There are a lot of TV shows out there, and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been more significant. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? We’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, most fabulous, and unforgettable shows through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to shows emphasizing racing. From intense competitions to engrossing coming-of-age tales, there’s an excellent choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below and we’ll add them when we can!
EX Driver contains a well-balanced narrative. Some aspects of its plot feel straightforward but offer enough complications to warrant intrigue. The premise itself sparks a hint of realism as many fans argue it could happen later down the road.
This story takes place in a distant future where AI controls all transportation. However, like most AI-controlled mechanisms, these tend to stumble upon various problems. This is where our young protagonists come into play, as they aim to maintain the public’s safety, one fix at a time.
The protagonists have striking designs and great personalities to help viewers tell them apart. This series emphasizes themes like friendship, and viewers will find themselves rooting for our heroes to overcome obstacles. This show has a touch of comedy and romance too.
From one straightforward plot to another, we make our way toward Redline. This highly stylized racing anime offers splendid visuals, fun characters, and intensely fast-paced racing action. This is one of those films where you can sit back and reap the glory presented before you.
Our tale focuses on a universal racing event called Redline with no rules. This race pushes its contestants to their limits, and at the center of this glorious event lies our protagonist, JP. He’s excited to have qualified for the race and can’t wait to battle the rising star McLaren.
Unfortunately, this race will reside on a planet infested with trigger-happy individuals who aim to take advantage of the race happening in their home world. This doesn’t insight fear in JP and other racers. This only makes them even more thrilled to race in this universal competition.
This film’s drama is as cheesy as you can expect. However, it fits well with the tone the film evokes. The action is superb and refreshing. Fans will feel their heart pump as JP makes drastic turns and collides with nearby adversaries. Its animation will shock viewers with how fluid and sharp everything looks. If you’re looking for an intense racing anime to get your motors going, check out Redline.
Initial D is a racing anime that follows the template of most sports anime. It features its cast competing in intense competitions, overcoming obstacles, and completing numerous challenges. While its story sounds cookie-cutter on the surface, Initial D provides enough tension and fast-paced speed to keep viewers entertained.
This story revolves around Takumi, who knows little about car enthusiasts and street racers. He spends his life delivering tofu to his boss’s customers. An infamous street racing team called the Akagi Red Suns arrives in Takumi’s town to challenge the locals to a street race. They desire to become the region’s most extraordinary racing crew.
To their dismay, one of their aces loses to a Toyota AE86 driver, leading the Red Suns’ leaders, the Takahashi brothers, to grow weary of this new challenger. Thus, the story of the AE86 of Mount Akina begins. This series provides exceptional visuals that give it a retro aesthetic. However, there are some instances where its usage of CGI makes everything appear jarring and unpolished.
If you overlook its bland artwork, you’re in for a worthwhile treat with Initial D.
Whenever fans encounter shorter series, they tend to overlook them because they can be potentially ridden with plot holes, rushed storytelling, or awful visuals. Thankfully, Tailenders is one of those short anime films that crafts a decent narrative with beautiful visuals and exceptional animation.
Our story sets the stage for a formidable racer named Tomoe, who gets into a serious life-altering accident when experimenting with a U-turn. He recovers at the cost of having his heart replaced with his vehicle’s engine.
Despite this, race regulators prohibit him from entering races since they deem Tomoe now as a mere vehicle part. This causes Tomoe to flee to a nearby colonial planet that’ll give him the opportunity to race for pride and prizes. Therefore, the anime follows Tomoe as he races against other drivers who’ve been forced to race here.
This anime contains an easy-to-follow plot that introduces cool inventions that viewers will find fascinating. The race’s fictional aspects provide enough originality to garner viewers’ attention. There are times when the film introduces too many unique ideas for fans to follow through. The characters in this film have some shining moments but aren’t fleshed out enough to warrant fans’ memorability.
Future GPX Cyber Formula
Future GPX Cyber Formula is a mildly unknown hero in racing anime. This series contains fun races, likable characters, and a straightforward plot anyone can follow. While its story may appear like it lacks substance, this racing anime provides enough thrills and uniqueness to warrant your attention.
This anime follows Hayato, the youngest driver in the Cyber Formula Grand Prix. This Grand Prix allows racers to equip computers to aid them in the competition. Hayato aims to claim victory with the help of his advanced navigation system, Asurda, and through team Sugo.
As he prepares, Hayato will understand the importance of racing and how challenging it can be to achieve victory. Additionally, Hayato will forge new bonds while thwarting evildoers’ attempts at stealing Asurda and participating in races that don’t align with Cyber Formula.
Future GPX Cyber Formula places Hayato and others in different designed courses to test their racing knowledge and prowess. These characters will tackle struggles that impact their lives outside their hobby. This show offers a great balance of drama, comedy, and action. The characters receive proper development and despite being an early 90s work, it contains charming animation.
Speed Racer is a classic racing anime series. This series features fun characters, a decent plot, and subpar animation. This was a work that influenced many classic cartoons with its quirky dialogue and cast. Our tale revolves around an aspiring racer named Gou, who drives the fastest and most technologically advanced race car on the planet called the Mach 5.
Despite his dreams, Gou’s father, Daisuke, doesn’t want his son racing. Daisuke’s brother, his girlfriend, and his monkey sidekick differ as they wish Gou all the best. Unfortunately, Gou will learn that becoming a professional racer won’t be an easy task. From underhanded ploys from corrupt businessmen to competitive rivals like Racer X, Gou has a lot to tangle with if he hopes to become the best racer ever.
Speed Racer is at its highest whenever the anime focuses on the series’s racing aspects. There are some story arcs that don’t contain as much of an impact as these arcs. The animation is decent for a late 60s series. The art quality is exceptional as many once thought this show was an American cartoon. If you can look past its overabundance of filler arcs, you’re in for a swell time with this anime.
Bari Bari Densetsu (1987)
Bari Bari Densetsu is another racing anime by the same person who brought fans Initial D. The anime spans great characters, fun racing moments, and incredible utilization of CG art. Unfortunately, due to this being an 85-minute film, the anime doesn’t spend enough time fleshing-out side characters.
Viewers will feel like there are a lot of pieces missing in this work from proper love triangles to more information about how our lead characters Hideyoshi and Gun initially meet up. The ending of the anime can leave some fans feeling sour or overjoyed.
Regardless, this anime builds up to an intense race of epic proportions. This alone should be enough to warrant fans’ attention, especially if you’re a fan of action-centric racing anime like Redline or Initial D.
Looking for a sci-fi racing adventure anime with a stellar cast and fun storyline, Oban Star-Racers has you covered. This anime’s criminally underrated despite its premise coming across as a tad underwhelming and bland. However, upon watching the anime, fans will walk away from it pleasantly surprised.
Our story follows Eva, who doesn’t enjoy living a mundane life and attending a bland Boarding School. This encourages Eva to flee from her life via her Rocket Bike. She takes on the alias Molly and sneaks with an earthly team to Alwas. A Great Race is being planned at Alwas where the winner will receive the Ultimate Prize. While the prize sounds exciting, the race itself will be challenging and dangerous.
This anime feels like a slow burner. It slowly reveals information about the Ultimate Prize to our characters and this evokes a strong sense of mystery and intrigue in them. The pilots that challenge our Earth Team protagonists have wonderful backstories and receive grand development. The designs for everyone’s vehicles look stunning and creative.
Each race offers a new set of rules to keep things refreshing. Since this is an intense event, fans should expect characters to collide with each other. Molly is a fleshed-out protagonist and has remarkable personality traits that’ll appeal to anyone. At the same time, some characters don’t get as much attention as Molly, which may bug some viewers. If you’re searching for an incredible sci-fi racing anime, check this one out.
Appare-Ranman follows Appare, who lives in a small rural town in Japan. He’s a skilled inventor who has a strong fascination for steamships. Appare can create machines of any kind through the help of his scientific texts. His dream is to travel to the other side of the moon.
One day, Appare, accompanied by his samurai companion, Kosame, gets stranded in the middle of the sea while aboard his mini steamship. They’re rescued by a large steamship that transports them to Los Angeles. In L.A., these two decide to partake in the Trans-America Wild Race to obtain funds for their needs.
Like all competitive racing anime, Kosame and Appare must defeat several racers and overcome multiple hurdles if they plan to drive away victorious. This is a fabulous work that screams originality and intensity. The races feature some epic clashes and phenomenal banter.
Kosame and Appare receive great development over the course of the anime too. This series spans multiple arcs that gradually unravel into something mind-numbing in time. Fans should check out Appare-Ranman if they’re looking for a racing anime that’s unique and exciting.
Capeta feels like the Hajime No Ippo of racing anime. While its premise doesn’t offer anything too unique, it’ll hold fans’ attention. Our story revolves around a motherless elementary school student named Capeta, who must become more independent to shoot down his father’s worries. He lives a rough life full of bullies and angst but receives some support from his classmate, Suzuki.
One day, Capeta’s father gets inspired by young go-kart racers and works on a vehicle for Capeta. This leads to Capeta and Suzuki sneaking into his workplace and learning about the go-kart. This influences Capeta to test the vehicle out. Although he endures a near-dangerous accident, he obtains a thrilling obsession for go-karting. Free of boredom, Capeta embarks on a spiritual journey to learn more about the world of racing.
This anime touches upon some realistic issues involving financial crises and meeting expectations. Despite Capeta’s harsh livelihood, his never-die attitude will entice fans to cheer for his character. While the premise lacks antagonists and rivals for Capeta, it provides enough action, drama, and heart-pumping soundtracks to keep viewers hooked.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best racing anime through the years!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!