After defeating every racing team in the prefecture, everything comes down to one last race. Takumi Fujiwara has never lost a race, but when his opponent is also using an AE86, it turns into a battle of the AE86. Will Project D succeed in the final and most difficult race of Initial D?
I'll be the first to review this, which brings me to my first point. Initial D is not as popular among people on the mal community (probably everyone outside of japan) as it used to be. I can't be sure how popular it is in japan now, but the subs for the final stage took a very long time to come out. As of now it has a little over 2,000 members. Initial D never was extremely popular (I'm generally speaking for the mal community, Its seems to be more popular in Japan) but as it has been airing through about 15 or so years
it has lost some of its members. So to start of I want to say that I don't think this is because the series has been declining. I also don't believe that the reason it is rated 8,24 (as of now) is because only the people who really like it are still watching.
Initial D has always been a very straightforward series that is mainly focused on racing. The main character, Takumi, has always been somewhat shallow. He doesn't have any strong moral convictions, or anything like that, but regardless he develops in a different way than what is done in other anime. I am not saying it is bad or good as it is more of an opinion thing. In Takumi's final battle not much character development is seen. I know your thinking "Well its four episodes long and he's in a car the entire time". Well that is true for the most part, but the problem I had is that I feel that they didn't convey takumi's feelings as to the results of his greatest challenge yet and didn't show how this effected him. This isn't necessarily a big deal and alot of people wont be bothered by it but as it is the last adaptation of initial D and essentially its end it is something I would have liked to see.
In terms of the race, I can't give spoilers, but overall I was pleased with how it all ended. It wasn't really what I was expecting and that made it all the better.
OVERALL I enjoyed this as the ending of initial d and feel as if this was stepped up a small notch from the rest of the series. I am disjointed that is the end, but I believe a decent job was done in wrapping it all up. Personally I believe that large series have a lot to wrap up and should spend more time doing so, but initial D isn't really that kind of anime. It's all about the racing, not a strong story line, simple plot, but strong races, and that's how they finished it.
Intro: Although it is not the smart thing to do, this will be a review for the entire Initial D series (First stage, Second Stage, Third Stage, Fourth Stage, Fifth Stage and Final Stage).
Although at first the story may seem boring or not appealing it actuallty is great and dosen't get too repetitive but towards the final seasons the story is getting less real.
The story takes place in about a 1 year interval and revolves around the journey of a ditsy highschooler (Takumi) who will join his friend's race team and become one of the fastest street racers in his area, later
being recruited by the great team "Project D" and in the end becoming a profesional racer.
The writer seems to enjoy creating relationship only to later destroy them, thing that can bother some viewers.
The story is fast paced, engaging and reality-like but it does have it's flaws.
Some of the things I did not like or flaws I found:
1. It is 1996 but they seem to forget they have phones and that certain characters exchanged phone numbers. (Iketani and Mako in First Stage)
2. Mogi at the age of about 16 years old has inappropriate relations (sex) with an older man she calls "papa" in exchange for money, clothes or other benefits. Mogi is engaging in Enjo Kosai, prostitution if I may call it that.(explained in First Stage, Second Stage, third Stage)
3. This show creates relationships and then brutally kills them, only resulting in wasted screen time. Since I am not an emotional person I don't care but many other viewers were bothered by it.
4. There are no cops, not even once.
5. It is annoying how some of these good friends betray each other. Ex: In first stage Iketani threw Takumi under the buss by setting up a race just to please Mako.
6. At times the story gets repetitive.
7. Even though the story happens in 1 year's interval, in Stage 4(1999) they have huge old computers and old style mobile phones but in Stage 5(2012) they have new laptops and smartphones. Has techonlogy improved that much in 1 year?
8. Certain facts are exagerated, but I guess it's ok since it is an anime series.
9. In the Fifth Stage and Final Stage the races got a lot more dull, with way more talking and way less racing.
10. Where are Mogi's parents? They are never shown or talked about.
11. In final stage it is explained that Takumi's 86 (the hatchback) is slower than Shinji's 86 (the coupe) because of the car geometry/structure. But the hatchback's 3rd door would only make it slightly slower but for plot purposes, that "slightly slower" is very exagerated. Takumi is way, way slower in corners because he is driving a hatchback. Give me a break!
12. The Final Stage was not vey exciting and dragged on for too long.
13. In Fifth Stage and Final Stage the OST was not as good as in the previous seasons.
14. The character design changes form one season to another.
The characters have various diffrent personalities and are developed over the course of the series, each character has something unique about them.
Takumi, the main character, is likeable and a good protagonist, he is well characterized and gets more than enough development.
In the beginning Takumi is an emotionless guy who is driving out of necessity and during the series he becomes a lot more emotional and is driving out of pleasure. He starts as a good driver and develops into a "monster" that outclasses everyone, a genius in the making, he is better than most of the drivers he races and yet during many races he struggles to win, which makes the series more real.
Bunta is Takumi's father, he is one bad ass dude. I wish there were some OVAs showing his past as a street racer.
Itsuki is Takumi's best friend, he introduced Takumi to street racing. Itsuki always has hope in Takumi's skills as a racer and does his best to help his friend, even though he does not know much about racing.
Iketani is one of Takumi's friends, he helps the protagonist with mechanical and other issues and is always happy to help. Iketani played a big part in Takumi's debut as a street racer.
Inui Shinji, this Final Stage downhill expert that is in highschool is just a "made in china" poor copy of Takumi, having no other reason for wanting to race than the juvenile attempt of trying to get the attention of girls he knows are out of his league(ex:Mako). The fact that he does not quietly leave for his race, instead stoping, showing off and making sure the girls(Mako and her friend) know he is the opponent of Fujiwara lacks any charisma and only comes out as despicable compared to Fujiwara's behavior.
He started driving in upper elementary school, about 3 years before Takumi started driving. Are you serious? Next thing we'll see is a new born baby in a R32 rocking the road.
Natsuki Mogi used to be a prostitute and Takumi's girlfriend for a period of time, her purpose is to show the "real" Japan.
I personally liked Mogi's character and think she is one of the most developed characters in the series. There is a lot of hate aimed towards her character and I can understand why.
- Mogi did not have any morals, self-respect or sense of shame until she met Takumi and decided to change. We do not know anything about her past/family, she may have reasons for ending up the way she did.
- Mogi used to be a young prostitute and a slut, at the age of 16 she was having sex with an older man in exchange for money while she was having sex and doing who knows what with an upperclassman. Long story short: she was not a respectable woman or someone you would want to be envolved with.
- Mogi was a prostitute until she decided to be Takumi's girlfriend. Out of love for him she stopped seeing the older man and ceased any other "odd" activities, deciding to be a good person. Unfortunately someone left Takumi a note, revealing her past and causing their break-up. (in the manga, the person that left the note was the older man's daughter and a friend of Mogi).
- Her relationship with Takumi eneded because she was not honest and did not tell Takumi about her past nor did she stop her "meetings" the moment she decided to become Takumi's girlfriend. I will give her credit, she did stop seeing the older man but it was too late.
- I did not like the following contradiction: Mogi stated in the first episode that she hates "people who smoke and people who break their promises" and later when she was confessing her sins to Takumi in Third Stage she stated she liked the older man, who was a smoker. How does that work?
Japanese girls these days can easily fall in the trap of "Enjo Kosai" or prostitution like Mogi did. Girls these days want the money but not the honest work to make them, especially in the contemporan society where people don't have as much sense of shame as before.
Mogi kept oscilationg between making me pitty her and being a nuisance for wasting screen time.
Even though the animation differs between seasons, I personally enjoyed the animation and art, especially in the street races the CG was well put to work. The animation is mostly fluid and the art is nice but the character design changes too much between seasons.
All the opening and ending themes were good as well as both the english(funimation) and japanese voice actors.
What I really enjoyed was the surpisingly good background music that cointained various diffrent songs, the OST does an outstanding job.
This anime got me hyped up and gave me goosebumps, action with just enough romance and comedy mixed in to create a great series.
A great anime series that started great and ended not so great.
I paricularly am interested in cars but I think anyone would enjoy this show. I would recommend Initial D to anyone.
First of all, for anyone who has not yet watched the series:
The first 2 seasons are amazing, and the third one is very good!
After that the quality drops quickly though.
Where in earlier seasons the anime revels in showing drifts, and mixing up closeups on the steering wheel and pedals with shots of drifting tires and the rear of the car coming very close to the guardrails, all while awesome eurobeat music is playing,
in the last two seasons, less and less attention was put into these cool moments.
Where in the earlier seasons the commentary from former rivals on the roadside
was ecstatic and interesting, hyping up the race even more,
in the last two seasons, it is monotone and boring, and much more about pseudo-philosophy than about technique.
The animation quality dropped extremely over the course of the series, after peaking in the second and third season.
This is probably due to harsh budget constraints,
since the Anime was serialized in a very unusual pay-per-view way in the last two seasons.
The clunky 3D-animated cars of the first season are something I longed for all throughout the last three seasons, since it allowed for long, smooth shots of drifting cars, but even this seems to have been above the budget of the series at this point.
Last but not least, the pacing of the races:
Where in the first two seasons there were normal races mixed in with bunny races, starting with the Third Stage, the series was all-bunny race all the way, and it shows in the uncreative ways the races end.
After this point 90% of the races seem to be decided by spin-out, which made every race's conclusion more boring than the one's before.
This coupled with less and less interesting opponents (this season's Shinji in particular felt cheap), lead to the last two seasons in particular becoming a drag to watch.
It took a lot of willpower to not drop the series after the fifth season,
but it took even more to not drop it within this one, or skip to the last episode.
When an anime I used to enjoy immensely changes into something I need willpower to sit down and watch, I cannot give it a better score.
That said, the last two minutes of the match were enjoyable.
Taking place where fifth stage leaves off, Takumi will have the his final race as a street racer. His opponent this time is like no other opponent he has ever faced. He is now racing a fellow AE86 Trueno model driver, Inui Shinji. Not only that, he happens to be younger than Takumi who usually tends to be the youngest in his social circle. Also, the difference between their cars is that Takumi is the hatchback model while Shinji has the sedan model. And as the race progresses, we will also learn about Shinji and his background and many characters return to see if Project
D can become the greatest street racing team in Japan.
The last volume of the manga came out in November 2013 which is why this part was delayed for awhile. I have never bothered reading the manga for reasons which I will get into as my review progresses. Since it was only 4 episodes long, I think it could have served better as a movie though the reboot movie I assume ruined that.
So this series is what it is. It is mostly concentrated on the race between Takumi and Shinji and how they compare and contrast as people along with their cars. It is also a great way to demonstrate Takumi’s development as a racer and also gives Shinji some fleshing out. The relationships have come full circe as well. Many of the characters that return give their input in what can happen giving them some kind of contribution.
Some parts of the series may seem ridiculous, but the series does an excellent job of making it make sense. Though some people prefer the story telling method of showing over telling, this series does a great job of making them go hand in hand. The explanations are technical but very necessary. The explanations does a very, very, very excellent job of making everything make sense and not seem ridiculous. Mostly from Ryosuke and his team. The series does a very effective job on how Takumi and Shinji’s hachi-roku models are different and are effective in rally racing (the sedan model) and circuit racing (the hatchback model).
Shinji is a very interesting character and I think he isn’t exactly an anti-Takumi, but like Takumi was before but just needed the development that Takumi needs. He has very interesting similar qualities to him but some things that are different which make him distinct. Granted it is very focused on the race, a lot is given and the series comes full circle in its own way, but can be open to a potential sequel. Also, the series finally explains what the D in Project D means and the meaning is what a good fraction of the fans have speculated since the beginning.
The quality of the cg of the races and the resolution and design is unchanged from 5th stage. I pretty much call this series the last 4 episodes of 5th stage anyway. Ryosuke’s hair is still long and a little shaggy which is my only issue. This sole race is very long paced but also shows the patience and concentration necessary to do this. It’s night time, the weather could change, and their could potentially be oncoming traffic. As the series progresses, the series does have an increase danger factor which I thought was the most underused quality needed to make this series complete. Takumi uses many of the techniques he has been developing since 4th stage and they finally develop the line attack that he was trying to learn since the end of 4th stage to some degree.
The drifting is pretty cool and the techniques and the performances of the car are very believable when it is explained. The way it ends is pretty exciting and ballsy. It will seem ridiculous the first time but they do find a perfect way to explain how it ends the way it does.
Well anything I can say about the music has already been said in previous reviews of Initial D (with the exception of Legend). The Eurobeat tracks and MOVE makes up most of the reasons why I love this anime and why I got into it and is a crazy reason why I don’t read the manga because the music isn’t just there. MOVE’s opening song, Outsoar the Rainbow is very intense and the first 3 episodes using Gamble Rumble, the opening theme from 3rd stage. And the ending theme of the 4th episodes perfectly gives the series full circle and explains what the D stands for. The voice actors are back and give great performances as they always do.
Still, I think this installment could have worked fine as a movie. I think the length would have worked perfectly with it. But as I said, the reboot movie which I reviewed a couple of weeks prior to this installment I think got in the way of that. But anyway, I love the consistency that this anime installment of Initial D has to this point despite changes to the character designs, specifically Ryosuke here and there but Takumi, especially from 4th stage, demonstrates that development and so does Keisuke in this series. All other characters are there but they do contribute in their own way. I hope Shigeno-sensei somewhere down the line continues the series in some way.
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".