Motorcycles in Japanese Anime - Manga - Cartoons.

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Original Posting: Some time in 2000
Last Updated : 02 July 2012

While the Western societies seem to frown on the humble motorcycle, the Japanese have made it into a prominent focus in their animation. I do not know of any animation studios outside Japan that actually feature motorcycles apart from the 2010 TRON Legacy. Think I'm too old for this sort of thing? Well, you really must check it out before passing that judgement. All commentary is my opinion only.

Japanese animation absolutely kicks butt. Why? The animation is usually superior, the story lines are definitely more adult, but with a tad of childish humour occasionally or maybe it's Japanese humour. Regardless the graphics, particularly the hardware or MECHA as the term is used to describe them is superb!! Furthermore, due the wide range of themes you get to see very graphic violence, beheadings, blood, guts, HUGE battles and chase scenes, nakedness and sometimes sex in a cartoon. Mind you if you get the more family friendly anime you avoid most of that -   remember Astroboy?!! The music is refreshingly different but always upbeat. Remember though that some of the story lines have been diluted by the translation to English, including their titles.

Manga is essentially Japanese  comics and Anime is the TV or film genre. Both are essentially cartoons with usually either children or very adult story line and often have deeper meaning than it first appears. Besides the fantastic graphics and battle scenes but there's also the music and Mecha. (Although not all invoice battles) On the motorcycle side of things, its the only place where you'll see futuristic bikes as weapons and as commuter transport. (scooters feature quite often) check out the range in the original Bubblegum crisis series.

Japanese society in my experience with the culture, view motorcycles are as cheap transportation. The 400cc class in general is seen as a big bike, although as you know they make far bigger capacity machines. The licensing laws until last year made it difficult and expensive for them to have anything bigger. According to the latest stats, large capacity machines are still slow selling! However when I was there there where plenty about.

The Japanese are very trend and gadget orientated (that's surprising ! - not). Packaging of a product is very important, it has to look good before anyone would buy it. Hence a huge range of colours and gadgets that we in other countries will never get to see.
See a Yamaha R1 in the Bubblegum Crisis for an example, the thing is that this anime was completed in 1988, 10 years earlier than what we see in 1999. (well it looks like an R1, or perhaps one of the Y2K model year Kawasaki ZX-6 of ZX-9 ?) You'll also see the Batmobile design, well in advance of the motion picture version. The graphics for 1988 are just as good as the stuff we see on TV today.  Well, if you're comparing animation quality.

You'll see the links between this sort of art and it's influence on the design of the Hayabusa and my new Honda DN-01. Admittedly I haven't seen an anime with a direct Hayabusa look alike just yet! But a few that could be with a bit of work.

Motorcycle Highlights

Bubblegum crisis - The heroines ride bikes that transform not only into robots but also battle suits. Priss one of the girls also has a 750hp bike which she manages to destroy twice !! Unfortunately some of the bikes sound like 2 strokes ! There are also some very graphic scenes of what happens when you fall of a bike without adequate clothing !! - Episode 4. Great and numerous chase and battle scenes. I also noticed that most of the bike scenes are on straight roads !

Note that there are 2 versions of the Bubblegum crisis series. I'm referring to the first series. The second series have the bikes eg Priss' sounding and looking a bit better. The story though has been thoroughly changed which is interesting as it appears to be trying to be a tad more controversial. The music is not better but there is a scooter vs bike chase which is a hoot!

Akira - The hero (Kenenda) has a red bike - no idea what is though - that's just plain desirable. It's even got electric discharge powerup effects!! A few really great bike chases and fights. The motorcycle/scooter design is often copied in real life - I would actually buy one no question.

Venus Wars - The bikes here only have 1 wheel ! Made up for by having a armour piecing cannon ! Yes these bikes do battle with tanks ! Lots and lots of mono-bikes, but all look the same.

Angel Cop - This anime has the heroine (Angel) riding a Black and Blue CBR1000F throughout the series. The CBR1000F is the CBR model featured was the initial 'flying condom' model. She's part of a special forces group and she turns up on the scene and chases with the bike. The bike sound effects in this Anime/Manga sound taped from the real bike. There are various other unidentified bikes in this Anime too. Her partner Raiden has one of these, appears to be a naked bike of some sort. He later has a mecha type bike which is too powerful for a un-enhanced human to ride. As this Manga is set in the present time hence the bikes themselves do not do anything un-bike like! My fav phrase in the series is 'Ice bitch'.

Sailor Moon - This anime is harmless enough. I'm sure most of you in Australia at least have seen this on the Big Breakfast in the mornings. Well, even this show has Tuxedo Mask or Darien, one of the heroes and Sailor Moon's love interest riding a motorcycle. Sounds like a proper bike too.

Aside from these anime series I have mentioned briefly here there are Battle of the Planets, Starblazers, The Macoss saga which you many have seen on TV.

Anyway if this wets or appetite for more information, I have got a links site that's almost ready to direct you to ALL the Anime that feature bikes, boy will you be surprised !! (There are a HUGE number of Anime/Manga sites) and I swear that you'll start watching the stuff just for the action scenes - Please stay tuned and check back soon!

By the way, I haven't included many images on this page as they would take far too long to load and you'd probably lose interest. So please do check out the links etc... as they are worth visiting. I couldn't maintain the effort some of these people put into the sites on a part time basis.

Here are some links if you want to find out more :
http://www.stonebridge.com/anime/animecomp.html 
http://www.nihonshuppansha.com/new.html 
*There is a actually a book on Motorcycles and Anime this is the link - With thanks to Nomad

Note that the images of cycles presented here and the associated links to this page have been used with permission from AnimEigo Inc. Placing this copyright notice is part of the agreement. This particular image is from the Bubblegum crisis series.
If you want a copy please download from their site.
All Images from the series Artmic / Youmex. All Rights Reserved




 




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