I couldn’t find a manga-specific (and appropriate) title card to my liking, so I whipped this one up.
Golden Boy tells the adventures of Oe Kintaro, a pervert with a heart of gold young man that while he may look like he’s stuck doing dead-end jobs, he’s actually fulfilling his desire to learn as much as possible while crossing the country on his bicycle. A student of life, if you will. Kintaro would pop up, eventually get to work and get really good at it, help out someone in distress –usually a pretty lady- and departs just before his good deed gets acknowledged. Despite his flaws, he’s got what it takes to someday save Japan- no, the world.
Now, the Golden Boy manga is only 10 volumes long (1992-1998) and is not a car-centric series, but what little it has does not disappoint! In author Tatsuya Egawa’s Wikipedia page, it says that gearhead manga artist Kosuke Fujishima was an assistant in the series so I’m convinced that he was responsible for the vehicle side of things. It never ceases to amaze me how much work manga artists have, because Kosuke-sama at the time had his hands full with his on-going Ah! My Goddess series and wrapping up You’re Under Arrest, both featuring wonderful quantities of metal.
More about the manga later. First, cars…
Kids, never listen to your portable music player with headphones on while riding your bicycle. It was a bad idea then, it is a bad idea now.
When I started reading the manga, I was convinced I struck gold because a couple of pages in and there was a Koenig Specials Competizione Evoluzione!! In COLOR!! This car is the cream of 1980s tuner car madness, capable of 1000HP! Kintaro may be smart in many things, but not everything, so he ends up getting hit by this tuned Ferrari Testarossa by the scantily clad babe that will turn out to be his next boss. Setting the initial formula for the series, she later goes after Kintaro in it to thank him for his software work and to apologize for what the way she treated him. But Kintaro has forgiven and forgotten, moving on to the next lesson in life.
Shown here is a 1993 Klein Rascal. Judging by the two-tone fading paint scheme, which previous model years had, could Klein bikes be the inspiration for Kintaro’s bike?
Kintaro’s method of transportation and trusty companion is his “Crescent Moon” or “Three Day Moon” bicycle. He travels all of Japan with it from everything like steep uphill passes to going downhill at breakneck speeds and with no brakes. They even jumped a ravine together! They’ve been through good times (leaving optimistically to their next lesson/adventure) and the bad (Kintaro was pretty much slandered, forced to pedal away tears). It even once became a bit of a plot point (without it, Kintaro wouldn’t have known that the bicycle repairman needed money to pay off the Yakuza ASAP). Needless to say, it’s special. I can’t really make out what’s written on the frame: Exilia Peak? Yosefine? These nomenclatures don’t appear in official Japanese bicycle manufacturers lists, but the paint scheme is reminiscent of North-American Klein bicycles.
She must’ve known how uncomfortable a Virago 535’s factory pillion is.
Kintaro wasn’t always moving on pedal power, but he’s no stranger on moving on two wheels. He was once the proud owner of a 1987 Yamaha Virago 535, a V-twin-powered bike with the distinction of having shaft drive (no chain drive; smoothness and ease of maintenance at the expense of added weight) for its size. If it wasn’t for that feature, I wouldn’t have been able to figure out what it was. As one can see in the pic above, he really liked it… Until he met a girl, Yoko, who is partly responsible for transforming the young Kintaro into the man that we know, for better or worse. He liked Yoko so much that he didn’t hesitate selling the bike and getting his now-trademark bicycle. He really wanted to get close to her, even though Yoko is perhaps one of the most frustratingly hard-to-read characters ever, even more so if you’re a newbie in the love game like Kintaro was (why, yes he went through many an emotional hell for her, how did you know?). Thankfully, this wasn’t the only bike shown in the manga…
I give credit to Golden Boy for introducing me to the Bimota Tesi 1D, an exotic, if slightly flawed Italian superbike. But don’t tell that to its owner, Reiko Terayama, who likes her motorcycle a little too much. Still, you gotta give her credit: she’s able to wring out the best from “Bimo-chan”, completely humiliating and demoralizing other bikers. Of course, that was before she faced Kintaro. And his bike. As in bicycle. He did surprisingly well.
I haven’t seen the anime, but how could I not include this clip? For full effect, watch clip with Max Coveri’s Running in the ‘90s.
In one section before the downhill, Kintaro had a little speed boost with the help of a grappling hook and a Ferrari F40 so he could catch up to the Bimota. Hey, it worked! They love F40s over there, with good chances of spotting one at their local car meets. In the anime, the F40 was replaced by a 964 Porsche 911 with a massive wing (a 911 Carrera RS 3.8, perhaps?). Kintaro needs all the help he could get, the Tesi 1D came with 851cc (in 1991 on the 1D 851) or 904cc (on the 1991 1D 906 and the 1992 1D SR. Other editions came later, but the first manga volume was released in 1992). I refuse to believe Reiko settled for the Japanese market 400cc 1D J. She’s old-money rich; she can afford one of the most expensive motorcycles of the time, engine displacement taxes be damned.
The 1991-1994 Tesi 1D is an ambitious technological departure from what the company is used to do, which is creating bespoke chassis for those wonderful Japanese engines whose stock frames left a lot to be desired in term of handling (as time went on, the Japanese companies got better at chassis-making, slowly numbering Bimota’s days, unless exclusivity was your game). Just about all Bimotas are works of art in form and function, with the Tesi blending out-of-this-world good looks with light weight and the stability that the hub-center steering can provide. Not bad for a company who initially started out in the heating and cooling industry, and whose one of its founders wanted a better handling bike than the one he crashed on.
As far as I know, this isn’t the first time the Bimota Tesi 1D has been immortalized in anime: the horror/comedy Gosuto suipa Mikami (Ghost Sweeper Mikami) featured on in their 1993 anime adaptation (Golden Boy anime adaptation: 1995), which contains a lot of sweet metal. No Tesis in the manga, but it does feature other Bimotas.
Another Italian legend showed up, Lancia Delta HF Integrale 16v Evoluzione, one of the top dog performance versions of the Lancia Delta hatchback, being driven by a group of… how can I put this nicely… party girls. They also think they’re hot stuff because they’re from Tokyo. Minako –whose opinion on the opposite sex is quite low- is the leader of the pack, learned to drive like that because of one of her ex-boyfriends. Shame she drove it into a tree. That’s the last we see of it. Maybe she’ll straighten the Evoluzione out just as Minako promised herself that she’ll straighten out her life, thanks to Kintaro, who saved her from being stranded in the woods while looking for help, while her friends Etsuko and Saori were busy hooking up with boys.
I was convinced it was the HF Integrale 8v version of the Delta because it lacks a vented bulge hood, meaning that it doesn’t have the 200+HP 2.0L 16v engine as found in the HF Integrale 16v and Evoluzione versions. The wheels look like the ones found on the later Evoluzione, but what convinced me that it was indeed an Evoluzione was the rear vent at the back of the front fenders. Just so you know, ‘HF’ stands for ‘Hi-Fi’, or High Fidelity.
You know, I’d never expect a Renault-driving couple to be scheming into taking over a udon shop to turn it into a bar. Then again, I don’t hang around with that type of people… Kintaro was forced to take action when the con-man Kogure was seducing the owner’s daughter Nori-chan in this car. Let’s just say Kintaro learned a new kissing technique unbeknownst to Kogure. What I’m really surprised with was how Kintaro was able to keep his cool when he overheard that it was because of Kogure that Nori’s father was run over by a car (possibly the Renault) to set the stage in compromising the udon shop and take it over in time.
About the car, while it clearly looked French, I originally dismissed it as just another sedan. For a moment I thought it might even be a Holden Commodore! But no, it was actually a Renault. Left-hand drive, too, so it had that status symbol mark that many Japanese look for when owning foreign cars. Then I found that it was a Renault 21 Turbo Quadra. Only 400 of these clever little sedans were made (the most unrestricted version of its 2.0L turbocharged engine + torque-splitting AWD, as well as exclusive suspension bits), and their obscurity means that few people would know what it was even if they read Golden Boy, perhaps the only graphic novel where such a car was drawn, even if it were rather small drawings.
I edited out the chapter intro and the fool’s ramblings. You’re welcome.
One of my favorite chapters is the swimming pool one for a number of reasons. The picture above shows two of those. Lovely, eh? The Honda NSX doesn’t look bad either. Her name’s Ayako Hayami and she’s the cool and collected gold medalist professional swimmer in charge of a swimming school. Kintaro is the polar opposite of her. His early swimming attempt is so bad and so gut-bustingly funny, the anime scene has made rounds on the internet! He improves remarkably but ends up sticking his nose in the wrong place which is ultimately the reason why he gets the crap kicked out of him.
There’s little I can add to the Honda NSX. Perhaps it’s worth mentioning the fact that early examples have escalated in value due to the reintroduction of the name and the shift of market comprising of raised-on-videogames and mostly-now-defunct import car magazines Generation Y (Millennials. GenY sounds cooler).
The 964 Porsche seen here is driving home Kintaro’s latest obsession, an exotic dancer named Takako Yanagizama. While obviously enthralled by her beauty, Kintaro chases her down to learn how she became so good at mesmerizing the crowd. While Kintaro didn’t mind, Yanagizama treats him like absolute crap to the very end. The ending is funny, though: Kintaro manages to out-dance Yanagizama (it wouldn’t be Japanese entertainment unless there’s one cross-dressing situation), to the point that she was willing to do anything to know how Kintaro mesmerized what used to be her fans! Oh, how the tables turned…
I keep looking at the wing on the Porsche, and I’m convinced that it’s no ordinary 964: it’s a Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8. It’s one of the most hardcore 964s made, with less weight thanks to a crash-course diet consisting of lightweight materials and removal of convenience items. To that you add more racer-oriented goodies like one of the most powerful naturally-aspirated 3.8L engines (300HP going to the rear wheels), a seam-welded chassis and many other components like 3-piece magnesium Speedline wheels. All of this wrapped in the voluptuous Turbo body. With around 55 units produced, it makes a bit more sense why these cars are selling well over $500K. It makes the $320-ish for the ultimate book on these cars –Porsche 964 Carrera RS 3.8 by Jürgen Barth, Norbert Franz and Robert Weber– seem like a bargain.
This Cadillac Fleetwood Formal Limousine holds a quartet of ladies that were very important for Kintaro back when he was 21 years old and with his first official job at a music hall: they’re the members of the rock band Hairan Darz. Its members consist of Yuki the lead singer and guitarist, Ryoko the drummer, Kana the keyboardist and Mizuho, the idol turned bassist. Kintaro helped them take off in fame (he played the bass) and despite being very intimate with all of them, particularly Yuki, he stepped down for Hairan Darz to become an all-girl band. Plus, he needed to move on as well so he could continue studying. It’s one of the few times that Kintaro leaves without a broken nose.
Golden Boy abandons its formula and the entire vibe of the series changes near the end of the second volume, but briefly recovers it somewhat. But things get weird again when the arrival of a new character. This is her vehicle of entrance, Miss Takako’s Lamborghini Diablo. When you think about it, it’s a fitting match, as she’s the devil. The car behind is a Mercedes-Benz S-Class (other pics not shown confirm this), belonging to the very rich and influential family of Miss Naoko Katsuda, a recurring character who –like many other girls- fell for Kintaro, though she’s definitely one of the top choices. Takako and Naoko clash opinions in this messed-up arc.
That’s Miss Takako, the devil herself. So naturally Kintaro fell for her. And yes, she’s still in high-school. She looks plainer on this picture. Aside from the Diablo, she also owns that Ferrari 512 TR, the evolution of the Testarossa.
That’s Miss Naoko’s W140 Mercedes Benz 500SE. The SE means that it’s the shorter wheelbase model of the W140 platform. The 500 means it’s powered by the M119 5 liter V8. The wheels and shading differs from the one shown on the Diablo pic.
The last car worth mentioning is the E31 BMW 8-Series (I’m guessing it’s the 5.0L V-12-powered 850Ci, the earliest V-12 8-Series), belonging to the intimidating but surprisingly charismatic Kongouji Masamune, who was something of Kintaro’s love rival but later becomes a very powerful ally. Kintaro was going through a tumultuous period in life, and it didn’t help that both Kongouji and Yoko left him in with this car, further filling his mind with doubts and uncertainties.
The earliest examples of the 8-series came out in 1989 when Kintaro was about 20 years old, IIRC. The manga started in 1992, when he’s 25, so if you’re good at math, that means there’s evidence of chronological disorder: Kintaro should either be 23 or Kongouji should be driving something from 1987. I think I spotted another disparity involving Yoko’s sneakers (They look like Reebok Pumps, which came out in late 1989, but I’ve yet to pinpoint the exact style). Still, it’s not as bad as Initial D or even Shakotan☆Boogie.
That’s about it. As I’ve mentioned in the beginning, they’re not that many when compared to other posts I’ve written. Yes, there are background vehicles, but looking ‘em up would’ve been too much of a bother.
Usually, I abstain myself from writing about cars in manga series if their numbers are few, so why did I spend time working on this? What’s stopping me from making lists for the likes of the most excellent music manga BECK, the addictive action/horror manga Ushio to Tora, the intense and hilarious country boy-vs.-big-city manga 337 Byooshi or even the great fighting manhwa (Korean manga) The Girls of the Wild?
The reason: so you don’t have to go through with reading it.
Let me clarify a few things: Japan is totally cool with showing off more violence (clips that I’ve seen from their live-action police dramas would not look out of place in Dirty Harry movies) and skin. Showing bare breasts is acceptable on teen-rated-and-older publications. Golden Boy is aimed at mature audiences, preferably male. I would qualify the level of smut as ‘Borderline H’, which is six degrees off ‘H’, or ‘hentai’. Hentai is the hardcore pornography category, where censorship is laughable and content is definitely explicit. It ranges from rare vanilla-yet-highly-erotic stories to glorified crimes against humanity levels of content: start where the creepy live-action Japanese adult entertainment sector ends, exploit Japanese laws on pornography (like their rather pointless censorship), take all the weird kinks and fetishes, every taboo and what would constitute as crime, exploit the fact that it’s all fiction, turn it up to 11, and you’ll have the hentai industry. It makes the Miami adult entertainment scene look like R-rated comedies. Unfortunately it’s the hardcore stuff that -if properly animated- reaches infamy, meaning that if you’re an anime enthusiast, it’s not if, it’s when you’ll stumble upon it, and when you do, chances are you’ll lose some or maybe all respect for the anime arts; graphic novels and videogames of similar ilk cannot be forgotten either (the latter may contain really messed up stuff). It’s the thing that I’ve come to hate most from Japan. That and their horror movies. The only reason why Golden Boy doesn’t fall in the hentai category is because the smut is still relegated to a second plane and it still has just enough censorship to pass through (many erotic videogames squeeze through this rule as well), thus why the title appears in regular manga sites.
But Golden Boy’s biggest crime is its ending. Golden Boy pulled a St. Elsewhere–style ending, leaving everything up in the air, including the reason why I kept reading, to know more about Kintaro’s past and the events that shaped him. I was infuriated. I yelled at my screen! Oftentimes anime/manga endings suck because the authors, when working with a large publishing house, are forced to wrap things up when their work’s popularity dwindles (leaving loose ends), the publication folds, something happens to the author, etc. But in the case of Golden Boy, the magazine that published the series was still in business, the author Tatsuya Egawa is still alive, and how could its popularity be waning when we were so close on getting answers?! One can’t discard the conspiracy theory that it ended that way on purpose. I guess they went with the St. Elsewhere-style ending instead of an ending riddled with loose ends because they hoped on getting picked up by another publisher (as they said they wished it for it to happen in the final page), but didn’t happen. In the end, no one knows the real reason why this was done.
If you want a better and unbiased view of the manga, visit darkmirage.com’s rather in-depth and excellent review. If you’re curious about Golden Boy, watch the miniseries, it’s only six episodes –mostly consisting of the first manga volume- and if you think it’s too raunchy, remember, the manga is worse.
All manga pics: Mangafox and Mangakakalot
Competizione Evoluzione: Pinterest
Klein Rascal: http://www.oldklein.com/vanha/index.htm
Legit Tesi pic: http://www.bikeexif.com
Virago road test: www.yeoldecycleshoppe.com
21 Turbo Quadra: https://www.carthrottle.com/
Carrera RS 3.8: https://www.stuttcars.com