P.A. Works’ original racing anime Appare-Ranman! has awoken from its long coronavirus-induced hibernation and we can’t wait to see what more it has to offer! It’s set in an alternate universe version of the 1890s where automobile technology is flourishing, and stranded Japanese inventor Appare and his samurai chaperone Kosame decide to enter the Trans America Wild Race in California to fund their trip back home.
While we wait eagerly for new episodes to arrive, let’s check out six anime (and one manga) that remind us of Appare-Ranman! We’ve chosen shows that embody the wacky, adventurous spirit of this anime, whether or not they actually involve racing. Let’s get started!
Similar Anime to Appare-Ranman!
1. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2016 – July 2016
This anime is often called a rip-off of Attack on Titan (which, considering that it shares the same studio, director, producer, and overall storyline... is actually a pretty apt comparison), but Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress definitely has some strengths of its own. It’s an action horror piece set in a steampunk version of the Meiji era, where humans have to use armored trains and steam-powered weapons to defend themselves against what are essentially zombies with steel-reinforced hearts. If your favorite parts of Appare-Ranman! are the creative character/costume designs and the focus on old-timey tech, you’ll love this overlooked Wit Studio thrill ride.
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress Trailer
2. Dr. Stone
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: July 2019 – December 2019
When a mysterious light suddenly turns all of humanity to stone, it takes over 3000 years for teen genius Senku to emerge from his petrified prison and discover that the world has regressed back to the Stone Age. Along with some old friends and new allies, he vows to rebuild human society from the ground up using the power of science! It almost goes without saying that Senku and Appare are basically the same person—they’re socially awkward but passionate inventors who work towards their goals one step at a time, enlisting specialists and acting tsundere toward anyone they happen to help along the way. Plus, they definitely go to the same hair salon. If Appare is your favorite character, check this one out!
Dr. Stone Trailer
3. Initial D First Stage
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 1998 – December 1998
It would be horribly gauche of us to write about a racing anime without mentioning Initial D, the king of all racing anime past, present, and future. Though best known for its thumping Eurobeat soundtrack and hilarious memes, this show is filled with heart-pounding street race scenes that portray cars whipping around tight mountain corners and drifting within an inch of the drivers’ lives. Appare’s “anything goes” driving technique (often ignoring the easy path in favor of faster, but riskier routes) reminds us a lot of the daredevil moves Takumi and his opponents pull off in this classic. Now we want a Eurobeat version of the Appare-Ranman! opening...
Initial D First Stage Trailer
Any Anime Like Appare-Ranman!?
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: July 2007 – November 2007
Mafia wars, immortality elixirs, bumbling thieves, serial killers... these elements initially seem unrelated, but episode by episode they begin to fit together into a much bigger story that connects together a diverse group of people across distance and time. Baccano is fundamentally pretty different from Appare-Ranman!, since it’s a mystery/crime thriller primarily set in the 1930s, but its ensemble cast and generally jovial vibe make it a perfect match for fans who love the interplay between the Trans America Wild Race’s colorful cadre of racers. And if you’re looking for another absolute bop of an OP to listen to along with “I got it!”, Baccano has you covered with the jazzy instrumental “Guns and Roses”.
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: August 2009
Redline!!! What’s the plot? Who knows! What are the stakes? Who cares! This is Madhouse’s most ambitious project ever, clocking in at seven years of development time and over 100,000 frames of animation! It’s got blow-your-face-off racing scenes with colors and movements that fly in the face of reality itself, and music so intense that it could bring a patient in cardiac arrest back to life faster than our main character’s car zips along the futuristic track. If your blood pressure needs a boost after you’ve caught up with Appare-Ranman!, switch on Redline for even more high-octane action.
6. Oban Star-Racers
- Episodes: 26
- Aired: April 2006 – December 2006
This French/Japanese co-production might be familiar to those of you who watched a lot of Jetix when you were younger – in fact, you may not have realized that it’s an anime until right now (we certainly didn’t)! It’s a sci-fi action-adventure show that takes the basic concept of pod racing from Star Wars Episode 1 and turns it into a full-blown galactic grand prix with a single unconditional wish as the grand prize.
Spunky young mechanic Eva (using the alias “Molly”) escapes from her boarding school and joins Earth’s team as its main pilot so she can reconnect with her father, the enigmatic manager of the operation. Both Oban Star-Racers and Appare-Ranman! have similar larger-than-life atmospheres with underlying mysteries going on behind the scenes of each great race, and Molly probably frequents that same anime protagonist hair salon as well. Sit down for a nostalgia re-watch, or give it a spin for the very first time!
Oban Star-Racers Trailer
Honorable Mention. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 7: Steel Ball Run (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 7: Steel Ball Run)
- Authors: Araki, Hirohiko
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Historical, Horror, Shounen, Supernatural
- Volumes: 24
- Published: January 2004 – April 2011
Okay, so this JoJo part hasn’t been adapted into an anime yet and won’t get its turn for at least another few years, but it’s such a clear inspiration for Appare-Ranman! that we can’t in good conscience leave it out of the conversation. In the year 1890, paraplegic former jockey Johnny Joestar and mysterious Italian wanderer Gyro Zeppeli enter the Steel Ball Run cross-country horse race, but little do they know that the event is being held for a much more sinister reason and that they’ll have to use their Stands and newfound comradery to get to the other end of America alive. Appare-Ranman! seems to have taken this same basic concept and adapted it into a very different final product (unless the latter half of the series suddenly decides to have superpowers and a boatload of gay subtext), so take a look at this manga if you want to see another author’s rendition of a late 19th-century race across the United States!
Also check out IGPX: Immortal Grand Prix, Future GPX Cyber Formula, and even the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon Wacky Races if you still need more Appare-Ranman-style entertainment in your life. But are there any shows that we missed? What are you looking forward to seeing from this anime? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!