Cool cars driven by amateurs aiming for 300km/h on Japan's longest freeway, Tokyo's Wangan-sen, and the tuners that obsess over them. That's it in a nutshell. Starring Akio Asakura, a high school student, and the Devil Z, the Nippon counterpart to Christine.Compare Initial D.
The anime and manga contains examples of:
All Love Is Unrequited: Face it, hardcore tuners are usually too obsessed with their cars they tend to have little to no time for romance (though some get better afterwards):
Akio was actually very popular among the girls in his school (as shown in the episode when he greeted Rumi Shimada one morning at school - the girls in the background all had this look on their faces that screamed "SQUEE!!!"), but he's too obsessed with street racing to notice. Lampshaded by his best friend Ma who claimed that because Akio had to repeat a year from too many absences, the girls from the graduating class cried.
It is hinted that Eriko Asakura (sister of the deceased Akio Asakura) was in a relationship with Tatsuya Shima. After the incident caused by her (see Honor Before Reason below), she moved to London to study college there (with no objections from Tatsuya), and after just one correspondence with Tatsuya, is not heard from again.
Koichi Hiramoto neglects his pregnant wife Megumi when he comes across a Skyline GT-R and wastes their savings on it, so she left him. He changed his mind after witnessing the Devil Z and Blackbird's speed and goes back to her and their newborn baby, and she tearfully welcomes him back.
Keiichiro Aizawa, who was eyed by one of his (female) teammates who then begged him to give up street racing. He didn't budge, so she tearfully backed off.
Takayuki Kuroki had an on-and-off relationship with collegemate Mika Murakami, and they separated fully when he began working on his Skyline GT-R. After she sees his dedication and hard work though, she sees him in a totally different light and breaks off her engagement to another man to get back together with Takayuki.
Rikako Ota spurned Eiji Kamiya when he asked her to come with him back to Osaka and work at his shop.
Subverted by Masaki, who's staunchly supported by his wife Mami in whatever he does.
Makoto Morishita dumped her boyfriend after she saw the Devil Z and decided the car he bought for her was too slow for her.
Towards the end of the anime series, Reina admits having romatic feelings for Akio, but is chided by Yamamoto and Gatchan about it, reminding her that Akio has eyes only for the Devil Z.
Anachronism Stew: The animé exhibits this somewhat. Early on we see alot of indications that the series is set in the mid to late '90s (certain cars used by the racers being treated as current or even brand new during the time, also Takagi's flashbacks to "15 years ago" shows a 4 year old Keiichiro Aizawa with 1980's cars, notably his dad's Mk. II Supra ), however the random cars seen in the Wangan (e.g. Honda Fits, etc.) are from the mid 2000s when the animé was made.
The series seems to fix itself in the latter half though where things start to feel more like the mid 2000's. Most likely, this is a result of adapting a long running manga (dating from the early 90's) and not really having the time and resources to make everything fit within the same time-period.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Devil Z. Hooray, it's way more powerful than your usual 240Z! Hooray, it's also near-impossible to control and, with the exception of its immediate previous owner, every past owner of it has died driving it!
Cool Old Guy: Yoshiyaki Ishida, who drove a Ferrari in the manga and anime (and either a Gemballa Avalanche, a Subaru Alcyone SVX, or lately a Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 in the games), could street race pretty good. Also cool about him was being able to replace a broken fanbelt with one made from a pantyhose (and he did it on his Ferrari).
Cross Over: To the Tokyo Extreme Racer series. The ??? wanderer especially.
Distracted by the Sexy: Played with - magazine/poster model Reina Akikawa distracted Devil Z owner Akio by asking him to buy her a drink (after identifying herself using a nearby poster advertising a drink, complete with the word "drink") so she could steal the Devil Z for a joyride.
Honor Before Reason: Eriko tried to destroy the Devil Z by driving it off Tokyo Harbor into the bay (an act which would have killed her as well), her reason behind it being that after her brother was killed driving it, she did not want anyone else to be its next victim. She was stopped by Tatsuya who used the Blackbird to literally block the Devil Z.
Hot for Teacher: Hinted between Akio and Rumi Shimada, particularly when they went stargazing at Hakone together.
Host Club: Keiichiro Aizawa worked in one for awhile to fund his street racing activities.
Name's the Same - Akio's full name happens to be almost identical to the Devil Z's original owner, with the only difference that Akio the protaganist has his given name rendered in katakana rather than kanji.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast - the Devil Z, which has claimed the lives of its previous drivers. Somewhat subverted that most people who encounter it either want to race it, or actually try driving it.
No Export for You: Not a single company in North America has expressed interest in picking up either the anime or the manga. However, an official English translation of the manga is available in Singapore.
Retired Badass: Jun Kitami, who used to be a professional race driver, and he originally built and tuned the Devil Z. He quit the tuning business when racers began dying like flies in many of the cars he tuned. He came back out of retirement when the Devil Z was restored by Akio.
Also applies to Kouichi Kijima, Reina's co-host on Drive Go-Go. Turns out he was a former racer who's legendary FC 3 S RX-7 had a reputation similar to the Z and Black Bird.
Serious Business: It's focused on illegal street racing that's acknowledged by its participants to have no material rewards, yet some are willing to sacrifice school or their family for it.
The Matchmaker: Tomoya, who tried to set up his roommate Kyoko with his boss at the ACE tuning shop, Gen Goto (it fell through). Why he didn't take her for himself (he sees her merely as an older sister for some reason) is a mystery.
Wrench Wench: Rikako Ota, daughter of RGO shop owner Kazuo Ota. She could dismantle and rebuilt a whole engine by herself down to the crankshaft (and did so to retune the Devil Z's engine itself!), and is in fact slated to inherit her father's shop.
You All Look Familiar: Driving sequences frequently feature the same cars on the highway. In the arcade, it's yellow cars and vans. In the anime, look for taxi cars, pink Honda Fits, and white Toyota Celsiors.
Wangan Midnight also exists as a series of video games.Wangan Midnight, developed by Genki and released in 2001 as an arcade game, plays much like Shutokou Battle—the object is to drain the opponent's Life Meter by maintaining a major advantage or causing the opponent to crash into things. It got an Expansion Pack called Wangan Midnight R, and a PlayStation 2 port. More fleshed-out Wangan Midnight games made their ways to the PlayStation 3 and PSP, though those games didn't do so well.Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, developed by Namco, is the set of Wangan Midnight games as most fans know it. Originally released in 2004, Maximum Tune features a card system not unlike that of Initial D Arcade Stage's, more lenient and drifty driving physics, more colorful graphics, a more traditional "point A to point B" racing system, and a tuning system in which you can tune your car all the way to 800 horsepower by completing 60 stages of Story Mode.Maximum Tune has become successful enough to receive multiple sequels, with each new one adding features such as 4-player racing, a more coherent Story Mode, more horsepower, and new courses like the Hakone mountain pass and new stretches of the Tokyo expressways.
The Wangan Midnight games contain examples of:
Adaptation Dye-Job: Not with the characters but with some of the cars. For example, Kazuo Ota's RX-7 is inexplicably pink in the games.
Alt Itis: Before Maximum Tune 4 it's quite common for a player to have more than one card, as you can only have one car per card. This could become a thing of the past now that Maximum Tune 4 allows players to have one hundred per card instead.
Bad Export for You: The international version of Maximum Tune removes the Gemballa-tuned Porsches, as Namco didn't want to pay Porsche's, and by extension Gemballa's, legendary multi-hundred-million-dollar licensing fees to have them available outside of the Japanese version.
Averted for the first time in the English version of Maximum Tune 4, which retains most of the non-Japanese cars that have already been released for original Japanese version.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: Story Mode in the international versions of all four Maximum Tune games. In fact, there are cases where text is not formatted properly (i.e. long text appears on one line going off the screen) or strange characters appear where they should not be.
Car Fu: A tactic some players of the MT games resort to when dealing with opponents in a race, popularly known as ramming.
Some skillful players can even use the Traffic Cars as throwing weapons by cleverly playing dodgeball with them bouncing them around the course, causing mayhem behind them. And now, in the 3DX+ update, even the AI gets in on the action.
Essentially the name of the game in the Wangan Midnight R games.
Cosmetic Award: Dress-up parts in MT 3 and 3 DX. Want to see a flamewar erupt? Ask whether or not dress-up parts do anything to your car's performance. Also, special titles.
Somewhat subverted in WMMT 3DX+ - the new Nissan GT-R R35 cannot be dressed up, nor have its color changed when renewing the game card.
Creator Provincialism: Save for the German Gemballas, all the cars up to WMMT3DX+ were strictly Japanese. WMMT4 broke this with Chevrolets — the Corvette C6 ZR 1, the 1975 Corvette Stingray, and the 2012 Camaro SS.
Difficult but Awesome: Automatic transmission. No, seriously. It requires sticking on the same power settings, good knowledge of the tracks and mastery of handling with the brakes and steering, but when executed properly, players can tackle corners which are hard to do using manual transmission. Just don't expect the same results when racing in Hakone....
Dummied Out: The aforementioned Gemballa-tuned Porsches in the international versions of MT 1 and 2. Thanks to a little hacking, some players were able to make them playable, and thanks to the "discarded card" system that allows players to make partially-tuned clones of their cards, almost any player in the world was able to get their hands on one. All traces of them were removed completely starting from the international version of MT 3. Subverted in MT 4 where the RUF Porsches are brought in.
Not to mention 10 Opponent Outrun. Given that the first 5 levels are ridiculously easy to get an S on for any full-tune vehicle, they could've been left off entirely, or counted off as cleared upon clearing more difficult levels.
Averted in Maximum Tune 2; it's completely dark at night, with the only things visible outside of your headlights being your opponents' car lights.
Played straight in Maximum Tune 3; Hakone is brightly lit at night for no reason whatsoever. Even a full moon on a clear night cannot possibly provide that much illumination on its own.
In Maximum Tune 4, the issue is avoided altogether because there are lamps along the road providing illumination.
Hilarity Ensues: In MT 4 Story Mode, the chapter when Gatchan is your opponent. In the intro cutscene he drives so wrecklesly he crashes in to a barrier, then some time into the race the two of you are joined by his nagging wife in her own car, resulting in funny banter between the couple while racing so dangerously.
Interface Screw: One of the stages involving Gatchan borders on this prior to MT 4. Near the end of the route, Gatchan lets off four HUGE blocks of text that take up a majority of the screen, making it easy to get distracted and crash into something, causing you to lose.
Joke Character: The Toyota Celsior, known in North America as the Lexus LS series. WMMT 2 adds the Corolla and the Hiace van to the mix, WMMT 3 adds the 64-horsepower Subaru R2 keicar, and WMMT 4 throws in the Mitsubishi Pajero SUV. All of which can go as fast as any other car in the game, by the way; anyone wanna see a van drive at 340 kilometers per hour? And if you're skillful enough with them, you can humiliate seasoned opponents with them when they use more "conventional" cars and you still beat them.
Leitmotif: Any song with "Blue" in the title for Akio, any song with "Black" in the title for Tatsuya. And if a song is sung by Paula Terry, it's most likely one of Reina's themes.
Lethal Joke Character: The Celsior and the Aristo (aka the Lexus LS and GS in North America, respectively), in MT 3 and 3 DX, are the heaviest cars in the game (by the game's physics), which has led many to regard them as good cars for versus battles.
Life Meter: The non-Maximum Tune games, unusually for Driving Games, have them. They're lifted straight out of the Shutokou Battle series, made by the same developers.
Many special titles (i.e. those based on mileage and those based on how many wins) are only offered once.
Maximum Tune 4 had an event that let you transfer 3DX+ data to 4. This event ended on October 24, 2013, much to the ire of players whose country has yet to even get the game at all and thus will be forced to start all over again if they ever get the game.
Marathon Level: The Metropolitan Highway time attack courses; the Kanagawa version is 35 kilometers long, and the Tokyo version is 59.8 kilometers. Also, arc-ending stages tend to be somewhat longer than usual, at 25-30 kilometers.
Scrappy Mechanic: If you get challenged during one of the Metro Highway courses, and win, you have to insert additional credits again. Thus you pretty much must turn on Refuse VS if you choose either of these courses.
If you clear all 10 levels of 10-Outrun mode on one course, you gain access to a special 28-opponent (or 32 in MT 3) level. It takes at least 7 minutes to finish.
Mercy Mode: In the original games, losing a stage and restarting it causes the opponent's life meter to start lower. In Maximum Tune, the opponent becomes weaker.
In MT 2, if you lost the same stage three times in a row, on the fourth attempt the opponent would slow down to a crawl in the final kilometer. There were several stages that, were it not for this, would be impossible to beat for many, many players.
Black Zone in MT4 to a lesser degree (the chanting is softer, but it's there).
Power Creep, Power Seep: No car is allowed to start with more with than 336BHP in its stock form. This means that cars whose engines, even in stock form, produce more power than that limit will have their engine outputs nerfed accordingly to 300BHP.
Player Versus Player: In addition to multiplayer, there's also the Ghost Battle mode, which simulates this through players' past runs in this mode.
Real Money Trade: Some players buy pre-tuned cards from other players as opposed to tuning them from scratch, to avoid having to spend hours doing the latter.
Rubber Band A.I.: The handicap feature. Unlike Initial D Arcade Stage players, most WMMT fans leave it on.
Justified; MT's multiplayer races are between Glass Cannon cars without handicap on. Crash even slightly, and the lead car will leave you in the dust; you'd only have a slim chance of catching up if the lead car crashes later on. By contrast, Initial D Arcade Stage's crash penalty was easier to recover from.
How about the Hiace, the, R2, and the Pajero? In fact who in his right mind would drive a vehicle like the high-ride version of the Hiace at over 300kph on a cornering race course?
Scenery Porn: The Maximum Tune series' courses are pretty well-saturated in color.
Secret Car: The traffic cars, except the truck (starting MT2), taxi variants of the Toyota Aristo and Toyota Celsior (MT3/DX), a high-ride Hiace (MT3 DX), a training car variant of the Mazdaspeed 6 (MT3 DX), and the Spec-V variant of the Nissan GT-R (MT3 DX+). Obtainable by entering codes using the shifter when highlighting the right car in the vehicle selection screens.
The Toyota Celsior used to be a Secret Car in MT2, complete with its own hilariously redone Story Mode with Gatchan as the "tuner". It became a normal selectable car in subsequent games, but then gave birth to its Taxi variant which is a Secret Car.
Choosing certain colors on certain cars allows you to have a "variant model" of said car. For example, to get the Nür variant of the Nissan Skyline GT-R V-Spec II (R34), you would select Millennium Jade as your R34's paint color. To get the RS variant of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII (complete with no-frills steel wheels), you would select Scotia White.
The Chevrolet Camarro SS in an early Japanese version of MT 4, which requires collecting special scratch stars to obtain. No longer the case in the recent update.
Self-Imposed Challenge: Clearing Story Mode without losing a single stage. Known as "unshaded" status, after the hollow "stage cleared" marks you get if you haven't lost a stage (as opposed to filled if you have). In Maximum Tune 2, this comes with a gameplay-affecting award: instead of getting one extra tuning block for clearing Story Mode with any losses, you get two.
This is especially prestigious when importing from MT 2 to MT 3 - "unshaded" MT 2 cards, when imported to MT 3, get a special tachometer that absolutely not obtainable by any other means. Considering what few arcades still have MT 2, this special tach could be a Lost Forever depending on where you live, unless you can find someone who sells pre-tuned MT 2 cards.
MT 3 and MT 4 will also award new tachometers for the same achievement. 4 takes it further: a yellow meter on the first loop, and a red one the second loop.
WMMT 1: C1 and the New Belt Line, the latter including a 6-kilometer stretch of Wangan and about a 4-kilometer stretch of Yokohane.
WMMT 2: Adds the Hakone mountain pass.
WMMT 3: Expands the drivable part of Wangan to over 22 kilometers, Yokohane to 14-15, and adds yet another new area: the Osaka Hanshin loop.
WMMT 3DX: Adds the Nagoya speed loop.
WMMT 3DX+ : Adds the Fukuoka Expressway.
WMMT 4: Adds the Yokohama loop, plus the Yaesu course after the latest update.
Spiritual Successor: Dead Heat, a new arcade racer by Namco, which uses the same game engine as MT3.
The Cameo: Pac-Man and the Ghosts make appearances as guest AI drivers in Story Mode in MT2 and MT3DX+ and use the Traffic Cars, though judging from the dialogues, they in fact merely substitute for other Wangan Midnight characters (eg Pac-Man usually subs for Akio, since the Corolla he uses gets introduced as the Devil Z when it appears mid-race).
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In a matter of speaking. The Ghost Car in Ghost Battle is basically a replay of that player's run down to every turn, braking, and collision made. When playing against it, it will try to stay true to its recorded course to the point of easily pushing away traffic cars (whereas you tend to get mucked up trying the same thing), and if you and it collide, it will most certainly get away scott free while you are left in the dust (unless you are in front of it). It's especially frustrating when it's the Top Ghost Car of the course you are challenging. It's become especially bad in the new Japan Challenge mode in WMMT4, which could potentially reach Unwinnable by Design levels.
Theme Music Power-Up: Since WMMT 3, in Story Mode, if someone enters the race in mid-stage (particularly on the last stage of a story arc), their theme music will replace the current background music.
Writing Around Trademarks: A variation. Tatsuya's Blackbird, a highly-modified 964-series Porsche 911 Turbo 3.6, causes some issues when it needs to be portrayed in a Wangan Midnight video game, since Porsche has consistently refused to allow Namco (who handles the Maximum Tune spinoff) or Genki (who handled the first arcade game, its PS2 and PSP ports, and its own Wangan Midnight game for the PS3) the rights to have their cars represented in any video game adaptation of the manga. As a results, these two companies have turned to Porsche tuners RUF or Gemballa for help. In the Genki-produced games, the Blackbird is represented by the RUF CTR. Known as the "Yellowbird", it's a highly modified 930-series 911 Turbo. In the first 3 of the Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune games, Namco used the Gemballa 3.8RS, another modified 930-series 911, but uses a 3.8L non-turbo engine from the rare 964-series 911 Carrera RS 3.8. RUF made their Maximum Tune debut in the fourth game with the CTR and the 997-series version of the RGT, with the CTR once again representing the Blackbird.
You All Look Familiar: Every traffic car in the Namco-published games is either a Corolla, a Hiace, an R2, or an SUV. All of which have the exact same yellow-with-Namco-logo paintjob.