What do railroad crossings mean to you?
Personally, I’ve come to see them as harbingers of change. People are literally changing their destination by crossing from one side to the other.
But you could also interpret railroads crossings as being representative of transition and youth. After all, puberty is a very dynamic period of growth and development. And let’s face it: there are simply too many anime series featuring a railroad crossing in the background or foreground while a high school character contemplates life.
In other words, railroad crossings are often present when a character is about to enter a new period of her life.
Perhaps it’s her first day at a new school. With that in mind, it’s worth noting the opening sequence in the first episode of Uma Musume – Pretty Derby shows Special Week riding a train to Tokyo where she’ll begin attending Tracen Academy. The fact that the railroad crossing is only on-screen for a very brief instant because the train swiftly blows past it is (probably) worth mentioning. Since Special Week is on the train, she isn’t shown timidly waiting for the signal to change which would allow her to cross the railroad crossing. Special Week is only excited for the future and is essentially running in without fear.
Or maybe the scene in which a railroad crossing is present happens to also feature a character who is about to meet someone who motivates her to change. The first meeting between Cocona and Papika in the first episode of Flip Flappers comes to mind in this regard. I mean, it just so happens that Cocona was shown to be restless and aimless in an earlier scene. She simply wasn’t happy like that. Therefore we can’t really be too surprised when a wild, optimistic girl comes along and Cocona inevitably begins to change because of her influence.
The more I think about it, the more I become convinced that railroad crossings subtly signify youth and periods of change. The latter goes hand-in-hand with the waiting. In order to go from side A to side B, you have to endure the wait, which probably lasts for a minute or two, and then cross when safe. Similarly, you might have to endure bittersweet experiences in order to learn and grow as a person.
Of course, this unsupported pet theory comes apart at the seams if you consider people who go through tragedy and end up not changing at all. Go ahead, make me look like a Fool by bringing up examples in the comments section. It’s already in the online handle, so no harm and no foul.
But I still believe that waiting a minute or two at the railroad crossing can (and maybe should) be associated with change. A minute is a big deal! It’s the difference between soft, supple instant ramen noodles and unsatisfying, undercooked instant ramen noodles (please note that I specifically mentioned instant ramen; actual ramen with hard noodles is nice to have on occasion).
With that in mind, I was kind of excited for Fumikiri Jikan, or Railroad Crossing Time, which seemed to revolve around two high schoolers interacting with one another right in front of a railroad crossing. The setting basically mandates that something is going to happen in each episode, right?
Well, I didn’t look into the show at all before watching the first two episodes (not like I did any research after watching said episodes, either, to be honest). And I’ve gotta admit that the first episode was really poignant with how one girl ends up confessing her unrequited love to her senpai after she was tricked into yelling out the name of the person she likes. The short episode (it is a short series with 3 minute episodes, after all) had me hopeful with its tactful, sincere portrayal of girls who love other girls.
I also appreciated how the kouhai snapped at the senpai for carelessly encouraging heteronormative beliefs due to her thoughtless comments. The senpai even apologized for her lack of sensitivity in regards to gender (and sexuality)! Some good messages were really being sent here.
Be that as it may, the second episode utterly ruined the good will Fumikiri Jikan had built up (for me, at least). Seeing and hearing an visually uninteresting character have a 3-minute internal monologue about a girl’s attractive physical appearance makes the episode … rather boring and seem like a caricature of rom-coms featuring heterosexual “couples” since it’s so over-the-top and pointless and classless.
I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but the boy’s behaviour quickly becomes uncomfortable and objectifying as he only chooses to focus on his schoolmate’s sex appeal while almost completely dismissing her personality. Wait, he said her straightforward and teasing nature is erotic. Wow, he sure did completely cover all the bases, didn’t he? Maybe I’m just not part of the scene’s intended audience…
If I wasn’t a Fool, then I’d drop Fumikiri Jikan after episode 2. But I am so I want to keep watching and hoping that the series changes for the better. Since it seems happy with using different characters for each episode, I’m looking forward to seeing all the different dynamics the show will include.
It already put out the most unoriginal and dreadful sort of dynamic already, unfortunately, so it can only go up, right?
Thank you for reading.