Two Car First Impressions
“When the Ashitaba’s leaves are torn, they grow back by the next day. This island’s known for them. No matter how difficult things get, you always get back up.”
Two Car confounds me on multiple levels. It has been well established that a sports anime can be made out of essentially anything. As anime like Rideback and Air Gear have proven, the sport in question doesn’t even need to be a real one, but it is when anime dips into obscurity that we end up with the perplexing Two Car. Is sidecarcross an established thing in Japan? The only reason I’m familiar with this particular sport is because it was prominently featured in the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, The Sidehackers. It seems like an odd topic to construct your story around, and it still doesn’t account for the variety of odd narrative decisions that Two Car makes in its first episode. The show starts off by introducing us to more than 15 different characters. This includes seven different teams, as well as the support crew for our main team. Midway through these introductions, I paused the episode to take a break. Sometimes, you just know when something is going to be a chore. Then there’s the fact that this episode jumps around in time more than a freaking Christopher Nolan movie. It constantly jumps back and forth between an exhibition race and the regular club activities of our leads. I feel like I should incorporate the term “Two Car-pileup” into this review, but, truth be told, it’s more of a traffic jam than a proper collision. There are too many things going on and none of them get the opportunity to breathe or build momentum.
Our main characters are Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro, a pair of sidecar racers who serve as racer and passenger respectively. At the moment, there is nothing to actually distinguish the two of them aside from their appearances. Even the supporting characters point out that the two are essentially the same person. There are obviously many other characters, but I couldn’t tell you a single character detail about them. In the flashbacks, the team had a coach whom both of our leads clearly had a crush on, but he suffered from a tragic condition where his face could never appear in the shot, so he had to leave for the Isle of Man to get treatment. Or maybe it was for a race. I don’t care. There is also a teacher, and there are some announcers. Again, none of them really get established in this first episode. Most of the other teams seem to have some form of gimmick, but I’ve already forgotten most of them. I know there was a pair of Gothic lolitas, a pair of twins, and a sadomasochistic team, but even then, I can’t recall how these characters looked or what their team colors were.
The animation is not bad, but, as one would expect from a property like this, there is a decent amount of integrated CG artwork, and it’s definitely noticeable. The bikes have a tendency to look disconnected from the background. The show appears to favor top-down satellite style shots of the action, presumably because the CG is less apparent in those instances, but, even then, the movement never feels quite right. The character designs are difficult to evaluate, because, having gone back and counted, we had a total of twenty different female characters introduced in this first episode and there is no way in hell I could be bothered to keep those designs straight in my head. I can at least say that the designs aren’t equipped to handle a cast of that size. Series like My Hero Academia or Haikyuu can handle a cast of that scale, due, in part, to the variety of appearances, but Two Car is dealing with twenty characters of the same gender with a relatively standard slice-of-life art style. And, again, they introduced them all in the first episode! Neither I nor the show itself are equipped to deal with this.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- For anyone wondering why the tag for this article was a reference to Patton… watch the MST3k episode The Sidehackers.
- And now, because I find it wildly more interesting, a brief discussion of the aforementioned MST3k episode: The Sidehackers was the second episode of MST’s second season, and many credit it as being one of the first truly great episodes of the series. Season one had utilized a looser style involving unscripted riffing, but the creators had decided to shift their approach starting with season two. This approach of scripting the riffs along with Tom Servo’s new voice (The character’s original puppeteer left after season one) would last for the rest of the original 10 seasons. The movie itself featured a dark turn midway through, and the death of a main character was cut out to avoid offending/disturbing the MST audience which included younger viewers. The crew of the show were caught of guard by the direction the film went in, and, according the head writer Mike Nelson, “from that day forward, movies were watched in their entirety before they were selected.” However, that sense of dissonance actually does serve to fuel some strong comedic moments. Ultimately, while it isn’t likely to appear in most Top 10 Episodes lists, The Sidehackers is a definite classic that serves as a highlight of the Joel-era. 3.5 Stars
- Fair warning, I may be slightly harsher than necessary on this show given that I just reviewed Black Clover, and both premieres proved to be rather tedious sits. That being said, at best I could see this show being bumped up half a star. No more than that.
Two Car is a mess with too many elements being introduced at once. There are too many characters and no reason to care about any of them. I'm not even positive that the show ever gave a proper explanation of the sport itself, but I don't care. I am done with this one. Might go watch a certain MST3k episode again, though.