Name: Initial D Stages 1-2
Number of episodes: 1st stage – 26, 2nd stage – 13
Plot = B
Characters = B+
Music = A++
Overall = A-
At first, when you see the words “racing” and anime together, you dont think of anythign good. I can recall only brief attempts with this in the past, and the closest i can recall was Macross Plus and the two rival competition. And unless you were a speedracer nut, this is a unique genre and anime. In the first stage very much, the cell animation and the subesequent computer animation are very early(the racing in the 1st stage looking like it was from a sega saturn game, but thats almost a compliment because thats still cool) but the 2nd stage and subsequent later stages push this graphical edge very well. But after watching and getting into Inital D, this becomes a secondary factor compared to the characters skills, and what drives them.(ah the irony) Even if you dont like racing and or cars, this is a good anime, and did I mention the kicking soundtrack?
When you have a genre about dramatic races, with last second finishes and extreme moves, you need a heart pumping soundtrack to keep up. Initial D more than delivers, with a techno soundtrack that pretty much set the standard for others of similar ilk. With CD’s ranging from Character Vocal battles(japanese rapping it out so to speak against awesome themes), Super Eurobeat collections with stunning techno cd’s, OST music with character themes from battles and the series, and random vocalizations from the characters as well. If its one thing Initial D does with super magical newtype ability, its deliver awesome beats.
Well the main Character sticks out as the everyman and the hero in a way. In fact he closely resembles potential *you* as the viewer. In the begining not even into the racing, dont like cars, and generally against the anime. Then(just as the viewer will) he is slowly drawn into this world he finds himself in. His father is the coolest source of wisdom and humor in the series and lends a much needed older tone to Takumi’s young views. Takumi’s friends and fellow racers develop as long as well, as we see the hopes and dreams and crashes(literally and metaphorcially) in the world. The enemies he faces and how they slowly integrate into his life is excellent. And as a final lil extra. EVERY single character has a goddamn cool techno theme. Generally good stuff, as everyone seems to belong where he is, and how he is.
My Thoughts(and spoilers):
I loved this series. The races, and the outcomes so made me come back for more. At first the constant stream of “faster and stronger” oppenents struck a dragonball nerve with me, but I realized it was more akin to life and the series actually takes a story notice of this. The best can only be the best for so long, and even the undefeated records are sometimes broken. When Takumi beats Ryouske Takehashi and his past undefeated record he has to live with the fact that he is now the “fastest” in Gunma. Now he has to live up to the challenges and battles that come from the top. And then when Takumi finally faces defeat in the second stage, the bitter taste only drives him to further himself. I did dislike the way that some characters(namely Mako and Sayuki) dissapear until random cameos are made in later battles. I mean, they never develop the love interest between Takumi and Sayuki at all. And everything with Mogi…gah that drives me nuts. NO other series has the main characters girlfriend as a whore(literally). In the end, though i reccomend watching the special stage OVA after the 1rst and 2nd stages, and then the huge 3rd stage movie, which has stunning visuals and ties up some loose ends nicely.
By Darknight ZO