Car commercials have a wide swing from incredibly lame to “I need to buy this car right now.” Toyota’s ad campaign for the GR86 has been erring very close to the latter for a while, but the latest stuff has damn near done it. It involves Initial D, the original animator of the series Shuichi Shigeno, and the Drift King himself Keiichi Tsuchiya.
It seems like Toyota is doing a full collaboration with Initial D and Tsuchiya-san for the GR86 with a series of commercials that have made the rounds on Reddit and YouTube. Most of the videos seem to be copies with poor resolution, but I managed to track down the unlisted videos on the official Toyota USA Youtube channel that confirm the existence of the campaign. They are all part of one narrative that seems to take place in the proper Initial D universe.
Anime fans like myself will know what that universe is, but for anyone who has a life, let me explain. Initial D is a series where a kid named Takumi Fujiwara, who barely has a license, delivers tofu for his father in a Toyota Corolla Sprinter Trueno GT-APEX, chassis code AE86. As it turns out, his tofu delivery route takes him up and down a mountain pass called Mt. Akina (actually Mt. Haruna in real life) every morning.
Tofu apparently requires finesse to deliver, or it will disintegrate. So Takumi’s father places an open cup of water in the cup holder and instructs Takumi to not spill a drop. Through an unbelievable series of events, Takumi learns how to drift the AE86 without spilling any water because he is bored and wants to get home quicker and becomes the second-fastest on Akina just after his father. One fateful night, he meets an FD Mazda RX-7 on the way down from his delivery, free to drive as quickly as he wants. Showing the much more powerful car his taillights, a legend was born, and Takumi slowly became the fastest street racer in Japan.
Because of Initial D, the AE86 became the object of reverence that it is today. Toyota hasn’t been shy to lean into the AE86 heritage with the original Toyota 86 and Scion FR-S, but outright collaborating with Initial D is something I’m glad to see. Thanks to the official collab, Shigeno-san and company animated the commercial for Toyota and gave it the most authentic Initial D feel possible.
There is an interesting detail in the commercial, too: Tsuchiya-san is promoting FasterClass, another campaign featuring Toyota’s pro drift drivers doing stunts in a GR86 as a larger performance driving school effort. New GR86s come with a one-year membership to NASA and a free track day with an instructor.
But also it adds Tsuchiya officially to the Initial D canon. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. He officially races (and schools) Takumi in a GR86. Hell, the power move of Takumi saying hello and him responding with “call me sensei” just shows who is the true touge boss. These commercials have to be some of the coolest ever made.
I wonder if I can get a GR86 at MSRP. Stay tuned. Below is the second video:
And here is part three:
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