Akio Asakura was just another high school senior who couldn’t graduate due to one too many a late night cruising in his Z31 300ZX 2+2. That is, until one fateful day when he stumbled upon a lightly scuffed 240Z with a turbocharged L28 and full race suspension and roll cage. Despite the junkyard owner’s strict instructions to scrap it, as the car was cursed and had killed its previous owner, he sold it to the lad anyway. Now Akio prowls the legendary Bayshore Route hunting down Porsches and Skyline GT-Rs in what other midnight racers call “The Devil Z.” Nostalgic power, baby!
Sadly, none of this is true. It’s all a petrol-powered figment of Michiharu Kusunoki’s imagination, but that doens’t make it any less real for fans of the manga Wangan Midnight. Now the series has been transformed from ink and paper into all it’s full-color animated glory by OB Planning, the same production company and legion of Korean animators who adapted Initial-D and instantly made “hachiroku” part of the American lexicon.
Wangan Midnight seems to have learned from the missed shifts of its predecessor, with computer-generated cars seamlessly integrated into backgrounds drawn in the more traditional method of paintbrush, making for some truly breathtaking angles of a dark blue 240Z in motion. Thankfully, the accompanying engine sounds are so beautifully recorded that they make up for the aural assault of J-pop R&B so cheesy it should come with a warning for the lactose intolerant.
The first episode aired June 8th on the Japanese satellite network Animax, but the enterprising among you will surely have no problem finding the fansubbed version that’s been circulating the web faster than a blast around the Wangan.