Culture > Diversion

Toyota’s ‘GRIP’ anime series debuts on YouTube

A story set in a future full of driverless cars

Toyota's marketing is going all out, it seems. IMAGE FROM TOYOTA

Back in the ’80s, toy manufacturers like Hasbro and Tonka produced cartoon shows to market thousands and thousands of toys from Transformers to Gobots to GI Joe. If you’re a child of the ’80s, perhaps you even remember the Inhumanoids.

The shows sold the toys, but some storylines were sophisticated enough to have millions of viewers invested in the characters as time went by. I mean, who didn’t shed buckets of tears when Optimus Prime died in The Transformers: The Movie, right?

Today, free TV is practically dead and YouTube is where most people are watching the latest videos, covering anything and everything from conspiracy theories to cooking shows. In what may be seen as a brilliant marketing move a few years from now (or a dud, if it sucks), Toyota USA is debuting its very own GRIP anime series.

What the dark side of a driverless future would look like, apparently. IMAGE FROM TOYOTA

In the spirit of Initial D, this modern anime is an original production with a plotline involving real drivers versus drones. The subtext about how Toyota’s performance cars are still all about soul and the joy of driving is all too evident.

The series will feature several characters with distinctly Asian (and not exclusively Japanese) names.

If you're wondering why the GR Yaris isn't represented here, it's because it isn't sold in the USA. IMAGES FROM TOYOTA

Jae Kang is the hero, and he drives a GR Corolla. Linh “Nitro” Lam is a fiery woman who can drive the wheels off her GR Supra. Kumail Jo is a hothead who can make his GR 86 dance. Their mentor is Master Rugu, a wise old racer who has been there and done that.

The bad guy is Dr. Aron Synth, the CEO of SynthCorp who apparently lost a hand in an accident and now wants to eliminate all human driving (beginning with ADAS?).

Of course, you need an old master and an equally aged antagonist, too. IMAGES FROM TOYOTA

That’s pretty much all we can tell from the sparse description on the Toyota website, but the animation in the trailer looks impressive.

We don’t even know how many episodes GRIP will have, but if it adds to the Toyota fanbase and helps with pushing the brand’s cars off showrooms, then it’ll be a success.

Get a grip of the trailer

Andy Leuterio

Andy is both an avid cyclist and a car enthusiast who has finally made the shift to motorcycles. You've probably seen him on his bicycle or motorbike overtaking your crawling car. He is our motorcycle editor and the author of the ‘Quickshift’ column.