This past Saturday I had the cable box tuned to BBC America all afternoon, and in the process absorbed a lot of Top Gear by osmosis. It also put me in the right mood to watch Initial D again, which is probably the first time in like, 6-8 years, since I’ve touched the franchise. As far as I know, the manga is still going strong, yeah?
So the naturally the first thing I asked myself while watching it was: just how much of the new Toyota 86 launch promo budget went into making this anime? I say this not as a rhetorical question, but more like voicing a nagging suspicion. It’s one thing to point at the various anime projects in the past ~12 months from the various Japanese car makers. It’s another to see a long-time, car-enthusiast focused manga return as an anime to coincide with the launch of the FR-S/BRZ. “Coincide” by about 6 months, sure, but it’s too close for comfort.
For those who are not entirely familiar, Toyota and Subaru have teamed up to produce a line of cars that “rides” its famed AE86 heritage. It’s kind of ironic because these days Subaru is more of the automotive engineering powerhouse and Toyota is more known for its ability to sell a lot of cars that people actually want to buy. In the late ’90s and early ’00s Toyota killed off most if not all of its low and mid-range sports offering, where as Subaru still has its staple rally-inspired carriages going strong today, best summed by Subaru’s famous WRX line of vehicles. These all-wheel drive rally cars, to be honest, are the kind of cars that owns Japan’s winding mountain roads. I suppose that’s probably what inspired Subaru’s engineers in the first place, and why Takumi ends up driving one (or something like it) eventually in the anime.
Naturally, inside the new Toyota 86, Subaru’s 2.0-liter boxer engine is not only sweet for power-to-weight, it also sips gas at 35MPG on the highway. It works well in Toyota’s marketing for the “new” AE86-class of affordable automobiles, as powerplant offers a plenty 200 BHP, putting it in the right place as far as MSRP goes (in the US it’s starting at around $25,000). It’d be really retarded to sell an expensive 86 after all. Being an “86” means that it is front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, which also happens to be a type of car that I personally enjoy driving.
Well, is it any surprise that Initial D gets its new season in 2012, given the Toyota 86 debuted in the 2012 model year? Episode one of 5th Stage starts out with Takumi driving home in his dad’s Subaru (classic WRX blue) coming home after a tofu delivery. The episode ends with Takumi giving his newly refurbished Toyota Trueno a test run up and down Akina’s(?) winding roads. Toyobaru? This is one true pairing indeed.
PS. I don’t know, if I was Hatsune Miku I would rather promote the FR-S! Why is this not licensed in America yet? What’s holding you up, Toyota?