Meant as a slick series of ads at Sundance, Chiaki’s Journey is a short Acura-themed car anime that should be made into a full show.
The popularity of anime makes it obvious for advertisers and merchandisers to make goods based on the various franchises. This has seen toys, plushies and even food items made out of the most mainstream of anime. Something a bit more uncommon, however, is using completely original anime as a marketing tool itself. This is the case with Chiaki’s Journeya recent web series made for car giant Acura.
Although the “show” is a very artistic example of product placement and commercialism, it could easily become much more. Chiaki’s Journey has the ingredients and style to be a full-fledged anime series, if only for a season, truly taking Acura into the world of anime. This could also reach a wider audience than most anime would, putting the pedal to the animated metal in a way even bigger than the car marquee would’ve imagined.
What Is Acura’s Chiaki’s Journey?
Created by Acura and The Line Animation Studio LTD, Chiaki’s Journey is a short series of even shorter anime videos meant to combine narrative animated storytelling with advertising. The story follows the eponymous Chiaki, a young woman who’s being trained by her uncle to learn the finer points of automotive street racing. Developing a fierce rivalry on the road, tempers flare as Chiaki fights for her family’s pride.
Showcased at the most recent Sundance Film Festival, which Acura sponsored, Chiaki’s Journey is definitely a thrilling ad for the company. After all, it features the entirety of their 2022 Type-S lineup of sports cars into the four episodes, making anyone with a license and a pulse want to go out and drift away. However, the short length of the episodes means that they feel more like trailers for longer programming. The absolutely top-notch animation makes this a great example of effective marketing, as it makes the viewer hunger for more of what’s being given. Acura would be wise to jump on this and provide viewers with a full-fledged anime show for Chiaki — one that’s sure to drive way past mere product placement.
Why Chiaki’s Journey Should Be a Full-Length Anime
Chiaki’s Journey feels a lot like racing anime classic Initial D, which also combined Japanese street racing, licensed sports cars and 2D/3D animation. The biggest differences are that the well-known Eurobeat of Initial D is replaced by metal music from the band NEMOPHILA, and of course, the fact that Initial D is a full-length show. Never mind the fact that Initial D also has commercials, albeit for rival car company Toyota. Of course, with a focus on family, a garage and street racing, allusions to the Hollywood hit series The Fast and The Furious could also be made.
The fact that those productions already exist should encourage a Chiaki’s Journey anime, not discourage it. It shows that there’s already an audience for this type of material, especially with how stylized and slick everything is. Likewise, by being based around car racing and having fairly realistic character designs, the show could reach audiences who might not typically tune into anime at all. Of course, if they end up test driving and signing for a smoking new Acura vehicle, all the better.
What’s been shown so far proves that not only could Chiaki’s Journey be a sleek stealth commercial for the Honda-owned car company, but that it could also be an effective way of simply telling a cool, pulse-pounding story. The views for the video series on YouTube further back this up, so a Chiaki’s Journey anime on a mainstream streaming service like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video could take Acura’s advertising experiment far beyond the finish line.
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