January 11, 2023
The world of Casio is vast and diverse. I honestly can’t think of another single watch brand that produces some models that cost less than the price of a movie ticket, while also creating others that sell for thousands of dollars — and that is even before we start talking about all of the other products that Casio makes, such as calculators, digital cameras, and musical instruments. When it comes to the brand’s watches, one of my favorite and often-overlooked sections of Casio’s catalog is the Edifice series, which consists of premium models that are built for everyday urban life, rather than being specifically created for the outdoors like the Pro Trek collection, or designed to be virtually indestructible like the G-Shock lineup. Just like Casio’s other premium watch collections, the Edifice series will occasionally produce collaboration pieces, and among the co-branded releases for 2022 is the Casio Edifice x Initial D & MF Ghost ECB2000MFG, which takes the already automotive-inspired ECB2000 series and infuses it with design elements drawn from the popular motorsport-themed manga world created by Shuichi Shigeno.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to know anything about manga or anime, but from what I understand, Initial D was a highly popular manga series that was about street racing and drifting through the mountain passes of Japan. The series ran from 1995 to 2013 and was published in 48 volumes in Young Magazine, ultimately selling more than 56 million copies. Meanwhile, MF Ghost is essentially the sequel to Shigeno’s original street-racing manga that has been around since 2017, and which is now scheduled to be turned into an anime series that is set to premiere next year in 2023. In MF Ghost, the protagonist drives a red Toyota GT86 (known within the United States as the GR86), so while I may not really be able to comment on how closely this watch embodies the greater spirit of the popular manga series, I am rather familiar with the main hero’s car, as it can also appear within the United States as both the Scion FRS and Subaru BRZ. All car and manga connections aside, the watch itself is quite striking and its overall aesthetic resembles what could best be described as what might happen if one of the Transformer robots were to take over a traditional racing chronograph and gave it a whole wealth of advanced digital features, including solar charging and Bluetooth connectivity.
Crafted from carbon fiber-reinforced resin, the case of the Casio Edifice Initial D & MF Ghost ECB2000MFG measures 47.8mm in diameter by 51mm lug-to-lug, and since it doesn’t need to include a shock-absorbing rubber shroud like the G-Shock range, the entire case measures just 11.4mm thick. The bold and angular lugs feature an integrated structure for the strap, and they offer a dynamic three-dimensional skeletonized appearance that is intended to resemble the suspension system of a racing car. Just as you would expect from one of Casio’s multi-function hybrid analog/digital watches, there are four buttons fitted to the side of the case used to access all of the various features. That said, the two buttons on the right-hand side are different from the two on the left, and they appear as large pump-style pushers with red accents on their tips that mirror the appearance of the pushers on a classic mechanical racing chronograph. While this small detail initially might seem slightly quirky or insignificant, the enlarged pusher-style buttons on the right-hand side of the case give the Edifice ECB2000MFG a more traditional overall shape and form, and they ultimately make it feel less like a digital watch, and more like a highly tech-forward chronograph.
Fitted to the top of the case is a flat sapphire crystal with a glare-resistant coating, and surrounding the crystal is a fixed stainless steel bezel that has a black ion-plated finish and a bright red aluminum insert with silver minute markings. Meanwhile, the reverse side of the case gets fitted with a solid stainless steel caseback that has a matching black ion-plated finish, and it is secured at each corner to the middle case by four screws and adorned with all of the necessary markings, along with the functions for each of the buttons. Water resistance comes in at a respectable 100 meters, and although the watch itself is quite lightweight, the overall feel is much more in line with other carbon-cased watches, rather than the classic rubbery feel of a G-Shock. Additionally, while not having a rubber shroud over the case ultimately means that the Casio Edifice Initial D & MF Ghost ECB2000MFG offers a more elevated on-wrist experience, it should also be noted that the lack of the rubber covering means that the watch does not offer the same incredible impact resistance that defines the function-forward G-Shock lineup.
The dial of the watch largely follows an analog display with two large centrally mounted hands for displaying the hours and minutes, plus a duo of small digital screens at 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock, and a small analog hand at 9 o’clock that serves as a power reserve indicator and a countdown display for timers and alarms. Despite being an analog/digital hybrid watch, the placement of these three elements is somewhat reminiscent of the 3-6-9 layout of the registers on a traditional mechanical chronograph. The backdrop for the dial surrounding the two inverted LCD screens features a dark gray sunburst finish with Japanese characters that translate to “Gyaaa!” — the sound effect signifying a race car screeching across the road, which fans of the manga series will have inevitably seen splashed across the pages of both Initial D and MF Ghost. The register at 9 o’clock is intended to mirror the appearance of a car’s dashboard speedometer, while the bold white batons for the hour markers and the small bright red accents help create a cohesive overall appearance that is reminiscent of the bright red GT86 that is driven by the protagonist of the MF Ghost manga series. Just as you would expect from a watch with multifunction digital capabilities, the display can be illuminated at the push of a button, and this activates a double LED backlight, with one LED dedicated to the two LCD screens, and the other used for illuminating the analog face of the watch.
Powering the Casio Edifice x Initial D & MF Ghost ECB2000MFG is Module No. 5698, which represents a significant step up from the various modules that power the brand’s entry-level watches. In addition to the standard multifunction digital watch features such as an alarm, countdown timer, world time feature, and automatically programmed calendar, Module No. 5698 also offers both Tough Solar charging and Bluetooth connectivity for an easy and care-free ownership experience. While there certainly are a number of Casio modules that offer greater in-depth functionality and additional purpose-built features, Module No. 5698 represents a solid middle-of-the-road option, as it offers the vast majority of the most useful daily functions, without giving you the often-superfluous and highly situational-specific features of other advanced Casio modules, such as altimeters, tide graphs, and step counters. That said, with both solar charging and Bluetooth connectivity for pairing to your tablet or smartphone, Module No. 5698 offers easy setup and configuration, along with the autonomy of not having to worry about routine battery replacements.
Completing the Casio Edifice Initial D & MF Ghost ECB2000MFG is an integrated red Cordura nylon strap with a black leather lining that is embossed with additional characters and motifs taken from the manga series. The outer surface of the strap features the names of the racing courses that appear in the world of Initial D and MF Ghost, while the two ends latch together with a simple black ion-plated pin buckle. The strap itself features a lightly padded structure and quickly tapers from about 26.5mm at the point where it connects to the case, down to 20mm where the sizing holes start. The integrated connection point between the strap and the case allows for a small amount of articulation, which helps the fairly rigid strap more easily accommodate a wider range of wrist sizes. Additionally, while I describe the strap as rigid, this quality actually helps the overall ergonomics of its design, as it allows the strap to form somewhat of a cuff that retains a circular shape, similar to how the integrated resin strap functions on a G-Shock. That said, the articulating connection point between the strap and the case did catch a couple of my arm hairs on one occasion, although its overall design does an excellent job of making sure that the case stays centered on the wrist. Lastly, while the excess length of the strap is held down with two keepers in a very normal and traditional fashion, the second of the two keepers features a metal plate woven through it, which includes a subtle tire tread pattern on its outer surface. While this ornamental detail is certainly a nice aesthetic touch, it also works with the tapered and slightly padded shape of the strap itself to do a terrific job of locking in the excess loose end of the strap.
A big part of the reason why I like the Edifice collection is that it represents Casio flexing its muscles a little bit and producing watches at a more enthusiast-driven level and also without the same design restrictions that accompany the G-Shock lineup’s pledge of uncompromising durability. The end result is a range of thoroughly modern, feature-packed watches that offer a significantly more upscale experience compared to the budget-friendly classic timepieces that form the entry point into Casio’s vast catalog. With an official retail price of $399 USD, the Casio Edifice x Initial D & MF Ghost Collaboration ECB2000MFG is quite a bit more expensive than the brand’s highly affordable entry-level pieces, placing it right in-line with many of the slightly more elevated G-Shock models that offer similar functions and features. Even for someone like myself who has no point of reference when it comes to the manga series that inspires its design, the Edifice ECB2000MFG is still an extremely fun and functional watch. Whether it is this specific model or a different one, the Edifice collection as a whole is ideal for anyone who can appreciate a slightly more upscale offering from Casio, and this particular model offers a fun and bold design that is packed full of small racing-inspired details. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.