Still stuck in stuff covered by the anime... I'm reading through the section where Naoe & friends are trying to leave the Hakone Shrine and are being menaced by illusions created by the Fuuma clan. (No, not X Fuuma, ninja Fuuma.) They're going along, coming up on a hairpin turn and Naoe executes a heel-and-toe downshift.
*boggle* Excuse me?? You know when I was making a crack about Naoe taking the family cars to Iroha for a little illegal street racing, I was joking, yeah? Really. Honestly.
Bogglement aside, I suppose it would be a prudent thing for the Yashashu to polish their driving skills as much as possible. Since, after all, you never know when you are going to have to drive rapidly up a winding mountain road while being attacked (well, confused actually) by ninjas and being really darn good at driving can only help.
(For those who are not into driving, heel and toe downshifting is an advanced driving technique. Some racing hobbyists can do it properly; many can't. Heel-and-toe is hard, and getting it right consistenly is a goal of many an amatuer racer. I can think of no way that someone would learn it other than by studying racing techniques, since there really is no use for it whatsoever on a public road. It's certainly not something one would be taught in driver's Ed.)
Given all that, I can see why Takaya prefers to ride with Naoe over Chiaki. (Other than, of course, all the obvious reasons.)
On a related note... I believe I am correct in identifying the road that Our Heros are on as being directly (if distantly) contributing to my being up at 4 AM this morning. Our story starts back in the mid 50's...
Back then Japan was still recovering from the war. The only people who owned their own cars were rich people. The common man had to make do with a combination of feet, trains, bicycles, and sometimes motorcycles.
Fuji Heavy Industries had previously made aircraft engines which were used in the war effort. The war having ended, they needed to find new markets. They had moderate success making motorcycles, but in the nature of companies, they needed to find a new direction to expand into.
A group of bright engineers thought about it and decided that they could make a private car for the masses -- the "my car" that the Ministry of Trade and Industry was advocating manufacturers to build. The result of their effort was what really can be called the first Japanese sub-compact, the Subaru 360.
Then engine for the Subaru 360 was based off of a motocycle engine, and so was a lot smaller than most automobile engines of the day. The engine capacity was only 356 cc, which is where the "360" part of the name derives. The car made up for its lack of sheer grunt by being very light. As Mazda says, "weight is the enemy", and the Subaru 360 managed to keep its enemies to a minimum.
While trying to obtain approval to produce the Subaru 360, Fuji Heavy Industries had to pass a variety of tests. One of the critical ones that had to be passed in order to prove that the car was a reasonable thing to market was that it had to prove that it would be able to tackle Japan's twisty mountain roads. At the time radiators were not used on road cars, and so overheating -- particularly when climbing mountains -- was a common issue. In order to get approval for manufacture, the Subaru 360 needed to be able to ascend a mountain and do at least as well as the larger cars at the time. The road chosen was a notoriously difficult ascent to Hakone.
(You begin to see why I bring all this up in the first place...)
The car did, of course, make the ascent successfully. It made it as fast as other cars of the time, and it didn't overheat at all. FHI was given permission to manufacture the car and it was a stunning success. Suddenly everyman Joe could actually afford to own his own car.
As a random note, Ban's car in Getbackers is a Subaru 360. Because of its shape, it was nicknamed "the ladybug".
By this point in the narrative most people will probably have figured out what role this particular road played in my being awake at 4 AM today. Thanks to the success of the Subaru 360 Fuji Heavy Industries was able to continue to expand their automotive business, and, in time, brought out a variety of car models, including my personal favorite, the Subaru Impreza WRC. (Well, okay, maybe I like the more affordable Impreza models better, since I have a prayer of, well, owning one.)
And thus we see what a road in Hakone has to do with my not getting enough sleep. Ain't it great?
My babble ends here.