The Lancer EVO-driving group "Emperor" have defeated every racing team they've met in the Gunma region. Now they're out to challenge the duo of Mako and Sayuki and their SilEighty - the Impact Blue of Usui Mountain.
I came into this OVA with high hopes and expectations. I am going to be straight forward with this one, instead of the way I did my other reviews with Stages 1 & 2 of Initial D. This OVA was pretty terrible. I have seen mixed reviews on this OVA, but I will explain my reason for giving it such a bad rating.
First i noticed some differences between the first two stages and this one. The Dialogue, more specifically in the flashbacks, isn't the same. Also some events happened differently also. For example: When Zak faced Lan-Evo and crashed his car into the wall, his
headlight broke. Whereas in this it just sparked but did not turn off. This may not be that big of a deal, but when added with the other inconsistencies it is hard not to be bothered by it, at least for me.
So i want to put it out there that the first stage i watched with my friend, while the second stage my little five year old brother watched with me. The first two stages were mildly family oriented... at least there was nothing that would upset the family type person or a parent. However, when I got to this Extra Stage I noticed some major changes in the group of people it was oriented towards. Instead of it being oriented around everyone they cut of the family type. They threw in some adult oriented parts. A couple examples: there was a whole scene where Zak was staring a girls boobs while she talked. (focusing more on him staring that her talking). Also, a little further into the OVA there is partial nudity (a topless girl in the shower). Luckily i had sent the child to bed before I watched this OVA. Don't get me wrong, i personally don't think anything is wrong with it. alltho a little heads up or a not so drastic change would have been nice ;D
I don't mind nudity as long as it is tasteful. Also, on top of tasteful it also has to have a good plot, which this one sadly lacked. Yes, I understand it was about Maya's relationships and the Lan-Evo challenging the rest of Gunma. To be quite honest it was pretty dang boring. I got no enjoyment out of watching this OVA. It was a total waste of my time.
I am going to watch Extra Stage 2, and see if Extra Stage one is really necessary. If you want to see if I think you can skip it, go ahead and look at my next Initial D review. It will be the first thing in the review. Not to mention i don't include spoilers. So reading it will be safe anyways. (otherwise, i may just edit this one later).
I thought that Initial D without Fujiwara Takumi and his fearsome Hachi-Roku would simply not work out at all, but I was proven just the opposite.
I found the story very good, although it was quite different from Initial D has offered so far. What's more, it was a very pleseant feeling to see one of the minor characters play the lead guitar.
The first episode of the Extra Stage was especially pleasing since it was another race I have become used to throughout the series. It was also very interesting to see the members of the Night Kids in a better light.
The second episode was more
of an emotional story. On one hand, it's not what one might expected from Initial D. On the other, due to its Christmas theme such a plot did the job perfectly. It was also very pleasing to see one of the characters picture the dilemma each racer faces at the climax of his 'career'.
Concluding, story-wise the OVA does a great job since it answers problems which have not been addressed in the series.
When it comes to art, we see the same animation as in the First and Second Stages. Some characters are still having a bad hair day and the girls are still darn ugly. But Initial D is not about the animation of people but more about the animation of cars and races and in that aspect it fullfills the expectation. As a whole the OVA looks very good, though those of you who don't like Initial D's style of animation will feel dissapointed.
In the sound department we gat the same thing as in the series, which is a combination of very good, almost top notch voice acting with that cool eurobeat we have been savouring throughout the series.
As I have said it's nice to see minor characters in the leading roles. They fit the story perfectly and are interesting due to the difficulties that they have to face due to their line of 'profession'. However, without Takumi, who is the protagonist of the series, and Itsuki, who is hilarious in his role of the leading racing dumbo.
As an OVA Extra Stage was a joy to watch, however I'm hoping that the emotional direction adapted in it won't be used too much in the series itself. If this would be a separate anime I would rate it even higher, since the 'Initial D=Takumi and his Hachi-Roku' factor would be put aside.
In overall, the Extra Stage is quite different in terms of plot from the series it is still fun to watch and a must for every fan of the Akina Hachi-Roku.
It’s basically a spin-off that features Impact Blue, the female racers that Takumi encountered before in the 1st stage. The story deals with the dynamic of Mako & Sayuki, rather than the usual main cast (although they do appear in the OVA sans Takumi) facing a challenge with one of the racers of Team Emperor, who were the challengers from 2nd Stage and at the time was reigning over the Myogi Night Kids, while Mako is dealing with the breakup between her and Iketani.
This is a…….alright edition to the story. I don’t know how it will affect the later editions but it is good to
focus the series on another main character with their backstory and the Impact Blue girls does seem interesting to focus on to, although some problems I have with the OVA is the challenger (or antagonist of the first half) they faced with. I’m not sure of his name but he is mostly a generic, sexist with the “girls can’t do what we do” attitude and the arrogance of him just reeks of annoyance and blandness. WE GET IT!!! It’s just so f***ing annoying. The second half deals with the relationship and while it is emotional and shows how Mako will eventually have to settle this soon, I just lost interest half-way through the OVA.
FINAL VERDICT: It is very passable but it won't hold my attention all the way.
I tried to be vague while writing my review but final paragraph is spoiler-ish.
This is not super bad but it's still pretty bad. I'm alright with a side story featuring a different main character, I'm also alright if it's more about the characters than the racing. The issue is that the OVA feel like it's fan fiction, it doesn't have much of a goal in mind, character interaction is pretty bad and the dialogues are flat. It adds nothing to the story aside from explaining a little bit what the "project" mentioned at the end of Second Stage is about.
For some reason, they added some
nudity and male gaze too, and made Zack/Nakazato a huge pervert that can't hold a conversation if a girl is there because he's going to stare at her cleavage and her ass instead. It's still pretty tame but this is a weird addition for Initial D, which never went further than kissing. It's like they tried appealing to mature audiences all of a sudden and without warning. Oh and I dunno about what they say in the original version but in the english dub, they use the word bimbo. That's pretty vulgar for a tame show like Initial D.
It's also annoying how much they need to mention how girls are special when it comes to driving. "Oh those are girls but they're the only ones we got to beat the Emperors", "She's a girl but she's good!", "She's fast for a girl", "If a woman can do it, so can I", "Oh you think I'm going to lose because I'm a girl?" etc.
The romance developed is also bad, the two characters have no synergy at all and just met a few days ago and the guy says driving is too dangerous and she needs to stop and do lady things like wearing fancy dresses. Maybe you're thinking I'm an angry feminist but I'm not. It's just driving, why do they need to put so much emphasis on the fact that women are driving? It's just so stupid when the only thing they could come up about female characters is to keep referencing the fact that they are females. The writing was good in First Stage when they appeared, so how did they mess it up?
Finally, the plot. Team Emperor wanted to challenge and defeat every team around so obviously the girls from Usui Pass are going to be on the list. Even though they're not a team with a sticker to steal? So Team Emperor comes to Usui Pass to race the girls, for some reason the two leaders of Emperor aren't there. The guy from Emperor loses, he says to his friend "don't tell this to our boss" and "hm okay". Soooo did Team Emperor wanted to win Usui Pass or not? Are Sudo and Iwaki fine with this? Did they berate the Team Emperor dudes that went there? Do they want their revenge like "just because you beat one dude doesn't mean you beat me"?
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".