The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Initial D

Title: Initial D aka Initial D First Stage
Company: Pastel
Genre: Action
Format: 26 Episodes
Dates: 19 Apr 1998 – 28 Nov 1998

Synopsis: Fujiwara Takumi has spent the last couple of years delivering tofu down Mt. Akina for his father’s tofu shop in an old AE86 Trueno. Little does he know that this has built him into one of the fastest downhill racers there is. But, when the Akagi Redsuns visit Mt. Akina, they intend to “test” the young street racer and see how good he really is.

The Highlights
Music: Excellent racing music.
Race scenes: Exciting, but become quickly repetitive.
Animation: Ugly character designs with even uglier CG.
Story: Just one big excuse to race.

I’m not what one would call a “gear head”. I don’t spend my days trying to figure out how to make my car go faster. I instead choose to obey the laws of the road. So what does Initial D have in store for me? Well, not much.

There’s no two ways about it. Initial D is very much geared towards people with an interest in cars and a passion for racing. If you have no interest in cars and racing, then chances are you won’t find much to enjoy from this anime. But, if you love hearing the roar of your engine and your all-time high comes from overtaking your opponent in the last few seconds of the race, then this series is perfect for you.

The race scenes are definitely the high point of this show. And they are coupled with some great music that really gets the blood pumping and sets the heart ablaze. The music can almost get anyone into the race scenes. However, after a while, you’ll more than likely start to notice that all the races look strikingly similar. It got so bad at one point that I could’ve sworn I had already seen one race at least three times over. Fortunately the music redeems the repetitiveness of the race sequences, making them arguably worth it.

Without doubt, the worst part of this series is the animation. Initial D has the most grotesque animation I’ve ever seen in any anime. The CG used for all the race scenes just does not blend with the traditional animation. It looks intrusive on the backgrounds and even more unsightly when traditional animation is superimposed over the top of it. The story isn’t much better either. The plot is pretty much an excuse for people to race every episode. In the later episodes, they try to tack on a little bit of romance, but it feels just that: tacked on. It can barely even be counted as a story.

The one thing Initial D does very well, despite all of its flaws, is that it knows its target audience very well and focuses itself entirely towards pleasing it. Street race enthusiasts probably aren’t watching for the story or characters. If all you want is high octane racing scenes Initial D is good news. This it delivers… but nothing more.

The Rating: 4

Reviewed by: DarkKanti

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