Cover of the first volume of the manga
|Genre||Action, Racing, Drama, car tuning|
|Written by||Michiharu Kusunoki|
|Magazine||Big Comic Spirits
|Original run||1990 – 2008|
|Wangan Midnight: C1 Runner|
|Written by||Michiharu Kusunoki|
|Original run||2009 – 2012|
|Ginkai no Speed Star (Wangan Midnight - The Final Stage)|
|Written by||Michiharu Kusunoki|
|Magazine||Big Comic Spirits|
|Original run||2014 – ongoing|
|Volumes||2 (as of May 2015)|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Tsuneo Tominaga|
|Produced by||Keiichi Tsuchiya|
|Original run||June 8, 2007 – September 13, 2008|
Wangan Midnight (Japanese: 湾岸ミッドナイト Hepburn: Wangan Middonaito?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Michiharu Kusunoki. It was first serialized in Shogakukan's Big Comic Spirits since 1990, but was later serialized in Kodansha's Young Magazine, in which Initial D is also serialized. In 1999, it won the Kodansha Manga Award for general manga. Years before Wangan Midnight was created, Michiharu Kusunoki worked on a similar series known as Shakotan Boogie.
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.
The Wangan Midnight manga ended with volume 42 but has been followed with a new arc called Wangan Midnight C1 Runner (湾岸ミッドナイト C1ランナー) with another 12 volumes. It ended in July 2012.
The third arc started in 2014, but due to the change of publisher no longer went under the Wangan Midnight name and was renamed to Ginkai no Speed Star (銀灰のスピードスター). 
The story gets its roots from the street racing that occurs on Tokyo's Shuto Expressway Bayshore Route. 'Wangan' (literally bayshore in Japanese) is the endonym of this longest, straightest road in the entire country. 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 Nissan 300ZX (Z31) on the Shuto Expressway when he challenges Tatsuya Shima, a doctor, in his black Ruf CTR, dubbed the "BlackBird". With his friend in the passenger seat and two girls in the back, Akio attempts to win, but is defeated. Determined to drive a faster car, he goes to the junkyard because his mechanic friend tells him he saw the scrapped body of an S30 Z with good parts on it. When he sees the scrapped body of a 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, fitted with triple carburettors and fitted with twin turbos. He also finds that one of the car's previous owners shares his first and last name, and had been killed in a horrible crash on the Wangan few years ago. 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, and his maniac try to control the car, though the central plot revolves around his constant battle with the BlackBird for Wangan superiority.
The new story arc, Wangan Midnight C1 Runner, features the new adventures of the new main character, Shinji Ogishima (which debuted in the last chapters of the original story), and his friend, Nobu Setoguchi, both are part of "GT Cars" project which is in dispute and conflict, and must settle these problems by driving Mazda RX-7s around Shuto Expressway, and meeting with Tatsuya Shima.
- 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 Fairlady Z (Z31) until, after a humiliating loss to Tatsuya Shima, he discovered the "Devil Z", a Nissan Fairlady Z (S30) which is supernaturally fast and extremely hard to drive. Akio is regarded as a legend on the Wangan, although he is a humble young man. Still, despite his gentle demeanor, he is so serious about racing that he skips school to the point of repeating a grade to drive the Devil Z. Akio 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 was later fired for showing up late too often due to late night racing. He is regularly exposed to the active social scene at the heart of Tokyo. He was already an accomplished racer with his old car, but behind the wheel of the Devil Z, Akio is nearly invincible. He is very adaptable 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 latest 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 but is stopped by Akio in the GTR. After getting her Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32) tuned and modified, she discovers a previously unknown aptitude for street racing, something that does not sit very well with her manager. She is 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, Reina is very sensitive and bursts into tears easily in some volumes and one episode of the anime, although she calms down considerably in later volumes. In the manga, her hair is curly, but in later volumes of the manga (and the anime), she only has straight hair.
- 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 Porsche (in fact, it is a RUF CTR "YellowBird", renamed "BlackBird" because of its color) in the anime and manga, and a Nissan 350Z in the English version of the Maximum Tune games up until 3DX+ and a fictional Gemballa 3.8 RS in the japanese version. The car has 470 hp (350 kW) stock. Tatsuya becomes annoyed with Akio becoming faster all the time so he hires Jun Kitami, the man who built the Devil Z, to tune the Porsche. Kitami tunes the suspension and adds a second turbo and boosts the car to 700 hp (520 kW) and beyond to try and keep up with the Devil Z. He is an extraordinarily skilled driver and has only been in one wreck during the course of the anime, when he swerved to avoid two drunk men on the road, only to swerve again to avoid a taxi and end up hitting a pole. He knows the limits of his vehicle and will never risk disaster by pushing it beyond its safe limits. This cost him a couple of battles, but he always learns from his failures and comes back even tougher. He is a very skilled surgeon and uses his large salary to fund his Porsche.
- Voiced by: Shin-ichiro Miki
- Japanese Release - 42 Volumes (1990 - 2008)
- C1 Runner Japanese Release - 12 Volumes (2008–2012)
- Taiwanese release - 38 Volumes
- Chuang Yi release - 42 Volumes
- C1 Runner Chuang Yi release - 11 volumes (ongoing)
The first Wangan Midnight volume was released in Japan in 1990, and has never been translated into any other languages during its publication run, and the final volume was published in mid-2008. However, Taiwan-based Sharp Point Press has obtained license for translating the manga into Chinese, but this was stopped after volume 38 due to an expired license. There have been no announcements as to a new distributor in Taiwan for continuing or restarting the manga.
The C1 Runner arc started in 2008 shortly after the main story and ended in July 2012, thus ending the entire Wangan Midnight manga series.
In Singapore, the main Wangan Midnight manga, along with C1 Runner volumes, has been translated by Chuang Yi into English for Singaporean readers. However, despite being translated into English, the manga series was never popular as its rival, Initial D (which was translated into Chinese by the same company). Even the Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune series and the PS3 game of the same name did not help improving the sales of the manga. Despite this, the C1 Runner arc is currently translated into English as well.
The series was adapted into a series of direct-to-video movies 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
- Wangan Midnight The Movie (湾岸MidNight Movie), 2009
The series has been adapted into a series of video games, developed by Namco. The first game, Wangan Midnight was released on February 2, 2001. On December 20, 2001, Wangan Midnight R was released. A PS2 version of Wangan Midnight was released later on March 21, 2002. It was basically a home port of Wangan Midnight R. A complete re-imagining of the game series, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune, was released in July 2003 to arcades only, followed by another sequel, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2, on April 2005. The third installament Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 was released on July 18, 2007 in the arcade, with a sequel to the original game following on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable platforms. The updated version, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX, was released on December 16, 2008. The PS3 and PSP games were re-released in 2008 under the "Genki The Best" label. An RPG which was a sequel to the PS3 and PSP games, titled Wangan Midnight: C1 Runner (based on the manga of the same name), was also released by Genki. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX PLUS was released in March 4, 2010. The fourth installament, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4, was released in December 15, 2011 and run by an upgraded version of the System N2, called System ES1A2. The fifth and latest installment, Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5, was released on March 12, 2014. Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5 is also distributed as an upgrade kit for Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4 arcade machines. The majority of Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune racing games feature trance music soundtracks composed and produced by Yuzo Koshiro. The main objective in the Wangan Midnight and Wangan Midnight R and Maximum Tune is, as the main player, beat all the characters and cars including the Devil Z and Blackbird driven by Akio and Shima from the manga and anime. In the Maximum Tune series, players can also tune their car or modify its appearance upon victory, depending on the game mode being selected.
In Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5 has a Story Mode is where the initial characters from the comic show as your rivals in the story. Your mission in story mode is to race with these characters and beat them. In addition, one of the objectives of this game is “Tuning (Step-Up).” Step up your car is an objective of Story Mode.
In story Mode, first, choose your rival’s level, then select an opponent out of the rivals that are of the selected level. You can openly change the levels and rivals within the limited time.
Story Mode proceeds as follows:
Episodes 1-10: The Return of Devil the Z
This is taken from the story written in Wangan Midnight comics, volumes 1 to 3.
This story will tell about “Akio”, “Reina”, “Blackbird”, and “Ishida” in each levels of characters.
Episodes 11-15: Perfect GT-R
This is taken from the story written in Wangan Midnight comics, volumes 3 to 5.
You will race on an ultra high-speed Wangan line battle with Hiramoto and Harada.
Episodes 16-20: The Akasaka Straight
This is taken from the story written in Wangan Midnight comics, volumes 5 to 8.
This part will focuses in a battle with ex-metropolitan highway racer, “Masaki.”
Episodes 21-30: Monster Machine
This is taken from the story written in Wangan Midnight comics, volumes 8 to 13.
In this part you will meet the wild driving and wild stories of the tuners who are mad about “Keiichiro Aizawa’s Supra.”
Episodes 31-40: R200 Club
This is taken from the story written in Wangan Midnight comics, volumes 13 to 16.
In this part you will battle with members of the “R200 Club” and observer honor “Kuroki’s” passion for the 33R.
Episodes 41-50: Hanshin Circular Line
This is taken from the story written in Wangan Midnight comics, volumes 16 to 20.
In this part is a race against Eiji Kamiya, a racer from Osaka who drives a Lancer Evolution.
Episodes 51-60: The Legendary FC
This is taken from the story written in Wangan Midnight comics, volumes 20 to 24.
In this part you will race with “Kijima” who will show you his passion with the RX-7 FC3S.
- February 2, 2001: Wangan Midnight (Arcade (System 246))
- December 20, 2001: Wangan Midnight R (Arcade (System 246))
- March 21, 2002: Wangan Midnight (PlayStation 2)
- July 6, 2004: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune (Arcade (Chihiro))
- April 21, 2005: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2 (Arcade (Chihiro))
- July 5, 2007: Wangan Midnight (PlayStation 3)
- July 18, 2007: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 (Arcade (System N2))
- September 2, 2007: Wangan Midnight Portable (PlayStation Portable)
- December 16, 2008: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX (Arcade (System N2))
- March 4, 2010: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX PLUS (Arcade (System N2))
- 2011: Wangan Midnight: C1 Runner (Mobile phone)
- December 15, 2011: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4 (Arcade (SystemES1))
- March 12, 2014: Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5 (Arcade (SystemES3))
At the 2007 Tokyo Anime Fair, OB Planning (Initial D) announced the production of an animated series based on the manga. Aired on a pay-per-view channel of Animax in June 2007, 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. The series was released on DVD with the thirteenth volume reaching 29th on the Oricon sales chart for Japanese animation DVDs in November 2008. The Japanese opening theme for the series is Lights and Anymore by TRF, the opening features clips of Akio's Devil Z also featuring the 3 main characters and also features Akio's Devil Z racing against Shima's Blackbird. The closing theme is Talkin' bout good days by Mother Ninja. The animation is similar to that of Initial D Fourth Stage and Fifth Stage.
Wangan Midnight: The Movie (2009)
On September 12, 2009, Jolly Roger and Geneon Universal Entertainment released a live-action adaptation of the manga. Wangan Midnight: The Movie is directed by the Atsushi Muroga, with the screenplay written by Yasutoshi Murakawa. The film stars Yuichi Nakamura as Akio Asakura, Ryoko Kobayashi as Eriko Asakura, Kazuki Kato as Tatsuya Shima, Rio Matsumoto as Reina Akikawa, and Yoshihiko Hakamada as Ko-chan. The film was shot in Wangan as a stand-in for the expressway racing scenes. Like the previous anime television series and video features, Wangan Midnight: The Movie will center on Akio Asakura's "Devil Z" and the rivalry with "Black Bird".
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 we don't know if its Akio's car or not, followed by a fade out message saying 'Z will be back'. Which is a reformed "Devil Z" (Nissan Falrlady Z/ 240Z/280Z/370Z) .
Video game references to other media
In all Wangan Midnight games that are published by Bandai Namco, some vans trucks and cars have the Pac-Man character on it. Also, Pac-Man is used as one of the decals when you tune your car after the race. In Maximum Tune 4, a level features two "Racer Wannabees" driving a Toyota AE86 and a yellow modified Mazda RX-7 which resemble Takumi Fujiwara's AE86 and Keisuke Takahashi's FD3S which both drivers in Maximum Tune 4 & 5 are the same impersonaters of Keisuke and Takumi during the later Project D from Initial D Fourth Stage in the anime series.
Related manga and anime
Published by Kodansha
- Kodansha Manga Award. Retrieved on November 17, 2007.
- "AF 2007: Wangan Midnight Anime Announced - Anime News Network". Retrieved 2007-03-24.
- 銀灰のスピードスター (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- Anime News Service - October 18 - November 9 Anime News. Retrieved on November 17, 2007.
- プレイステーション2 - 湾岸ミッドナイト. Weekly Famitsu. No.915 Pt.2. Pg.91. 30 June 2006.
- "TAF 2007: Wangan Midnight Anime Announced". Anime News Network. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
- "Japanese Animation DVD Ranking, November 19–25". Anime News Network. 2008-11-25. Retrieved 2009-03-10.
- Wangan Midnight the Movie to Open in Japan This Summer. Anime News Network. 2009-04-26. Retrieved on 2009-04-26.
- Anime News Service
- Wangan Midnight (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- News on the Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune series.