One of the most profound moments of transcendental joy I’ve ever experienced was when Madeon and Porter Robinson performed in Royal Oak as part of their Shelter Live Tour. You can find the complete performance set on YouTube—it’s funny how, even though YouTube wasn’t around ‘til I was almost in high school, it’s so indispensable today—which I absolutely urge you to listen to, especially since the main song, “Shelter”, forms the basis for one of the few pieces of media in the past few years that physically moved me to tears.
The energy that burst forth that night was the product of two extremely talented individuals coming together and doing what they loved. There was a sense of utter unity, of two puzzle pieces snapping perfectly into place.
A lot of us chase that feeling. We are all a collection of disparate thoughts, dreams, ideas, and memories. Going through life, we try to reconcile these disparate spheres; we try and find what I call a “Venn diagram moment”.
Take me as an example: I’m a car enthusiast that enjoys fencing, cycling, anime, and gaming. Some of these things aren’t just not like the others—at times I feel like my list of hobbies came about via God’s firing a shotgun full of interests at a target with my name on it, and giving me whatever stuck.
So imagine my surprise when, a few years ago, Tesla introduced AutoPilot, and I was instantly struck by how much the situation around me was beginning to mirror that of the anime eX-Driver’s setting. Urambo Tauro thought the same. “At last”, I thought, “a chance for me to talk about two of my great loves, cars and anime!”
But now, an even better chance has arisen. The stars haven’t just aligned, they’ve been put in place with sub-millimeter precision: Tesla has announced that they’ll be running, at some point in the future, a contest for who can create the best commercial for the company. The idea came from a suggestion made by 5th grader Bria Loveday of Michigan.
Bria, I don’t know who you are, but I want to thank you from the bottom of my gearhead/otaku heart for this opportunity.
Putting aside the fact that Kosuke Fujishima, eX-Driver’s creator, managed to think up the anime’s (well, OVA’s, but that’s splitting hairs) setting almost 20 years ago, almost a decade before the Tesla Roadster appeared, and several years before the company itself was even founded, this is a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate that Tesla, and the autonomous future it’s helping usher in, and a passion for driving can co-exist.
And, come on, it’s a chance to bring an obscure anime series into real life: how many times can you actually do that?
If I’m honest, I don’t really have an idea for a script, but I’m almost 100% certain it’ll feature, in some way, some of the same cars the show featured, and a Tesla. Big shock, I know.
But the great thing about this contest is that, while we know it’s going to happen, a date hasn’t been announced, which means there’s a lot of time to get a group of people together to write and shoot this ad.
I have a plot, and also someone I’d like to appear in the ad.
The ad would go something like this:
- Opening shot of eX-Drivers on the road, being notified of a potential “runaway” AI car, putting on their headsets, and shifting (...OK, yeah, that was bad) into action
- They race towards a nondescript white/silver car; camera pans to the front of said car to let everyone know that it’s, in fact, a Tesla
- The Tesla’s sensors pick up the incoming eX-Drivers, and slowly brings itself to a halt
- The eX-Drivers are confused, and pull up to the windows
- Window rolls down so we can see the driver; they go, “Sweet cars! But, uh, everything’s under control here, see?”
- eX-Drivers look at e/o, still bewildered at the lack of a runaway
- Cut back to Tesla driver (who I’ll call TD for short), who goes, “Actually, hang on, can you give me a minute?”
- Cut to the interior, where he activates Ludicrous Mode, and jets off; one of the eX-Drivers’ headsets falls to the ground
- As the Tesla pulls away, we get shots of the interior, and a 360 of the entire exterior
- Tesla pulls up and parks in front of a garage, whereupon TD exits and grabs a different set of keys
- Cut back to eX-Drivers arguing over whether or not they could’ve caught the Tesla, when all of a sudden, a different exhaust note is heard
- TD enters, behind the wheel of a Flyin’ Miata Habu; TD says, “Wanna show me your moves?”
- Cut to all cars driving around a race track, with the Tesla seen charging in the background
- Ad ends with TD closing the Habu in the garage, and getting in the Tesla, which displays 300 miles of range. Closing line? “Tesla: Keep on driving.”
And as for the person I’d like to appear in the ad, today I happened to come across one of the most uplifting car stories ever over on Petrolicious.
Christian Kuijpers and his father Herman quite literally get life from their beloved Golf. I cannot think of a better way to draw attention to the emotions, connections, and energy that cars can elicit than to have Christian, his dad, and their Golf race around the track, with them in the ad.
So, how exactly does one set up a GoFundMe?
We’re going to need that time to get the wheels together, and I’m not talking about the Tesla. While the show didn’t feature anything too implausibly cool, like a 250-series Ferrari, the cars of choice for the main characters aren’t exactly your usual Craigslist fodder. More something that Petrolicious would want to showcase.
Souichi’s whip of choice is a Lotus Super Seven—while an original Super Seven is going to be somewhat of a stretch, there’s more than a few Caterhams flying around the States that will more than fit the bill. Next!
Lorna drives a Lotus Europa, which, while very cool, is not something that any kit car maker (to my knowledge) has managed to replicate. Happily, in the Metro Detroit area is a Lotus dealer, Auto Europe, which should at the least be able to point me in the right direction. Or maybe someone reading this has a white Europa and would be willing to lend it for a chance to make a lot of enthusiasts happy? Pretty please?
Finally, we come to Lisa, and it’s here that we start to go firmly into Petrolicious territory. See, Lisa’s original car in Episode 1 was a Subaru Impreza WRC. While it would be possible to emulate that car with a modified WRX or WRX STI—her in-universe paddle-shift gearbox means the Impreza is an actual WRC racer, but I don’t think Subaru sends those out for Turo—that car was ruined in said episode. For the rest of the series, she drives a Lancia Stratos.
Ooh boy. Does anyone know the patron saint of Italian sheet-metal?
While there have been a few kit cars that’ve emulated the Stratos over the years, they’re rare enough in the US that it’d be just as easy to scour the states for an actual Stratos.
I recognize that my dream of making an enthusiast-approved Tesla ad may be
a tad optimistic almost impossible. But think of what could be achieved here: a chance to recreate a scene from anime IRL, a chance to show that car enthusiasm is still alive and kicking, and that those who truly care about driving and car control techniques can share the road with driver-less cars.
But I think that, in trying to make an ad for Tesla like the one I described, we have a chance to carve out a place for both anime aficionados and car geeks alike.
More than that, we have a chance to show quite literally the whole world, what it means to be a car enthusiast.
So who’s with me?