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Mecha-Doc (1984): A Super Rad Retro Racing Anime I Didn’t Realise I Was Missing in My Life – Anime 1st Impressions

Mecha-doc is a 1984 shōnen, cars and racing centred comedy anime that follows a small garage of dudes that tune up various mechanical things professionally and passionately. The main dude named Jun absolutely hates street racers and will always go out of his way to shut them down in various forms, which sometimes includes partaking in street racing himself.

This amazing, vintage racing anime series has been making me swoon since I began it yesterday. I’m only three episodes in so far because I like to take my sweet ass time with stuff I’m really enjoying to make it last. Between the classic animation style, all of the car puns and motorhead jokes, plus the technical details on some of my favourite vintage Japanese cars—I’m in love. There is no way around it. If it keeps up with the things that have been entertaining me so wholeheartedly then I know this show will end up in my top five favourites of all-time (not surpassing Initial D or Gold Kamuy, which are tied for number ichi because… well, they’re too fucking fabulous to compete with).

There is something about retro and vintage animation styles that modern-day virtual cinematography and aesthetics just can’t compete with, particularly if it’s a sci-fi or mechanically savvy series (for me). Not only does it bring out a brilliant sense of nostalgia and old-timey comfort, but there is a feel-good visual vibe that emanates from older anime titles that fill my heart with a lot of joy. I had never heard of Mecha-doc until I discovered it in a gigantic pile of stuff I recently inherited, and it definitely provides me with fabulously feel-good, well, feels. Blame it on the technicalities of hand-drawn animation techniques (excellent word usage there) or the throw-back to my (parents’ era) childhood. Whatever the driving reason, I can rarely get enough of it.

Beyond the gloriousness of its aged allure, there are the car puns and the racing jokes that make me laugh so much, even when the main character is being an asshole about street racers (as a former racer, I feel so called out, lemme tell you, folx). Plus, the second episode gave us a car-loving club consisting of women and this stunning, female street racer that definitely shall have me swooning until the day that I die. To witness this in a series that was created in the early 1980s really blew my fucking mind because A) it’s in Japan where the rise of the working, career girl was still controversial in its mounting popularity, B) most everything shōjo was on the entertainment industry’s main cultural rise, and C) even now having female or non-male, trans racers (not to exclude my nonbinary self here) are difficult to come by. Shit, back in the 90s and early 2000s when I was at my peak as a street racer, once people saw me or knew my gender, I was immediately laughed at or not taken seriously. (Until I beat the racing shit out of my opponent to shut them up, that is. Ahhhh, that feeling never ever gets old.) Her gender wasn’t poked fun of either and I loved how inclusive that made the former racer inside of me feel. Just… all kinds of epic yesssssssss.

But even with these terrific traits, the one thing that completely won me over was that Mecha-doc does not shy away from technical talk with respect to (what is now considered to be) vintage Japanese cars. When he started going on about the Toyota 2000GT, I shouted, “Fuck yeah, I remember that beast.” Or when a Nissan Z showed up, I smiled so fucking wide I’m surprised I didn’t knock my cats out of the window. Listening to Jun chat about why a specific car wasn’t getting the output in power that was expected from it, or the various different things he tinkered with to tune-up the car for better performance, it had my heart racing and my adrenaline pumping (yesssss, all the puns, baby). There is an excitement there that I haven’t felt in years. (Slightly inappropriate, but I also forgot how sexy cars and technical racing chit-chat is to me.)

If there’s anything that I could slightly label as a shortcoming—and mind you, I’m only three segments out of thirty in so far—it would have to be the humour. It’s definitely cheesy as the Seven Hells, dated, 80s young adult (college-aged) anime humour. Personally, I fucking adore it. Dry humour and dad jokes are my ultimate cup o’ chai. Nevertheless, I understand that this kind of comedic flavour isn’t for every anime watcher out there, particularly the new generation kids that don’t have a taste for the golden olden things.

All in all, I’m super stoked to watch this throughout the month of April, especially on those days when I feel defeated, exhausted, and utterly done with life. This is an anime that will reinvigorate my spirit and my faith in moving forward. Why, you may ask (or you may not give a flying fluff), it’s simple: one day I will have my own personal garage of Japanese vintage vehicles, and this baby, Mecha-doc, is phenomenally reminding me why that is my ultimate dream in life. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Native: よろしくメカドック
Manga by Ryūji Tsugihara
Racing, Comedy
Fall 1984
Tatsunoko Production
Masayuki Kojima
Content Warnings:
Some crude humour and mild violence.
Yoroshiku Mecha-doc
Unavailable (DVDs used)

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