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Wangan Midnight (湾岸ミッドナイト Wangan Middonaito?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Michiharu Kusunoki and serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits since 1990, later in Kodansha's Young Magazine. In 1999, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga.[1]

The series has been adapted into several live action feature films, video games, and an anime television series. The anime began airing in Japan on June 8, 2007 on the anime satellite television network Animax, produced by OB Planning.[2]

The Wangan Midnight comic book series ended with issue #42 but it has been followed with a brand new arc called Wangan Midnight C1 Runner (湾岸ミッドナイト C1ランナー). Years before Wangan Midnight, Michiharu Kusunoki worked on a similar series known as Shakotan Boogie.

Story

The story gets its roots from the actual street racing that occurs on Tokyo's Shuto Expressway, one stretch of which is known as the "Wangan" — literally meaning "bay side" although it is generally used to refer to the freeway — the longest, straightest road in the entire country.[3]. There is also road traffic to contend with, including a fair number of heavy trucks. Because of this, the action is inherently hazardous, and wrecks are common. Blown engines are also a frequent hazard, especially with the extremely high power engines.

One day, Akio Asakura, a high school student in his last year of study, is driving his Fairlady Z (Z31) when he challenges Tatsuya Shima, a doctor, in his black Porsche 911 Turbo (964), nicknamed the "BlackBird". With his friend in the passenger seat and two girls in the back, Akio attempts to win, but is defeated. Determined to become faster, he goes to the junkyard because his mechanic friend tells him he saw a wrecked Fairlady S30 just like Akio wanted. When he sees the damaged midnight blue Fairlady Z (S30) in the junkyard, he remembers seeing this car a few years ago with a nice girl in the passenger seat. Intrigued as to why such a classic Japanese performance vehicle is about to be junked, he convinces the junkyard owner to sell it to him. The junkyard owner was told by the previous owner to scrap the car because it is cursed. He soon finds that the car is unnaturally fast due to a tuned L28 engine, bored and stroked to 3.1 L and fitted with twin turbos. He also finds that the one of the car's previous owners shares his first and last name, and had died in a horrible crash on the Wangan. Every person who takes possession of the Z ends up spinning out of control and crashing, as if the car is rebelling against its driver. This gives the blue Z the nickname "The Devil Z". The manga follows Akio's various encounters with people on the Wangan, though the central plot revolves around his constant battle with the BlackBird for Wangan superiority.

Characters

  • Akio Asakura (朝倉アキオ Asakura Akio?)
An ambitious racer who started when he was very young, Akio was in his final year of high school as the story began. He was driving his red Nissan 300ZX (Z31) until, after a humiliating loss to Tatsuya Shima, he discovered the "Devil Z", a Nissan Fairlady S30 Z (known as the Datsun 240Z/260Z/280Z in certain markets) which is supernaturally fast and extremely hard to drive. Regarded as a legend on the Wangan, though he is actually a humble young man. Still, despite his gentle demeanor, he's dead serious about racing. In fact, he is so serious that he skips school (to the point of repeating a grade) to drive the Devil Z. Like virtually everyone else in the manga, he has trouble forming intimate relationships, although he has made some slight inroads with Reina Akikawa. His day job is a waiter for a night club, but then got fired for showing up late too often due to late night racing. He's regularly exposed to the active social scene at the heart of Tokyo. He was already a pretty accomplished racer with his old car, but behind the Devil Z, he's nearly invincible. He also has tremendous adaptive ability and can learn to drive virtually anything.
Voiced by: Shun Oguri
  • Reina Akikawa (秋川零奈 Akikawa Reina?)
Reina is a very attractive model who also co-hosts a driving television show named "Drive Go Go!" where the latests automotive trends are discussed. She finds Akio on the Wangan and becomes obsessed with him and the Devil Z, driving her to tune her car and even steal the Devil Z one night. After getting her Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32) modified, she discovers a previously unknown aptitude for street racing, something that does not sit very well with her manager. She's very sociable, and has lots of acquaintances, but has no real boyfriend. While she is an idol, she is quite modestly dressed. Like most of the women in the series, she's very sensitive and bursts into tears easily, although she calms down considerably in later volumes.
Voiced by: Reiko Suhou
  • Tatsuya Shima (島達也 Shima Tatsuya?).
He is the main rival of Akio Asakura, as Akio is the only one who regularly gives him a challenge. He drives a black Porsche 911 Turbo (964) in the anime and manga, and a Nissan 350Z in the English version of the arcade racing games. The car has Script error stock. Tatsuya becomes annoyed with Akio becoming faster all the time so he hires Kitami Jun, the man who built the Devil Z, to tune the Porsche. Kitami tunes the suspension and adds a second turbo to make it a twin turbo Porsche and boosts the car to Script error and beyond to try and keep up with the Devil Z. He's an extraordinarily skilled driver and has only been in one wreck during the course of the manga, when he swerved to avoid two drunk men on the road, only to swerve again to avoid a taxi and end up hitting the rear against a pole. He knows the limits of his vehicle and will never risk disaster by pushing it beyond its safe limits. This actually cost him a couple of battles, but he always learns from his failures and comes back even tougher. He's a very skilled surgeon and uses his large salary to fund support for his hobby.
Voiced by: Shinichiro Miki

Media

Manga

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V-Cinema

The series was adapted into a series of direct-to-video movies following in 1994, 1997 and again in 2000. They accurately depict the manga, with the exception of Akio being in his thirties. Many Japanese viewers hold the films in high regard for their realistic portrayal of the racing with the cars having the speed they have in the manga.

  • Wangan Midnight (湾岸MidNight), 1991
  • Wangan Midnight II (湾岸ミッドナイトII), 1993
  • Wangan Midnight III (湾岸ミッドナイトIII), 1993
  • Wangan Midnight 4 (湾岸ミッドナイト4), 1993
  • Wangan Midnight Special Director's Cut Complete Edition (湾岸ミッドナイトスペシャル ディレクターズカット完全版), 1994
  • Wangan Midnight Final: GT-R Legend - Act 1 (湾岸ミッドナイト FINAL ~GT-R伝説 ACT1~), 1994
  • Wangan Midnight Final: GT-R Legend - Act 2 (湾岸ミッドナイト FINAL ~GT-R伝説 ACT2~), 1994
  • Devil GT-R Full Tuning (魔王GT-R チューニングのすべて), 1994
  • Showdown! Devil GT-R (対決!魔王GT-R), 1994
  • Wangan Midnight S30 vs. Gold GT-R - Part I (新湾岸ミッドナイト S30vsゴールドGT-R Part I), 1998
  • Wangan Midnight S30 vs. Gold GT-R - Part II (新湾岸ミッドナイト S30vsゴールドGT-R Part II), 1998
  • Wangan Midnight Return (湾岸ミッドナイト リターン), 2001

Video games

The series has been adapted into a series of video games, developed by Bandai, first released in 2001. A PS2 version of Wangan Midnight was released later in 2002. A complete re-imagining of the game series, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, was released in 2004 to arcades only, followed by another sequel, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2, in 2005. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 was released in 2007 in the arcade, with a sequel to the original game following on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable platforms.The latest sequel,Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX,was released in December 2008.The PS3 and PSP games were re-released in 2008 under the "Genki The Best" label.

The original Wangan Midnight game was also the inspiration for many of the later titles in Genki's Shutokou Battle series, since the original WM game was co-developed by Genki and Bandai.

Anime

Script error At the 2007 Tokyo Anime Fair, OB Planning (Initial D) announced the production of an animated series based on the manga.[1] Aired on a pay-per-view channel of Animax in June 2007,[1] the series was co-produced by OB Planning, A.C.G.T., and Pastel under the direction of Tsuneo Tominaga and consists of twenty-six episodes.[2] The series was released on DVD with the thirteenth volume reaching 29th on the Oricon sales chart for Japanese animation DVDs in November 2008.[3]

Wangan Midnight: The Movie (2009)

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File:Wmposter001.jpg

The official website of Kodansha Comics has announced on Saturday that a theatrical film based on Michiharu Kusunoki's Wangan Midnight street-racing opened on September 12, 2009. Like the previous television anime and video features, Wangan Midnight the Movie will center on Akio Asakura his "Devil Z" and the rivalry with "Black Bird"

The film stars Yuichi Nakamura (Gokusen 2, Princess Princess D, Kamen Rider Hibiki, Kamen Rider Den-O) as Akio Asakura, Ryoko Kobayashi (ZOO, Kamen Rider the First, Gamera 2: Attack of Legion) as Eriko Asakura, Kazuki Katou (Jigoku Shōjo, The Prince of Tennis musical, Kamen Rider Kabuto, Kamen Rider the Next) as Tatsuya Shima, Rio Matsumoto (Ace wo Nere!, Tomie: Beginning, Glass no Kamen) as Reina Akikawa, and Yoshihiko Hakamada (The Cat Returns, Iryū - Team Medical Dragon, Q.E.D.) as Ko-chan.[1]

It appears that a sequel may be planned, as after the ending credits in a bonus scene, Shima is seen to be leaving work when he hears the sound of a Z, followed by a fade out message saying 'Z will be back'.

References

  1. Wangan Midnight the Movie to Open in Japan This Summer. Anime News Network. 2009-04-26. Retrieved on 2009-04-26.

See also

Related manga

(published by Kodansha)

Others

External links

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