by Bamboo Dong

Initial D

Initial D
If you're somebody that enjoys auto racing, or just being on the road, then rev up your energy and get ready to watch one of the most exhilarating anime series to come out of Japan. That series is Initial D, a fast-paced series that makes it nearly impossible to wait for the VCR to rewind the tape before popping in the next one. The series first aired in Japan in 1998, and lasts for four stages, which includes a total of 39 episodes, a couple of OVAs, and also a movie, which came out early in the year 2001. Based on the manga by Shigeno Shuici, Initial D is ideal for fans who love cars, racing, adventure, or just a refreshing series, free of magical girls and fuzzy animals.

The story revolves around street racers, people who have a passion for driving and barreling down tight mountain passes at more than a hundred miles per hour. At the center of the story is Takumi Fujiwara and Itsuki Takeuchi, two high school friends who just obtained their driver's licenses. Itsuki dreams constantly of becoming a street racer and joining the local team, the Akina Speedstars. Takumi, on the other hand, is less than enthusiastic about driving, much less driving fast.

Within the first episode, the plot kicks off to a fast start as a nearby racing team, the Akagi Redsuns, challenge the Speedstars to a race down Akina Mountain. Knowing that they are no match for the Redsuns, the Speedstars frantically search for a driver who can help them win the race, and defend the local pride. According to rumors, the fastest driver on Akina is a man who owns a tofu shop and drives an out-dated Hachi-Roku, known in the US as the Corolla. The man agrees to race for the team, but when the car shows up at the race, it turns out that he sent his son, Takumi, in his place. To the surprise of everyone, Takumi has been delivering tofu for his father on Akina Mountain since he was in middle school, thus making him a highly skilled driver. The rest of the series deals with Takumi's feelings about racing, as well as the inevitable conflicts that occur as illustrious street racers from around Japan challenge the invincible Hachi-Roku.

The animation is interesting, if a bit hard to get used to, using regular cel animation for the characters and backgrounds, while the cars are done in 3D CG. Amazingly, the two mediums mix decently, giving a thrilling experience every time the drivers start their engines. Although the race scenes look suspiciously similar to the ones seen in arcades, the exciting ride makes it easy to bypass any joking remarks. It's no surprise, though, that this series has also spawned a racing game for the Playstation.

If the race scenes don't get you too excited, the music will. Throughout the series, extra action is added by the pumping soundtrack. The music fits the situations well, surfacing at the crucial moments to give the already cool scenes an extra kick. Ranging from hip-hop, to techno, to sugary pop, the music is stimulating, and is a never-ending dance party, compared to the sluggish soundtracks of some other anime series.

Initial D is definitely something that hordes of racing fans would enjoy. Filled with references to cars and racing techniques, it's a wild ride for auto aficionados. Even if you're a girl, you'll still be able to enjoy this series. Being a girl myself, I would know. As for all the skeptics out there who don't think that a series filled with car races sounds too promising, well, you'll have to decide for yourself. Every episode is a mind-blowing adventure, and every race is even newer and more enjoyable than the last. To cut a long gloat short, this is the first time in a long while since I've been so fired up about a series, so I recommend to everyone to at least check this out. Buckle up your seatbelts, and get ready to drive to the limit.

Production Info:
Overall (sub) : B-

+ Fun car races.
If you don't like fast cars and want a deep plot line with tear-jerking emotion, you're probably not going to like Initial D as much as I did.

Director: Shin Misawa
Series Composition: Koji Kaneda
Nobuaki Kishima
Hiroshi Toda
Masami Hata
Kazutaka Ikegami
Hiroshi Kotaki
Yoshitaka Koyama
Susumu Kudo
Naoyuki Kuzuya
Yukihiro Makino
Akira Mano
Shin Misawa
Yuzo Sato
Harumi Tamano
Kazuyoshi Yokota
Episode Director:
Masami Hata
Kazutaka Ikegami
Hiroshi Kotaki
Susumu Kudo
Naoyuki Kuzuya
Shin Misawa
Yukio Nishimoto
Hiroshi Tsuruta
Yuzo Yamada
Yoshihiro Yamaguchi
Kazuyoshi Yokota
Music: Ryuichi Katsumata
Original Manga: Shuuichi Shigeno
Character Design: Noboru Furuse
Art Director: Kazuhiro Takahashi
Chief Animation Director: Noboru Furuse
Animation Director:
Noboru Furuse
Takahisa Ichikawa
Kuniyuki Ishii
Hiroshi Kanazawa
Kazuyuki Kobayashi
Masaki Sato
Hatsuki Tsuji
Ko Seong Un
Takeshi Yamazaki
Sound Director: Masafumi Mima
Director of Photography:
Kenji Akazawa
Seiichi Morishita
Executive producer: Yasushi Usami
Kayo Fukuda
Hiromichi Mogaki

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Initial D (TV)

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