Cars and racing are two things that have never much interested me, I guess mainly because being a girl means lacking the inherent desire (and equipment) to get into dick-measuring contests over things like engine performance and body modifications that most men seem to be born with. Also, being a gearhead is one of the most expensive hobbies you can have, and there’s really no point in souping up your car if you can’t afford to do it right, or if the car itself is a piece of shit. Both of these deterrents apply to me.
That’s why it’s a bit surprising that I’m as big a fan of these two racing and sports car-related things as I am: Road Blaster, the 1985 video game, and Initial D, an anime about street racing.
Thing #1 – Road Blaster/Road Avenger
Published by the now defunct Data East back in 1985, Road Blaster (also known as Road Avenger or Road Blaster FX on some platforms) is an “interactive movie” video game originally released on LaserDisc (remember those?). The version I was first introduced to was Road Avenger, released in 1992 for Sega CD. Like Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace, the gameplay consists of quickly reacting to on-screen instructions that flash over animated racing scenes, for example, swerving left or right when you see the arrows.
You play as a vigilante out for justice and revenge from the biker gang responsible for your wife’s death, driving your red sports car through high-speed chases, split-decision stunts, and dangerous terrain. The game’s intro featured a gloriously cheesy theme song sung by a guy who sounds like a very drunk Bruce Springsteen.
You don’t need antiquated consoles to play Road Blaster — a port of the game was released last year for iPhone and iPad.
Thing #2 – Initial D
Initial D is a manga and anime series about a high school boy who makes deliveries for his father’s tofu shop and inadvertently becomes one of the best street racers in Japan. It is my favorite anime series of all time.
Takumi Fujiwara has been driving his dad’s old Toyota AE86 up and down Mt. Akina every morning to make his deliveries since five years before he even had his license. He’s a bit of a loner who has zero interest in cars or racing, but as a byproduct of his everyday routine and the desire to get his chores done as quickly as possible, his driving skills are far more advanced than those of his peers. The series follows Takumi from his very first reluctant race through his eventual rise to street racing legend.
I was really exited to learn recently that there will be a brand new Fifth Stage of Initial D premiering in Japan on November 9, 2012 which will continue Takumi’s story. If you are interested in this series, I highly recommend watching the original Japanese (subtitled) version over the American dubbed trash that removes most of the awesome Eurobeat music and character developments that made the original so memorable.
What do these two things have in common?
Well, it’s probably pretty obvious already, but both Road Blaster, a video game, and Initial D, an anime, are Japanese stories that center around illegal street racing. One character does it for justice, the other for sport. Initial D is set in a mountainous prefecture of Japan called Gunma; I’m not exactly sure where Road Blaster takes place, but it certainly looks like it could be Gunma from the game’s dangerous mountain passes. Both have awesome music, too. I once read somewhere that Initial D was probably inspired by Road Blaster, but I can’t remember where I saw that or I’d share it here.
What is Two Things about?
A series of posts in which I gush about two semi-related things I love, explain why I love them, and what they have in common. I know, it all sounds so riveting. But I hope you’ll at least find it mildly entertaining, and maybe even discover some cool things you might not know about.