Toyota’s New GR86 Goes Anime With Initial D and the Drift King01/06/2022
You cringe as unsettling music pours through your laptop speakers as images of young actors doing their best to “act natural” in the most unnatural settings ever are flashed across the screen in quick cuts intended to feel edgy and relevant. No, it’s not the intro to another scripted reality show but rather another car brand’s canned effort to hook the younger audience gone awry. Toyota’s balling up that playbook with its latest ad campaign shilling the new GR86 sports car.
Against the Grain
You see, Toyota has wisely chosen to channel the original Corolla 8-6, your favorite tofu delivery guy, and the Drift King himself, Keiichi Tsuchiya behind the wheel of the new GR86—in anime form.
The connection between the Initial D AE86 hero car and Toyota’s modern interpretation of the front-engine, rear wheel drive coupe makes perfect sense, especially with Tsuchiya’s editorial supervision over much of the long-running anime series, not to mention his larger-than-life presence, which adds the crowning touch.
If you’re a fan of Initial D or at least have seen some action from the iconic animated series, you’ll agree that the integration is nicely done. Sure, there are a few things that aren’t exactly like the original, but for the most part, we think they nailed it with the look and intensity of the real deal.
The mini series’ main character Takumi Fujiwara is traveling down his favorite mountainside in the classic AE86 when he spots a GR86 closing in fast—little does he know it’s piloted by Tsuchiya himself. You can catch all three videos below:
Catching The Drift
Intertrend was responsible for the campaign and collaborated with Initial D creators to get the whole thing right with a trio of spots appearing on YouTube, and it ties nicely into the larger “FasterClass” campaign of which drift car drivers Fredric Aasbo, Ryan Tuerck, Ken Gushi, and Hunter Taylor star in. Under the watchful eye of import performance legend Stephan Papadakis, the group hits the streets with some real-world drift exploits and serves as another extension of Toyota’s eagerness to pull in the youth market. The automaker is one of the very few to do so gracefully.
Surprisingly, we didn’t see these spots floating around on social media nearly as much as expected and it’s a shame, as this is one of the most on-brand campaigns the enthusiast community is likely to encounter. What’s more perfect than a rear-drive, affordable sports coupe inspired by an ’80s JDM icon sharing screen time in a retro-revival anime commercial with that very inspiration?
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