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Anime / Appare-Ranman!

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After a certain mishap, the brilliant but socially inept engineer Appare Sorano and the shrewd but cowardly samurai Kosame Isshiki find themselves drifting on a boat from Japan to America. Broke, the two decide to compete in the Trans-America Wild Race to win the prize and return to Japan. The two battle crazy rivals, outlaws, and the great outdoors itself as they race through the wild West from the starting line in Los Angeles to the finish line in New York — in the steam-powered car they built.

An original work directed by Masakazu Hashimoto (of Tari Tari) and animated by P. A. Works, the series premiered, and was intended to air as part of the Spring 2020 Anime Season. The Coronavirus outbreak ended up halting the series at episode 3 and rescheduling it to the Summer 2020 Anime Season instead.


General Tropes:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Most of the vehicles are animated this way. This extends to both Xiaoleng and David in several wide shots during their race.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Kosame is a samurai trained to be a swordsman, while Xiaoleng is shown practicing kung-fu, and she gives Kosame one mighty kick to the face when he lowers his guard for a moment. That said, these two are standout cases among the less prominent Asian characters seen.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Appare has no social skills at all, no apparent understanding of things like private property, does not display typical emotional responses to the situations he finds himself in, lacks impulse control, and seems to be unable to consider the consequences of his actions. He also focuses much of his time in inventing contraptions, even brushing off a photo opportunity just to keep working on his race car.
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  • Anachronism Stew: The time period is supposed to be the Meiji era (1868-1912), but the cars in the race look more modern (1920s-40s), except Appare's steam-powered boat on wheels. And TJ is apparently listening to 21st century rap music. And there are still typical western Outlaws as well. Meanwhile, the ship captain who takes Appare and Kosame to America mentions sailing through the Panama Canal (not opened until 1914) and the American flag has the 45-star pattern (1896-1908). It's revealed in episode 9 that the series is set in 1890.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The series ends with a Sequel Hook as Appare wants to take to the skies after reading a news article about the first successful airplane flight.
  • Anime Chinese Girl: Jin Xiaoleng looks like a rather atypical one.
  • Anime Hair: Appare's hair is pretty crazy. TJ's dreadlocks also look quite improbable.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: Dylan and TJ engage in a wild gun battle in the middle of a crowded banquet room. The fact that this is a relatively light-hearted show is the only reason that multiple bystanders weren't killed.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The land around Los Angeles looks absolutely nothing like it does in real life. Instead of rolling hills and chaparral vegetation, it's rendered as vegetation-free desert with broad mesas, more appropriate for New Mexico or Arizona.
  • Ballroom Blitz: The pre-race dinner ends up in chaos when everyone starts up their own competitions to gain pole position, including a Cooking Duel of sorts between Kosame and Al cutting cucumbers and Chase arm wrestling other challengers. All while TJ and Dylan end up in a gunfight that spreads onto the roof.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Hototo and Xiaoleng wear outfits that expose their midsections. Xiaoleng fought against Gil's female goon with knives who also bare her belly (and her gangs' snake tattoo).
  • Benevolent Boss: While he starts off with the same reservations as the rest of the team he owns, albeit for reasons separate from the rest of them, Xiaoleng's boss does not hold any tolerance towards David's actions when she nearly crashes from his poor sportsmanship and eventually helps her enter the cross-country race.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 9 has the racers killing time in Denver while waiting for the race to resume. The episode is even titled "Short Break".
  • Chinese Launderer: Xiaoleng is the daughter of a couple of Chinese immigrants who own a laundry.
  • Cool Big Sis:
    • Unlike the rest of his family, Appare's older sister at least tries to be accepting towards her little brother's ideas. She even gives him an amulet when he leaves their household.
    • Sofia, Al's childhood friend, also treats him like a younger brother, being his former babysitter and all.
  • Cute Little Fangs: Hototo has a snaggletooth that reminds us he's still a boy.
  • Crazy Enough to Work:
    • Only Appare would have come up with shooting the engine of his vehicle like a rocket to gain the edge over Al, allowing Kosame to run to the finish line right before, winning their non-official race.
    • How the big race finally ends. Team Appare are in second-to-last place. They can activate a final burst of speed to catch up to the others, but there's one more turn before the final stretch and if they wait to take the turn first, it'll be too late. So they activate the boost before the turn, take off flying, and end up racing sideways along the side of buildings before dropping in across the finish line just in time to win by photo-finish.
  • Cultural Rebel: Appare is very much unlike a regular Japanese person from the late 19th Century.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Appare is poised as the one least likely to win the cross-country race by almost everyone, especially by the media, early on. He manages to do this with a little help from his newly-upgraded booster engine, just barely edging out Xiaoleng, herself hyped up as a dark horse by the very same media, in the end.
  • Darkest Hour: By the end of Episode 10, Richard, having revealed himself as the real Gil, kidnaps Sofia, hijacks the train, takes hostages, disables the cars, and seemingly kills Kosame.
  • Destination Defenestration: In episode 10 the real Gil decides to throw the railroad tycoon who hired him to interfere with the race out the window of his own train because he's tired of the man's attempts to order him around.
  • The Drag-Along: Kosame didn't want to go on an adventure across the world, but now that he's with Appare he has no choice but to help if he wants to go home.
  • Drives Like Crazy: As soon as Appare gets on the wheel, he turns Hot-Blooded and his driving makes Kosame scream for his life.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Episode 4 ends like this, with Xiaoleng finally getting respect for her driving ability from the rest of her team outside of David.
  • Epic Race: This is the very premise of the story.
  • Facial Markings: Appare has two red-marks on both sides of his mouth, while Hototo has three blue spots on his forehead.
  • The Ghost: Kosame's unseen maiden, wanting to see what she looks like is the primary reason why he wants to go back to Japan. Ultimately becomes He Who Must Not Be Seen for both him and the audience when he decides to stay with Appare in the end.
  • Graceful Loser: Al Leon has no hard feelings after losing to Appare's unorthodox strategy in their non-official race. He does harbor some minor resentment over the loss come episode 4, but it only sticks for the Cold Opening.
  • Gun Kata: Dylan and TJ engage in the close-quarters version of the trope during the fight at the pre-race dinner, each batting the other's pistols out of firing position as they try to shoot each other.
  • Hope Spot: Played for Laughs in episode 4; thanks to a self-realized loophole, Kosame realizes he has half the rights to the car Appare won in their unofficial first race and that if they sell it, they'll be able to get back to Japan. Only to be horrified when he sees that Appare has stripped the car to its individual components.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Happens a few times with the main trio. When Appare goes fishing with Hototo, he uses a potato as bait.
  • Historical Domain Character: In Episode 9, Thomas Edison makes a brief appearance when Appare accidentally breaks into his house.
  • How We Got Here/In Medias Res: The first episode starts with the very first race to qualify the transcontinental race, and then it cuts to one year earlier and how Appare and Kosame ended up in America.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • David gets his in episode 4 after causing Xiaoleng to spin out during their race by having the race team's manager punch him square in the face.
    • After all the crimes he's commited and the trouble he caused for the others, Gil gets his comeuppance by the ones who feared him the most: The law. Though only at the insistence of Dylan, as TJ just wanted to outright kill him after getting kicked in the face during their first fight.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Since they arrived to America with only the clothes they were wearing, Kosame and Appare only have one outfit. Hototo also only has one. Seth Cutter almost tries to kick them out of the pre-race dinner since it has a formal dress code. The point becomes moot when TJ arrives dressed even more flamboyantly and Appare justifies that if he gets in, then they do too. Seth caves in, but gives Kosame a tie anyway to try to make him a little more formal.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Al Leon is a handsome boy with blonde hair arranged in a braided ponytail.
  • Male Gaze: There's occasional focus on the butt, back and bare midriff of Xiaoleng.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Appare and Kosame initially attend a bath house in the nude, much to the horror of the girls and Al. The following reaction forces them to rush back into the changing room and put on some swimming garb.
  • Native Guide: Hototo, who has already traveled across America in order to reach Los Angeles, has the skills to help Appare & Kosame navigate cross-country and survive in the wilderness.
  • No Social Skills: Appare clearly doesn't have much social awareness.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gil's higher ranking goons are only referred to by whatever weapon they use, and even then only in the credits.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • Though through no fault of their own, both a sheriff and his deputy are killed while attempting to stop Gil's gang from robbing the train.
    • Episode 8 has the sheriff of a small town be revealed as not the actual sheriff, but one of Gil's men who was responsible for the death of Hototo's father who decides to finish the job.
    • When Seth tries to convince a town's chief of police to help in the rescue of Sophia and the other auto executives being held hostage by Gil and his gang. The chief refuses, deciding that three people aren't worth the trouble, especially against someone like Gil. Seth even calls them this trope when talking to the other racers about the situation.
  • Punny Name: Among our colorful characters is Al Leon, Dylan G. Orden and Gil T. Cigar
  • Purple Is Powerful: Dylan wears a mostly purple outfit, drives a purple car and is an incredibly skilled shooter as well as one of the better drivers on the race.
  • Runaway Train: In the final episode, the racers have to stop a train filled with explosives from reaching Chicago.
  • Samurai Ponytail: Fitting for the time period, Kosame has the style.
  • Scenery Porn: The backgrounds invoke the style of old-fashioned paintings of the late-1800s, complete with brush strokes.
  • Shaming the Mob: Kosame attempts to do this when an angry mob of spectators begin throwing rocks at Hototo for holding up the race. The crowd instead start to throw rocks at the other racers and only stop when Tristan as Gil fires his gun into the air.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The cars in the race resemble new takes on Wacky Races with two cars in particular resembling Penelope Pitstop and the Ant Hill Mob's cars, Al's car in particular is a Lighter and Softer version of the Mean Machine painted white.
    • Some of the character designs also fit in this area, with Xiaoleng's boss resembling that of Speed Racer's dad Pops.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: David, the official driver of the team Xiaoleng works for, clearly believes she has no place on the racetrack and believes she's only good as maintenance or as a housewife. The team's pit crew also initially have the same view until they actually see her driving ability in action.
  • Steam Never Dies: The train owners are appalled about the idea of a Trans-American car race upsetting the status quo and try to sabotage it by hiring legendary outlaw Gil T. Shiga, who enters the race under an assumed name to avoid suspicion. It backfires spectacularly on them when the guy who hired him is killed by Gil, who later proclaims that he doesn't care for either cars or trains, only the power being the most feared individual in the USA brings.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A healthy dose of this pops up in episode 4:
    • Xiaoleng gets this dumped on her twice; after revealing her intentions to race, Al tells her that despite the fact that she has some experience behind the wheel, racing is much different than simply driving alone. A fact shown during her race with David, as he's the team's driver, has far more experience than she does and as a result, manages to get a lead on her several times despite her own ability being shown on full display. Later when the race is over, her boss ends up telling her why being a female racer is next to impossible to accomplish even with her driving skills- mainly that most of the spectators that watch the races are males who want to see men battle each other and that no one is going to root for a female racer- but tells her that if she took part in the Trans-America race, then perhaps opinions could change and offers to help her get started with preparations.
    • Despite ultimately winning the race to determine Xiaoleng's future with the team, absolutely everyone is shocked and appalled at David's Dirty Coward approach to make her spin out that the team's owner not only punches him in the jaw, but tells him that had she crashed, he would have been fired immediately.
    • For all of Gil's boasting he ends up losing rather handidly in the final episode after Dylan and TJ team up to take him on. While Gil may individually being the strongest of the Thousand Three, it's still not enough for him to overcome that type of handicap.
  • Team Pet: "New Hototo" the prairie dog for Team Appare.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • When a prisoner messes with Appare's writings, he dares the latter to "go ahead and make me" when asked to move. In response, Appare casually hammers his foot to get him to move.
    • While vying for pole position at the pre-race dinner, another racer challenges Xiaoleng to a fight and even mockingly offers her the first punch, she roundhouse kicks him in the face instantly.
  • Terrible Trio: The group Dylan used to be a part of, the Thousand Three, is a band of outlaws that consisted of him, TJ and Gil, with his own spot eventually being filled in by Chase the Bad, one of Gil's cronies, after his departure.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Al takes out one of Gil's Mooks this way.
  • Time Skip: The ending takes place about a month after Gil's defeat.
  • Trauma Button: The sight of a gun brings back to Kosame's memory a bad experience from childhood that leave him paralyzed.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": Kosame rescues a prairie dog that he names Hototo after thinking Chase and his gang kidnapped the animal's namesake. He differentiates between the two by referring to the boy as "Old Hototo" from then on.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The seventh episode reveals that the Gil that's been shown is not the real Gil, but instead is Chase's brother Tristan, a Kindhearted Simpleton who took the name to appear more intimidating. Not only that, but neither are affiliated with the Thousand Three and are in fact a duo known as the Bad Brothers.
    • Episode 10 ups the ante by having Richard reveal himself as Gil to the protagonists, has his gang the Snakes hijack the train and take hostages, among them being Sofia, and Gil, after subduing most of the protagonists, disables their cars, and seemingly kills Kosame after Kosame took the bullet meant for Appare.
  • Women Drivers: While Xiaoleng ultimately averts this, with her being the only female to compete in the race, the general stigma among her co-workers and parents is that driving is something women are unable to handle. Appare, while initially taken aback by it, is a little more accepting toward her decision. The fourth episode "Let It Go", focuses on Xiaoleng's attempt to get respect from her fellow teammates and peers.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • When Hototo blocks the race from starting, the first thing the crowd does is to throw stones at him, which quickly escalates to Would Hit a Girl as Xiaoleng and Sophia jump in to help shield him from the throwing. Completely averted with Chase and his brother, who assures the boy that they don't harm women or children.
    • Gil and his goons similarly have no qualms in harming Hototo, with the former grabbing one of the boy's tomahawks before throwing it back at him, narrowly missing him. His plan to blow up Chicago Station also has him counting on children being there.
  • You Killed My Father: Hototo came all the way to California in search for the man who killed his father, a man with a snake tattoo on his neck. he meets him in episode 8- a "sheriff" claiming to be Gil that intends to finish the job with both Hototo and the other racers.