Bro, why does your ride look like some anime stuff? Is that paint, or is it a wrap? These are the kind of questions you’ll get if you decide to join the latest trend in terms of custom vehicle finishes, which involves real cars getting the kind of look pioneered by the Initial D universe decades ago. And yes, big names are onto it, which is why Japanese aftermarket specialist Enkei recently displayed such a take on one of its wheels.
Replicating the style of the Initial D manga and anime on a machine you can actually drive used to be the game of graffiti artists. And, if we go down the social media rabbit hole, it seems the first to make the translation is U.S. artist Kyle Bryce Monteiro (aka Kbmer). Last year, Acura even tasked him with giving this sort of custom paintjob to an NSX Type S as part of the automaker’s anime-style “Chiaki’s Journey” campaign.
Artists in other parts of the world are also doing it these days—have you seen the Mk IV Golf GTI dressed up by German master Alexander Bloch (aka stilbruch_lack)? Not only does the modern classic hot hatch sport the said kind of body finish, but this can also be found on its turbofan-style wheel covers.
And, as stated in the intro, Enkei decided to adopt the Initial D look for last month’s Tokyo Auto Salon, which was an incredibly effervescent edition of the event—hey, that’s my excuse for delivering this story in February.
As with the said cars, the whole idea revolves around making a car look fast while standing still, but not quite in the same way as, say, Marcello Gandini did with the Lamborghini Miura, Countach and Diablo.
On a more serious note, the main ingredients of this look, which some call CARtoon—at least when applied to vehicles—is to mix shadows and various hues with some top sharpie work. Of course, the effect is similar whether you do it with paint, as Kbmer does (think: sanding, painting, marker work and clear coating), or you turn to a wrap. However, investing this kind of skill into the latter option, which is obviously going to have a shorter lifespan than the first, may not be your best bet, but it all depends on the budget in the end.
Enkei’s anime white prototype wheel
Enkei doesn’t offer such a wheel yet, neither as a main range model, nor as a limited edition. Instead, the single wheel displayed at the 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon was deemed an “anime white prototype wheel”, as noticeable in the Instagram post below.
The white finish, with black lines, was applied to Enkei’s PF05 wheel design. The popular and simple, five-spoke appearance offers plenty of real estate for the color scheme to work its magic on the beholder.
And, if the company was in any way testing the waters, the over 217,000 likes the post has received (at the time of press) means we should expect to see this being offered to customers sooner or later.
Emkei also used the MF Ghost tag, with this being the ongoing Initial D sequel that sees creator Shuichi Shigeno continuing to thrill fans. Even so, the comments section of the post got some enthusiasts thinking about the Borderlands role-playing first-person shooter series. However, while this uses a somewhat similar visual style (think: cell shading), it kicked off in 2009, so the debate on the origins of the look seems settled.
Of course, there are also car fans who have little love for this style, which is why I’ve already seen starter pack memes revolving around it. And since the trend doesn’t seem to be going away, it looks like it’s time to pick a side.