There’s a new racing group called “Emperors” in the Guma region, and it’s here to conquer every other group. The Nightkids have already succumbed to their LanEvo racing cars. Now, the team of Mako and Sayuki and the Impact Blue of Usui Mountain seem to be their next target. This threat is, however, small compared to Mako’s real problem: her broken heart.
summary by Griveton
Highs: Eurobeat OST; tries something different
Lows: Failed plot; animation; designs; might alienate fans of the series
Unlike the television series of Initial D, the OVA doesn’t focus on Takumi and his Hachi Roku. Instead, it follows the drivers of the Sil-80 of Usui Mountain, a.k.a. Impact Blue… one of the opponents Takumi faces in the first season. The first OVA is set at the same time of the first episodes of Initial D: Second Stage, and the second OVA between the end of Second Stage and the movie.
One of the first things I noticed was the huge improvement in the visuals, although they’re still below average. Most character designs are no longer painful to the eyes, and while the animation is still bargain-bin quality, it doesn’t feel as forced as it did during the series. Keeping with the Initial D tradition, the OST is mainly Eurobeat based and fits the OVA perfectly. Strangely, the races seem to have been put on the back burner, as there are just two “battles”. Instead, it focuses on Mako’s sentimental problems. Seemed like a welcome change of pace in my book; sadly, it didn’t work as well as one would expect.
That is the main problem with Initial D: Extra Stage: the story feels like it was hacked hastily. There are glaring inconsistencies regarding the series and the timeline. At least the romantic focus is executed decently, with a nice ending that involves both the sentimental and racing aspects that define these two OVA… but it doesn’t come close to other romance anime out there. Too bad, since it had more potential than the rest of the Initial D fodder.
Sadly, in the end, the improvements in animation and attempted change of focus aren’t enough to overcome the deficient story. I really wanted to see Initial D: Extra Stage fulfill its potential; after all, it tries to improve on the series but ultimately fails to escape mediocrity. Unless you’re an Initial D fan, I can’t recommend this. There are just too many superior anime out there.