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Real life circuits to star in HIGHSPEED Etoile

Although the upcoming anime HIGHSPEED Étoile takes place in the future, race fans will easily recognise the tracks that the NEX Race competes on. Six real life modern circuits around the world will appear in the show, all with slight tweaks to their layouts to “accommodate” the futuristic NEX Race cars and new names, before it concludes at a fictional raceway.

Fuji Speedway is the only track of the seven that is currently used by the Super Formula Championship, who has a partnership with the HSE project. Known as Neo Fuji Speedway in the anime, its design is based on the original six-kilometre configuration used from its opening in 1965 to 1974. The most notable feature of this layout is the infamous “Daiichi” corner, a NASCAR oval-inspired banked turn that was depicted in HSE‘s first promotional teaser last March. Neo Fuji Speedway is also the lone circuit that will appear in multiple episodes starting with the pilot.

Episode 2 will star Bahrain International Circuit as Shangri-La Desert Circuit, its course almost identical to its current Grand Prix counterpart used by Formula One. The only notable difference lies in the addition of a kink on the straightaway between turns thirteen and fourteen.

The iconic Circuit de Monaco in Monte Carlo will be in Episode 5 as Circuit de Plancipote. The street circuit, particularly the Mirabeau corner and Nouvelle Chicane, appears in the show’s second PV released in early March.

Circuit of the Americas, host of a wide variety of motorsport including F1 and NASCAR, becomes Wilderness Frontier Circuit for Episode 7. While much of its design remains, the final two turns have been replaced by an oval-like corner. Interlagos’ Autódromo José Carlos Pace, home of the São Paulo Grand Prix, will also appear in this episode with the name La Pa Ortiz Circuit.

Episode 9 introduces Shanghai International Circuit, or Shiratamaran Circuit. Set to welcome F1 again in 2024, its NEX Race version will use the 5.45-km Grand Prix configuration.

The show’s final stretch returns to Japan at the fictional Osaka Kansai Expo Course, eschewing other locations on the Super Formula schedule. This might come as a surprise to some fans who were expecting places like F1’s Suzuka Circuit, Sportsland Sugo, or Twin Ring Motegi, all tracks that were featured in the 2023 Japanese F4-centric anime Overtake!. Suzuka had also collaborated with HSE to produce a spin-off manga titled L’Entrée de Towa et Kanata that began serialisation in October.

Credit: HIGHSPEED Étoile

Revealed in July 2022, HIGHSPEED Étoile is a multimedia project created to celebrate Super Formula’s fifty-year anniversary. The anime is directed by Keitaro Motonaga, who previously oversaw Jormungand and various Digimon Adventure films, while animation is done by Studio A-Cat, which worked on Battle Game in 5 Seconds, Transformers: Energon, and the BanG Dream! spin-off short Pastel Life.

The anime will premiere on 5 April. An advance screening of the first two episode took place on 17 March.

“There are probably people who have been supporting us since the (show’s) announcement a year ago,” said Fūka Izumi, who voices protagonist Rin Rindoh, following the screening. “Finally being able to deliver Episodes 1 and 2, I feel a sense of accomplishment and relief. I hope that as many people as possible will be able to experience the charm of the work and the charm of motorsports, so if you find it interesting, I’d be happy if you could actually come to the circuit.”

HSE will be Izumi’s second major voice acting role after breaking out as the lead character in Gushing over Magical Girls. Other voice actresses at the screening included Yoko Hikasa, Shiori Izawa, and new cast members Yurie Funato and Shu Uchida. Funato, who will play Hikari Hinata, is a former idol who starred in the show Stardust Telepath. Uchida, set to voice Akari Kuzuryū, is a Japanese-Australian best known for her work with Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club. Marina Inoue and Tsuyoshi Koyama, who have appeared in a variety of anime and games, were respectively revealed as Chitose Kaguya and Genjirō Hyuga in early March.

Yui Horie, Kenichirō Matsuda, Nana Mizuki, Ayaka Suwa, Yukari Tamura, and Kohsuke Toriumi are also part of the cast. Mizuki will perform the opening theme song while the band Scandal provides the ending; the former also performed the national anthem prior to the Super Formula season opener in Suzuka, during which Izumi served as a guest commentator.

Super Formula and HSE have worked closely since the project’s creation. Staff members attended races in 2022 and 2023 to conduct research on how they operate, while Super Formula outfit Team Mugen became a technical advisor for the show to provide more access to the garage. Real life series sponsors like Honda Racing Corporation and Toyota Gazoo Racing have also pitched their support. Ren Sato, the 2022 Rookie of the Year, was occasionally a guest host on the HIGHSPEED Étoile RADIO show during the 2023 season.

NEX Race schedule

EpisodeIn-Universe TrackReal-Life Track
1Neo Fuji SpeedwayFuji Speedway
2Shangri-La Desert CircuitBahrain International Circuit
4Neo Fuji SpeedwayFuji Speedway
5Circuit de PlancipoteCircuit de Monaco
7Wilderness Frontier CircuitCircuit of the Americas
La Pa Ortiz CircuitAutódromo José Carlos Pace
9Shiratamaran CircuitShanghai International Circuit
10–12Osaka Kansai Expo CourseFictional


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