Image source: 『「つうかあ」オリジナルTVアニメ公式 on Twitter

Viewers would be forgiven for thinking that Two Car: Sidecar Racing was only a series about, well, sidecar racing. It absolutely is, but it’s also incredibly self-aware of its place in the wider anime medium. The pair of driver Mao and passenger Hitomi are an extremely obvious yuri, or girl-girl, pairing. They are also absolutely terrible at being a couple. And, yes, that’s the joke. 

The First Episode of Two Car: Sidecar Racing Excites the Motorsports Lover Inside of Me

At its most basic premise Two Car is the story of a pair of high school girls who race special motorcycles with built-in side cars. This is actually the local sport of the island on which they live, Miyakejima, and the island where all of the other school pairs have come to compete. Yuri and Megumi, the protagonists, are two best friends who have grown up together and both are in love with the need for high-speed antics. More alike than they are different, they are the racing part of their side car club. Despite Yuri and Megumi being our heroines, Two Car is an ensemble cast. And each of the other pairs has a shtick. Mao and Hitomi are quite possibly the most blatant. 

Image source: 『「つうかあ」オリジナルTVアニメ公式 on Twitter

There’s almost nothing about Mao and Hitomi that isn’t reference to a long history of lesbian tropes in anime (which themselves are based on lesbian stereotypes in general). That said, the most famous yuri couple Mao and Hitomi resemble is Haruka (Amara) and Michiru (Michelle) from Sailor Moon. Haruka and Michiru were themselves inclusive of previous tropes, but they really crystallized the significant gender expression binary between the “masculine” partner and the “feminine” partner that would appear in later works. It’s worth noting that Haruka was a motorsports driver as well (both cars and motorcycles).

Like Haruka, Mao has her hair in a short, masculine style and wears a male style school uniform. This is actually a joke itself, because unlike Haruka who attends a co-ed school, Mao and Hitomi attend an all girls high school. Mao uses the masculine personal pronoun “boku.” While princely and romantic with teasing (again, as is typical of Haruka or the trope in general), her comments are often completely inappropriate for the situation or utterly awkward. It seems almost certain that half of the time, the other girls don’t even understand where her comments are coming from. The viewers do, but only because we recognize how the tropes are being referenced.

Image source: 『「つうかあ」オリジナルTVアニメ公式 on Twitter

Likewise, Hitomi is ultra feminine and certainly recalls Michiru. Her elegance is overstated. She is prone to exclamations of her certainty of her connection to Mao and the strength of their relationship. Yet, Hitomi is equally overcome with emotion when Mao invariably doesn’t follow her lead in saying whatever it is Hitomi expects Mao to say. Unlike the connection that Mao and Hitomi claim to have, we see that Mao is constantly having to try to read Hitomi’s expressions to say whatever Hitomi wants to hear. 

Mao and Hitomi outwardly go to great lengths to be seen as the perfect couple. In addition to their over the top dialogue, repeatedly stating how connected and perfectly in sync they are, and their obvious outward commitment to lesbian stereotypes and yuri tropes, they’ve even gone as far as wedding rings. And they are not shy about flashing these rings whenever possible. The message is pretty clear that they think their outwardly “perfect” romantic relationship gives them an advantage over the other teams.

Image source: 『「つうかあ」オリジナルTVアニメ公式 on Twitter

There’s only one problem with this message. It’s a total lie. The pair in rarely in sync at all, and to maintain appearances, they essentially need to fib to each other in front of others in order to maintain it. They are no more capable of reading each others’ thoughts than any other two people are. To some extent they have become quite good at reading each others’ expressions in order to continue to create the illusion that they have some super special connection. Ultimately, they seem to not really know each other very well at all, only truly aware of the outwardly superficial veneers each show to others.

Far from true love, they seem to both be playing a role with the other as a prop. Why? We honestly have no idea, but perhaps it will become clear as the show progresses. In the mean time though, their constant relationship bumbling provides plenty of comic relief that pokes self-aware fun at a series of unrealistic tropes and stereotypes from anime series of the past. 

Two Car: Side Car racing can be watched on Crunchyroll.

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