Due to Takumi’s rise to fame in the street racing community, the Akina Hachi Roku is challenged by a group of racers called “The Emperors”. This new group uses LanEvos… rally racing level cars… to assure victory. They are now in Akina Mountain, willing to teach Takumi an important lesson: even the best driver needs a powerful car to back him up. How will Takumi stand up to this challenge? Will he be able to win against the Emperors?
summary by Griveton
Highs: Eurobeat OST; racing aspect might appeal to fans
Lows: Plot; characters; animation; CGI work
I wasn’t terribly excited about seeing this series. After all, the first stage’s story didn’t leave for much of a continuation… with the possible exception of more racing scenes. I guess the people at Pastel came to this conclusion, too, because it’s exactly what they set out to do. Initial D: Second Stage seems to be mainly an excuse to show off more racing.
The simplistic plot is easy to describe: Big, bad opponents want to beat the famous Hachi Roku, and racing ensues. Add a couple predictable plot “twists”, some romance that feels a little forced, a somewhat rushed conclusion, and voilà! Initial D: Second Stage. This time around, however, I didn’t hate the main character. Unlike the first stage’s lifeless Takumi, this time his stoicism fades a little, as he now shows interest in his nightly career, and this makes him be a little less annoying.
Initial D: Second Stage definitely tried to look better than its predecessor (not a hard task). Although the eye candy does improve, this is undeniably still an ugly series. The car models look good, but that’s about it. Characters are “stylized” with too many shadows, which make the already bad designs look even worse. Animation is on the low end of the bar, not only in the execution but in the concept. CGI work, although decently done during the night races, stands out like a sore thumb when combined with 2D animation. The daylight CGI is the worst, however; sometimes it looks like it was taken straight out of the Nintendo 64. On a good note, the Eurobeat OST works for the series. Though I’m not a fan of Eurobeat by any means, I found it to be quite fitting to the series.
In the end, Initial D: Second Stage proved to be quite a disappointment, even when my expectations weren’t high to begin with. If you’re a fan of street racing or liked the first stage, you might find this to be worthy of your time… after all, the races can be entertaining, even with the overused character commentaries. As for anyone else, there are better series to spend your time on.