(Image sourced from MF Ghost’s Special PV video)
The recent announcement of MF Ghost’s anime adaptation presents a conflicting case: should we, as automotive enthusiasts with interest in Japanese culture, be content after years of nothing besides Initial D; or dread what’s to come?
On one hand, automotive-focused manga series don’t attract enough of an audience, let alone anime adaptations. Granted, the land of the rising sun has its own automotive subcultures relating to all things anime, but what gets people worrying is the subject itself. MF Ghost is a spin-off set in the current times, years after Initial D’s conclusion. Gas powered vehicles have been outlawed, only made legal for use in motorsports (and in this context, touge racing). The story follows Kanata Livington, a Japanese-British racing prodigy who was trained by the previous series’ protagonist, Takumi. The plot follows Kanata’s search for his father through racing.
Having read the manga before, I could not help but find that sidelining the races is a major flaw in the series; a sentiment shared with many. What made Initial D reach mainstream success was how Shuichi Shigeno chose touge racing as its theme. Take that away, and petrolheads would find it hard to pick up the manga. It does not help that Kanata as a character is rather uninspiring (a trait that he shares with his mentor, sadly). Some have criticized Takumi’s plot armor, but at least his skills weren’t just given to him at birth. Speaking of the previous series, several subplots have been noted by the fandom to be quite brilliant, whilst most in the new series seem rather plain in comparison. Another factor that helped Initial D (and Wangan Midnight, to an extent) is how the cars portrayed in the series were mostly ones that have a large following, being models from the 80s to the early 2000s. The newer models in MF Ghost still have their appreciators, but no more than that. Kanata’s quest for his father has also been uneventful, with no emotional value in the journey.
Still, alterations to the story in the anime remains a possibility; one that MF Ghost would benefit from. It wouldn’t be the first one, especially in the theme of cars and motorsports, but that is reserved for another article. Regardless of what it will be, failure to rake in enough revenue could mean that it’s another decade without automotive-focused anime, unless a studio is willing to take a risky dive into an already niche audience. Don’t let us down, Felix Film.