[Review] TWOCAR – episode 1

Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro are two girls who enter the world of competitive motorcycle sidecar racing on Miyake Island. While they are the complete opposites of each other, and often butt heads, they complement each other well during races. The team will fight other motorcycle sidecar teams from all over Japan, each with their own opposing traits, such as honor student and working student, sadist and masochist, and a funny man and straight man.

Source: Anime News Network

two young girls watch a pair of men on a side car. subtitle: since we were little, we grew up watching those people.
Hold on, let me get my red pen.

Here it is, our seasonal entry in the Obscure Sport genre. Expect many quirky teams with gimmicks and breathless explanations of the daring tricks our athletes are attempting that won’t immediately register as impressive to the uninformed viewer. Which, hey, I like an Obscure Sport show. The trick is always in the passion with which the writing embraces its subject, and TWOCAR is on the right track in that regard.

The premiere is intercut between an exhibition race and the introduction of our two protagonists, Yuri and Megumi. They’re pretty standard in some ways—they grew up watching other racers and were inspired to enter the sport themselves—and their “exactly alike but always bickering” element will need to be developed or risk becoming a one-note joke, but it’s a solid base to start on.

two competitor racers. subtitle: ....cross-dressing beauty, Mao Takakura, and passenger Hitomi Iseki
Haruka and Michiru will be expecting their royalty check in the mail.

The other racers are entirely defined by their gimmicks, which is par for the course in this kind of show. They’re certainly visually distinct, from the gothic lolis to the twins (dear TWOCAR, please stop calling them “self-doppelgangers”; words mean things), to the obvious Haruka and Michiru clones (they speak French on the track, because of course they do) and the sadist/masochist pair (yes, really; it… seems consensual?). They’re not deep but they’re fun, and unlikely to wear out their welcome when they get an inevitable single-episode focus as competitors.

The visual design makes smart use of bright colors and knows how to move the camera to keep the racing scenes from looking too shoddy. There’s a bit of an over-reliance on overhead shots of one car moving past another, but that might just be an inescapable element of the sport. On the more unfortunate side, showing the (all female) drivers maneuvering their cars so far seems to include a loooot of butt shots, and while the cast isn’t uniformly EEE stacked, the standard for breast size is certainly very large, perky, and unrealistically spherical.

a close-up of a driver's butt. subtitle: un, deux, trois
This was the only way they could’ve possibly framed it.

The only potential red flag at the moment comes in the form of Yuri and Megumi’s coach, a.k.a. The Only Man. Both have a crush on him, and at the end of the episode they swear that they’re going to excel at racing with the semi-implication that it’s so they can meet him again. Now, this might turn out to be nothing—it’s totally normal for young folks to develop crushes on their mentors, after all, and the anime seems to lean toward depicting him as an unattainable object (we never once see his face, and he’s gone for the foreseeable future).

close up of a dark-haired girl's face. subtitle: he understands me
Oh, honey.

Shaping the story around the girls moving past the crush on their teacher and into valuing their friendship or romance or whatever is a perfectly viable narrative path, but I’m juuuuuuuust uncertain enough to be side-eyeing it a little bit. Still, I’ll be sticking around for at least another episode. There’s a shortage of shows about female friendship this season, and hopefully one of the other teams will turn out to involve some actual yuri and not just bait.

 

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  • Roman Komarov

    The amount of male gaze in this show is enormous. Like, yeah, the framing and all of that. It was also very boring for me, to look at those bland characters without any intrigue just winning the race. The only good thing in this show is that its apparently the isle of women, as the only guy just left to the isle of man. But that’s surely just an illusion, as behind the camera there are only men, framing it and directing it.

  • AntonyShepherd

    I do not expect the coach to reappear. He’ll probably die in a crash during the Isle of Man TT (many competitors do) and that’ll inspire them to put aside their petty differences and go on to win the championship in his memory, or something.