Appare-Ranman! Racing Action and Thrill of the American West

Aired: April 2020

Studio: P.A. Works

Episodes: 13

9 – Great! Thrilling historical racing comedy mashup that’s a good time all-around!

Appare-Ranman! Is a fun and exciting wild ride of an anime, with truly unique characters and a mashup of genres that leaves you wondering what’ll happen next?! A historical racing comedy that has just the right amount of gunslinging/ sword-fighting action, character development, and steam-powered racing across a 19th century America.

Synopsis: Here!

Funny enough, History was my best subject in grade-school, and yet I sometimes can’t help but feel utterly bored watching history documentaries. So when I found out Appare-Ranman! is a historical piece of animation, I was worried it’d be drowned out in little-known historical facts and accuracy. 

 I never been more wrong. Let’s dive in full speed as to what makes this anime a precious gem. As Appare puts it best “Here we go!”

Minor Spoilers… The protagonists wind up in America with lack of money or way of getting home (*gasp*)!

Appare-Ranman! Is the story about Appare (no kidding), a brilliant engineer and inventor of gadgets and tools who aspires to make a name for himself. A little socially awkward and self-isolated, he finds himself leaving Japan on his self-made little steamboat with an anxious and cowardly but cunning samurai Kosame, who was tasked to keep him in check. 

The pair drift off across the ocean to America, particularly Los Angeles. There, the two find hope of making their way back home when they come across a country-wide racing event called the ‘Trans-America Wild Race’. Where Kosame finds himself lost in this strange new world and unsure what actions to take next, Appare is two steps ahead of him. 

The time-period is unique

I don’t exactly remember my history classes discussing what technology and politics were relevant in the 19th century (that’s 1800’s right? Damn I’m stupid), but it seems the creators of Appare-Ranman! put great care into portraying the time period in both the United States and Japan. 

There is a major contrast shown between Japan and the United States in this anime, and I think it’s definitely worth discussing. Japan here is portrayed as a very traditional, feudal (is that right?) place whose technology can’t keep up with the likes of Appare, who sports a far more progressive-colorful getup and mindset unlike everyone else. 

Where Kosame’s character probably represents that hesitant and anxious part of Japan that doesn’t readily accept or seek out rapid change of tradition and cultural norms, Appare’s character is far more aligned with the industrial revolution and technological advancements of the United States, diving head-first into new ideas and concepts and building off them. Its only later that we see that this technology can not only be beneficial (such as the medical advancement of blood transfusions) but scary as well (like the use of explosives and even the commonality of pistols).

But I’m mainly here to discuss the more juicy bits of the anime, the races.

Probably inspired by a mix of Mad Max, Deathrace 2000, and literally any wild western film ever, the ‘Trans America Wild Race’ is perhaps the most exciting part of Appare-Ranman!

Every racer is unique and comes from a different part of the globe.

You’ve got Appare and Kosame from Japan and their hybrid steam-powered steamboat turned automobile and supported by Hototo the Native American boy, Xian Lian whose family is from China and her prototype automobile, Al and Sofia from Europe and their fancy sleek big auto-maker automobile, TJ who I presume is from Africa and his pimped out pink ride (and vinyl record that seconds as a car cd player), Gil and Chase the Bad who seem to be Mexican and their armored beast of a car, and Dylan who I think is really the only American racer and his smooth purple ride.

The anime doesn’t waste time giving each racer an epic introduction that peaks our curiosity as to who each really are, and over the course of the anime each character is properly fleshed out and we see glimpses into their own personal struggles and why they’ve entered the race. 

Appare-Ramman! has managed to make me excited by the action, laugh at the jokes and character interactions, cry at the crucial bits, and crave for more story. At a meager 12 episodes, it feels like a complete story, but does that mean there isn’t room for more character growth or story? 

Did I mention the anime has an absolute banger of an opening AND closing music score? “I Got It!’ by Mia Regina really amps up the action and thrill this anime is full of, and “I’m Nobody” by Showtaro Morikuba is an acoustic sort of western beat closing that highlights the inner thoughts of some of the characters at their toughest moments.

There’s a lot I haven’t covered here, but its an anime that’s definitely worth checking out and it makes it in my book of favorite animations of all time.

By: The Shy Otaku


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