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 Post subject: Initial D
PostPosted: August 26th, 2008, 7:53 pm 
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Before I actually watched the first 26 episodes series I had only heard the bad things about "Initial D":

"That's just fan service for car nerds!"
"The show boasts with technical details that are not really there!"
"The character design is abysmally bad!"
"The soundtrack makes your ears bleed!"


While all this is true, more or less, the show has its good parts, too.

What is it about?
We start with Takumi, an 18yo highschool student whose father runs a Tofu shop. His mother is not there for unmentioned reasons, so he is fully employed at the store, doing the deliveries in his father's Toyota - since he's been 15yo. Feeling forced into the job, Takumi hates driving, and wants to get it over with as quickly as possible. Playing on this his father taught him how to drive effectively and fast - which is like 65 mph on a demanding mountain road that leads from his home to the customer.

In his hometown there is a team of mediocre street racers who get their butts handed to them on their home track of Akina and by a mere coincident, Takumi is drawn into street racing on the mountain pass to save the honor of the local team, and after a while gets the hang of it, driving ever more challenging races against better opponents.

It's pure Shônen Anime. The difference being that here you have a road being the battle ground, and not an arena of sorts where two testosterone bulls smash each others faces to a pulp. :D

Being a fan of "Gran Turismo" I cannot help but find the races very exciting, although an important element of Shônen Anime is a bit annoying: the commentators. Have you ever realized that in all these fight shows there are bystanders who comment on what's going on? On the different moves that the contestants show? Same here. People in the galleries would go and say something like: "Wow, that drift was so cool! He cut the corner way better than his opponent, being five centimeters closer to the ideal line!" I could do without these.

And I could do without Takumi's friend Itsuki. His frequent emotional ups and downs are probably supposed to be funny, but after a few episodes I wished him a slow and painful death for being a loudmouthed pain in the butt. The fact that he dreams himself into being a roadracer despite not having a Iota of talent and thus accepting a challenge for the local team, the Speed Stars, and Takumi, despite not being a member, is just the first symptom, but later, while coming back from a trip with a girl in his car, he gets mistaken for Takumi (similar car), and promptly reacts by starting a race instead of slowing down or stopping and letting the challenger pass. But no, he had to show his balls to the girl and almost got her killed. Of course that scared her away from him, and then he keeps screaming that street racers didn't need girls anyway.

The romantic relationships of the side characters are generally unsatisfying. The only one who has success with his love-interest is Takumi. Itsuki doesn't deserve his girl for being... well, you name it, but Iketani, Takumi's senpai, does. He is an idiot in his own sense, but at least he does not endanger people's lives. His girl is lost due to his inferiority complex, after he discovers that she has a crush on one of the street racing top stars, Takahashi Ryosuke. In this case I was hoping he would be able to make up for his mistakes and misconceptions, but this wouldn't happen, at least not in the "First Stage", as the first season of Initial D is called.

About the negative points that I mentioned in the beginning:

Yes, the soundtrack is horrible, with one or two exceptions, and the fact that the ending songs are live-action videos doesn't really help, actually it's quite the contrary. Japanese can't do proper music videos (HALCALI proves the rule by being the exception). The only relatively outstanding soundtrack would be "Night of Fire", that was kinda re-discovered when Dance Dance Revolution dawned.

Yes, the graphics are horrible. Even for 1998 standards crappy. A real turn-off. But the sloppy character designs are not the end of the line. What really annoys me is that for the racing sequences they change to CG. It looks so out-of-place. Sometimes the "camera" would be inside a car and when they're drifting you'd see the spectators and see that they look two-dimensional, like pictures of people glued on cardboard. I think such things are called "silhouette targets" in the military.

Yes, there is a lack of technical details. Actually I was ready to hear lots of stuff about car tuning. But that wasn't happening. There is some slang when people are adjusting their brakes or doing slight maintenance, but that's it. In order to make Takumi's efforts more efficient, his father, a former top star of street racing, adjusts the car's suspension twice. Period.
And with all the racing that these kids do on dry roads you'd think they need a new set of tires, like, every week. But no, they don't use up their tires. Has it ever occurred to the author that screeching tires = less tire profile after the curve? Yes it has, but only when he deems it fitting for the dramatical situation. We see one race that is decided by one of the drivers being more careful with his tires. Kinda funny considering the great racing realism reputation that Initial D has.

Despite all these shortcomings, in my opinion, this really is an exciting Anime with lots of suspense and an interesting story, and I'm a person who forgives bad graphics if there's such compensation.
I must be careful with that though because I'm not sure whether the story of Initial D is really interesting, since it's rather simply woven. Takumi hates driving, is drawn into street racing, realizes that he is a prodigy in the field, develops ambitions and, well, gets his girl. On the side lanes there are friends and opponents, and opponents who will become his allies and friends, and the relations of all these people. But all that doesn't go deeply into details, it remains rather superficial. But still I found it appealing.

I have to apologize, for I have not been able to analyze my attitude towards this Anime in greater detail.

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 Post subject: Re: Initial D
PostPosted: August 27th, 2008, 12:07 am 
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haha! that pretty much explains initial D.

after awhile though i kind of enjoyed two of the ending songs...





every ending was a cliffhanger. i had to see what happens. i cannot really explain it but i really did enjoy it.


hmmm... the youtube tag does not work for me...


\/ thanks mmsven!


Last edited by dbd_addict on August 27th, 2008, 3:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Initial D
PostPosted: August 27th, 2008, 12:37 am 
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dbd_addict wrote:
hmmm... the youtube tag does not work for me...

Remove &feature=related from the links.

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 Post subject: Re: Initial D
PostPosted: August 31st, 2008, 6:00 pm 
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This show was certainly one of my guilty pleasures. The story was compelling because I kept wanting to see what happened next to Takumi and the direction always left me hanging for the next episode! It is difficult to believe such bad animation could be so enjoyable. I didn't finish all of the seasons though. Does it stay good past season II?

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 Post subject: Re: Initial D
PostPosted: September 13th, 2008, 2:19 pm 
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I only watched a bit of this, but I reckon it can get real addictive if you start popping. Its just like guy nature to get into shows like this and start moving on with it.

That said, I was rather fond of one of its OP themes, Blazin' Beat.

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