Question of the Week: What Japanese car was the biggest manga star?

You knew it was coming. After last week’s QotW about the best Nihon car movie star, we now grill you about the Japanese art form known manga and its in-motion equivalent.

What Japanese car is the biggest manga/anime star?

Being the hachi-head that I am my personal (and the most obvious) choice would have been Initial D‘s Tofu Delivery Special, as it probably hooked more Americans on drifting, and by extension old RWD Japanese cars in general, than anything else. But I was outvoted by Kev and John, who formed their own zoku and crowned the Z10 Soarer from Shakotan Boogie as king.

Michiharu Kusunoki‘s coming-of-age tale about cars, girls, and getting into trouble with both of them predates his seminal 1999 work Wangan Midnight by 13 years. Protagonists Hajime and Koji’s misadventures in a white-and-blue first-gen Toyota Soarer drove the story, delving into the world of the low-level bosozoku. The manga was so popular that many cars from it have been replicated in real life, and not just for the subsequent live-action movie.

What say you, dear reader? As always, the most entertaining, well-written, or inspiring comment by next Monday will receive a random JDM toy. Click through to see the best comment from last week’s question, “Which Japanese car was the biggest movie star?” 

We got plenty of votes for the Toyota Hilux‘s appearances in Back to the Future and the Pixar oeuvre, Jackie Chan‘s fleet of Mitsubishis, and a crapload of obscure Aussie flicks we’d never heard of, but the comment that made us LOL most was from jivecom, who said:

Glad you didn’t ask this a few years ago — the answer would have been an orange Supra with bizarre jousting decals, or a green Eclipse that was apparently made to look like the toy RC car in Toy Story. I know it’s easy to make fun of the early FnFs now, since that stuff was actually sort of popular and not at all a joke, but still. Those jousting decals were ridiculous and you know it.

Omedetou, sir! Your prize from the JNC gashapon is a micro Choro-Q Toyota Sports 800.


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21 Responses to Question of the Week: What Japanese car was the biggest manga star?

  1. Nigel says:

    In the pre-internet 90’s there was an anime called Bean Bandit.
    The star was an FD RX-7 that could drive side ways. Can’t rememeber what year it was released though. (The opposite to the answer). As in, obscure.

    • Ed says:

      Bean Bandit was the star of “Riding Bean” a OAV from the early 90’s, done by Kenichi Sonada. The car he used in the video was called the “Roadbuster” or “Buff” and was designed and built by Bean himself to help him outrun the police and everyone else as Chicago’s premier getaway driver. It just looke a lot like a FD. He later appeared as a supporting character in the manga “Gunsmith Cats” which also featured fast cars, guns and anime heroine bounty hunters.

      • Nigel says:

        Was going to talk about Gunsmith Cats, but I only recall German and American cars in it.
        (Great anime though) !!

  2. Kevin T says:

    jivecom definitely got the last one. I hated the FnF movies so much forgot all about it lolz.

    Akira’s Z in Shakotan Boogie to me is the biggest star. It’s a tough one, but damn I love the Z more than any other classic japanese car in existence.

  3. bonvo says:

    either the devil z or fujiwara tofu shop 86

  4. Steve says:

    Wellll… If you’re talking about real cars, I would go with the Initial D hachiroku, as well. Shakotan Boogie was/is known only/mainly by manga readers while Initial D did come out in English dubbed DVDs and that Chinese live-action movie.

    But the most famous manga car of all time has to be Speed Racer’s Mach V. EVERYONE knows that car.

  5. Joseph Sandoval says:

    If there was ever a car that took over the lime light of any anime cartoon. It has to be the Mach 5 from Speedracer. Sure it’s not technically a real car but who here growng up didn’t wish they had that car out in their garage growing up? Hell, I’d love to have tha car as my daily driver nowadays. When was the last time you got cut off by some idiot and didn’t wish your car had rotating saws that could come out the front to enact some immediate revenge?

  6. Killua says:

    I’m convinced that aside from its capabilities, the AE86 is well known in the world for its appearance in Initial D.

  7. jivecom says:

    Wow! Never expected to actually win anything, let alone my favourite Toyota apart from the Iron Pig.

  8. Tofu_Delivery says:

    hahaha, just noticed the easter egg you hid in one of the pics! i wont spoil it for others who haven’t found it yet 🙂

  9. L.A.M says:

    I feel its easy to put a finger on which car is the biggest manga/ anime star, but Id much rather point out which I enjoy seeing the most.
    I give my vote to the Mazda FC RX7. They are seen in both Initial D and Wangan Midnight as cars where their drivers matter much more than the cars themselves. Unlike the main characters where their cars are the center of attention, these beautiful cars are overlooked and are rarely heard as peoples favorites in anime. I feel its the middle child of manga and anime, its held back from being the main kick ass character it can be only because authors just refuse to give it the love it deserves. Maybe I haven’t found the manga yet, but I’d love to see something about a killer rotary. Maybe even a prequel-type manga on how the White Comet earned his name. haha
    Regardless I love seeing FCs, even if only in minor roles.

  10. cesariojpn says:

    The AW11 Toyota MR2 in Over Rev!

    While the other manga like Initial D and Wangan Midnight focus on the main characters after a certain point (Takumi being found out as a “prodigy” after being honed by his father in delivering tofu, Akiko getting the “Devil Z” due to it being in a scrapyard after being humiliated by Blackbird), Over Rev! speaks out to all of us as enthusiasts.

    The way Ryouko goes thru the process of becoming a “car enthusiast” speaks to us on some level. By reading the manga, at certain points, we’ve experienced what she has experienced. Being exposed to a event….finding a car…..trying to repair it….having disagreements…….those things that make being a car enthusiast.

    Of course, I’m kinda impartial to Kanojo no Carrera given I like mangaka Kia Asamiya’s artwork (thank you Silent Mobius). But that involves Porsches, so…… And Ah My Goddess! uses a BMW bike mainly despite it having Honda bikes like the Supercub and Monkey and a Datsun 510……heh, Over Rev! it is and the Toyota MR2.

  11. Toyotageek says:

    There are countless iconic cars in numerous anime/manga, but but far the most well known would probably have to be the legendary Mach 5, as others have already mentioned. Real or not, every kid on every shore wanted one back in the day.

  12. j_c says:

    Initial D’s hachiroku, hands down. I consider “biggest star” as having biggest international recognition. Speed Racer was more popular as an anime, I’m sure most Americans didn’t know there was a manga.

  13. Shakotan says:

    Akio´s Nissan Fairlady Z S30 “Devil Z” from Wangan Midnight manga series. The old japanese classic saved from the junkyard by Akio himself, racing down Wangan Expressway beating Skylines and Porsches is a good manga concept and certainly enthusiasm boosting for all S30 fans in Japan.

  14. a121 says:

    How about the Mitsubishi Starion in Cannonball Run 2 and Subaru GL HB in the first Cannonball Run?

  15. Censport says:

    That’s funny, I would have said Miyuki’s blue 1968 Toyota Sports 800 or hot-rodded Honda Today “mini-pato”.

    But then, I’ve only read one manga…

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