I hope you like cars, because in the new show Wangan Midnight (湾岸Midnight), more than half the footage is made up of slick computer generated car models racing around with noisy roars. Ring any bells?

It’s based on a long-running manga by Kusunoki Michiharu that started back in 1992 and has piled up to be 37 volumes. The production team behind the anime boasts director Tominaga Tsuneo, script writer Kishima Nobuaki and 3D CG animation company Pastel, all of whom were involved in a certain show called, of course, Initial D. The difference this time is that Wangan Midnight focuses more on the mechanical side of racing, where Initial D was more about driving skills, and whether this is enough to set the two shows apart is a bit early to tell.

The plot revolves around a male high schooler protagonist who likes to drive around on the Tokyo highway stretch called the Wangan, because it runs by the bay coast. After a disappointing evening where he’s left in the dust by the infamous Porsche 964 “Blackbird”, a friendly mechanic tells him about a used car at the junkyard that may be of interest. He rushes off, skipping school, to set eyes on the beautiful blue Nissan Fairlady S30Z, nicknamed the “Devil Z”. Bewitched he instantly buys it, despite warnings that the car had initially been ordered destroyed by the previous owner, due to strange accidents that hint on a curse. Even weirder, the license plate used to be registered to a man with the same name as him: “Asakura Akio”.

Unfazed by this, and with a memory of having seen this particular car before, our hero still ends up rushing the car down the Wangan, where his ultimate rival “Blackbird” soon shows up to give him a fierce race. Simultaneously, his friend receives a phone call telling him that a previous owner died three years earlier, having crashed the “Devil Z” at high speed.

So far so good, I guess. While the racing part feels a bit dull so far (woohoo, let’s drive straight ahead and the guy with the fattest wallet to buy the biggest engine wins!), the ghost story background in combination with an interesting choice of music gives it a nicely creepy feel. Artwise, this is pretty much as ugly as it gets, I’m afraid, with the original manga pretty much being Initial D‘s ugly duckling sister, and that’s sad considering just how hideous Initial D is to begin with. Luckily the team took pity on its viewers and smoothened the character design a bit, while the cars do look very fancy indeed. The two main characters’ voices are handled, unusually, by Oguri Shun and Suhou Reiko, both of whom are actually j-drama actors, with the former being familiar from shows like Hana yori Dango. As a result it sounds a bit flat, and I’d have preferred proper voice actors, but we get a fair share of that with veterans Miki Shinichirou and Kobayashi Sanae, so perhaps it will be alright. Mind you, Oguri and Suhou have had previous anime experience as well.

The show was previewed on Animax yesterday, but will only really start airing next Saturday on pay-per-view, where the plan is to show two episodes per month. I’ll give it a few more episodes at least.

Reminds me of: Initial D


  1. This is just like any other sports anime really. Even if the subject doesn’t interest you, the drama and the action might. Hell, I do not really call myself a ‘cyclist fan’ but I love OverDrive.

    I think I have another must-watch shows I’m adding to my two dozen anime I’m watching right now.

  2. i tell ya, i’d rather just race around in my whip than watch racing animes ,probobly the same reason i hate nascar “at least those crashes are real!” it’s like “capeta” just cant get into it. but hey, maybe the story is good. . . pass

    BROOKLYN otaku
  3. //It’s funny how the anime reminds people of Initial D when this was created 2 years before Initial D, at least the manga was.//

    Seeing that it is made by the same company that did the Initial D shows, uses the same 3d animation studio that Initial D uses, has the same type of music as Initial D, that the opening and ending songs are sung by the same group that does the openings and endings for Initial D, and that the main character doesn’t look that many degrees off from Takumi, yeah, I would think that people would be reminded of Initial D.

  4. Holy ****!!!

    I played the arcade game!!!

    But I thought “Blackbird” drove a Fairlady Z(350Z), according to the game.

    2 eps per month, just like Initial D Fourth Stage? Ugh, that hurts.

    But these guys will be racing in the cities, not 100% Mountain passes.

  5. IF UA RE NOT INTERESTED IN car racing anime Patrik the i advise you not to blog this…its better to be blogged by someone who are interested or a fan of initial D..thank you……

  6. Lol @jaalin

    Won’t happen, they will be owned by TEH BLACKBIRD in seconds. It’s a freaking 911 (964) Turbo. Driven by a doctor.

    Animation was fine for me so far, and having been into the franchise way before the games and stuff does help I guess.

  7. Speaking of the character designs, I think it’s still way better than how it was done in Initial D. But these types of cheesy sports shows have a charm BECAUSE they look a bit cheesy. I guess some persistent critics can’t understand or aren’t willing to try.

  8. This is the opposite of Initial D, where it’s more of highway racing. Also more exotic cars (like the Porche) AND a certain involvement of a certain Tsuchiyaa Keiichi…
    I think this anime is FTW

  9. @ the above poster:
    get your facts straight first: Wangan Midnight was there 3 years before Initial D came out + they focus on completely different aspects of racing.

  10. @Gil

    you probably played the english version of Wangan Midnight since there are no porsches (gemballas) included. only the japanese version had them so they switched the blackbird from the porsche to the z33.

  11. I don’t know why people are comparing the artwork to Initial D.

    Being an Initial D fan(I watched all seasons/movies/specials, and played the games), the artwork for Wangan Midnight is much better. That character artwork in the first picture, I can tell it’s already beyond Initial D.

  12. //AND a certain involvement of a certain Tsuchiyaa Keiichi…//

    Err. Seeing that Tsuchiya was involved with the production of Initial D to the point that he actually sang in the Third Stage and don’t see how his involvement in Wangan is any more than it was for Initial D

  13. wow a wangan midnite anime finally… currently subbed by [One Man Fansub], here waitin for some reliable subbers to pick it up, soon i hope! hope [live-evil] picks it up.. wangan artwork doesnt really look identical to initial D, but som part of it kindda reminds me of initial D artwork too (actually, all old style anime artwork kindda look like this so i dun really mind at all, as long as the story n development is great).. i quoted “A counter against Initial D, copycats, classic cars, ain’t my type this kind of show.” so i think this place is filled w/ ppl who only likes cute/pretty things in anime.. meh, kids these days.

  14. Coolguy was referring to the manga, not anime (wangan midnight was out in manga form earlier then initial d was)… and mister yahoo.com is your friend, why not consul him 1st since you had your website as yahoo?

  15. Wangan Midnight is created by OB Planning and Avex, the same team behind Initial D series. The only difference are the ff:

    1) The music is more on trance and techno (also hiphop and rock if you already watched the 1st ep). It’s also the same music genre used in Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune btw.

    2) The cars are not limited to ONLY japanese ones. As you can see in the screenshot, there’s a Porche 964, an exotic type of car (there are 3 kinds found in the video game anbd possible in the anime: 3.8RS, RSR, and Blackbird)

    3) Initial D is famous for drift racing in Touge (mountain pass), while Wangan Midnight is much more on highway racing and focused more on car’s performace (and dodging traffic, of course).

    But still…. Despite of the differences, I love this anime, and I’ll be waiting for more episodes to come. 😀 Too bad our local mall doesn’t have Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune arcade machine, so I’m playing on PS2 (I wanna play it using a steering wheel, not a game pad). T___T

  16. if any one is a fan of the tokyo xtreme racer series or Kido for japan they have probably noticed the character refrences to both Wangan Midnight and Initial D only difference ive noticed in the games is that the initial d game is not made by genki (could explain the odd pysics)


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