Eighteen-year-old Fujiwara Takumi has been making deliveries for his father’s tofu shop since he was a young teen. Over the years, he perfected his technique for driving the treacherous mountain passes at high speeds in his father’s old AE86 Trueno. Driving had never been anything more than part of a job to help the family business for Takumi, but that would soon change when a racing team, the Akagi Redsuns, learns about the mysterious, expert driver on Mount Akina. Takumi quickly finds himself being pulled unwillingly into the world of street racing.
summary by Gatts
Highs: Eurobeat OST
Lows: Shallow characters; small target audience
Initial D did not impress me at all when I began watching it. I am not a fan of car racing, so I didn’t really anticipate enjoying an anime dedicated to it. Putting my personal preferences aside, this series provides little besides mindless action to us non-racing fans.
It’s easiest to begin by pointing out Initial D’s most glaring flaws. Quite frankly, this is an ugly series. Poorly integrated CG is used for all of the racing sequences and ends up feeling out of place, especially when traditional animation is superimposed over these computer-generated images. The character designs are horribly uninspired and bland (one in particular resembles a potato more than a human being). Beyond its aesthetics, other things aren’t much better. The characters serve little purpose besides participating in races and subsequently receive very little development. Each episode is no more than an excuse for these lifeless characters to race. There is even a romance thrown in, but it seems like no more than an afterthought which only adds some unneeded, melodramatic moments.
These problems detract from the few things that are done right. The race scenes are varied enough that each one feels a bit different from the last, and they don’t get overly repetitive. A Eurobeat soundtrack accompanies these segments which works surprisingly well. The races are the highlight of the series. The first few battles are entertaining, but without characters I cared about, I didn’t care about the outcomes.
The target audience for Initial D is a very specific one. Racing aficionados will most likely enjoy the racing and car discussion, but everyone else will not get much enjoyment out of it. Perhaps if the characters were more interesting the series would have a wider appeal, but as it stands, the series is mediocre in almost every regard.