ART CORNER: Ryuji Tsugihara’s Yoroshiku Mechadoc

Yoroshiku Mechadoc

There are countless manga devoted to the subject of cars, but rarely do they leap off their comic book pages into the world of anime. Any self-respecting JNCer knows a few, but before Initial D or Wangan Midnight, before even Shakotan Boogie, there was Yoroshiku Mechadoc

Written and illustrated by Ryuji Tsugihara and published from 1982 to 1985, the manga told the story of the mechanic-doctors at a small tuning shop in eastern Japan. The protagonist, Jun Kazami, worked at the shop with a colorful cast of characters, but in his off time what he really wanted to do was go racing.

In 1984 Mechadoc was turned into an anime, airing on Saturday nights for a run of 30 episodes. Though comparisons to Speed Racer are inevitable, the wonderful thing about Mechadoc is that all the cars in it were real. Genuine engine sounds were even recorded for the anime. Tsugihara’s automotive knowledge was quite thorough, and cars won races because of tuning, not giant saw blades.

Speaking of races, the Mechadoc crew wasn’t tied to any one particular sort. It starts out with Jun finding a Toyota Celica XX in a junkyard one day (yes, it’s hard to believe an A60 would already be scrap, but in slight fairness they did debut in Japan in 1981). He brings it back to life — in the process boring it out, adding twin turbos and nitrous — for competition in a Cannonball Run-style cross-country race. Later on, they add to the fleet a mid-engined Honda CR-X for zero-yon (drag racing) and a Z31 Fairlady Z for the circuit.

The rest of the automotive cast is made up of cars any JNCer would recognize. There’s the SA22 Mazda RX-7 driven by rival tuning shop Champ, the “Tuning God” who drives only S30 Fairlady Zs (incidentally, voiced by the the same actor behind Bunta Fujiwara in Initial D), and a band of broke-ass bosozoku dudes in a TA22 Celica 1600GTV for comic relief.

Classics like the Sports 800kenmeri Skyline GT-R, and Toyota 2000GT also make prominent appearances throughout the series. Some are ridiculously modified to what were undoubtedly Tsugihara’s dream builds — a mid-engined Pulsar EXA or Subaru 360 powered by a Mazda rotary, for instance.

Throughout the series, everything from an Isuzu Piazza to a second-gen Honda Prelude make appearances. Even semi-famous racers like the Celica LB Group 5 Silhouette have a cameo.

Right now in Japan, Subaru is kicking off a marketing campaign featuring the cast of Mechadoc. Though Fuji Heavies weren’t featured prominently in the original series, Subaru thinks the Levorg wagon, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last November, is the perfect car for 80s kids who grew up with Mechadoc.

Though not as well known in the West as internet-age series like Initial D, it made a lasting impression on a whole generation of Japanese children. The anime continued to be aired in reruns after it ended, and there have been countless toy tributes to its star cars. The most recent were just released last year by Kyosho. Tsugihara went on to pen other automotive anime like Restore Garage 251 and F-1 Club.

Special thanks to Ryu Asada.

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18 Responses to ART CORNER: Ryuji Tsugihara’s Yoroshiku Mechadoc

  1. ubs_lover says:

    I also love to read Tsugihara’s Restore Garage 251. Too bad my country translation version only reach volume #13
    He is very detail and knows a lot about JDM cars.

  2. Nigel says:

    Yep, all we had here was Speed Buggy.

  3. Gene says:

    Anyone have a link?

  4. Cerika says:

    You shouldn’t compare or criticize Speed Racer. Superior engine design was always the key component there. That being said they are both great series in their own right.

  5. Lupus says:

    I’ve heard about that manga here in Europe, but i had no idea that there where an anime. Thanks for info, goin’ for a search. 😉

    By the way, the music in OP & ED is awsome. I really like that kind of sound, like JDM Barry White. 😀 But it’s damn hard to find such music even on YT without knowing japanese lettering. Can You guys give some hints on what to search for? For me the music that plays from my car is as important for style as rims and my hair style. 😉

  6. Mazarin says:

    This whole post gives me a big road on.

  7. Ryan Senensky says:

    Yeah I need a link to its anime plz!

  8. Randy says:

    …But I want the giant saw blades for my daily driver!

    Anybody here have more than a vague memory of “Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch?”

  9. j_c says:

    There are a few clips on YouTube. Also there are quite a few episodes dubbed in Italian under the title A Tutto Gas (“full throttle”), complete with a different opening theme song.

    Regarding comparisons to Speed Racer, it was done by the same company, Tatsunoko Productions.

    • Ryan Senensky says:

      good italian thats helpful, going from a language i have 2 years of classes in to a language vaguely related to a language i have 2 years of classes in

  10. Censport says:

    The picture with the Sports 800 is the box art from a 1/24-scale model kit. I was given one as a gift by a Sports 800 specialist in Utsonomiya on my last trip. To say the least, I was very surprised and humbled by such generosity.

  11. Thomas Buster says:

    Subaru wasn’t “featured prominently”? I don’t know about the manga, but in the anime, that rotary-powered 360 is arguably the hero car. It’s the one that Jun drives the most, at any rate.

    All thirty episodes are available to stream on VRV is anyone wants to check it out.

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