Genre: Sports / Drama
Parental Guidance Recommended
Pastel, Fuji TV, Shuichi Shigeno
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Graduation is drawing near, but there is more action to look forward to in the coming Winter and the promise of Spring. Takumi Fujiwara, the young driver of Akina's legendary '86 is tapped by none other than old competitor Ryosuke Takahashi, the "White Comet of Akagi", to join a new team of elite drag racers. Before Takumi makes a decision, he must first fix a few knots in his life: (1) to harness his hidden potentials as a racer; and (2) to come to terms with the painful truth about the one who holds his heart.
Reaching that next stage... >>> by skysenshi
A warning precedes this opinion: SPOILERS AHEAD. This movie can stand well enough alone, but I would highly recommend that would-be viewers see the First and Second stage beforehand in order to fully appreciate the tour de force that is Initial D.
Takumi seems to have emerged a more talented person armed with the thirst for knowledge. Indeed he has come a long way from the apathetic spaced-out student he once was in the First Stage. This whopping improvement, however, is quite expected, as the transition already began in the Second Stage. Just as his beloved '86 car went through an "operation" that had changed its personality, so has its owner.
Observing the other aspects of Initial D, I came to a realization. Unlike most teen-oriented anime that have bubblegum players that are usually characterized by a few oddities, Initial D's figures do not come from a cookie-cutter world. One good example is Mogi Natsuki, Takumi's special "friend". The unraveling of Mogi's past, and her involvement with "Papa" (See 2nd Stage) portrays an imperfection that is beyond just simply having a bad attitude. She isn't a victim of war or a massacred family, but her reality is closer to what some teenaged college girls' experience.
Another thing that's good about this motion picture is that those events that have vague explanations or loose ends in the first two stages get their closure here. You can also get a chance to peek at old man Bunta Fujiwara's life--how he himself was regarded a legend long before his son Takumi was born. On the other hand, you might find Kyoichi Sudo--another old competition for Takumi--a bit bullheaded as the significance of Ryosuke's broken track record at Takumi's hands (See 1st Stage) seem to elude him.
As my overall assessment, Initial D has a simple plot. Even its philosophical side does not veer too far away from reality as we know it. For all its simplicity, it teaches a lot about the value of things that shouldn't be taken for granted--and that makes it a champion in my book.
Before I end, let me just say this... the curves and hair pins of the Irohazaka pass nearly made my heart JUMP out of my chest!
Individual Rating: Art/Animation 6; Story 8; Characters 9; Sounds 10