5 Reasons why the forgotten Wangan Midnight is just as good as Initial D
When people talk about Japanese car-related animes, Initial D would often be mentioned, simply because this is the film that made the legendary status of the AE86 in the car scene, but also the motoring technicalities behind the film, it's all so exciting to watch, but at the same time it's educational.
There is, however, another film that is less talked about - Wangan Midnight, which is also made in Japan, plus it's about cars too. Here's why this film is just as good as Initial D.
1. The cars are just as exciting
In Initial D you seldom see European cars, which isn't necessarily a bad thing because they all race round Japanese touge which are twisty and very narrow, a JDM machine would fit in like a glove, whereas a European car wouldn't fit in as well.
In Wangan Midnight however, the stage is moved from the touge to the Japanese highways, smooth tarmac with plenty of sweepers. So the autobahn monsters would be better suited here. Of course, being a Japanese movie, GT-Rs, S30 Z cars, Evos, RX-7s are everywhere. But, Porsche 911 Turbos, Ferrari Testarossa also get a place in this movie, which is bonus for you all EDM fans.
2. The insane details of engines
The Devil Z, as people call it, features an L28 engine bored and stroked up to 3.1L, with a twin turbo setup and triple carburettors. How do I know all these you may ask. It's all mentioned in the film.
Not only is the details of the main character's car mentioned, so is the 'Blackbird' 930 911 Turbo, the Testarossa, the FC3S RX-7 and many other cars. The TV crew even went to the extent of copying the dyno curves of each car during each setting to replicate the exact character of each car. Talk about the level of attention right there.
3. It's about POWERRRR and absurd levels of engineering
The L28 straight-6 twin turbocharged carbureted engine in the S30Z has 600hp, which is needed because cars that race on Wangan (the actual name of the highway) needs that kind of power to achieve 300km/h in such a short distance. In fact, the least amount of horsepower a car makes in this movie is the blue Evo 5, which only has 450hp due to the gearing.
Of course, to run at VMAX constantly and controllably the cars need to be aerodynamically capable, hence many jargons were mentioned, centre of gravity, engine placement to make sure the viewers knows why on earth the cars can achieve such speed.
4. The characters live in the parallel universe of Initial D
Wangan Midnight focuses on straight line speed, Initial D features Touge Battles; Wangan Midnight has European cars but not Initial D. In fact, the voice actors of the two main characters are the exact same guys from Initial D. Instead, Takumi this time drives a Porsche and Keisuke drives a S30Z but not an RX-7.
However, saying that, the production crew does give easter eggs of Initial D in Wangan Midnight. For example, when the Testarossa's belt shredded, the driver asked a pair of couple who are …(kissing)… in a red AE86 Tureno to sell him a pair of pantyhose to temporarily replace the broken belt; In the last scene the Devil Z, Blackbird the 911 are racing against a white FC RX-7 which looks very much like Ryosuke's FC from initial D. That said, the advisors of the cartoon are Keiichi Tsuchiya the Drift King and the Hot Version TV Crew from Japan, so you can see why…
5. The chemistry between the car and the characters are incredible
At first I was going to say this cartoon was a bit creepy. It started off with a Z that likes to kills its owners, hence the name Devil Z, then the guy who tuned it sounds creepy, then the background music sounds like the ones you hear in a Japanese funeral. It's all very very creepy.
However, towards the end, what gave the Z it's name made sense, it was looking for an owner who knew how to respect it, and not just giving it the beans no matter what. It was a Z that has a mind of its own. The latter part of the movie was sensational, because it gave cars life, and owners who knew how to tame the beasts. There was also the story line, which consists of love (who said racing drivers need not have girlfriends) and families, which is very heartwarming.
Wangan Midnight is a film you wouldn't want to miss, albeit not as long as Initial D, it'll still give you plenty of idea of what the nineties Japanese racers were like, after all they really did race on highways pursuing ludicrous speeds.