Takumi’s career as a street racer has been full of countless, intense battles. Piloting his trusted Hachi Roku, he has raced against the very best racers the Gunma area has to offer. He has managed to achieve victory even when the cards were stacked against him. Hop into the passenger seat of the Panda Trueno once again and relive Takumi’s greatest races.
summary by Gatts
Highs: Improved CG
Lows: Only for diehard fans; new soundtrack
The highlight of Initial D has always been the racing scenes, so it comes as little surprise that an OVA comprised solely of races was created. Initial D: Battle Stage presents all the battles from the numerous incarnations of Initial D in rapid succession while adding a few new elements. It may sound like a fan’s dream, but is there enough new content to prevent this from simply being a glorified clip show?
While there are no new races, the battles from the original series have received a much-needed facelift. Gone are the ugly, awkward CG cars. The new models look far more realistic and feel less out of place. Although the animation is a definite improvement, the art is still a mixed bag. Characters didn’t look very good in the original and end up looking even worse here. The character animation remains unchanged from the original version, and any scenes featuring the drivers stick out like a sore thumb against the updated animation. Reusing the old animation mars much of the new aesthetics. Considering this is an OVA, it’s disappointing that the visuals didn’t receive a total overhaul. Even with improved CG, there are enough blemishes that prevent the anime from looking “good”.
Aside from the updated visuals, the only other new aspect is a brand new soundtrack to accompany the action. The music is Eurobeat much in the same vein as the original, but it fails to capture the mood quite as well. The new tracks are by no means bad, but they seem far less appropriate than the original songs.
Initial D: Battle Stage is really only for hardcore fans of the series. There just isn’t enough new content to interest the average viewer, and since there is no plot to tie the races together, much of the excitement and tension surrounding the battles is lost. The main draw of this title is the updated animation, but many people will no doubt be disappointed to find that much of it remains unchanged. Only the races from the original series received a significant visual update; the other scenes are largely the same only with new music. It’s hard to recommend this anime to anyone other than devoted fans of the series. For anyone else, it just ends up being more of the same.