Shakotan☆Boogie tells the antics of Hajime and Koji along with their friends. They try everything for some nookie, but they and their friends are busy enough between failures in romance: Part time jobs, fights, skirt-chasing and just plain foolin’ around. The boys and most of their friends are gearheads, so they all get into plenty of gearhead activity: street racing, cruises, hooning, tuning, road trips, police intervention and accidents. LOTS of accidents. Many of them with cars that aren’t theirs and can’t afford.
Shakotan☆Boogie is a love letter to not only the very Japanese car scene from the 80s and 90s, but car culture as a whole. The word shakotan refers to very lowered cars with boy-racer mods, which is just one of the styles praised in the franchise. Aside from shakotan, kaido racer, VIP, yankii and overall zokusha, the franchise also has the gang explore Japan’s surprisingly wide car culture: Japanese icons, European exotica, American iron, British tackle, 4x4s, Formula 1, and the joys of wagons.
I found this series after striking out in finding a proper download link for author Michiharu Kusunoki‘s better-known work, Wangan Midnight, without giving your credit card number to a suspicious foreign website. So close, yet so far away… But this was a mighty consolation price, as I’ve been aware of Shakotan☆Boogie for as long as I’ve known about Japan’s outlandish bosozoku and zokusha gearhead culture. But there’s a catch: like the brunt majority of gearhead-aimed series, this one hasn’t been translated in English. At least we have the raw manga scans, as the 1991-92 straight-to-video anime can’t be found complete on the web. I was able to find the 1987 cult live-action movie. No subtitles though.
Shakotan☆Boogie has a little of everything (which is reason alone why it has a shot at gaining popularity after getting translated), but it’s not for everyone. Kusunoki-sama‘s art style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as it makes the cars look cartoony, though in his defense the car mods that many vehicles sport further exacerbates this; just look up the aforementioned styles. And he draws most of his girls too similarly (their differences in school uniform help tell some of ‘em apart, but my brain just gives up trying to remember all of them). Also, while car culture is present, it’s still about the main protagonists’ antics (this becomes clear when the you see that the first manga volume front cover just shows the two clowns doing obscene-in-Japan hand gestures and no car in sight. It shows part of it in the back cover.), though this too is also on the cartoony side at times. Despite the rather light-hearted art style, there is some minor nudity, adult situations, comic mischief galore and a bit of drug use in this irreverent older-teen-directed series. That and the fact that just about everyone smokes to the point you’ll probably suffer from second and third-hand smoking just by reading it. Continue reading