September 29, 2023

When the organizers of Anime Matsuri reached out to me earlier within the yr with an invitation to their annual conference, I needed to take a second to consider it. I imply, positive, there have been anime about vehicles and vehicles featured in anime, however what different connection is there?

Nicely, one journey to Houston, Texas later, I can undoubtedly say that there’s a very apparent cross over, and the underlying facet of all of it is a love for Japan and its tradition.


This isn’t the primary time Speedhunters has attended Anime Matsuri. Again in 2011, Lindbergh Nguyen coated a gathering known as Import Reactor, which was a automobile present that ran alongside the merely enormous anime and cosplay conference. Quick ahead 12 years, and right here I used to be in part of the USA I’d by no means ventured to earlier than.


Let me begin by saying that all the pieces you’ve heard about Texas is true. It’s all larger and wilder, and that goes for the climate too. It was scorching in Houston, with the mercury hitting between 38 and 40 levels Celsius on daily basis of my go to. Fortunately, I spent most of my time inside in overly air conditioned areas, or in vehicles with the AC blowing chilly, so I used to be capable of escape the warmth for probably the most half.

With the four-day occasion already underway once I arrived in Houston, I wasted no time heading over to the George R. Brown Conference Middle – which was handily adjoining to my lodge – to take a look at what Anime Matsuri is all about.


To say I felt like a fish out of water could be an understatement.


However it’s best to by no means be afraid to step out of your consolation zone, proper?


What grew to become very apparent very quick, is simply how huge anime and cosplay tradition is within the US. I felt like was like I used to be in Akihabara!


For somebody who has coated Japanese automobile tradition for many of his skilled life, it was good to see how Japan resonates with individuals on different ranges, like popular culture. Try this line up of vintage-style Godzilla film posters.


They even had a helicopter and different navy autos within the Godzilla sales space.


It wasn’t lengthy although, earlier than I discovered what I had flown midway internationally for. Vehicles.


The primary automobile I got here throughout was a particular GR Corolla that Anime Matsuri and TOM’s have partnered up on. This challenge is because of be accomplished in the beginning of subsequent yr to coincide with TOM’s fiftieth anniversary, at which period I’ll be capturing it in Japan for a full characteristic.


Anime Matsuri additionally partnered with RAYS on a second GR Corolla construct. It’s nice to see these new efficiency Toyotas getting a lot consideration.


Staying within the Toyota camp, I received chatting to the proprietor of this particular Lexus IS300, though I’ll all the time refer to those vehicles as Toyota Altezzas.


This specific IS was constructed again within the early 2000s and has largely remained in that kind ever since. It nonetheless even wears a Want for Velocity Components D sponsorship banner.


It’s a super-clean construct sitting on period-correct chrome Work Meisters.


I noticed a pair of Miatas behind the Lexus, a primary technology and the most recent model, highlighting simply how far the mannequin has change into whereas staying the identical. I cherished the ZN6 on Volk Racing F-Zero Problem wheels too.


Having not too long ago spent an excellent month utilizing a good friend’s NSX-R as my day by day, I’ve developed an enormous delicate spot for the Honda/Acura efficiency icon. Each time I lay eyes on one now, I’m reminded of simply how focussed these machines are.


As I made my method by means of the numerous vehicles on present, it grew to become obvious that many Texas fanatics actually know what they’re doing when it involves nailing an genuine JDM feel and appear.


This 326 Energy-kitted kouki Nissan S14 on Panasport G7 wheels is the type of factor I’d anticipate finding at a soukoukai occasion at Nikko Circuit.


Japan continues to be a mecca for inspiration and seeing abroad interpretations of Japanese types is all the time enjoyable once I journey overseas.


I even noticed a Mitsubishi Canter twin hauler straight from Japan. This one is utilized by Oishii Imports to maneuver their vehicles round.


Whereas testing this High Secret-built RB26 Nissan S15, I discovered that Linhbergh had shot it nonetheless trying the very same method again in 2011. Whereas it now runs a extra trendy turbo setup, the C-West aero and inexperienced RAYS Volk Racing TE37s have remained. How cool!


This pair of Lexus LS400s nailed the bippu look completely.


Besides one wasn’t a Lexus, however a right-hand drive JDM Celsior with an aggressive stance and a lot wheel tuck and unfavourable camber on the again. I like the rear spoiler too.


Talking of stance achieved proper…


And suitably boosted within the efficiency division as nicely.


I’m not going to lie; I used to be anticipating to see a number of extra GT-Rs on the occasion, particularly of the R35 selection given all of the half/full-mile drag racing occasions in Texas which have helped push VR38DETT tuning to unimaginable heights. However this lone BCNR33 Skyline held the GT-R flag excessive and powerful with a clear track-ready setup. It jogged my memory of the vehicles that Auto Choose builds in Osaka.


After all of the lowrider takeovers we’ve seen in Shibuya, I’ve change into fairly a fan of the sub-culture, and it was cool to stand up shut with a couple of clear builds in Texas.


This different Acura NSX appeared very cool with pumped fenders and a customized color.


And all of us like a little bit of enjoyable!


The automobile present part continued with a extra home really feel, highlighting one other facet of tuning and customized tradition in Texas.


The native Aston Martin dealership introduced out a few high-end autos to showcase, together with the DBX…


And this loopy Aston Martin Vantage Roadster with an enormous twin-turbo V12 up entrance.


However the greatest shock of the occasion for me was seeing the previous Goodsmile Racing BMW Z4 Tremendous GT GT300 race automobile, sporting the best race itasha of all time.


This automobile was after all piloted by Nobuteru ‘Nob’ Taniguchi again within the day, but it surely now lives within the US.


Anime Matsuri turned out to be a extremely distinctive and funky present to go to, and seeing how vehicles have discovered a method into this popular culture world made the journey a ton of enjoyable. I actually hope the automobile facet of the occasion continues to develop and extra native and out of state fanatics have a likelihood to carry their builds out to it.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: dino_dalle_carbonare
[email protected]