Following his victory over RedSuns leader Ryosuke Takahashi, AE86 driver Takumi Fujiwara is challenged by the Lancer EVO-based "Emperor," a group known for taking decals of racing teams they defeat, cutting them up and placing them on their cars like a fighter plane kill board. Takumi's undefeated streak is on the line as his AE86 is virtually no match against the more powerful and more agile four-wheel-drive EVOs of the Emperor team.
Though this series is much shorter than the previous season, it does cover a lot of ground. What I really liked about 2nd Stage is that it focuses more on character development and the relationships of the characters. Specifically the main ones like Itsuki and Takumi. Iketani and Kenji are still around, but they play their uses, but they aren’t really that central or given the same screen time like in season 1. You get to see more of how emotional and passionate Takumi can really be at times, and I like how Itsuki is not just really a comic relief character and has his
good side to him.
Once again, the technical jargon is still present. If you did not see my review of season 1, I will once again state it may be difficult to understand, but once everything is applied, you’ll understand it better. I feel it needs to be present so it can educate the viewer. Plus, I still stand by regardless of being able to fully understand, I feel that the tech speak is what help makes it more distinctive and aims to be realistic.
Sadly, as a Keisuke fan, though he is used, he’s not useful in the way that I want him to be, but with Ryosuke being my number one favorite character, well, check out the series to find out what I mean because it’d only be a spoiler with what his character does.
Not only do the characters and the relationships develop, the art and animation tremendously improve from season 1 as well. The coloring is more shiny and glossy, there is more detail to the hair, the proportions are more even, and the cg is much better rendered. There aren’t much races in this season, but what’s good is that the races aren’t exclusive to Akina anymore and only one race happens there so it prevents itself from getting repetitive. You finally get to see the Red Suns’ home turf of Akagi, and we also get a brand new course of Shomaru as well. However, the outcome of the final race in this anime does differ significantly from the manga version which may either disappoint you, or something you can embrace since it is something different and it’d be boring just to watch something when you already know the outcome. Anyway, new factors such as a combination of psychological and environmental come into play still, but in a whole new approach in comparison to season 1 in ways you wouldn’t expect.
Once again, the cast from season 1 that return are still present. I really love how Itsuki is portrayed as more sensitive and emotional and Iwata does a great job of that. I also love Tanaka Masahiko, who I recall as the voices of the Kazekage from Naruto and Mashiba Ryo from Hajime no Ippo as Kyoichi. He’s a total asshole you want to see get his ass handed to him. And the best addition to this season is Wataru’s seiyuu, Matsumoto Yasunori, the voice of Gourry from Slayers, Jacky Bryant from Virtua Fighter, and many others. He does a great job of playing someone who is distant and has a short temper and it makes him oblivious, so I like that portrayal. Nothing really to complain with voice acting.
And the music only gets better, the perfect example, the ending theme Kimi Ga Iru by Galla. It’s so beautiful, well toned and pitched, and excellently paced. It really captures you and reflects the character relationship nature of this show on my impression. And you can’t have Initial D without the good ol’ Eurobeat. We got 100 by Dave Rodgers and we also got Burning Desire, also from the Para Para Paradise games. So pretty much everything I could say about music and voice acting from season 1 can be said here.
Well, to watch this season, I strongly recommend season 1 first. Yes, I still also say that Initial D isn’t an anime for everyone, but this season has more traits that most anime fans would want in an anime, but to understand the characters and how they developed to that point and how they further develop, you have to watch season 1 first and to get a better understanding of the cars as well. Granted it does have some significant changes if you are at all familiar with the manga, but the changes are done for all the right reasons and is still an enjoyable anime.
I'll be honest with you guys, I really enjoyed the second stage, much more so than its predecessor. With only 13 eps to spare the series wastes no time, almost everything that is said or done adds to the story or develops the characters significantly, it was this that kept me glued to the screen as I watched it. The first stage was much more spaced out there was a lot more needless comic relief.
Itsuki from stage 1 annoyed me, he was brash, loud, irritating and a failure as a human being, it was frustrating that he didn't develop at all - but the during
the second stage he begins to show signs of changing, and it isn't just Itsuki. Every single member of the cast shows signs of changing - this sort of character development was completely absent from the first stage.
Having said this the 2nd stage hasn't lost its focus at all, along with this character development we get to see lots of exciting races and they're animated even better than they were before.
I take my hat off to whoever picked the ending theme - because it suits the series so SO well.
To conclude, if you don't like cars you're probably not going to like Initial D (especially the first season), the show does have a lot more to offer though.
PS - I have always driven like a lunatic - Like Takumi I began driving Illegally at 14 and own what many would describe as a piece of shit on wheels, but to me it's my piece of shit - something I've driven for 7 years now I wouldn't give it up for anything in the world!
I like cars, but I'm against spending loads of money on them, I think what's important is that you understand how your vehicle works, that you put in the time and effort to "make it your own".
One criticism I do have - is that so far there hasn't been a single fatal injury in the series, my cousin died while street racing, the sort of happy endings that Initial D portrays don't always take place, in the real world people end up smashing through barriers and falling off mountains
Tadgh: This series was always one I never thought I'd like. We draw our anime from a list out of a hat, so when the first Initial D came up I was skeptical. After the first series, I couldn't wait for more. Sad part is, we draw our anime out of a hat, so I had to wait. I was stoked when this series came up and it didn't disappoint. The characters were really fleshed out here and everyone seemed to grow. The races are still exciting. The others in my group might disagree, but I really like the CG cars. Everything about this anime
besides the 90's music makes me excited for more.
Laohoam- I really enjoyed the story this time. The character development really stepped up and all though it was shorter in episodes I feel that this season gave more overall. Though I did not like the new art style as much the rest easily compensates for that. I am very excited to move on to the next stage.
Rasanaph- Enjoyed it as much as Stage 1 and looking forward to Stage 3.
Dr R. Dash- okay when we all finished Initial D first stage, WE all loved it! so very much and after we pulled Second stage out the hat we all got very serious. So going into this series we knew Takumi needs to grow more than in first stage, and we guessed right , so many elements of real life and hardship come into play that it felt to short but we are happy and pumped for stage 3. My opinion I wish the voice actors wouldn't have changed but we got used to it and I personally dont see any way they can revert to non CG animation for the races I think its just going to keep getting better.:)
Second Stage was half as long as First Stage. Although it was shorter it still packed just as much a punch as the first stage did. The race scenes in this one were awesome! The artwork was much cleaner and flowed WAY SMOOTHER than the first. You can tell that the storytelling and character development was the main focus of Second Stage. Overall it is an excellent series and I would watch it again without a doubt. I kind of feel sorry for Itsuki though. Poor Guy can't catch a break with ANY WOMAN! haha 9 out of 10
Nothing gets the blood pumping like a high-intensity race, be it in a car, bike, or even mecha suit. Youthful passion and energy fuel these shows about drivers, pilots and athletes all striving for that #1 spot. As Ricky Bobby once famously said, "If you ain't first, you're last".
Initial D is the grittier anime equivalent of those adrenaline pumping fantasy car movies like Fast and Furious or Need For Speed. But one thing the movies and this series shares is a lineup of the sexiest cars around.