The world is still waiting for the next Initial D, the last racing anime to really take the globe by storm. Could a new series about open wheel racing take the mantle? Titled Overtake, the series focuses on Formula 4, a junior league designed to put promising young drivers on the path to the F1.
F4 is a racing class sanctioned by the FIA and built for the purposes of helping talented drivers advance from karting to Formula 3. In turn, The best of the best will presumably continue on to Super Formula (also known as Formula 2), and the top drivers there just might get a shot at the Formula 1 big leagues.
In Overtake, down-and-out racing photographer and journalist Madoka Kouya is shooting SuperGT round when he witnesses the driving skill of newcomer Haruka Asahina. Asahina drives for the fictional “Komaki Motors” and is described — because this an anime — as a taciturn high school student who claims not to need any support. When he’s not at the track, he works a part-time job delivering tof — er, newspapers. Asahina’s incredible driving reignites Kouya’s passion for racing and the two soon become collaborators. The supporting cast includes the outpoken Komaki Motors mechanic, two drivers on a rival team, and a possible love triangle with an umbrella girl.
Notably, the creators sought to add realism to the series by adding realistic sound effects and authentically recreating legendary circuits such as Fuji Speeedway. They also got the blessing of many real-life institutions, including the FIA itself. Additionally, logos from companies like Advan, Dunlop, Dome, JTEKT, Toyota Modellista, and others are included on screen. Along the way, there will be deep dives (for a cartoon, at least) into the various workings of race cars, such as air brakes.
While the dedication to realism is to be admired, there is perhaps an extra layer of inaccessibility when it comes to F4 as the central topic of an anime. After all, it’s not nearly as well-known as F1, and open-wheel cars don’t have street-legal analogues that everyday car enthusiasts can latch onto. Series like Initial D and Wangan Midnight were beloved because fans could identify with cars like the Toyota AE86, S30 Z, and the countless minor characters cars that appeared in episodes. But we won’t know until we see it. Hopefully Overtake will spur a new generation of racing fans in Japan and abroad. It begins broadcasting in Japan in October 2023.