Rabbit? is modeled after Colmar in the French Alsace region. It also contains some locations from nearby Strasbourg. Since most depicted customs are Japanese, this leads to confusion about the actual country the town is supposed to be in.
  • The events of Flying Witch are set in and around Hirosaki City in Aomori, with area landmarks, such as the Hirosaki Castle and Park, and the Taisho Roman Tearoom, being featured as locations that the main characters visit.
  • The vicinity of Tokyo-3 in Neon Genesis Evangelion and the Rebuild films is heavily modeled on the inland town of Hakone.
  • Most of Barakamon takes place on Fukue-jima, the largest and southernmost island of the Gotō Islands in the Nagasaki prefecture of Japan. Many landmarks are clearly recognizable, such as the Gotō-Fukue airport, the town of Fukue and Tomie Hospital.
  • Celestial Method uses real locations from Tōyako, a town in the Hokkaido prefecture of Japan, and Sapporo. Lake Toya, a volcanic caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, can often be seen as a backdrop.
  • Several Western suburbs of Tokyo, such as Musashino, its district of Kichijoji (which is distinct enough to feel as a separate entity, though), and Mitaka right next to them, are popular among the various anime studios as locations for their HQs in Real Life (Hayao Miyazaki isn't nicknamed The Lord of Mitaka for naught), so they sometimes end up as settings due to their familiarity to the animators:
    • Musashino gets named explicitly in the novels of Maria-sama ga Miteru, so the anime uses many locations from Musashino and Kichijoji, especially the train stations. Additionally, Sachiko's family apparently has a summer home in Karuizawa, a resort not far from Tokyo, and in the last episode Touko and Yumi travel to Chichibu (which is also the setting of AnoHana). Also of note are the faithful depictions of Rome, Pisa and Florence in the OVA.
    • PAW's Shirobako is an animation industry-themed Work Com set in Musashino Animation studio, so it shows a lot of local scenery (including a building of the studio itself, which is a real one), Musashino and Kichijouji train stations with their shopping arcades, the nearby Inokashira park and Benten shrine in Mitaka, etc. It is also full of other Shout Outs to various animation-industry locales around Greater Tokyo.
  • You're Under Arrest! is an another Work Com, this time about the traffic police department in the Bokuto district of the Tokyo's Sumida ward, and portrays the various Eastern Tokyo locations, including the Tokyo Monorail, quite fathfully.note  The promotional poster to the second seson even features the leading girls against the beauty shot of the iconic red-railed Azuma bridge near the Asakusa station,note  with the Sumida Ward office and the infamous Golden Turdnote  prominently featuring in the background (though not the Tokyo Sky Tree, which was built more than a decade later).
  • Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is a loving and meticulously detailed recreation of the much of Greater Tokyo area, from Kamakura and Yokohama to the south to Musashino to the west and so on, in the Cosy Catastrophe After the End setting. Yokosuka may be completely submerged by the rising sea levels, but its streetlights are still getting on every night — ten meters underwater.
  • One of the Hell banishments in the third season of Hell Girl has one Asshole Victim thrown off a green-tinted Empire State Building, with the Chrysler Building visible in the background. Another banishment in the same season also briefly shows the Empire State Building in the background before this episode's Asshole Victim gets chased by a gigantic Ai Enma near the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
  • The bridge from which Banri Tada of Golden Time fell, causing his amnesia, is the Horai Bridge in Shizuoka Prefecture, the world's longest wooden walking bridge.
  • One scene in episode 13 of Charlotte takes place in the Philippines. For instance, the "Walking Street" arch is actually found in Balibago, Angeles City, in the province of Pampanga.
  • Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation takes place in Asahikawa, Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.
  • Kochikame does this a lot with local backgrounds of Tokyo, especially in chapter introductory pages.
  • While Makoto Shinkai is well known for his surreal Scenery Porn, some of his more realistic works utilize this trope quite a lot, with almost all of them having something to do with Tokyo.
  • The finale of Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans takes place in...Edmonton, Alberta, Canada? No, really.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice features several real-world locations due to being about international-level figure skating, so naturally it would lead to many instances of this. The first two episodes alone have a lot of examples, which are listed in this Crunchyroll article. Though Yuri's hometown of Hasetsu isn't a real place, it's heavily based on the real Kyushu town of Karatsu.
  • Despite Classicaloid being an Edutainment Show, it has a recognisable background of Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. In real life, the harmonica-shaped building the bad guys use as a base is called Act City, while the kite festival mentioned in Schu's debut episode actually does happen.
  • Fate/Apocrypha is set in Romania, with Sighisoara specifically being one of the towns present (along with a fictional city called Trifas). The animators took this to heart.

     Comic Books  

  • Berlin Alexanderplatz was was praised in its time for its vivid use of actual Berlin street-names and places, actual newspapers, as well as cut-outs of real-world events into the text. It's often considered a German equivalent of Ulysses. The 1931 Film version was shot in the real-life Alexanderplatz, however Fassbinder's miniseries could not really achieve thisnote  so he more or less set most of the action in interiors rather than exteriors (except for the finale set in the forest).
  • Walker Percy's The Moviegoer describes this as "certification", and it refers to a scene in the novel (set in 50s New Orleans) where characters go to see Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets, a Hollywood movie that was shot on location in New Orleans (and made in the fifties'note  and experience this feeling after seeing familiar streets and locations and then stepping out the theater and noting how uncanny it is to see the same world outside that was on the screen.
  • James Joyce's Ulysses was famous for its meticulous use of real uses and locations, down to street names and addresses. Joyce used actual guidebooks, phone directories and other reference material to achieve his vision.


  • High Speed has the playfield freeways labeled after their Real Life counterparts — the Bayshore Freeway (route 101), the Santa Monica Freeway (interstate 10), and the San Diego Freeway (interstate 5).
  • The backglass for Checkpoint features Germany's Neuschwanstein Castle in the background.

     Video Games  

  • The fourth game in the Police Quest series took this approach, using photographs of real-life LA scenery and scanning them in as the background shots.
  • True Crime: Streets of L.A. featured a rather extensive 240-square-mile re-creation of Los Angeles and its surrounding area, down to the individual street names and landmarks.
  • The Grand Theft Auto series, starting with San Andreas. Many a player was surprised at the level of detail that went into the fictional versions of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Las Vegas. Likewise for GTA IV and NYC.
  • The World Ends with You contains a remarkably faithful recreation of Shibuya, barring the stylish yet impossible angles of skyscrapers and the fact that none of the stores are the brands they should be.
  • The tracks in Project Gotham Racing 2 are so accurate that one Scottish gamer was able to identify a store he used to frequent on an Edinburgh track.
  • A lot of effort was put into replicating London in The Getaway. You can find the pub you burn down in real life; the screenshots are as similar as the page image.
  • The MMO Silkroad Online is based on the real Silk Road. Most of the deserts, docks and cave entrances are identical to the actual Silk Road.
    • To a lesser extent the cities, being much smaller than the real life counterpart, only a small part of the cities is present in the game.
  • Fallout 3 uses the Washington Metro area for its Capital Wasteland. Of course, the scenery is all blasted and post-apocalyptic, but there are several places where you can see what the real-life equivalent would look like if it got blown up.
    • Fallout: New Vegas is even better at this. Even the little ghost town you start the game in, Goodsprings, is a real-life location; the bar and general store are lifted straight from the real ones.
  • Project Reality includes several real cities and locales among the map roster, such as several cities in Iraq and Lebanon.
  • The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series contains numberous locations recreated painstakingly from the Real Life Chernobyl exclusion zone. In some cases the only differences are the distances between locations. And the mutants. We hope.
  • The Modern Warfare series loves using real places as backdrops for its levels.
    • The first game's missions "All Ghillied Up" and "One Shot, One Kill" take place in Pripyat, Ukraine. The levels are themselves an accurate recreation of the desolate city's environs modeled from photographs of the real thing.
    • Modern Warfare 2 combined this trope with Scenery Gorn in their depiction of Washington, D.C., to horrifying effect. Fight in the trenches in the National Mall! Take out SAM sites atop the Robert F. Kennedy Building! Obliterate the World War II Memorial with a minigun!
    • The very first level of the third game has a reasonably faithful interpretation of Wall and Broad Streets, the Federal Hall, the New York Stock Exchange (including a firefight on the trading floor), and surrounding environs. It's immediately followed by a swim through the (collapsed) Battery Park Tunnel out to New York Harbor, and a further level has a Chase Fight through an actual, operating London Underground tunnel from Canary Wharf to Westminster. And while the name has been changed to "Hotel Oasis", it's still pretty obvious "Dust to Dust" takes place inside a recreated Burj Al-Arab.
  • In the background of one of the levels in the Japan-only PSX platformer The Adventure Of Little Ralph, a damaged Florence Cathedral sits randomly among other ruined European-esque structures.
  • Kentucky Route Zero is set in the real-life US state of Kentucky and the area shown on the map is a section of Interstate 65 between Elizabethtown and Bowling Green. The roads on the map actually exist and their real-life names and highway numbers are used. However, the actual locations such as Equus Oil and the burning tree are fictional.
  • DayZ uses the same map as ARMA II, so the geography and building placement are lifted from a real area in the Czech Republic. The in-game map is so accurate that you can actually use it to navigate the real area.
  • ARMA III is so dedicated to this, that some of the devs got in trouble when the research they were doing was mistaken as being espionage.
  • The Carol Reed Mysteries use real locations in Norrköping, Sweden as that was the creator's hometown. He and his wife would take thousands of photos of their town and use it as the setting in each game.
  • Several towns in Ragnarok Online are based off real-life cultures. Players have spotted buildings that correspond to their real-life counterparts that you can visit in real life.
  • Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth is set in Tokyo and it shows - the player's Mission Control is in the shopping mall Nakano Broadway, you can go to Shibya, you can stand outside the Sega building in Akihabara (and this doesn't need to be pointed out - it has Sega's actual logo) and the famous railway station is even a dungeon.
  • Akiba's Trip, which is set within Akihabara, faithfully recreates Akihabara down to the finest details.

     Visual Novels  

  • 7th Expansion's sound novels use mostly photo-shopped filtered photos as backgrounds, so this is bound to happen.
  • Filtered photos, this time of Brown University, are also the basis for Katawa Shoujo's Yamaku Academy.
    • The local geography, though, is largely based on the city of Sendai, with Yamaku apparently sitting on the steep hill between the Sendai Zoo, the ruins of Aoba castle, and two campuses (Aobayama and Kawauchi) of Tohoku University.
  • In general, any indie visual novel that utilizes filtered photos as backgrounds will invoke this.
  • Nekopara is set in Yokohama and uses a few real places within that city, most notably by the bay.

     Web Comics  

     Western Animation