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Anime / éX-Driver

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Yes. That kid in the middle has a license. Just wait till he gets nicked. note 

In the future, Automated Automobiles are used by people to get around. Unfortunately, the cars end up going haywire at times...

And that's when the eponymous force comes in.

éX-Driver (often abbreviated simply to éX-D) is a six-episode OVA series created by Kosuke Fujishima (You're Under Arrest!, Ah! My Goddess, Piano) and animated by Actas, A-Line and Xebec, released early in the Turn of the Millennium in 2000. The series focused around three teens (Lisa Sakakino, Lorna Endou, and Souichi Sugano) and their attempt to corral the out-of-control vehicles using manually-driven ones.

It was adapted into a movie in 2002. The story revolves around the three drivers participating in a race held in Santa Monica, California. However, they uncover a conspiracy involving the éX-Driver organizations after rescuing Angela Gambino, the daughter of a Corrupt Corporate Executive.

éX-Driver provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Pretty much the whole point of the series.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Lisa has a slightly darker complexion than her teammates.
  • Art Evolution: Inverted somewhat; the first episode is more detailed than the others. Played straight in the movie.
  • Author Appeal: This is Kosuke Fujishima we're talking about here...
  • Automated Automobiles: They technically serve as villains for the first four episodes, despite only malfunctioning (they do endanger the lives of bystanders and the people inside, even if unintentionally).
  • Berserk Button: Do not dare tell Lisa that Souichi's a better driver.
  • Big Bad: Wang Somin and Joe are the main antagonists of The Movie.
  • Butt-Monkey: Nothing ever goes right for Lisa.
  • Cool Car: An obvious trope.
  • Cool Bike: Rei's Ducati 900 SS
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: In the film
    • Wang Somin is the president of a West Coast supermarket who provides the funding for the éX-Driver team in China. Not only that, but he has sinister motives for gambling on the race.
    • Angela's father Rico is also a financial backer for the éX-Driver for Team USA who is in league with Wang at least up until the end of the film.
  • Darker and Edgier: Episodes 5 and 6, in which a former éX-Driver and his crew try to kill the three heroes (they only manage to injure two of them, though). The Movie also.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Largely intentional for the job. Lisa does play this straight on numerous occasions, though. As do the AI cars when malfunctioning. Ditto the rivals in episodes 5 and 6.
  • Eagleland: Appears in the movie as a mix between a Type 2 and a Mixed Flavor (mostly the former).
  • "Eureka!" Moment: After they are captured on Wang's orders, Angela tells Souichi that she rigged a car to crash when they first met and later made an exploding AI cleaning car severely damage the track, all in an effort to ultimately stop her father from gambling on the race.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Averted, when cars crash, they don't explode. The AI cars that do were rigged.
  • Expy: To an extent, Lisa and Lorna resemble the designs of Chihiro and Urd.
  • Free-Range Children: Their parents are never seen, but more than likely know about this.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Nina's workspace (and later revealed in Danger Zone, her apartment) has dozens of plushies.
  • Hero's Classic Car: Justified because they need to lack computers to prevent the malfunctions from happening to them. All police cars in the city also have the autopilot system.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Played with. The main team has several outfits while all supporting cast members are only seen in one outfit.
  • Locked in a Room: Once Angela and Souichi are captured by Wang's men, they are thrown into Wang's storehouse.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Not to the extent of a more popular anime like Dragon Ball per se (nor was anything ever advertised within). But the series did have its fair share, including coffee mugs, art books, model kits and CDs.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: In the film, Souichi and his friends happen to discover that Angela caused the AI car to go out of control in the city and at the race track, only for them to realize that it was part of Angela's plot to stop her father from betting on the race.
  • Model Planning: A quick glimpse of this can be seen as part of a montage in episode 3.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: The AI cars have a system that can deploy airbags if the AI malfunctions and all of the red headlights are shot out.
  • Nose Bleed: Episode 4, after Souichi looks at a naked Rei (in the bathroom, of all places). He also went unconscious.
  • Official Couple: Kelly and David get together towards the end of The Movie after Lorna stops the AI car and crashes it.
  • Oh, Crap!: At the end of The Movie, Joe gets shocked when Souichi is about to cause his car to crash.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The AI Cars have a singular red eye, akin to that of Hal 9000.
    • Duel gets this treatment twice - Once in episode six, and again in the movie.
  • Shower Scene: Episode 4, Played for Laughs.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Occurs in episode 5, The Movie and the Mini-Movie (with AI-controlled vehicles).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In The Movie, after Souichi, Lisa and Lorna destroy a runaway car, they are arrested for violating California driving laws.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: In The Movie, Angela rigs an AI cleaning truck to explode and set the circuit race track on fire. As she is about to escape, Souichi corners her only for him to grab her breast and realize who she really is. Understandably, Angela is not amused.
  • Tsundere: Lisa in the series and Angela in The Movie.
  • Turn of the Millennium: Released sometime after Y2K-2001 (which may explain the AI is a Crapshoot trope above).
  • Universal Driver's License: This might be one of the reasons that allow anyone (even as a child/early teen) to become an éX-Driver (the other being the ability to actually operate a manually controlled vehicle).
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: In the film, Angela genuinely wants to stop her father from gambling on the race in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, her plans include rigging an AI car to crash and going so far as to blow up the circuit race track.
  • Women Drivers: Averted, as two-thirds of the main cast are female. Also, there are other female éX-Drivers, as the movie confirms.
  • Younger Than They Look: Angela looks about the same age as Lisa or Lorna but she's actually as young as Soichi.