If you watch British telly you will be under the misunderstanding that F1 in Japan is all silly hats and cosplay.
Well, there is a lot of that but going to the Japanese Grand Prix I got talking to people and learnt there are a few more things going on around the sport.
Actually I didn’t learn too much because I was mostly talking to other foreign types at the beer tent but would I did learn rocked my world.
Ask any Brit what “the F1 song” is and you will always get the same answer, Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. It’s a song that is forever linked with F1 for British fans and for those in the other countries that got BBC coverage (i.e. there rest of the English-speaking world)
Japan is not part of the English-speaking world though and got its own song. Truth by a Japanese Jazz fusion band called T-Square has a bit of a different feel to The Chain but it works and the CG intro is nicely put together.
These days the song has been retired but it is miles better than just playing American Idiot by Green Day like Japanese TV did for its F1 intros last year. It also doesn’t stop T-Square from playing a concert at every Japanese Grand Prix either.
That’s it for F1 and music but what about F1 and manga? Everyone knows that the Japanese love manga, they also love their F1, so it is only natural that there is an F1 manga out there. Grand Prix Heaven (Guranpri Tengoku) is a 4 panel manga (US comic style basically) that has been running in an F1 magazine called F1 Newsflash (F1 Sokuho) for the last 20 or so years. The manga is by a fellow called Fumio Murayama who doesn’t seem to have any other manga of note under his name. As a result of the magazine this thing is serialised in only F1 fans know about it, that is fine though, only F1 fans would get any of the jokes.
The strips all parody the various events, stories and controversies going on in F1 at the time. The writer also injects some interesting personalities to the drivers and people around the pit garages, his versions of F1′s various heroes and villains can be very different from the British public perception of these characters. The collection of strips I picked up from Suzuka this year were all taken from the 1999 and 2000 seasons. I ended up seeing running gags such as Mika Hakkinen’s scary wife, Ron Dennis constantly giving David Coulthard the cold shoulder by closing a curtain on him and Heinz-Harald Frentzen acting like a woodpecker.
Here are a few of the strips (keenly translated by me), I hope they bring back a few memories for the F1 fans amongst you:
(Remember! They read right to left!)
One last thing:
(Not entirely sure what it is but thought I’ll show you anyway)