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6 Anime to Satisfy Your Need for Speed

by Lynzee Loveridge,

Japan's obsession with racing hit an all-time high in the 90s with enthusiasts drifting around mountain bends or speeding down the Bayshore Route in Tokyo. This bled over into anime too, with series looking to capture the rush of hobbyists for the entertainment market. Since it's peak, racing has made way for other fads and sports but we could see a comeback. Motorized racing has switched out for bicycling in the popular Yowamushi Pedal series and the mixture of "girls doing cute things" is crossing over into racing in April's Bakuon!! motorcycle anime and the upcoming Long Riders! cycling anime in the fall.

6. Speed Racer An irreplaceable classic, Speed Racer aired on American television in the late 1960s. It established itself as an icon but would late be spoofed for its sometimes limited animation and dubbing quality. The show was scrubbed of its Japanese roots and so fans were introduced to Speed, Trixie, and Spritle instead of Gō, Michi, and Kurio. Speed competes in the Mach 5, a gadget-loaded car with powers not unlike the Batmobile or Knight Rider's KITT, against less-than-savory types and the mysterious Racer X.

5. Oban Star-Racers This Japanese-French production takes racing to the future and to space where a young girl hopes to reconcile with her distant father and win the "Ultimate Prize." The story stars Eva, a boarding school runaway who stows away on Earth's ship competing in the intergalactic Oban Race. Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, she goes from mechanic to racer when the original driver of the ship is sabotaged. The racing sequences are fast-paced with ships varying from Star Wars Episode I podracer types to rectangular motorcycle variants.

4. Capeta This is an underdog competition story for fans of shōnen staples but focusing on a rarely-seen sport. Capeta follows its namesake protagonist, Kappeita "Capeta" Taira. The 10-year-old boy recently lost his mother and he gets by thanks to his dad working long hours as a paver. One day his dad witnesses another boy darting around a track in a go-kart. This one moment launches Kappeita into the world of go-kart racing and closer to pursuing his own dream of driving a Formula One car. The anime itself spans 52 episodes and chronicles Kappeita's racing adventures from the age of 10 to 16 and his continued rivalry with fellow racer Naomi.

3. Initial D Initial D and its many sequel OAVs and films holds a unique place for its effect on real world street racing. The show is credited by many for helping to popularize drifting in the West. A variety of other factors made the phenomenon so huge in the early 2000s that my local time-trial raceway had to put up neon flyers notifying participants that it, "is not a drifting event." In the series, Takumi is a delivery boy accustomed to driving on the perilous roads of Mount Akina. He gets roped into an amateur racing team and has to drift, slide, and throttle his way to victory again and again. Admittedly, the original series hasn't aged well. The show has a very distinctive, and dare I say unattractive, character design aesthetic and much of the race scenes are in jarringly bad 3D. Those turned off by the original can check out the trilogy remake films.

2. Wangan Midnight Viewers can treat Wangan Midnight as the other side of the street racing coin. Initial D focuses on advantageous drifts and the AE86 on country roads while Wangan Midnight lauds sheer horsepower of the Nissan Fairlady Z (renamed the Nissan S30 for Western markets) in "Midnight Club" expressway racing. Racer Akio Asakura (who bears a striking resemblance to Takumi) becomes the owner of a "cursed" Fairlady Z after finding it in a junkyard. Allegedly the car's 620 bhp engine maimed its previous owners and earned the title "Devil Z." Undeterred, Akio gets behind the wheel in the hopes of defeating his rival Tatsuya Shima in his Blackbird Porsche 930 Turbo. The story is based on the actual history of the sport, where the Blackbird driver and the Fairlady Z driver were rivals from opposing car shops. The real rivalry would last through the 90s with many car tune-ups in between.

1. Redline Takeshi Koike's stylish sci-fi feature film pits a greaser against cyborgs, dog-men, and other cut-throat contestants in a no holds barred intergalactic race. Despite its futuristic setting, protagonist JP drives a familiar sounding "Trans Am 2000" hovercraft and it is just one of the sleek, stylish vehicles in this visually impressive film. Koike spent nearly a decade on this 100-minute spectacle to ensure every explosive scene is lovingly crafted for the audiences' senses. The Redline race continues to up the ante with increasingly dangerous enemies on Roboworld until JP is facing military-grade beast-weapon. If we held a by-the-minute comparison, there is no other work featured in this column that will get viewers' adrenaline pumping than Redline.

The new poll: Which Matsuno brother is the best brother?

The old poll: Who is your anime valentine?
Female Characters

  1. Saber (Fate/stay night) 8.0%
  2. Asuna (Sword Art Online) 7.9%
  3. Yukino Yukinoshita (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU) 6.4%
  4. Shinobu Oshino (Monogatari Series) 3.9%
  5. Sinon (Sword Art Online) 3.6%
  6. Maki Nishikino (Love Live!) 3.5%
  7. Kiyoko Shimizu (Haikyu!!) 3.5%
  8. Yui Hirasawa (K-ON!) 2.4%
  9. Azusa Nakano (K-ON!) 2.2%
  10. Erza Scarlet (Fairy Tail) 1.6%
Male Characters
  1. Makoto Tachibana (Free!) 6.7%
  2. Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist) 5.6%
  3. Gintoki Sakata (Gintama) 5.1%
  4. Shizuo Heiwajima (Durarara!!) 4.9%
  5. Levi (Attack on Titan) 4.0%
  6. Rin Matsuoka (Free!) 2.4%
  7. Shota Kazehaya (Kimi ni Todoke) 2.1%
  8. Yato (Noragami) 1.9%
  9. Obi (Snow White with the Red Hair) 1.6%
  10. Tokiya Ichinose (Uta no Prince Sama) 1.3%

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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