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Manga / Wangan Midnight

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Wangan Midnight (湾岸ミッドナイト lit. "Bayshore Midnight"note ) 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 Combat Medic 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Nissan S30 Fairlady Z (known as the Datsun 240Z in North America), discovering that it has been tuned from an old and outdated piece of junk into a souped-up racing monster known as the Devil Z (no, not that Big Bad from Transformers: Super-God Masterforce). 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, a series of direct-to-video live-action film adaptions that was released from 1991 to 2001, and a theatrical movie released in 2009.

It had an Oddly Named Sequel titled Ginkai no Speed Star running from 2014 to 2015. A continuation titled Shutoko SPL is currently running as of 2016. Compare and contrast with Initial D and MF Ghost.

The anime and manga contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: The driver of Blackbird, Tatsuya Shima, is voiced by Shin-ichiro Miki, the same person who voiced Takumi Fujiwara from Initial D. With this in mind, several people went into WMG territory, suggesting the tofu delivery boy from Gunma grew out of his Toyota and moved into Tokyo, became a surgeon and races a Porsche.
  • 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.
    • Oki (driver of the green FD) is similar to Masaki, omitted from the Legendary FC arc where he would try switching from the mountain touge to the Wangan expressway.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Face it, hardcore tuners are usually too obsessed with their cars. As a result, 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 a lot 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.
  • Ascended Extra: Shinji Ogishima, a primary side character in the last arc of the main story, becomes the main protagonist in C1 Runner sequel.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Lots of Nissans.
    • The author, Michiharu, also owns a Ferrari Testarossa in real life, which became a basis for Yoshiaki Ishida's car.
  • 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.
  • Bring My Red Jacket: Akio wears a bright red jacket and has a tendency to crash early on in the series due to his lack of experience with handling Devil Z.
  • 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.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: Devil Z was involved in at least a dozen fatal crashes before Akio got his hands on it and Akio manages to chrash it several times early on in the series. Eventually the car requires a full body work over due to all the damage it has received over the years.
  • Combat Medic: Tatsuya Shima is a variation of this. He is a heart surgeon in the day and a street racer at night. And he is this for many years.
  • Cool Car: The reason for this series.
  • Cool Old Guy: Yoshiaki 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).
  • Crossover: 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.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Jun Kitami has one through his left eye, likely from a past racing accident.
  • Gratuitous English: "Drive Go Go!"
  • Hero of Another Story: Shinji Ogishima, and that story being C1 Runner. He's a former member of the RGO team and works as an editor for the automotive magazine "GT Cars". And the story continues from there.
  • 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"
    • Shinji Ogishima - "FD Master"
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • Tatsuya may be serious about dominating the Wangan, but he will sooner back off and surrender than risk an engine blowout.
    • Many rivals tend to end their challenges this way, whether its for personal reasons (like Hiramoto) or simply to forfeit a losing battle (like Kijima). Noted exceptions are Kuroki and Harada, who both blew their engines.
  • Legacy Character: In C1 Runner, the car Blackbird. At some point, Tatsuya retires from racing and passes on Blackbird's keys to Nobu Setoguchi, Shinji's best friend.
  • 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.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The circumstances of the Devil Z rejecting its drivers after the passing of the original owner. Akio could've easily avoided the construction barriers but the car apparently kept going forward against Akio's will, no matter how much he denies it. Over time however, the car eventually accepts its driver and could do no more other being the fastest on the Wangan.
  • 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.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Voices of S30Z, which is initially used for the Devil Z'' but later heard around other important cars too.
  • One-Steve Limit - Averted by Akio, which has the exactly same name as the original owner of the Devil Z.
  • One-Woman Wail - For the final opponent in the animé Kijima's FC3S RX-7.
  • Opposing Sports Team: The R200 Club. While not technically a sports team, the club does fit as a racing team, which is a sub-genre of sports teams.
  • Pimped-Out Car: Not to the extremes of its predecessor Shakotan Boogie or the Maximum Tune game adaptations, but the manga does have a decent few straight examples, such as the Blackbird, and Nobu Setoguchi's RX-7 in the C1 Runner sequel.
  • 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.
  • 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. He ultimately goes back to his retirement at the end of the anime after he makes Rikako Ota his successor.
    • 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 Blackbird.
  • 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.
  • Shown Their Work: The Blackbird, the Devil Z, and many other cars of the series, are based on actual cars that were part of the real Midnight Club.
  • 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.
    • And now, an Oddly Named Sequel titled Ginkai's Speed Star, has nothing to do with either the main Wangan Midnight or the C1 Runner storyline, although Word of God said it was set in the same universe.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Takayuki Kuroki.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The manga took first inspiration from a rivalry between two real-life Midnight Club members: Its founder, Eiichi Yoshida, driving a 930-series Porsche 911 Turbo (which served as the basis for the Blackbird), and a member known only as Toshi, driving a Nissan 280ZX Turbo (from which the Devil Z was inspired by).
  • 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, white Toyota Celsiors and red Eunos Roadsters (with Racer Wannabes driving one in the pilot episode).


Video Example(s):


Keiichiro Aizawa's Supra RZ

During a race against the Blackbird and Devil Z, Kei's Supra RZ has started showing signs of structural instability due to the lack of roll cage and chassis reinforcement as its body is getting deformed by the extensive amount of G-force at high speed, causing it to become too unstable to drive.

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Example of:

Main / HeroicRROD

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