Monday, September 10, 2001

Initial D

Genre: Sports / Drama
Parental Guidance Recommended
1998 Pastel, Fuji TV, Shuichi Shigeno

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Cover Description:
'The Fast and the Furious' meets 'Speed Racer' ...

Initial D tells the story of a 17-year-old tofu delivery boy named Tak who suddenly finds himself caught up in the heart-stopping world of street racing.

Tak drives an "Eight-Six," a street term for the Toyota Trueno AE86. When chance puts him up against street racing's most notorious driver and he actually wins the race, the lure is too much - he's hooked. Word quickly spreads about the famous "Eight-Six of Mount Akina", and more and more rival racers appear to challenge Tak and his friends in a series of white-knuckle contests.

(26 episodes)

Don't judge the book by its cover . >>> by skysenshi
Itsuki Takeuchi is frustrated that his best friend Takumi Fujiwara could never relate to conversations when it comes to cars and street racing. After all, Takumi is only a Tofu Shop owner's son and has confessed to hate driving. When Takumi goes behind the wheel, all he is doing is helping his father by delivering tofu to customers. He couldn't care less about the differences between an AE86 Trueno and an RX-7 FD3S.

When romance begins to set in, Takumi suddenly feels the need to borrow his father's Panda Trueno (a.k.a. the Hachi-Roku). Unfortunately his father issues a condition: Join the upcoming street race to humiliate an uppity smart ass kid on the road and Takumi will get a full tank of gas for his date on the morrow. So what does our 18-year-old protagonist do...?

I originally planned to see only one episode per night because the first chapter of Initial D was so dragging I literally had to force myself to stay glued on the screen. When the first race began, however, I was so hooked that I decided to finish the entire series in one day. It felt so real! When Takumi starts driving, I feel like I am the one behind the steering wheel -- as if I'm transported back to my college days when I used to race against crude cab drivers and dream that I would be one of the best drag racers in my country. That dream has long gone, following a fateful accident that almost got me killed. Seeing Initial D connected me to that almost forgotten vision, even for a little while.

I could definitely relate to Takumi in the sense that he hates driving and yet when he is inside the Hachi-Roku ('86), he becomes a totally different person. Becoming one with your car and connecting to its power is definitely an overwhelming experience. Watching him race, my hands couldn't keep still, gripping the monoblock chair in front of me as if it were the steering wheel. My feet were acting like crazy as well.

The characters made an impression on me. Unfortunately, since commentaries on Okashi are supposed to be brief, I'll just compile a list of the most memorable ones for me are listed below this review -- short of making this page a mini-mini-shrine. The story is pretty simple, albeit a tad too serious, but just enough not to digress from the subject. You'd think with the wacky artwork they'd turn this anime into some sort of a comedy flick but no. Perhaps this was done intentionally in order to emphasize the look of the computer generated 3D automobiles and what these beautiful babies can do. It's also funny to note that beneath the ugly artwork lies good material -- kind of like that Hachi-Roku that's so old that many a racer have underestimated it. The soundtrack is incredible, befitting of the theme and matching every moment's thrilling sensation. It's only what we can expect from musical scions like the Avex Group, who are well-known for video game wonders such as Bust-A-Move.

Bear in mind, though, that this anime may rank very high in my list of favorites but it might not be for everybody. It's apparent that this was designed to target a specific market -- one that could tell what an ABS (anti-lock braking system) is or if a normal Nissan Skyline GT-R has been modified from it's original 280HP capability. Many scenes might also baffle the actual racing fan, especially on instances where this kind of racing differs from Formula 1.

Compilation of Initial D's most memorable characters (for me, that is ^.^)
Takumi - He's the lead character (d-uh) but you already know that based on the synopsis I wrote on the page. He's like always spaced out, you can't talk to him properly because his mind is always somewhere else. He's the one that reminds me so much of myself (my fiancé has always complained about me being in a trance all the time). ^_- You might as well talk to a wall. Surprisingly, he doesn't seem to have much trouble handling a love life.
Itsuki - The best friend, of course. Now why is he memorable? 'Cause he's an idiot that provides so much entertainment because of his screw ups. He was the first one to laugh at Takumi's reaction to fast driving, but I guess he learned his lesson.
You'd think that with Initial D's ugly artwork there could nothing that can be uglier? Well take one look at Itsuki, you'll find everything else beautiful. I swear Itsuki is uglier than sin!

Iketani - Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Baka! Why oh why did he have to be so idiotic as to stand up an angel??? He was the only one who had a thrilling love interest and he blew it!


Usui Angels - For some reason I am quite insulted that the unbeatable street racer of Mt. Usui is a woman who needs another female navigator while the male racers of this anime are self-suficient! Sheesh. Anyways, I don't think I can do what they're doing, though, because I find it extremely irritating to have a back-seat driver dictating how I should drive. Still, these women bring a lot of spice to the show, especially during the season ender's final race (Takumi versus the White Comet of Akagi).

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 5; Story 7; Characters 8; Sounds 10

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