Driver vs. Machine

A vision of Musk-sama’s desired future

by Punch Rockgroin

In the year 20X6, the vast majority of citizens will no longer drive. Instead, they will be able to rent an AI-driven car of their choice, depending on their needs. This system will greatly reduce the number of driving-related deaths, and also allow a more rapid response to road-related emergencies. These new cars will also be driven by electric motors, thus also being much cleaner for the environment.

But any system is prone to issues and random errors, and the world of éX-Driver is no different. When one of these self-driven cars goes rogue, a small but elite group of human drivers and their internal combustion-powered vehicles to chase and safely stop these runaway cars from going further.

Self-driving cars have been discussed for many years, and occasionally make an appearance in anime and other media. In éX-Driver, the concept is discussed a bit further to address the what-if and potentially hazardous situations a fully autonomous vehicle would cause if it ran amok.


Lorna prepares to use a Single Shot Sticky Stuff Shooter

éX-Driver follows the world of…éX-Drivers (or éX-Riders), a select few who have the privilege of getting to drive nice sports cars to stop malfunctioning AI cars and protect the public. In future Big City, Japan, this is left to Lorna (Doone) Endo, Lisa Sakakino, and the young driving prodigy Soichi Sugano. Lorna is the friendly and cool-headed counterpart to Lisa’s energetic and somewhat reckless nature. Lorna also tries to keep the team going once Soichi joins, given his superior driving skills to that of Lisa, which conflict with Lisa’s desire to find an older man who drives better than she does. Lisa and Soichi eventually get along, but this is about as far as the series allows for any development.

The cars are stopped by disrupting the autonomous vehicle’s GPS system, and then by blocking four sensors on the car itself. Once this is done, the car cannot “see” and thus performs an emergency stop and shutdown. Why this method works and why some cars go nuts is never explained, most likely to cram as many chases and driving spectacles in the series’ six episodes.

If this doesn’t sound like much of a plot, it’s not. Even then, the first 4 episodes still have the main focus of éX-Drivers chasing down rogue AI cars in their classy vintage sport-tuned machines. Only the fifth and sixth episodes have a change of pace, in which “outlaw” drivers (those not licensed to drive manual vehicles but do so anyway) show up to challenge the éX-Drivers for control of their city.

Still, this is a show that did not intend to answer any deeper questions about the possible advantages and dangers of fully-automated vehicular travel. Instead, it’s here to show off fancy cars (like the Lotus Europa and the Lancia Stratos) chasing down pedestrian vehicles in relatively-high, hand-drawn detail. The chases aren’t at the artistry of Bullitt, but they aren’t quite as cheesy as some of the scenes from Initial-D, either. There’s plenty of drifting, however. This is primarily an automotive fanservice show, but there’s some of the “male gaze” variety, too.


Alright, now I can get my foreskin back!

This series is worth a watch if you’re a gearhead. For those not so into cars, I can’t see this doing much for them since there’s very little plot and not too much character development, either. Looking for a discussion on how technology will affect our daily lives? This isn’t it. For the curious, at 6 episodes it can easily be watched on a lazy afternoon and it just may spice it up a bit.

Maybe look it up:
éX-Driver original video animation
Written by Shinzo Fujita, Directed by Jun Kawagoe
Produced by Actas, Inc, licensed by Media Blasters

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