An incident can only happen so many times before people stop calling it a coincidence. Regardless of genre or era, a truck has always been around the corner to send a beloved character to their other life or the next. And with these incidents, Truck kun was born.
With the rise of the isekai genre in anime, manga, and light novels, we have seen countless protagonists sent to the “other world.” From magic portals to video games, there are different ways and circumstances to set the wheels of the isekai machine in motion. However, the trusty truck has been showing up in various series. Mostly, writers and creators bring him to the forefront of the anime characters for his role in sending people to “the other side.”
Perhaps no one has killed more named characters than the Truck in modern Japanese literature. To trace his origins and appreciate his influence, here’s everything you need to know about Truck kun, the most prolific serial killer in Japanese pop culture:
Who or what is Truck kun?
If you are a long time anime lover like me, you would surely come across a case of the Truck kun incident in anime, manga or light novels. Usually, an unsuspecting character bids farewell or crosses a street. A speeding truck suddenly appears around the corner, with the driver and the victim surprised. Wheels screech, brakes put on the floor, usually to no avail.
So, to answer the question, what is Truck kun? Truck kun, also known as the isekai truck (or truck chan or truck san), is a plot device and the Internet’s nickname for trucks that cause an accident and it often leads to the death of a character. With the rise in popularity of the isekai genre, trucks have also appeared multiple times to move the story forward. The death, usually of the main character, allows them to get transported to “the other world” where their adventure begins
The origins of Truck kun
The origin of the “Isekai Reincarnator” comes from various online forums. It has become a meme with regard to the number of its appearances in different works, making it almost redundant.
A term coined by manga fans, it has found its way through anime circles and even meme communities. In fact, Urban Dictionary explains “Truck kun” as “A supernatural force that sends people to fantasy worlds by killing them.”
A discussion of Trucks in Manga
One of the earliest mentions of the truck being a plot device to move a story can be found in Reddit. Redditor poloport (u/poloport) posted in the r/manga subreddit. Titled “Trucks in Manga – RE: Marina,” the April 14, 2015 post featured a page from the manga showing its main character, Rinosuke, crossing the street, remembering Marina’s words. A speeding truck then appears.
Spoiler Alert for readers of RE: Marina – the featured character did not die from the incident. It did however, move the story by pulling the two characters closer together.
A month later, on May 19, Redditor Draaly-Throwaway created another thread on the same subreddit. The Redditor asked other users: “If you could introduce Truck-kun to one character from any story, who would it be?” The Reddit thread was among the first threads to refer to the recurring plot device as “Truck-kun,” a name that would stick. It is, however, remains undetermined whether this subreddit thread was actually the first to use the name.
The post received funny responses, with one user suggesting that Griffith from the Berserk series would be an unexpected development.
However, both posts referenced that Fuuka was one of the first anime or manga noted to have Truck kun. The 2014 manga later received its own anime series in 2017. Its main character, Fuuka Akitsuki, figured in a truck accident. In the manga, an oncoming truck accidentally kills her. In the anime, she survived and follows her dreams.
From Reddit to TVTropes
The following February 2016, Redditor Xx255q asked about the number of deaths caused by Truck-kun. On January 6, 2017, TendouMan created a thread on the TVTropes forums. His post was titled: “Truck-kun: The most prolific serial killer in Japanese pop culture.” The original posted noted how it always appears to be the same truck involved in all those deaths.
Fellow TVTropes forums users replied, with user Lyendith commenting the link to a controversial appearance from the anime Magical Princess Minky Momo.
Top 15 Truck kun appearances in manga and anime
As the most prolific serial killer in Japanese pop culture, the omnipresent truck has made appearances in a lot of iconic anime. His early roles has mostly serve to move the plot by introducing character deaths for the development of other characters.
However, with the rise of the isekai genre, Truck kun has been vital in sending characters to the other world where they are needed. And with that, below are some of the most iconic appearances of the one and only truck.
KonoSuba: God’s Blessing On This Wonderful World! (Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!)
One of the most popular isekai appearance of Truck kun is in KonoSuba, and he wasn’t even there. He is responsible for getting its main character, Kazuma, to be totally “isekai’d.” In the very first episode, Kazuma Satou, picks the wrong day to go buy a video game. After sleepless nights, he thought he saw a girl from her school being hit by a speeding truck. He pushes her and dies in her place.
He later appears talking to Aqua, the goddess who offers him a second shot at life. Kazuma also learns that his selflessness was in vain. Even if he hadn’t interfered, the girl would have been safe. The tractor was supposed to stop before hitting the girl.
That is right, one of signature Truck kun’s appearances was a mistake. It was more of a truck mirage getting the job done. Kazuma Satou dies, gets isekai’d, and goes on an adventure with Aqua and the rest of the band. This incident went down in history as the time Truck kun killed someone without actually being there.
And also, Kazuma did not die from being hit by the pseudo-Truck-kun tractor. He simply died from the shock of thinking as such. He even peed himself, with the doctors and his family laughing as he died. It all happens in the first five minutes.
Didn’t I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?!
Misato Kurihara always stood out from the rest of her schoolmates. As a result, she was not able to make any friends. She did, however, come from a loving family. One day, she saw a small child running across the street.
Misato, unlike other anime and manga characters up to this point, is aware of Truck kun. In fact, in her story, she called it “The famous reincarnated into another world Out of control Truck.” Misato pushed the child out of harm’s way and died in her stead.
In good old isekai fashion, she was brought to a place with a god-like entity. This person gave her perks and bonuses, as well as the chance to live another life.
She would later be reborn as a noble, Adele von Ascham. While she did wish to be “average,” she was not really specific about it. As a result, she went right in the middle, in terms of magical abilities. Adele von Ascham then received powers in the “average” of the absolute strongest and the absolute weakest. She got magical powers 6,800 times of the normal human.
Jobless Reincarnation: I Will Seriously Try If I Go To Another World (Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu)
From Rifujin no Magonote’s light novel series comes one of Truck kun’s most prominent roles to date. Mushoku Tensei is already running as a manga series in circulation since 2014. An anime adaptation was originally announced for a 2020 premiere. However, the anime release date moved to a 2021 release.
Mushoku Tensei begins with an unnamed Japanese NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) having a tragic life. As soon as his parents died, he was kicked out of their home. He came to the conclusion that his life amounts to nothing. In an attempt to start his life all over again, he dies. Well, he tries to save a group of students from Truck kun. He succeeds in saving one of them before dying.
In this series, there is none of the average shounen/ shoujo protagonists. The creators designed him to be overweight and quite unsightly. Even then, Truck kun treats everyone the same. He dies and reincarnates as a baby in another world.
Also known as Tesuwan Atomu, 1963’s Astro Boy is not actually the first anime. It is, however, credited as the series that started the worldwide phenomenon we all enjoy now.
Truck kun, in his black and white sci-fi incarnation, is partly the reason why Astro Boy exists. Set in the futuristic year 2000 (another timeline, maybe?), Tobio takes his dad’s car for a stroll. A speeding TRUCK turns around the corner and crashes with poor Tobio’s car, killing him.
Now this 1963 Truck hovers above the ground, but it still screeches as it tries to brake and avoid the accident. It fails, and kills Tobio, prompting his scientist dad to create a robot in his image. In true Truck kun fashion, it kills the kid to create Astro Boy, who becomes the savior of 2000s.
On the other hand, his father, who lacks sympathy towards robots, would become the series’ villain. This is perhaps the only incident where the Truck creates both the hero and the villain.
Magical Princess Minky Momo (1983)
It is one of the most infamous incarnations of Truck kun, mainly because this was taboo at the time. Imagine if Sesame Street, or any other beloved children’s show, kills your favorite character unceremoniously. And one of the truck’s many incarnations did it. It even caused a terrifying urban legend to boot. That’s what Truck kun, with the creators of Minky Momo, pulled off together.
Momo is a princess to a magical land in the sky. She goes to earth to help people regain their lost hopes and dreams. Doing so would also save their kingdom, which relies on Earth’s hopes and dreams to survive. She can transform depending on what the current situation needs from her – from a policewoman, football manager, doctor, and more.
Its 46th episode, originally aired on January 27, 1983, showed its lead character, Momo, dying from being hit by a truck. The small girl, after losing her magic powers, tries to save another child from being hit by a toy truck. The truck hits her instead and kills her on the spot.
Momo was later reborn as a baby to a childless couple, it opens a pandora’s box of infamy that lasts till this day.
This musical and romantic drama series is another infamous appearance of Truck-kun. So tragic, in fact, that some people weren’t able to deal with it. They had to create a different story line undermining the powers that govern the natural laws, and in the anime, Truck-kun actually swerves away before hitting the titular protagonist.
Also, the manga keeps things as they should. The laws of nature remain. The MC Fuuka Akitsuki dropped her keychain in the middle of an empty road. As she goes back to retrieve her keychain, Truck kun suddenly appears. Here is where the manga and anime worlds diverged – she died in the manga, but she survived in the anime.
Still, it was shocking in the sense because Fuuka was mostly a slice-of-life/ musical/ romance/ drama scene. It had no boss fights and no life-threatening conflicts. It was rare to see the main character die in the middle of the series. Even weirder, her supposed replacement in the story is also named Fuuka, maybe to preserve the series title.
It basically broke the series’ fanbase, with a part of it petitioning to save Fuuka through any means possible? Whether it involved erasing her name from the Death Note or collecting the seven Dragon Ball set, we may never know. Koji Seo, the series creator, is aware of what he did to the fans of his work. That is why during the anime production phase, Seo and the producers agreed that Fuuka should have survived. Whether Truck kun’s opinion on the matter was taken, we do not know.
Zombie Land Saga
Beating KonoSuba in the earliest truck-related death, its main character Sakura Minamoto is introduced to Truck kun within the first 90 seconds of the anime. It shows another example of “This is the day!” build-up that precedes an anime tragedy.
Sakura admits to being clumsy. Nevertheless, she decides to submit what appeared to be her idol audition material. Just as she steps out the door, BAM, Truck kun.
It also introduces a timeskip right off the bat. After a short horror sequence, it was revealed that after she died, she was revived ten years later as a zombie. A man named Kotaro Tatsumi creates a seven-member idol girl group made up of dead girls from different eras in Japan. The Zombie group Franchouchou is set to be the biggest girl group, revitalizing Saga Prefecture.
Before the series lightens up, it is a straight-to-walls horror flick. Sakura was actually shot by a police officer, the first to see her as a zombie. Initially, bumbling zombie girls are trained to be idols – from etiquette to outfits, to performing song and dance numbers.
It does take a few jabs on the Japanese idol industry – working long hours and the importance of a “pure” idol. But Zombie Land Saga is more than just jokes and references. It does have its heart-wrenching moments.
Kurokami (Black God)
This Japanese-Korean action fantasy is one of the underrated series out there – merciless and thrilling and ultimately awesome. It focuses on 19-year-old Keita Ibuki caught in the world of doppelgangers. It has its amazing world-building parallel to our own, but with an energy called “tera,” shared between a root (the original) and two more doubles.
In this series, Truck kun makes a veiled, blink-and-you-miss-it appearance. However, it does not make his work in Kurokami any less traumatic. He does, however, make two appearances over the series as a measure of the protagonist’s progress.
In the first episode, we are introduced to the cute kid Mayu-chan, neighbor to the protagonist Keita Ibuki. He babysits Mayu. One day, she meets her body double, or “doppeliner,” and later dies. Mayu-chan crosses the street and gets introduced to the unstoppable force of nature that is the oncoming truck.
Near the end of the last episode, another student is crossing the street where Mayu-chan died twenty-two episodes before. Whether the new potential roadkill looks like an older Mayu is coincidental, we can’t say. The lights are still red, the vehicle is still rushing, but Keita manages to dive in time to save the unnamed student.
Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba’s magnum opus, Death Note, is a supernatural detective cat and chase that went down in history. While the fans were divided at how it went after L died, one can’t argue the impact that this series had before isekai anime over-saturated the scene.
Unlike most entries in this list, Truck kun actually worked for the protagonist in this Death Note appearance. In the very first episode, as Yagami Light still experiments with the powers of the supernatural killing notebook, he finds a group of bikers harassing a woman. Light then summons the trusty assassin and crushes both the harasser and an innocent motorcycle.
Aside from the Truck killing from the front, he also kills from the back in a display of its life-ending versatility. In the 23rd episode of the anime, an unassuming traffic officer was killed by a death note. It was a heart attack that began the bad day, with the large metallic behind of the truck delivering the final blow.
Last in the Truck kun’s Top 10 appearances is the work where he is the main character. Since the legend of an omnipresent truck sending people to other worlds or the next has exploded in the Internet, there was one way left – creating his own manga. In Isekai Transporter, a 37-year-old Thai man Bunrueng Songsawad works to send the much-needed heroes to the fantasy worlds that need them.
To set the record straight, this is a parody of the truck trope and the isekai genre from Thailand. However, it has provided a backbone to the Truck-kun conspiracy and connects all truck-infested anime together. In the manga, Bunrueng explains that different worlds call them for help – requesting for heroes to save their world. They also work on the requests from the “client” such as age, appearance, and other specifics as to what hero they want to get in their own worlds.
While other fans might argue about its eligibility since it is basically a parody series not made in Japan. However, its relevance and growing fan base warrant a second look as an important Truck appearance mostly among manga readers at this point. Whether it will be adapted to an anime, as is the case with the manhwa Tower of God, that remains to be seen.
Bungou Stray Dogs
In the third season, Atsushi Nakajima’s former parent figure, the orphanage headmaster, went to Yokohama apparently to look for him. The headmaster verbally and psychologically abused Atsushi, not even telling him that he was the “Beast Beneath The Moonlight.”
Unfortunately, he was hit by you know who. The headmaster was reading a news article that featured Atsushi. It was blown by the wind and as he was chasing the paper, he was given a Yokohama welcome by you-know-who. At the end of the episode, the tragedy basically fast-tracked Atsushi’s development in dealing a sad past and an abusive parent figure.
Captain Tsubasa – World Youth
One of the classic Japanese series, especially in the sports genre, Captain Tsubasa first started in 1981 and is credited with popularizing football in the country. One of its longer arcs, World Youth, saw Tsubasa playing for the Brazilian team but later joins Japan.
In the quarterfinals, readers are introduced to the captain of the Swedish team, Stefan Levin. The angry and aggressive midfielder was revealed to be an innocent, sports-loving fan during his youth. The following panel is important as it testifies to the truck power, even outside Japan.
A year before the tournament, Levin’s childhood friend and fiancee, Katarina Karen, died in a vehicular accident on the way to watch him play. It was also the game where Levin won the Swedish National Football Tournament. While it was never directly mentioned that the truck is responsible, it was captured in half of the page.
We believe that this will go without much opposition – Gintama is one of the craziest, weirdest series ever. It has shamelessly parodied other anime, Japanese pop culture, and even its national issues and scandals. No wonder Truck kun wants a slice of the fame that this long-running series enjoys.
At the start of Episode 287, we see Gintoki and Hijikata squabbling in the middle of the road when suddenly, the guest character appears to break their fight. It even ends the sequence with the dramatic belonging of the character flying away – a book, a keychain, a shoe – or in this case, Gintoki’s dime a dozen Lake Toya wooden sword.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: The Movie 2nd A’s Project
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha has earned its own dedicated fan base, mostly by its use of technology-magic. Furthermore, it uses the magical girl type not only for cutesy stuff but for addressing intense problems. One of its spinoffs is the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: The Movie 2nd A’s Project.
The truck in this movie, like most of Truck kun’s appearance, is at the start of the film. Here, Truck is working at night shift, which explains the driver falling asleep. He tries to step on the brake and *gasp* sends the wheelchaired girl into the other dimension, awakening her powers. Thanks Truck!
Another of the heartless appearances, courtesy of Truck kun, is in Yokai Watch. This children’s show that is mostly filled with friendly creatures from the other world. In a move that should have surprised no one, a show about ghosts would definitely include sad stories of death.
A soul-sucking guest appearance comes in the anime’s 25th episode. One of the franchise’s most recognizable mascots, Jibanyan, had a fight with his partner Nate and runs away. He was sent to the past to relive how he died and became a Yokai. He was an average cat who saved his master and got hit by the speeding vehicle instead.
At this point, we can safely say that the Truck sets most of these stories in motion and without him, most of these characters would go through their regular boring lives. What started as a coincidence in the last ten years was eventually uncovered as a tradition almost as old as the anime industry itself.
With new works springing out every season, and with the proven versatility of the truck to play the role assigned to him, we can definitely expect more of Truck kun in the future. He is not only fit for getting characters killed or isekai’d, he is an agent for pushing the plot forward – may it be suspense, romance, or even comedy (as in Gintama, yes).