OMG, Initial D

OK, so I’m more than just a little late to the party. I just discovered Initial D. This is a Manga that started in 1995 and became an animated series in 1998. As a general rule, I don’t follow any kind of racing. I have never watched an F1 race, and the only NASCAR race I’ve seen was in-person with a free ticket. I’m 100% against street racing and can’t imagine glorifying it in a cartoon. I also don’t like anime-style art or storylines, which tend to be highly sexist if not pedophilic. There is absolutely no reason for me to watch Initial D.

Did I mention I am currently chain-smoking Initial D episodes like a prisoner on death row?

Where do I start? The details. Definitely the details. The sounds are amazing. I don’t know that much about engines, but 4-bangers sound like 4-bangers, rotaries sound like rotaries, and turbos sound like turbos. The tire squeal is also authentic. The animation itself isn’t spectacular, but the cars are almost photographic in detail from the outside to the gauge clusters. I think some scenes are drawn over video.

The driving itself is stylized and often in slow motion. It’s more dramatic than realistic. However, the dialog about driving is amazing. The less experienced drivers say uneducated things and the experts subtly drop gems. It’s fucking fantastic.

There are some interesting characters, but the main character, Takumi Fujiwara, isn’t one of them. Takumi is sort of a vapid, distracted Mary Sue. He walks around in a daze, somehow unaware that he’s one of the best drivers on the planet. He got his training by (under-aged) driving up and down Akina Pass delivering tofu in the early morning hours.

Takumi’s dad, Bunta Fujiwara, plays the role of the quiet martial arts master. He has made his son into a top-notch street racer without him knowing it, and secretly tunes their AE86 before races. Despite the stereotype, I like his character. One of his training tools was putting a cup of water in Takumi’s car. The only way to not spill it is to drive smoothly.

Two important rivals are the Takahashi brothers. Ryosuke is a highly cerebral racer who analyzes everything with computers. His brother, Keisuke, is a hot-head. Both are highly talented bad-asses who drive RX-7s (FC and FD).

Another interesting character is Mako Sato. She drives a Nissan Sileighty with her co-pilot Sayuki. They are the local Aces at Usui Pass. I think they are the only female racers in the series. Their boobs remain clothed, but are on prominent display, of course.

In addition to the various racing rivals, there are some flavor characters in the form of Takumi’s friends. These are largely annoying. The character storylines can mostly be described as: CRINGE! Skip, skip, skip, skip, skip. You can get through a lot of episodes quickly if you skip over every scene with Itsuki in it (he’s the comic relief who looks more like Chim-Chim than Spritle).

As I write this, I just finished watching Season 1. I AM NOT A BINGE WATCHER. And yet I just consumed 26 episodes in 2 days. The final episode was a great cap to the season, and I look forward to savoring the next season at a more sedate pace.

2 thoughts on “OMG, Initial D

  1. Every time I feel depressed I watch Initial D. I saw all seasons 3 or 4 times at this point. Such a great show. Some of them are better than others of course but if I start rewatching it I do it all the way.

    I understand as a person who doesn’t usually watch anime you may not be interested in cringe Takumi friends stories but some of them are actually interesting and these guys improve (as drivers) over time and as car enthusiasts they even teach Takumi thing or two about cars since he’s mostly ignorant of everything besides actual driving. Anyway, my point is skip carefully :)


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