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Toyota Unveils Anime Series, ‘GRIP’: Plot, Details, Watch Online

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Toyota is boldly going where few carmakers have gone before: into the anime world.

The Japanese automotive brand is launching an all-new anime content series, centered around a “dashing protagonist who’s taking on the evil of soulless automated driving.” Titled GRIP, the five-episode series will be released weekly beginning on February 26 through toyota.com/grip.

Produced for Toyota by Long Beach-based marketing agency, Intertrend, GRIP riffs off the car brand’s popular Gazoo Racing motorsport division and its current roster of cars in an effort to appeal to a Gen-Z and young, Asian-American audience. Intertrend Executive Director of Strategy/Creative Matthew Choy calls anime the “perfect conduit for this audience, leveraging a storytelling platform that wasn’t an usual, expected ad campaign.”

The series follows lead character Joe Kang and his crew as they race around a futuristic metropolis controlled by the fictictious tech conglomerate, SynthCorp. Per a series description, the full-throttle anime series begins at a time “when the thrill of driving has been all but extinguished” by SynthCorp, with Dr. Synth controlling a “vast fleet of cookie-cutter vehicles, which he has successfully persuaded the public to perceive as safer, more efficient and will lead to a more controlled society.” Of course, not everything is as it appears, and Kang — and his track-built GR Corolla, natch — must (literally) race around the clock to rescue the city from impending doom.

Choy says the idea of using anime to promote Toyota’s roster of cars (and their reliability) was inspired by classic anime titles like Initial D, which were “core to automotive culture.” As Choy explains, “Anime allows for larger-than-life portraits of both cars and people” and helps to “amp up the thrill and excitement of driving.”

GRIP will also offer up some excitement — and easter eggs — for fans of GR (or Gazoo Racing). Used for rallying and endurance racing, GR cars have long been the stuff of folklore for motorheads and gear heads alike. GRIP will provide a peek into the custom cars, albeit in an alternate, animated universe.

Choy says there are also many parallels between the themes explored in the series and in our world today. “We were inspired to tell a story that went beyond the product, and utilized narratives that we see all around us in American culture,” he offers, citing themes like “Automation vs. Manual Control,” “Digital vs. Analog” and of course, the timeless fight between “Good vs. Evil.” As he explains, “This series is not just anime lovers and nerds, but also for anyone interested in watching a thrilling story unfold.”

Created by Intertrend, GRIP’s crew includes Executive Producer Frank Mele (Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest), and Supervising Director Jae Woo Kim (Blood of Zeus, Tron: Uprising, Ben10 Omniverse). Watch the five-part anime series at toyota.com/grip.

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