Manga: Wangan Midnight

Wangan Midnight is a manga series by Michiharu Kusunoki revolving around Tokyo's highway racing scene. The story primarily revolves around Akio Asakura, a high school student with a knack for attracting many women and taking them for rides in his car. One day, he is passed by a black Porsche 964, dubbed the "Blackbird" and driven by ace driver Tatsuya Shima, and attempts to race it, but quickly eats its dust. One day, Akio heads for the junkyard and finds an old blue Nissan Fairlady Z (known as the Datsun 2xxZ series in North America), discovering that it has been tuned from an old and outdated piece of junk into a souped-up racing monster known as the Devil Z. Despite warnings about how the car is supposedly cursed, that all of its previous owners happen to share his full name, and that every one of those owners has died driving the car, he takes the dealer up on the offer and gives the Devil Z a spin, and discovered that the Z not only has unparalleled power, but seems to have a mind of its own, as he soon wipes out spectacularly trying to control it.

Despite what happens when he's behind the wheel of the Devil Z, Akio is determined to take mastery of the Devil Z and get back at his new rival. As he develops his career as the infamous owner of the Devil Z, Akio meets many other racers and tuners along the way.

The series ran for 42 volumes, from 1990 to 2008, with a 26-episode anime adaptation that ran from 2007 to 2008. In addition, there is a 12-volume spinoff, Wangan Midnight: C1 Runner, that ran from 2009 to 2012. Furthermore, there is a collection of video game adaptations, including the popular Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune arcade game series, and a live-action film adaption released in 2009.

It now has an Oddly Named Sequel, Ginkai's Speed Star. Compare and contrast Initial D.

The anime and manga contains examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Masaki was gutted out from the TV anime, although appearing prominently in the video games. Scenes relating to him was also gutted out as well.
    • Yoshiaki Ishida is a milder example in video games. We never seen him in any video games until Maximum Tune 3.
  • 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.
    • Averted in the live-action film. There are many newer cars around, assuming the date of record was made in 2008 or 2009. You can spot some few Nissan R35 GT-Rs, which were used in C1 Runner and Ginkai sequels.
  • Author Appeal: Lots of Nissans.
  • 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!
  • Back to School: Akio's new homeroom teacher Rumi Shimada tries to get him to get his act together after he repeats a year due to his street racing activities. At one point he says he will go back to school much to her delight, but he only showed up for homeroom period then ditched school, much to her embarrassment. She didn't give up on him though.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Most male characters.
  • Bishounen: Some of the younger male drivers. Notably Akio, Tatsuya, Keiichiro, and Tomoya.
  • Bland-Name Product: If you drive a Ferrere, Porphe or BWN, get it checked at the shop where Kouichi works.
    • Also notable is the gas station Akio worked part time at, Mubil.
  • Chick Magnet: Akio has a penchant for attracting female classmates. Unfortunately for them, he's too addicted to racing—especially in the Devil Z—to care.
  • Conspicuous CGI: Done by the same studio that handled Initial D's fourth stage.
  • Cool Car: The reason for this series.
  • Cool Old Guy: Yoshiyaki Ishida, who drove a Ferrari in the manga, anime and film (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.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Akio's friend Ko-chan.
  • Five-Man Band: After initially being rivals to each other, the main characters eventually seem to evolve into this when racing with later characters:
  • Five-Bad Band: The R200 Club would like to think of themselves that way if only they weren't such a Quirky Miniboss Squad:
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Jun Kitami has one through his left eye, likely from a past racing accident.
  • Gratuitous English: "Drive Go Go!"
  • 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.
  • In-Series Nickname: Several characters, and even some cars, have them:
    • Jun Kitami - "Tuner from Hell"
    • Kou Tominaga - "The Jet"
    • Gen Sasaki - "Gatchan"
    • Yasuo Motoki - "CCR"
    • Ryoichi Teizuka - "JAPAN"
    • Jun Sonoda - "JPP"
    • Kouichi Kijima - "Big Mouth Slugger"
    • Akio's Car - "Devil Z"
    • Tatsuya's Car - "Blackbird"
    • Reina's Car - "Reina R"
    • Keiichiro's Car - "Monster Machine"
    • Tomoya's Car - "R Killer"
  • 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 Chinese translation of the manga is available in Taiwan.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Voices of S30Z, also counts as Crowning Music of Awesome. Initially used for the Devil Z but later heard around other important cars too except for Kijima's FC which instead gets a...
  • One Steve Limit - Averted by Akio, which has the exactly same name as the tuner of the Devil Z.
  • One-Woman Wail - For the final opponent in the animé Kijima's FC3S RX-7.
  • Put on a Bus - Ma (Akio's best friend) and Ko-chan (who initially served as Akio's mechanic) were never seen or heard from again after the first story arc.
    • As was everyone involved with Akio's high school, including Rumi Shimada (we don't even know if he graduated!). The anime also conspicuously omits any closure for Yoshiaki Ishida.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The R200 Club.
  • 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 FC3S 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.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Shakotan Boogie.
    • Spiritual Antithesis: While sharing both racing themes, Wangan Midnight focuses more on street racing while Shakotan Boogie puts more emphasis on Running Gag and Shakotan-styled cars. Wangan Midnight also took the races on the expressways while Shakotan Boogie focus the races on touge and city streets.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Takayuki Kuroki.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s):

Maximum Tune