Genre: Sports / Drama
Parental Guidance Recommended
1999 Pastel, Fuji TV, Shuichi Shigeno
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'A new challenger, Kyoichi of the Emperors, has come to defeat all of the racing teams of Gunma. His main target: Ryosuke Takahashi -- the very same man who had broken his winning streak that fateful day a year ago. Ryosuke, however, has told Kyoichi that his own winning streak has just been broken recently by a mere '86 driven by the young 18-year old Takumi Fujiwara of Akina.
The wind blows ominous in the air, and many teams have become wary of Emperors' sly attitude. They fear...that the legendary '86 of Akina might just get his first taste of defeat....
Initial D has become more exciting...Unbelievable! >>> by skysenshi
There is almost a world of difference between the first Initial D series and the second, and it doesn't start with the Takahashi brothers' newly highlighted hair alone. The thought of a new challenger causing every team in Gunma to root for each other, despite the fact that these same teams were at each others' throats in the first series, is just enough for my hair to stand on end. A new battle, a new love angle, and a new surprise for the Hachi-Roku fans to feast their eyes on! What could be more exciting?
There is a phenomenal change in Takumi's attitude. Now this is also something new. If one will observe closely, Takumi in the 2nd Stage has begun to sort out his thoughts while driving. Those who have seen the 1st Stage would know that Takumi is called the "eternal airhead" who is always spaced out, meaning you can hardly get any reaction from him. Even in his driving, he has often relied on his instincts and quick reflexes. Here, he has started organizing his thoughts in a logical manner, much like Ryosuke Takahashi. He is actually able to think his actions through now before executing his next move.
The approach is different this time. Takumi finds himself confronted with feelings of helplessness over events that he has no control over. He struggles with what miniscule mechanical knowledge he has; and also at the same time, he is pushed to the limit by the heartbreaks of being in love. He falls into a pit of despair, emerges a victor, but somehow a sense of loss is gnawing at his side. This doesn't completely go, not even in the last episode-and this vulnerable side of Takumi makes me appreciate him more.
It is interesting to note that there is a marked improvement in the artwork. Takumi has started to look cute and charming. His girl buddy Mogi begins to have angelic angles. His best friend Itsuki isn't nearly as ugly as in the First Stage. Even Iketani looks good! The characters' lips, especially, have become thinner, smaller and more realistic, unlike in the first stage when everybody looked like they just had their faces punched by a bantamweight boxing champ.
What caught my interest most is the beautiful ending theme, a ballad called Kimi Ga Iru, performed by Galla. The song seems to have been made for Itsuki, which becomes obvious in Act 11. Something extraordinary happens to Itsuki so be ready for some mini-mushfest.
One might still be left with a disturbing question at the end of the 13th act, though: Who is "Papa"?
NOTE: In my country, the word "Papa" has a double meaning. One is "father" and the other is the gay man's boyfriend. Recently, it has simply been used as a metaphor for "lover".