4/10 - How the Mighty have fallen.
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.