Painted Petrolheads

Preview image of “Painted Petrolheads”
  • The film also introduces a new version
  • Source: Acura
Chiaki (left) makes his mark on the street racing scene

Acura is making a female anime character the heroine of its new series in the US.

Manga and anime have long been youth phenomena that are appreciated further afield than just Japan. The Anime Expo in Los Angeles was launched in the 1990s and started out with approximately 1,000 visitors. The most recent event in 2019 recorded well over 100,000 visitors. Motorsports and tuning also play an ongoing role in classic manga, and Shūichi Shigeno’s Initial D series about a teenage food courier who street races is one of the most successful examples of this.

Honda‘s luxury brand Acura unveiled an anime series at the start of this year as part of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The series centres around the racing adventures of young Chiaki. The up-and-coming driver steers a variety of Acura high-performance vehicles through the four series, from the Type S to a brand new 2023 Acura Integra which makes a cameo appearance in the series. Stylistically, the roughly one-minute episodes produced by MullenLowe Los Angeles, pay tribute to the aesthetics of the 1990s.

Jon Ikeda, Acura’s VP and Brand Officer, says of the series: “We want to try to have a little fun and expand our way of reaching people…They might like the character that they see and associate them with the car that we’re selling.” The American Acura campaign for “Type S: Chiaki’s Journey” will be featured across all US Acura channels, in 250 cinemas, as well as on digital platforms with an anime focus, such as CrunchyRoll.

The feedback has been overwhelming. At the time of going to press, the first episode alone had 6,983,094 views on YouTube, with more than 746 comments (most of them positive). Empanada writes: “I know it’s for product promotion, but I love nothing more than a company that completely understands what attracts attention and how to attract it well.” Immediately under this comment, Zalarian adds: “This should be made into a full blown show with full length episodes. Very well done, Acura.”

The imagery in the series harks back to anime from the 1990s